|The NBA’s big problem, according to Jeremy Lin||01.14.14 at 12:38 pm ET|
As if a game involving a team riding an eight-game losing streak and trailing by 20 points couldn’t have gotten any uglier, the Celtics began fouling Dwight Howard, over and over, midway through the fourth quarter.
Once Rockets coach Kevin McHale inserted his center into the final frame against his former team, the Celtics hacked a Howard seven times in 3:27, resulting in 14 mostly terrible free throw attempts for the viewing pleasure of the fans who remained until the bitter end. It wasn’t pretty, and that’s a problem for the NBA, because it worked.
“It freezes everybody,” Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin explained after his team’s 104-92 victory at the Garden. “We just don’t get rhythm. We don’t play offense for a while. We’re just watching. We get cold, and then there’s no flow. At that point, their goal is to freeze us, so they are accomplishing that.”
As Howard missed 8-of-14 from the line, the C’s slashed a 16-point deficit to seven and could’ve sliced it further had they not turned the ball over three times down the stretch. These are the Rajon Rondo-less Celtics, after all. Then, the two-minute mark hit, the C’s could no longer foul Howard off the ball and had to play real defense, which promptly resulted in a pair of Houston layups that mercifully brought their ninth straight loss to an end.
“I would probably support a change in the rule that would call it intentional or call it like it would be called int he last two minutes,” admitted Stevens. “But because it’s a rule and usually if a guy’s making one out of two, it makes you think twice. To his credit, he made one almost every time up to the foul line. But we were scoring, and so we were getting a plus-one in about 10 or 15 seconds off the clock for the better part of three or four possessions. And then we went dry, and that’s when the two-minute mark hit anyways and we really couldn’t do it anymore.”
To paraphrase: The Celtics, like most teams, Hack-a-Howard because they can, even if they don’t like it. And why should they? It’s ugly and cheap, like an inflatable doll, and nobody wants to see that. Especially fans.
So, what should the NBA do about it? Take a cue perhaps from Shaquille O’Neal himself, who once said of the Hack-a-Shaq technique, “The only thing I call cowardly is when you’re up by 10 and do it. That’s a coward move.” Adam Silver could make it his first order of business upon taking over for David Stern as commissioner: Off-the-ball whistles become intentional when a team is leading by 10 points. That way ugly basketball can’t get any uglier.
|Report: Rockets end Omer Asik trade talks with Celtics||12.19.13 at 1:19 pm ET|
The Rockets plan to keep Omer Asik after all, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowksi.
Houston has ended talks on an Omer Asik trade and plan to keep him for now, league source tells Yahoo Sports.
‘ Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 19, 2013
The Celtics appeared to be the leading contenders for Asik’s services, and Houston reportedly would have received Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and a first-round pick in return, but the two teams haggled over which of the C’s nine first-round picks over the next five years would be included. Surely, Celtics president Danny Ainge balked at the inclusion of either of his 2014 first-rounders or any future pick that may end up in the lottery.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey set a self-imposed deadline of Thursday to deal Asik, although the league alerted Morey that he had until Friday to make a trade and still deal the newly acquired players by the deadline.
And as we’ve learned in recent years, so-called dead trade talks have been resurrected, and the two teams could still strike a deal before the NBA’s trade deadline of Feb. 20.
|How Danny Ainge’s Celtics can acquire Omer Asik||12.16.13 at 1:25 pm ET|
As we’ve discussed in great detail, the Celtics have the picks and assets to enter just about every NBA trade conversation, so it comes as no surprise that they have reportedly entered the Omer Asik sweepstakes.
The advice offered to us on Sunday was stern: Keep an eye on Boston. The Celtics possess two players in different salary ranges that would presumably fit in useful ways next to Dwight Howard: Jeff Green and Brandon Bass. The Celts also have a spare first-round draft pick or two to plug into any trade equation to sweeten the deal for Houston, amid rising suspicions around the league that Morey’s Rockets are going to find a way to come out of the Asik saga with at least one future first. – Marc Stein, ESPN.com
The Rockets set a self-imposed deadline of Thursday to deal Asik, who requested a trade last month and even sat out a game due to concerns that resulted from the Dwight Howard signing this summer. The 7-footer hasn’t played since Dec. 2 after suffering a bruised right thigh and getting his swollen right knee drained.
This season and next, Asik is owed $20.1 million of his uniquely structured three-year, $25.1 million deal, including $14.9 million next year, although he would count $8.4 million against the salary cap. Make no mistake, though, Asik is a catch. The 27-year-old Turk played every game of his first three NBA seasons, culminating in career averages (10.1 points, 11.7 rebounds) during his first winter in Houston. He’s widely considered an elite rebounding center with an improving offensive game whose impact is measured best by advanced analytics.
But how much would the Celtics be willing to give up for Asik? First, Rockets GM Daryl Morey‘s asking price.
|Jared Sullinger ‘happy to hack’ while Celtics winning||01.12.13 at 1:29 am ET|
Jared Sullinger may be soft spoken but he certainly isn’t shy.
For the fifth time in 36 games, the Celtics rookie fouled out of a game. But all of the fouls are rolling off his back during a five-game winning streak that has transformed the Celtics from a 14-17 team to a 19-17 club that is starting to click and move up the Eastern Conference standings.
“As long as we’re winning I’m happy. Happy to hack,” Sullinger said with a big smile. “No biggie.”
Sullinger wasn’t laughing with 10:01 left in the game Friday when he picked up his fifth foul, with the Celtics leading 83-69. The Rockets scored the next 12 points.
But earlier in the game, Sullinger was the biggest reason the Celtics built a double-digit lead. He had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench in the first half. That was the same number the Celtics starters had combined late in the first half.
“It’s coming easier,” Sullinger said. “Obviously, it’s been 36 games, so I should be used to the NBA by now. It’s just me and my comfort zone right now.”
“He’s playing better, so the coach has more confidence in him,” Doc Rivers added. “That’s [No.] 1. I said it early in the year, when he’s on the floor, he does the right stuff. And a lot of stuff you don’t see, just being able to throw him the ball. How many rookies have we ever thrown the ball to at the top of the circle, and he decides which way he wants to go with it? He just has a great calm about him. He helps us. Especially with that second unit, because you gotta always have a passing big in our offense, and he gives us that extra passing big.”
Sullinger finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, his second straight double-double.
“We’re just playing hard, we’re in a groove right now. Five games, you know obviously we’re in a great groove right now,” Sullinger said. “I’m just playing hard, that’s all it is.”
|Jared Sullinger and Paul Pierce get revenge on the Rockets||01.11.13 at 9:58 pm ET|
Paul Pierce scored 23 points while Jared Sullinger had 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench as the Celtics withstood a late charge from the Rockets to win their fifth straight, 103-91, Friday night at TD Garden. Kevin Garnett added 17 points and eight rebounds and Courtney Lee had 14 points for the Celtics, who improve to 19-17 on the season.
James Harden had 21 and Jeremy Lin added 12 points for the Rockets, who had to settle for a season split of their series with the Celtics. Houston beat Boston, 101-89, on Dec. 14 at the Toyota Center in Houston.
Early on, it was a game of runs. The Celtics jumped out to an 8-4 lead before the Rockets responded with a 13-0 spurt, as Jeremy Lin and James Harden hit 3-pointers in the spurt. But the Celtics came back with a 14-2 run of their own as Jeff Green and Courtney Lee hit consecutive threes. Boston took a 24-21 lead after 12 minutes.
Sullinger took over in the second quarter and led a bench effort that dominated for the second straight game. Sullinger had 14 points and eight rebounds in the first half. Those were the same numbers posted by Celtics starters combined until Pierce hit a three with 1:27 left in the second quarter. The Celtics bench had a season-high 36 points in the first half, outscoring the Houston reserves, 36-9, and taking a 53-45 halftime lead.
While the Celtics were held without a free throw in the first half, the Rockets self-destructed at the line, converting just 5-of-12 from the charity stripe. The Rockets finished the game a miserable 12-of-29 from the line.
Pierce came out on fire in the third quarter scoring eight of Boston’s first nine points in a 9-0 run that stretched the lead to 17. Pierce finished the third with 11 points and the Celtics led 78-66 going into the fourth.
The Rockets finally heated up in the fourth quarter and took advantage of Celtics sloppiness and a key foul. Sullinger picked up his fifth foul with 10:01 left and the Celtics leading 83-69. Houston scored the next 12 points thanks to several turnovers. The run was finished off when Harden fed Parsons for a one-handed dunk over Pierce with 7:22 left in the fourth, cutting Boston’s lead to two, 83-81.
But it was Pierce to the rescue. Pierce ended the Rockets’ 12-0 run with a basket with just under seven minutes left. Moments later, he was fouled on his layup and converted the three-point play to put Boston up, 92-82, with 5:51 left. A Garnett fadeaway jumper with 4:42 put the Celtics up, 94-82.
The Celtics continue their five-game homestand on Monday night against the Charlotte Bobcats. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers: I want Mike Longabardi ‘to take it personally when teams score’||11.06.12 at 6:12 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers has kept a close eye on Mike Longabardi for a long time.
Five seasons ago, when Longabardi joined Rivers’ staff, he was helping out Tom Thibodeau, the defensive mastermind of the Celtics championship run in 2008.
When Thibodeau left after 2010, that left a void, one Rivers felt perfectly suited Longabardi. On Tuesday, during an open practice at the team’s training facility, Longabardi put on a show on just how to defensively coach up an NBA team consisting of stars who put defense first.
Longabardi yelled out instructions to Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, among others, directing them on the team’s trapping principles and defensive rules.
“Remember, every trap has to have a purpose,” the 39-year-old coach told his team at the beginning of a two-hour practice.
It’s just the kind of thing Rivers, who would occasionally chime in, wants to hear from his No. 1 defensive assistant.
“He’s been around it,” Rivers said after practice Tuesday. “He’s been in the office next to mine. He communicates it well. I just want him to be focused on that. Whoever is my defensive guy, that’s their only job. All the other coaches do everything, they help with the defense, they help with offense but whoever I make my defensive [assistant], that’s his job.”
Rivers said no one on the team took it harder when the Heat dropped 120 points on the Celtics in the opening night loss.
“I want him to take it personally when teams score,” Rivers said. “And he does. Trust me, the first two games, he wanted to jump off a bridge somewhere. And that’s what I want him to be. I want him to be mad at people and hold them accountable.
Before joining the Celtics for the 2007-08 season, Longabardi was with the Rockets for four seasons as an assistant coach/video coordinator for two seasons, the video coordinator for a season and the assistant video coordinator for a year.
Longabardi spent seven years as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball teams at Pfeiffer University, Adelphi University, Lafayette College, as well as Towson University. He was on the coaching staff that led the Lafayette Leopards to a Patriot League title and an NCAA Tournament berth. Longabardi also was a member of the coaching staff for the Celtics 2008 Championship team.
|E’Twaun Moore bullish on Chicago; JaJuan Johnson considering options||07.20.12 at 5:53 pm ET|
Less than 24 hours after the Celtics pulled the trigger on a trade with the Houston Rockets to obtain Courtney Lee, the two former Celtics are not intending on making Houston their long-term home.
A league source tells WEEI.com that after his expected release from Houston, E’Twaun Moore expects to wind up in Bulls camp and get a look with former Celtics defensive guru and current Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.
The source says the other player, big man JaJuan Johnson, has doubts about his future in Houston and is keeping his options open, should it not work out long term with the Rockets.
On Friday, the Celtics officially announced they traded Moore, Johnson, center Sean Williams and a second-round pick to Houston and forward Sasha Pavlovic to Portland in the deal. The Trail Blazers will also get a second round pick. What remains unspecified is what Portland will send to Houston or the Celtics to finalize the deal.
The source indicated the timeline of events are not certain and are very fluid. The trade is not expected to be affected as Johnson and Moore evaluate their options based on potential scenarios in Houston and Portland.
Per CBA rules, the Celtics cannot re-sign Moore if he becomes a free agent after being released.
Moore and Johnson were selected together by the Celtics out of Purdue in the 2011 NBA draft. Johnson was picked in the first round, 27th overall, by the Celtics while Moore was Boston’s second round choice (55th overall). Due to the lockout, Moore signed a deal with Italy’s Benetton Treviso that featured an opt-out clause that let him return to the Celtics once the lockout ended.
On Dec. 9, 2011 Moore signed a guaranteed contract with the Celtics. He debuted briefly (less than a minute) in the Celtics’ season-opener against the Knicks on Christmas Day.
In the March, with Keyon Dooling and Sasha Pavlovic nursing nagging injuries, Moore saw his playing time increase. He had a career-high 16 points on Jan. 26, against the Magic, going 4-4 from 3-point range. On April 24 and 26, in the final two games of the regular season, Moore established new career highs of seven rebounds and five assists against the Heat and Bucks, respectively.
Johnson had much less playing opportunity. In 36 games, he averaged just eight minutes and 3.2 points and 1.6 rebounds.
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