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The cold truth: Paul Pierce leads Celtics to 7th straight in epic fashion 02.10.13 at 9:15 pm ET
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Paul Pierce was doing it all Sunday night against the Nuggets, including battling for this rebound. (AP)

Paul Pierce was doing it all Sunday night against the Nuggets, including battling for this rebound. (AP)

The two hottest teams in the NBA rewarded hearty New England basketball fans with the game of the year in professional basketball. In a game with countless ebbs and flows, the Celtics outlasted the Nuggets, 118-114, in triple overtime Sunday night at TD Garden, earning their season-high seventh straight win in the process. The Celtics also ended Denver’s nine-game win streak, with Rajon Rondo in attendance.

In 54 spectacular minutes, Paul Pierce finished with a triple double, scoring 27 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing 14 assists. But with a chance to tie the game, his second free throw rattled in and out with 32.5 seconds left in double overtime. Ty Lawson hit jumper to put Denver up three. Pierce came down and drained a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left to send the game into triple overtime.

After missing six straight 3-pointers, Jason Terry drilled a straightaway trey with 1:33 left in triple OT to put the Celtics up 116-113. Terry finished with 26 points off the bench. Sunday marked Boston’s ninth overtime game this season, matching a franchise record for a season (1950-51 and 1953-54). Kevin Garnett was big on the boards in 47 minutes, hauling in 18 rebounds to go with 20 points.

The Celtics were 3.6 seconds from their seventh straight win when the officials overturned a Nuggets turnover out of bounds under the Celtics basket. Given a second chance, Lawson hit the game-tying layup off the glass to send the game into overtime.

There were very few empty seats in TD Garden as Celtics fans braved the elements and lack of public transportation to get to the game just 24 hours after a state of emergency was lifted in the wake of the “Nemo” blizzard.

The Nuggets entered the game with an NBA-best nine-game winning streak, beating the Cavaliers Saturday night. The Nuggets (104.8) entered the game as the third-highest-scoring team in the NBA, with only the Thunder (106.6) and Rockets (106.0) scoring more per game.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Jason Terry, JET
Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green lead C’s in revenge win over DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings 01.30.13 at 9:50 pm ET
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Avery Bradley (0) and the Celtics used a big second quarter to blow by Isaiah Thomas and the Kings Wednesday. (AP)

Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and Jason Terry each scored 12 points off the bench as the Celtics beat the Kings, 99-81, Wednesday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, who won their second straight after six straight losses, gained revenge for a humbling 118-96 loss in Sacramento on Dec. 30, a game in which 22-year-old DeMarcus Cousins registered a triple-double. Boston was able to contain Cousins Wednesday, holding him to 13 points and six rebounds.

Paul Pierce came on in the second half to lead the Celtics with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Kevin Garnett added 13 points and nine rebounds. Boston’s bench outscored Sacramento’s reserves, 50-26.

The Celtics raced out to an 8-0 lead to start the game as Garnett was red-hot early. The Celtics lost their starting power forward Jared Sullinger to back spasms just four minutes into the game. He received ice treatment in the locker room but could not return and was ruled out late in the second quarter.

The Kings recovered quickly and outscored the Celtics 24-14 to end the period as the visitors led, 24-22, after 12 minutes.

The Celtics couldn’t miss in the second quarter. They made a season-best 16-of-20 shots from the field, scorching the Kings with 80 percent shooting and outscoring the Kings, 37-14, in the period to take a commanding 59-38 halftime lead. The Celtics hit their first 14 shots of the quarter.

Green and Garnett were a combined 10-for-10 from the field in the first half, combining for 21 of Boston’s 59 points. The Celtics were able to do most of their damage without Paul Pierce, who was held scoreless until his layup and subsequent three-point play with 2:55 left in the first half.

Looking to avoid a meltdown like the one that cost them a 27-point lead last Friday in Atlanta, the Celtics actually expanded their lead to 28, 74-46, midway through the third.

But the Kings did make a run at the Celtics early in the fourth, cutting Boston’s lead down to 15, 82-67, on a flagrant-1 foul by Leandro Barbosa on Tyreke Evans. But the Celtics managed to stop the bleeding there and Pierce came down and responded with a basket to restore the lead to 17.

The Kings cut the lead back down to 14, 90-76, and had a rebound with a chance to narrow it more but committed a turnover in transition. But the Celtics looked awful in the next possession as Pierce held onto the ball near mid-court for a 24-second violation. The Kings would not get closer than 14 down the stretch.

The Celtics are off Thursday before returning to action on Friday against the Magic at TD Garden. The Celtics conclude their four-game homestand with a game against the Clippers on Sunday at 1 p.m. For complete coverage from the Garden from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Jason Terry
Is one NBA scout’s scathing take on Celtics accurate? 01.26.13 at 3:05 pm ET
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Paul Pierce

NBA general managers must be hovering like vultures over Danny Ainge‘s struggling Celtics, so it’s no surprise they are a main focus ESPN.com writer Marc Stein’s must-read Weekend Dime.

With all due respect to the NBA scout who rightfully ripped the Celtics to shreds in Stein’s piece, the outlook isn’t quite as bad as he makes it out to be, despite their current six-game losing streak.

“Their bench has to be playing at the top of their abilities for them to win.”

According to HoopsStats.com, the Celtics are 12-11 when their bench outperforms the opposing team’s and 7-11 when it doesn’t. That lends some credence to this statement, but they can win when their reserves don’t contribute. We knew these C’s would rely on their depth more this season than they have in the past, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers couldn’t even begin to structure a consistent rotation until Avery Bradley returned this month.

And they don’t have enough guys big-guy-wise that Doc [Rivers] is comfortable with.

The C’s everlasting search for frontcourt depth behind Kevin Garnett has been no secret. Hence, their rumored interest in both Marcin Gortat and DeMarcus Cousins. The struggles of Brandon Bass and the thumb injury to Chris Wilcox haven’t helped, but don’t rule out those two contributing more in the second half of the season.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Jason Terry, NBA
Courtney Lee, Jason Terry swap Celtics fortunes 01.15.13 at 1:10 am ET
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After the Celtics defeated the Bobcats, earning their sixth straight victory, the generally jovial Jason Terry walked through the locker room, head down, repeating: “Tough game. Tough game.”

He had just finished the worst night of his Celtics career, a scoreless effort in 15 minutes. Heck, C’s coach Doc Rivers even played Leandro Barbosa over Terry in an eight-point game midway through the fourth quarter.

“Just a feel, honestly,” said Rivers. “I thought we needed energy, and he’s always ready.”

Energy? Terry’s made a living on energy, finishing among the top Sixth Man of the Year candidates for as long as some of his teammates have been in the NBA. Yet, on a Monday night against the Charlotte Bobcats in the middle of January, he couldn’t get on the floor. For the time being, the tides have turned against Terry.

In November and December, Terry didn’t entirely meet the expectations set by his three-year, $15 million deal, but at least he averaged double-digit scoring on near 40 percent 3-point shooting in 30 minutes a night. That was only supposed to improve once Avery Bradley returned and allowed Terry to find his comfort zone off the bench.

Instead, he’s played 16 or fewer minutes in three of the C’s seven games this month, including a combined 31 minutes over the past two games. In the seven games since Bradley’s return from shoulder surgeries, Terry’s averaging only 4.6 points on 34.9 percent shooting from the field (23.8 3-point percentage).

Courtney Lee, who struggled mightily to start the season, appeared to be the odd man out. In the game prior to Bradley’s return, Terry dropped 20 points for the first time all season while Lee went scoreless in 21 minutes, and that was a microcosm of what the Celtics had seen from them all season.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry
Avery Bradley’s philosophy: ‘Defense is just effort’ 01.03.13 at 9:38 am ET
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Even if his jump shot isn’t back yet, the Celtics really need Avery Bradley‘s attitude.

“Defense is just effort,” he said after his return from double shoulder surgery. “If you give effort, you can never have a bad defensive game. That’s how I think of it. You play as hard as you can. That’s all you have to do.”

Outside of Kevin Garnett and possibly Jason Collins, it’s hard to say there’s anybody else on the Celtics who offers a consistent effort on the defensive end every night. Just ask Tony Allen. Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce often conserve themselves for the offensive end, Courtney Lee hasn’t come as advertised defensively and nobody else on the C’s roster has developed much of a defensive reputation, unless you include Fab Melo, who started the season falling into a folding chair and currently suffers from a concussion after walking into a doorway.

In addition to being the NBA’s worst rebounding team, the Celtics rank in the middle of the pack in almost every defensive statistical category after ranking among the top five teams in defensive rating every season since 2008.

“Every team has its up and downs,” said Bradley, who scored four points on six shots during Wednesday night’s loss to the Grizzlies. “The best teams are the ones that can go through the adversity and overcome it. With the veteran leadership we have, I feel like we’re going to overcome it. We’ve just got to keep improving.”

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jason Terry
Even Paul Pierce can’t save the Celtics from the Bucks 12.22.12 at 12:28 am ET
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Paul Pierce rescued the Celtics on Wednesday night when he scored 40 points to lead the Celtics over the Cavaliers after Boston blew a 20-point lead to a 5-21 team in the third quarter on their home court.

Pierce scored 35 points Friday but it wasn’t enough as the Celtics blew a 10-point lead and lost 99-94 in overtime to the emerging Milwaukee Bucks.

“It’s a team game, regardless of how I play,” Pierce said. “We’ve got to do better in stretches. I think when our offense isn’t going for long stretches we’ve got to be able to defend. You know, at the beginning of the fourth quarter we went into the quarter up like seven or eight and we instantly kind of gave away the lead. And that’s the kind of case where even though our shots aren’t falling, we’ve got to be able to come down and get stops after stops after stops. And it just comes and goes in stretches right now.”

The Celtics led by 10 in the first half and by eight, 70-62, heading into the fourth. But Milwaukee went on a 21-8 run to take command. Pierce appeared to rescue the Celtics yet again when he drained a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. But in the end, even Pierce couldn’t overcome a 1-for-15 night from Jason Terry and a 6-for-22 night from Kevin Garnett.

“That’s what we’ve been saying all year long…There’s going to be nights when shots won’t fall,” Pierce said. “And one thing we can control, I think, is our intensity on the defensive end, we are inconsistent. But we just – a little bit of consistency in that department – we play well for the most part and we look up there and we shoot 43% or whatnot, but it has to be throughout the whole game more consistency. You know, we can’t give up 17-0 runs to Cleveland. We can’t give up 10-0 runs to Milwaukee. And then decide that’s when we want to play defense.”

The Celtics are now 1-3 against the Bucks and won’t play them again this season, unless of course, it’s a playoff matchup.

“They have great guard play, and they have pretty good intangibles, you know, they have guys that you really don’t expect to play well that really play well,” Pierce said. “I mean (Larry) Sanders kind of has been a thorn in my side, (Luc) Mbah a Moute, he’s played well the last two games. And you focus so much on their two guards, that what happens: other guys like that step up and carry you.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett, Milwaukee Bucks
Doc Rivers pregame on the Bucks again, ‘The Jasons’ lineup and Larry Sanders 12.21.12 at 7:40 pm ET
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Chris Wilcox (right thumb) and Leandro Barbosa (personal matter, not with the team) will be out for Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

With those two out, the Celtics recalled rookie forward Kris Joseph from the Maine Red Claws on Friday.

Other notes:

The Celtics are playing the Bucks for a fourth time in the first six weeks of the season, with Boston trailing the series 1-2. That could be a factor if the two are vying for playoff positioning late in the season. Boston stands 13-12 heading into the game while the Bucks are a half-game better at 13-11.

“What’s funny is, I don’t think any of the lineups have been the same on either team,” Rivers said. “It’s four new games every time we play them. It’s early, I tell you, I obviously don’t love that. I just think you should play a team in your conference late in the season. But we’re going to make it up, we’re going to play the Knicks four times after this.”

Doc Rivers will stick with “The Jasons” lineup featuring Jason Terry at shooting guard and Jason Collins at center for a second straight game.

“I’ve said this 100 times – the starting lineup is not as important as everyone thinks it is,” said Rivers. “I did that more from Kevin. In one way, just to get him some minutes at the 4 instead of the 5. And then, until Avery [Bradley] comes back, for Jason Terry to get a shot. But other than that, I did like it, because Jason — you don’t know which one, so I’ll let you figure it out — his talking was terrific, it helped Kevin. I hope you guys can figure that one out.”

Rivers said he did like the impact it had on Kevin Garnett, who had 12 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes of the win over Cleveland.

“He seemed like he had more energy,” Rivers said. “It’s one game, so it’s tough thing to look at. If we play well tonight — we’ll find out in a month what it does really. It looks like he had more energy, because he had another guy covering for him and he didn’t feel like he had to do everything on defense.”

Rivers compared Bucks shot-blocker and big man Larry Sanders to Thunder big Serge Ibaka: “We should probably stop shooting when he’s right there. That would probably help, because he always blocks your shot. It’s funny, he does it to everybody. I actually told my son, Austin, when they played the Bucks, I said, ‘Hey Austin, be careful with Sanders, you get a step deep and he’ll get you.’ I think his first two shots were blocked, so I was thinking, ‘Nothing changes. No one listens.’”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jason Collins, Jason Terry
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