|Celtics vs. Hornets: First quarter wrap||02.10.10 at 8:41 pm ET|
The Celtics started off hot, but the Hornets got hotter making eight of their first 10 shots in a back-and-forth first quarter that ended with New Orleans holding a 29-27 lead. Playing without Ray Allen, who was sent back to the team hotel with bask spasms, the Celtics turned the ball over nine times.
Paul Pierce did play, however, and he led the Celtics with nine points. Rookie Darren Collison and big man David West each scored eight points for the Hornets. New Orleans coach Jeff Bower picked up a technical foul in the opening minutes.
|Preview: Celtics vs. Hornets||at 10:09 am ET|
This marks the end of the unofficial first half of the regular season and the Celtics remain something of an enigma. Despite all their struggles over the last month and a half, the Celtics remain one of the top teams in the league according to all the best indicators–record, point differential, etc.
Since Christmas, however, the Celtics are just 10-12. That’s a significant chunk of the season in which they have played more like the Bulls then the Cavaliers, the latter of which has won 19 of 22 games during that same stretch.
Coming out of the All-Star break the Celtics go on a long west coast trip and will endure a March in which they play 17 games in 31 days. At the beginning of the season that looked like a good time to give their veteran players some rest before the playoffs. Now it looks like a survival test.
CELTICS (32-17, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.0
Points Allowed: 93.7
Differential: +5.3 (4th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.7 (13th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.9 (1st)
Pace: 91.4 (22nd)
Injuries: Paul Pierce (Foot)
HORNETS (27-25, 4-6, last 10)
Points Per Game: 100.2
Points Allowed: 101.5
Differential: -1.3 (19th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.4 (14th)
Defensive Efficiency: 108.9 (20th)
Pace: 92.1 (19th)
|Doc on Scott firing: ‘That’s our league’||11.12.09 at 3:23 pm ET|
WALTHAM – When he heard the news on Thursday that Byron Scott had been fired after a 3-6 start in New Orleans, Doc Rivers couldn’t help but think he had seen this script before.
It was November 2003 and the Orlando Magic decided to make a coaching change after a 1-10 start. It was Doc Rivers who was shown the door.
“That’s too bad,” Rivers said following Thursday’s practice. “It’s amazing that you can make a decision that quickly on a guy that was Coach of the Year a year-and-a-half ago. So, that’s our league.
“He matched me, basically. I was , so I lasted [two] longer, unfortunately. It just gave me [two] more losses,” Rivers added with a hearty laugh.
To be completely accurate, this isn’t even the first time this has happened to Scott.
In Dec. 2003, with his team languishing near .500 at 22-20, the Nets replaced him with assistant Lawrence Frank, who now is the second-longest tenured head coach in the East.
What makes it even more similar is the fact that both Scott and Rivers earned coach of the year honors only to be fired later on.
Rivers was coach of the year in 2000 with Orlando, leading a team that was picked dead last in the Eastern Conference to a near playoff berth. Scott earned his award in 2008, ironically the same season Rivers led his team to 66 wins and the NBA title.
That season, Scott led the Hornets to 56 wins and a berth in the Western Conference semis before bowing out to the Spurs.
|Rondo on Hornets: ‘It was intense’||11.01.09 at 10:31 pm ET|
Sunday’s postgame access to Rajon Rondo came with a condition to reporters: No questions about Chris Paul.
After Rondo and Paul traded verbal barbs and even a double-technical midway through the second quarter, the two star point guards of the Celtics and Hornets got into it even more at the end of the fourth, with both teams needing to be separated.
“It was very intense,” Rondo said. “I think it was our first close game. I think we handled it well. We didn’t play extremely well tonight but when they made their run, we got stops and then we scored offensively.”
Ray Allen played next to Rondo all night and he liked what he saw from the intense tete-a-tete between Rondo and CP 3.
“Yeah, they’re both feisty,” Allen said. “Both aggressive, in your face. They take the ball to the hole. Put you on your heels all game long. So I’m pretty sure it can get pretty chippy out there.”
And Allen didn’t mind seeing that, as long as the teams left the hard feelings on the court and controlled each other coming off, which was a bit of a challenge following Boston’s 97-87 win.
“Walk off the floor and say, ‘Way to compete tonight,’” Allen said. “For those 48 minutes, I cannot stand you. I wanted to fight you. I wanted to do everything I possibly could. And when you walk off the floor you say, ‘Way to battle.’”
To hear what Chris Paul had to say for himself, click here.
|Turn up the volume: Rondo speaks out||at 8:54 pm ET|
Everyone wanted to hear from Rajon Rondo before Sunday’s game.
The NBA had extended their deadline to Monday evening for signing players before they can become restricted free agents at the end of the season and Rondo falls into that category.
No deal was announced but Rondo told reporters he’s not worried about the business aspect of his career. Smart move since he was getting ready to face Chris Paul and the Hornets.
Here’s what he had to say before the game.
|No ordinary Joe, no ordinary trade||02.18.09 at 9:42 am ET|
In the vast universe of NBA players that may have been available, few would have fit better with the Celtics than Joe Smith. The veteran big man possesses just about every skill the C’s bench needs–shooting range, length, experience.
But Smith is gone to New Orleans of all places, along with Chris Wilcox and some future considerations for Tyson Chandler, and indications are the Hornets are going to keep him. That’s too bad for the Celtics, but that’s merely a sidebar to the developing story within this trade, which is Sam Presti is one heck of a general manager.
When Presti took over the then-Sonics he had an unbalanced roster with two high-priced scorers–Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis–and a collection of mishmashed talents. In a year and a half he now has one of the most dynamic rosters in the league.
Trading Allen and letting Lewis walk cleared the runway, while drafting Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook and collecting oodles of draft picks and cap space laid the foundation. But at some point Presti had to avoid the trap that so many small market teams fall into. Namely, utilizing all those assets to acquire a real-live NBA player instead of hoping for an imaginary free agent that may or may not materialize.
In Chandler, Presti obtained a still-young and still athletic shot-blocking, rebounding big man, which is truly one of the rarest commodities in the sport. And he got him for players with expiring contracts he didn’t need without surrendering any of those draft picks.
This is a bad move for New Orleans, no matter how the Hornets try to spin it. Smith and Wilcox might help, but they’re no Chandler. Devon Hardin might be a poor-man’s Chandler or he might be another Saer Sene. The rumors are out that the Hornets are having money problems and it’s hard not to see this deal in any other light.
If there is one benefit for the Celtics it’s that it significantly weakens a contender in the West, but that’s small consolation.