|High-wire act: Jeff Green, Celtics slam door on Magic||02.01.13 at 9:42 pm ET|
Jeff Green electrified the crowd with three sensational dunks as part of a 17-point night and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett added double-doubles to lead the Celtics to a 97-84 win over the Magic Friday night at TD Garden. The Celtics played the game just hours after Jared Sullinger had season-ending back surgery, winning their third straight game to get back to .500 on the season at 23-23. The lowly Magic fell to 14-32.
Pierce fell just three assists shy of his second triple-double in three games, finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists while Garnett matched Pierce’s 14 points while chipping in with 10 boards. Green was dominant in the second half and finished 8-of-13 from the field. Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa each added 12 points off the rejuvenated Celtics bench.
Playing without Sullinger, it was Pierce who picked up the rebounding load in the first quarter, grabbing six boards. The Magic grabbed an early 13-7 lead before Pierce and the Celtics went on a 18-5 run to end the quarter to help the Celtics to a 25-18 lead after 12 minutes.
The Celtics continued to play good defense in the second quarter, holding the Magic to 35 percent shooting. Garnett led the way with 10 points in the quarter as the Celtics took a 46-35 lead to the locker room. The Magic were awful from long range, hitting just 1-of-13 from three-point range and making just 15-of-46 shots (32.6 percent). While the Celtics were dealing with the loss of Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, the Magic were also battling a bad injury bug.
Glen Davis fractured his left foot Wednesday in New York and is likely done for the season. Starting point guard Jameer Nelson bruised his left forearm in the second quarter and did not return.
Despite their injuries, the Magic managed to cut the Boston lead to three, 57-54, on an E’Twaun Moore three-point play with 5:04 left in the third quarter. But the Celtics, thanks to a spectacular one-handed dunk from Green a minute later, closed the quarter on a 15-5 run to take a 72-59 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Celtics continued their barrage to open the fourth, as Green and Courtney Lee added one-handed slams that sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy. Boston opened the period on a 14-5 run to take an 86-64 lead and were not threatened the rest of the way.
Garnett’s 728th career double-double moved him ahead of Shaquille O’Neal (727) on the NBA’s all-time list. Since 1990, only Tim Duncan (751) has more.
The Celtics have Saturday off before taking on Blake Griffin and the Clippers Sunday at 1 p.m. at TD Garden. For more, including video from Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|NBA draft-day rumors: Jameer Nelson to Portland for Andre Miller, 21st pick?||06.23.11 at 2:13 pm ET|
The Trail Blazers have been involved in lots of trade rumors heading into Thursday night’s NBA draft. The latest involves the team picking up Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson in exchange for current pointman Andre Miller and the 21st pick in the draft, according to a tweet from Jonathan Givnoy of Draft Express.
Miller has a non-guaranteed contract for 2012 while Nelson is owed $7.2 million for the upcoming season and has a player option for the year after that. If the Magic decided not to keep Miller, Gilbert Arenas, who was acquired in the middle of the 2010-11 season, could take over at the point guard spot for Orlando.
|Kevin Garnett: ‘These two weeks have been dark days for me’||01.18.11 at 1:09 am ET|
How happy and relieved was Kevin Garnett to be back Monday night?
“I was just called up from the D-League,” he joked.
Playing his first game back from a nine-game absence due to a strained right calf, Garnett scored 19 points in 30 minutes while Paul Pierce converted the go-ahead three-point play with 38.7 seconds remaining to lift the Celtics to a 109-106 win over the Magic Monday night at TD Garden.
Ray Allen had a team-high 26 points and Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 13 assists in a contest that provided a thrilling rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals. No one seemed more excited about the turn of events than the man who was playing his first game of 2011.
“You get out of it what it what you put into it,” Garnett said.”These two weeks have been dark days for me, trying to keep my morale up, be around the guys, travel. But being hurt is not one of my things I like to be a part of. I hate it. I don’t deal with it well.
“But as I get older, along with these knuckleheads here keeping it real light for me, keeping my spirits up, I just worked through it. Tonight, I just felt stronger and I’m going to continue to build on this and not have any mishaps.”
He certainly showed no ill-effects of the strained right calf sustained on Dec. 29 in Detroit. Garnett ran and moved without a limp while starting out very strong. He had six rebounds, two assists and four points in nine minutes of the first quarter. Garnett also stole the ball from Jameer Nelson late to help seal Boston’s 31st win, keeping them on top in the Eastern Conference.
After scoring just six points on Christmas Day, Dwight Howard had one of his strongest games yet against the Celtics, scoring 33 points while grabbing 13 rebounds. But still, the Celtics, thanks to the interior passing of Garnett and Pierce dominated scoring in the paint, 52-26.
Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce were happy to have the noise back. That noise that comes from someone yelling non-stop throughout the game and playing with defensive intensity rarely seen in the history of the NBA.
It had been so quiet for the Celtics since Kevin Garnett went down on Dec. 29 in Detroit, with what looked far more serious than a strained right calf at the time.
The Celtics defensive coordinator was back on Monday night against the Magic, and within the first three minutes you could tell a difference in defensive energy as he was calling out plays on the court.
And Rivers didn’t feel the two teams played very good defense in the first 45 minutes, the last three were what mattered in a 109-106 Celtics win Monday night over the team they eliminated in the Eastern Finals last year. So, Garnett yelling out defensive calls and making plays like a steal on Jameer Nelson with 10 seconds remaining to seal the win was music to Rivers’ ears.
“Listen, they all talk, but no one talks like Kevin,” Rivers said. “He’s the best talker in the league. When you’re talking defense. And I think Perk [Kendrick Perkins] may be the second best. So, it is clear tonight – and I didn’t think we had a great defensive night; I thought we were actually average – but it was clear the communication, especially those last four possessions, you could hear it. He was calling their sets out. He’s a defensive coach on the floor.”
Rivers had no doubt the energy would be there. His stamina and effectiveness were another thing altogether.
“I knew he’d play with energy,” Rivers said after Garnett scored 19 points and hauled in eight rebounds in 30 intensity-filled minutes. “You could see that. You could see it [Sunday], and I was telling guys that our practice was just crazy with energy. And so, you knew that. I was concerned about his wind; I wasn’t concerned about his health at all.”
One area where it was noticeable that Garnett might have been a little rusty was in the foul column where he came within one of disqualification.
“I knew one of the things we said: he wasn’t playing until he was 100 percent,” Rivers said. “But [Sunday], we went an hour and after about ten minutes he was – he looked like he needed an oxygen tank. And that’s why I took him out early in the first quarter; I thought he was struggling then. And then he came back and he felt great. So, yeah, he surprises you all the time.”
But don’t take Rivers’ word for it. Ask the man whom Garnett was helping to direct on the court, Paul Pierce.
“I mean I said to somebody else that we look like a totally different team,” Pierce said. “Just with Kevin on the court, and also people you can’t replace what Kevin gives to a ball club. He doesn’t always show up with his numbers but his presence and his feel for the game and everything he does for this team goes far beyond the numbers and you see it tonight. We look like a team who is ready, who is energized, who is locked in, and you know that’s the culture he’s brought here since day 1 he’s been here and its infectious. He raises everyone’s play when he’s on the court.”
|Rondo brushes off injury talk||05.26.10 at 6:30 pm ET|
ORLANDO — As he did after Game 4, Rajon Rondo dismissed talk that he was dealing with any kind of a serious injury. “I’m feeling better,” he said before the team’s shootaround. “I’m fine. Nothing to worry about. I’ll be playing.”
The team said that Rondo had a muscle spasm during Game 4, but Rondo refused to use that as an excuse after he scored just nine points, to go with eight assists, while Jameer Nelson scored 23 points in the Magic’s win. “I’ve just got to play better,” he said after the game.
The Magic used Nelson on a variation on their high pick and roll by having Rashard Lewis set a screen that led into another screen with Dwight Howard. Nelson repeatedly got into the lane against the Celtics and had nine assists. He also was able to get Howard several dunks on lobs once the defense committed.
The Celtics will have to come up with a counter to that for Game 5 and it will have to start with a healthy Rondo.
|Celtics have room for improvement||05.17.10 at 1:28 pm ET|
ORLANDO — The important thing is that they got the win, but the Celtics know that if they are going to head home with two games in their back pocket that they have work to do. First and foremost, is cleaning up on the boards.
The Celtics allowed 15 offensive rebounds in Game 1 against the Magic and they know that can’t continue.
“That’s real disturbing,” Paul Pierce said. “That’s something we gave up mostly in the second half.”
Pierce is sort of right on that count — the Celtics allowed eight of the 15 in the second half — but the problem became more noticeable in the fourth quarter when the Magic made their run. As is often the case, a decent number of the Magic’s second-chance points came off dribble penetration and freelancing from their defensive system.
“It wasn’t their bigs in some places, it was their guards,” Doc Rivers said. “[Matt] Barnes hurt us a couple of times. We double teamed three times and they scored all three times where we were not supposed to double team, and then the dribble penetration. [J.J.] Redick killed us off the dribble.”
By Rivers count the Celtics double-teamed on three occasions, and they got burned each time.
“It’s instinct,” Rivers said. “We had a horrible one, where we doubled Dwight [Howard]. Dwight was five feet off the block and we went and doubled him and Jason Williams was standing by himself behind the 3. That’s just an instinct and we do allow that, but we have to be smarter against this team. They kill you when you double them. If you double team this team they’ll hurt you.”
The Celtics also want to figure out their pick and roll coverage. Jameer Nelson burned them in the second half when they went under the screen. He’s too good a shooter to allow him open looks.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to stop Jameer Nelson in the pick and roll,” Pierce said. “He really got hot in the second half. We’re far from being where we want to be.”
|Eastern Conference Preparing for Competition||08.18.09 at 10:20 pm ET|
Two years ago the Boston Celtics traveled to Europe for training camp. That season they won the championship. The close-knit squad credited the trip overseas for their unwavering chemistry on the court.
“The second we got to training camp in September, we all said, hey, let’s meet in September without the coaches and come together and just start playing with each other, starting to get to know one another, and I think all that stuff really helped us,” Paul Pierce said during the 2008 playoffs.
This summer Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson hopes he can have the same effect on his teammates. Nelson is hosting the Magic at his Philadelphia-area home for “Building Magic,” a week-long getaway that combines strength and conditioning drills with team-building activities.
Like the Celtics did in 2007, the Magic traded a handful of core players in exchange for an All-Star (Vince Carter) and added to their bench along the way. After losing Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee, key pieces in their postseason run, and veteran mentor Tony Battie, Nelson understands the importance of this offseason.
He explained to Sports Illustrated in July:
“We’re trying to piece it together because our team was in transition. For the most part, the big guns have committed — Vince [Carter], Dwight [Howard] and Rashard [Lewis]. After those guys have committed, no one can really back out unless they have some type of serious issue.
This year we’re doing it from the 16th through the 22nd of August. We do it at the same facility every year, same gym at Haverford College. We’ll work out with my trainers — conditioning drills, weightlifting, stuff to get your body right. The basketball stuff we do is later in the afternoon. We do that for about 2-3 hours.
Afterward, we’ll mix up the nightlife. We always do a dinner. Other days we’ll do paintball or bowling, maybe go to the movies.”