|Jason Terry praises Paul Pierce, blasts LeBron James||12.20.12 at 1:10 am ET|
Two months after his 35th birthday, Celtics captain Paul Pierce scored 40 points on 16 shots in Wednesday night’s 103-91 victory against the Cavaliers. It took a superhuman effort, as his three most veteran teammates can attest. Maybe that’s why Jason Terry called him Kryptonite in the locker room afterwards.
Pierce, Terry, Kevin Garnett and Jason Collins have a combined 55 years of NBA experience between them, but this was a first. The Celtics captain became the oldest player in franchise history to eclipse 40 points in a regulation game (at 35 and three months, Larry Bird scored 49 in double overtime in 1992).
“Not a lot of guys in this league stay in one franchise,” said Terry. “You can count them on your hand right now. It’s not many that are superstars, that have been in the league longer than 12-13 years, and he’s one of them.”
Terry played his last eight seasons alongside one of those other guys in Dirk Nowitzki, who has stayed in Dallas ever since being selected one spot ahead of Pierce in the 1998 NBA draft. There’s a certain respect among veterans around the league for loyalty like that, Terry said, especially after younger superstars like LeBron James and Dwight Howard jumped ship for the Heat and Lakers early in their careers over the past several years.
As Terry elaborated, Pierce has demonstrated a “willingness to stick through the tough times and not just jump off: ‘I’m outta here.’ ‘I’m going to go join forces with Kobe [Bryant].’ Or, ‘I’m going to go play with Dwyane Wade.’ That’s a shot right there. … I think that’s what guys look at, and they respect him.”
How’s this for respect? Pierce joined Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Clyde Drexler, Alex English, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller and Walter Davis as the only players since 1985 to scored 40 points in regulation after turning 35 years old. None of the others accomplished that feat on 16 shots.
“Paul was on fire tonight, man,” added Garnett, who was traded to Boston after 12 up-and-down seasons for the Timberwolves. “Paul had a flashback to like ’03 or ’04 or something, man. It was good to see, though. As we walked in tonight, I could tell — just because it was a long day — that he felt kind of down in the dumps. After the game, I told him, ‘You need to feel more down in the dumps a little more often.’ But he had the rhythm going, and we were just trying to feed him. I thought he did a good job getting it out of the offense and letting it come to him.”
|Doc Rivers goes extreme: Starts Jason Collins at center||12.19.12 at 7:37 pm ET|
After losing their third straight game Tuesday night in Chicago, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he would continue to search for answers to shake his team out of its early season funk. On Wednesday, he followed through, replacing Courtney Lee in the starting lineup with Jason Terry, who got only two shots in Tuesday’s 100-89 loss in Chicago.
“Nothing more, until Avery [Avery Bradley] comes back,” Rivers said of the decision. “Jet just doesn’t get involved unless [Rajon Rondo] is on the floor. It has nothing to do with anybody else, it’s more to do with getting Jet more involved.”
In a more drastic measure, Rivers said Jason Collins would take over the starting center role from Kevin Garnett in order to move Garnett back to his more natural spot of big forward. The move would mean Brandon Bass would come off the bench. Bass has started 21 of Boston’s 24 games this season, including the last 16 straight.
“Just because of his size,” Rivers said in explaining the move for the 7-foot, 255-pound big man. “[Coaching staff] has been talking about it a lot but just haven’t done it. We’ve just been trying to find ways of getting Kevin off the ’5′ spot all game. Right now, even when we put the other guys in, the same [opposing players] are guarding him and the only way you can force the action is with Jason.”
If Rivers sticks with the new starting lineup, Celtics fans can expect to see Rondo and Terry in the backcourt until Avery Bradley returns in early January, with Garnett and Paul Pierce at the forward spots and Collins at center.
|Irish Coffee: What Avery Bradley does for the Celtics||at 1:22 pm ET|
Upon Avery Bradley‘s return to practice on Monday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers declared, “He ain’t the savior.”
Well, he was last season. The Celtics finished 20-9 in Bradley’s 29 starts last year, including a 14-5 record once he took Ray Allen‘s starting job on March 25, and they were essentially a .500 team (19-18) when he wasn’t in the starting lineup. Funny how the C’s have started 12-12 without him this season.
But Bradley does more than impact their record. When he took the floor with Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics outscored their opponents 113-94 per 100 possessions. That’s seven points better on offense and defense than the Rondo-Allen-Pierce-Bass-Garnett lineup (106-101 per 100 possessions).
That’s also far better than Rondo, Pierce, Bass and Garnett with Jason Terry (108-99) or Courtney Lee (106-115) this season. The Celtics shot better (50.6 eFG%), forced opponents to shoot worse (39.5 eFG%), got to the line more often (+28 FTA) and rebounded better (47.0 REB%) with Bradley than with Allen, Terry or Lee.
|O.J. Mayo: ‘Would’ve been an honor to play’ for Celtics||12.13.12 at 1:14 am ET|
This past April, Celtics analyst Donny Marshall claimed O.J. Mayo‘s refusal to play for the Celtics led to the collapse of a deal with the Grizzlies that would have brought him to Boston last season in exchange for Ray Allen and a draft pick. “Mayo basically said, ‘I don’t care about banners,’” announced Marshall.
After losing to the Celtics in double overtime on Wednesday, the current Mavericks guard denied that accusation, referencing his lack of veto power without a no-trade clause and affirming he would’ve welcomed the deal to Boston.
“I was in a good situation in Memphis at the time,” said Mayo. “Obviously, Boston is a big-time organization as well. Great players. It would’ve been an honor to play with KG [Kevin Garnett], [Paul] Pierce and [Rajon] Rondo. It would’ve been great to play with those guys and with [Celtics coach] Doc [Rivers].”
Instead, Mayo blamed the deal’s failure on an internal debate between C’s players and the front office over Allen’s future.
“I was pretty much set to come here and something fell through at the very last second,” said Mayo, who collected 24 points (10-19 FG), six rebounds, three assists and two steals in Wednesday night’s loss to the Celtics. “A couple of the guys wanted to keep Ray, and management wanted to make the trade.
|Celtics scouting report: Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo||12.12.12 at 12:31 pm ET|
If Celtics coach Doc Rivers is really “the Bill Belichick of basketball,” as Jason Terry claimed, then he’s planning to stop every opponent’s most dangerous weapon. Against the Mavericks on Wednesday night, that’s O.J. Mayo.
The fifth-year guard has averaged career highs across the board, including 20.8 points (48.7 FG%, 50.3 3P%), 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 34.9 minutes per game, leading Dirk Nowitzki-less Dallas to a surprising 11-10 start.
“O.J. Mayo’s playing off the charts,” said Rivers. “He’s shooting above 50 from the 3. What’s impressive with him, they’re running a lot of isos, and he’s guarded taking 3’s. That’s scary when you say a guy is guarded taking 3’s and he’s making over 50 percent of them. And he’s really their catalyst.”
After the NCAA vacated his brief USC career over improper benefits, Mayo played his first four NBA seasons for the Grizzlies. That roller-coaster ride began with a runner-up finish to Derrick Rose in the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year voting and ended with a sprinkling of votes for last season’s Sixth Man of the Year honor, but also featured an in-flight fight with Tony Allen over a gambling debt and a 10-game suspension for using a banned substance.
“His work ethic has definitely changed,” said Celtics guard Jason Terry. “If you hear coming out of their locker room what he’s done differently, he’s brought better work habits. He’s been there at night, and he’s coming early before the games, so I think that’s carrying over for him. He’s always been a great talent, but there’s been questions about his work ethic. Obviously, this year he’s put the work in, and it’s starting to show.”
|Jason Terry doesn’t miss this Mavericks team||12.11.12 at 5:43 pm ET|
WALTHAM — As we learned earlier this season, on the eve of every Celtics game, Jason Terry sleeps in a pair of shorts worn by someone from the next night’s opponent. Thankfully, on Tuesday night, he won’t have to bribe a locker room attendant to get a pair of Mavericks shorts.
“I’m wearing my own,” said the former Dallas star. “The ones from the championship.”
After the NBA lockout, as Mavericks management allowed pieces of that 2010 title team to sign elsewhere, Terry voiced his displeasure about not getting the band back together, and he left for Boston as a result a year later. He wanted to compete for another championship, and Dallas got worse. In the infancy of this season, Terry said of last year’s Mavericks, “It never jelled. It never happened. That’s why we were out in the first round.”
“They’ve got the same team name, but it’s not the same team,” he added after Tuesday’s practice. “Obviously, that was last year. We didn’t have the same team, or we’d probably still be there. It’s a totally different ballclub.”
So, when Terry faces his former employer, he won’t see his old team on the other bench. Gone are key contributors Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd. Dirk Nowitzki (knee) hasn’t suited up yet this season, and Shawn Marion (groin) remains a game-time decision after missing the previous two games.
“Those are the guys I won a championship with,” said Terry, “and they’re not there. … Maybe if Tyson Chandler was over there or Jason Kidd was over there, then there would be something extra special, but honestly it’s not.”
|Irish Coffee: How Celtics perform in clutch situations||12.10.12 at 5:10 pm ET|
After Rajon Rondo missed not one, but both game-winning opportunities in a 95-94 Celtics loss to the 76ers over the weekend — a failed 19-footer to end regulation and the infamous slippery 16-footer as overtime ran out — I got to wondering how the C’s are performing in clutch situations (either team within five points with five minutes remaining in regulation and overtime), since half of their 20 games have been decided by six points or less.
The C’s are 6-4 in those 10 games despite shooting 37.4 percent as a team in a whopping 60.2 clutch minutes, including three overtime games. They’ve had four potential game-winning shots at the buzzer — all misses on long jumpers — and Rondo has taken three of them. Paul Pierce attempted the fourth (from the elbow, of course).
Before we started reading into who’s doing what in the clutch, here are the numbers (Leandro Barbosa, Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger have all played sparingly in crunch time, but not a large enough sample size). Read the rest of this entry »