|Fast Break: Jeff Green scores 17 as Celtics beat Thunder||11.23.12 at 10:00 pm ET|
Green, who was playing against the Thunder for the first time since being traded to the C’s in February of 2011 in a deal that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City, contributed 17 points off the bench for the Celtics. His points were a season-high, as his previous best this season was a 16-point performance against the Jazz on Nov. 14.
Much of the damage was done in the second and third quarters for the Celtics, as they entered the second quarter trailing, 28-21, before outscoring Oklahoma City 27-17 and 29-20 in the second and third quarters, respectively. The C’s had to fend off a strong fourth quarter from Oklahoma City as the game came down to the wire, but a three-pointer from Jason Terry with 36.7 seconds helped secure the victory for Boston.
The win put the C’s back over .500 with a 7-6 record. Boston had lost two straight entering the contest. The Celtics will next travel to Orlando to face the Magic on Sunday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– Rajon Rondo extended his streak of games with 10 or more assists to 36. Rondo picked up his 10th of the night early in the third quarter when he assisted a Jason Terry three -pointer that made it a 58-49 contest in favor of the Celtics. He finished the night with 16 assists.
Rondo’s streak is the third-longest in NBA history, and he can tie John Stockton’s 1989 streak with his 37th such game on Sunday against the Magic in Orlando. Magic Johnson holds the NBA record with 46 games with 10 or more assists.
– The C’s went on a 7-2 run to close the Thunder’s lead when Jared Sullinger came off the bench early in the second quarter. Oklahoma City took a full timeout after Sullinger picked up a rare offensive rebound for the C’s and put in a layup to make it 32-30. Following the timeout, Sullinger answered a Nick Collison layup by knocking down a 20-foot jumper to keep it a two-point game.
– The Celtics were helped during their second-quarter comeback by a Kevin Durant charge that made for the Thunder star’s third foul of the night. Durant came out of the game, and from there the C’s outscored the Thunder, 16-9, until halftime. That included Boston taking the lead, as a 3-pointer from Rajon Rondo followed by a defensive rebound allowed Chris Wilcox to score and give the C’s a 39-38 lead. Boston had trailed by as many as nine, but held a three-point lead (48-45) at the half.
– How about a team-best plus-15 for Leandro Barbosa? In 11 minutes, the guard contributed no points, a rebound and two assists, but the results were there for the C’s when he was on the floor.
WHAT WENT WRONG
– The Celtics allowed 100 or more points for the sixth time this season. Last season, they had allowed their opponents to hit the century mark just twice in their first 31 games. Friday’s contest was the first game the C’s had won in which they allowed that many points, as they were 0-5 entering Friday in games in which their opponent scored 100.
– The Celtics created more of a presence inside, as the C’s matched Oklahoma City’s first-half points in the paint with 22, but in the end were outscored in the paint as a team for the third consecutive game (the Thunder held a 46-36 advantage in the paint). In their previous two games, the Celtics were outscored in the paint 58-34 against the Spurs and 44-30 against the Pistons.
– Kevin Garnett had a rather quiet night offensively for for the first three quarters, as he had just six points entering the fourth. Garnett turned it on in the fourth, adding 11 more points to give him 17 on the night. Garnett also finished the contest with a plus-14.
|Opinion: Celtics have to find out what they have with Jeff Green||11.15.12 at 11:20 pm ET|
A technical foul was the perfect punctuation to Jeff Green’s dunk on Al Jefferson Wednesday night ‘ not because Green deserved the penalty, but because the stoppage in play provided the opportunity for Celtics fans to digest what they had just seen.
Up to that point this season, Green had been a bust. His contract seemed like an albatross of Carl Crawford proportions. With his four-year, $32 million deal, Green is the fourth-highest-paid player on the team, behind only Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. The problem is Green is playing like the seventh- or eighth-best player on the team, depending on where you rank Jason Terry, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and Courtney Lee.
Thursday night failed to offer any additional clarity to Green’s situation, with the forward scoring five points in 25 minutes during the Celtics’ 102-97 loss to the Nets in Brooklyn. It was a performance that made Wednesday’s heroics seem like an aberration.
Even after Green’s 16-point contribution in the win over Utah, he ranked sixth on the team in scoring (8.8 points per game) and seventh in minutes (21.6 per game). At best, he’s marginally overpaid when you consider Bass and Terry will earn $6.5 million and $5 million this year, respectively. At worst, he’s Danny Ainge‘s recurring mistake, first as the centerpiece of the trade that cost the Celtics Kendrick Perkins, and then as a $32 million version of Rashard Lewis.
The dunk of the season so far gave us a chance to see what Ainge saw in Green all along. The 6-foot-9 forward can flush on Al Jefferson in traffic. He can score 16 points in the flow of the game without having a single play run for him. And evidently, his teammates love him.
After Green threw it down on Jefferson, the ensuing scene seemed reminiscent of an And1 Mixtape Tour. Green didn’t deserve a technical; he almost seemed to be staring down Al Jefferson to make sure he did, in fact, dunk on an All-Star center. But perhaps Green’s teammates deserved the technical. Garnett followed Green around the court, cursing in his ear and pushing him in the chest. Other teammates took turns pushing Green, who typically shies away from that kind of contact.
The celebration seemed to stem from the fact that the Celtics need THAT Jeff Green. Garnett’s been saying it, and he’s right. Green needs to be meaner, more aggressive. He needs to dish out more NBA fouls, and he needs to get down low in the paint when Garnett is on the bench.
|Admittedly ‘lackadaisical’ Jeff Green finally shows he can be mean||11.14.12 at 11:32 pm ET|
When Jeff Green emphatically dunked on Al Jefferson in the fourth quarter Wednesday night and proceeded to stare the posterized big man down, things got loud. The Garden was full of fans and teammates alike that were happy to finally see an aggressive Green, but one voice overpowered everyone else.
“I can’t tell you [what he said],” Green added. “Use your imagination. Think Kevin Garnett, and the first thing [that comes to mind]. It was explicit, but he said to me the other day what I needed to be. That’s basically what he said.”
That term would be “an [expletive]-hole,” something Garnett had said Green needed to be following Saturday’s game against the Bucks.
“Jeff’s a really, really nice guy,” Garnett said on Saturday. “Some nights, you’ve just gotta be an [expletive]-hole.”
Green granted that wish when he took a pass from Garnett, drove to basket and dunked with authority over Jefferson. To make it even meaner, Green stared down Jefferson as he walked away, earning him a technical foul for taunting. The 26-year-old Green admitted he earned the tech.
“I did,” he said. “I guess you can’t look at the guy anymore. Courtney Lee said he’ll pay for it, so we’ll see.”
Garnett was not available for comment after the game due to a minor family matter, but he made his thoughts on the play clear on the court, as he could be seen pushing Green and enthusiastically barking his praise following the play.
He wasn’t the only teammate to praise Green, however. As Green prepared to field questions from reporters, rookie Jared Sullinger, whose locker is next to Green’s, gave his teammate daps and said, “Congratulations, Jeff. You made [SportsCenter’s] No. 1.”
Green finished the night with 16 points, four rebounds and two assists in a season-high 27 minutes. He said he hopes to see his dunk on SportsCenter, but his biggest takeaway on the night was a much-needed confidence-booster.
“I had been playing a little lackadaisical as far as the effort before the prior couple of games, so it felt good to get that. It kind of boosts your confidence up and gets you going a little bit,” he said.
It isn’t every day that you hear a professional athlete volunteer to a scrum full of reporters and camera that his effort hasn’t been there. That’s normally the type of stuff that gets revealed deep into a 1-on-1, if it all. Perhaps Green just knows that more is expected of him, and he’s ready to be a little meaner.
“I don’t think anybody needs to tell me to be aggressive,” Green said. “It’s something that I see. It’s something that I need to do.”
Ben Rohrbach contributed to this report.
|Jeff Green posterizes, taunts Al Jefferson||at 9:46 pm ET|
|C-mail: Answering inbox full of Celtics questions||11.12.12 at 3:22 pm ET|
You’ve got Celtics questions. We’ve got answers. Or more questions. Either way, let’s scroll through the inbox.
@priusport: Where the heck is Darko?
Physically, all 7 feet and 275 pounds of Darko Milicic sits on the end of the bench this season, his ailing wrist often wrapped in tape or a soft cast. It’s a familiar place for Darko, whose history of cashing checks for sitting front row in a warmup suit makes him the envy of most men. And a conundrum for all coaches.
The Celtics certainly didn’t sign Darko as this season’s savior, but they expected more total minutes than games played from him. After all, he’s big, he blocks shots (2.6 per 36 minutes for his career) and he fouls — or “kills,” as Milicic himself might say. Players with less skill than Milicic have made a career out of those attributes.
So, maybe the wrist still bothers him. Or maybe C’s coach Doc Rivers considers him a liability. After all, when the Bucks owned the Celtics in the paint during the second game of the season, Rivers turned to Darko, who committed as many turnovers as he totaled rebounds, blocks and personal fouls in five short minutes.
@BostonsportZ: With trouble in paint with KG on bench, why no Darko or Collins yet? It can’t be worse.
If you thought Darko’s playing time was a limited sample size, check out Jason Collins and his streak of six DNP’s. The only reason he’s had to celebrate was his college roommate Joseph Kennedy III‘s election to Congress.
The C’s biggest problem has been the lack of depth behind Kevin Garnett. In Paul Flannery‘s must-read weekly Sunday notes column, he points out the Celtics are 18.3 points better than their opponents with Garnett on the floor than without, allowing a staggering 112.5 points on 53 percent shooting per 100 possessions sans KG.
So, why not turn to Collins? The 7-foot, 255-pound so-called Dwight Howard stopper has earned a reputation as one of the most heady defensive bigs in the game over 11 NBA seasons. But the C’s have yet to play a traditional center like Howard, facing undersized and finessed 5’s like Lavoy Allen or Chris Bosh for the most part.
@miccamacho6: Doc needs to forget about going small and go big. The 76ers are having a field day in the paint, especially when kg is out.
|Doc Rivers has had it with the lineup questions||11.10.12 at 2:11 am ET|
It wasn’t exactly what you would’ve expected after his team lost to the Sixers, 106-100. Doc RIvers was answering questions about what went wrong and toward the end of his five minute session with reporters decided to go off on a tangent about something that was really bugging him.
After the 106-100 loss to the Sixers Friday, Rivers was reminded that before the game he mentioned he might tweak the lineup when the team heads to Milwaukee and Chicago for games Saturday and Monday nights.
“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “We’ll see. We just finished this game so I’m not thinking about it [yet]. I will say this guys, this lineup stuff you talk about, it lasts for four minutes. Then we switch the lineup [with substitutions]. It’s the whole game that matters. I could start everybody on our bench [Saturday in Milwaukee]. You think it’s going to matter at the end of the game? Really, that’s the way I think. Clearly, you guys don’t think that’s way but that’s how I think.”
Rivers started the first two games with a lineup of Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass. In the next three games, including Friday against the Sixers, he started Jared Sullinger in place of Bass.
“I don’t think who starts matters,” Rivers continued. “It’s who plays well, who plays the most minutes. That’s what we’re focused on. I don’t think a guy in our locker room gives a flying crap about who’s starting.
“You have to find the right group. I think we have that. We’re just not playing well. The thing that’s hurting us right now is when Kevin is going off the floor. It happened again tonight. I thought in the second half it was better. Chris Wilcox gave us a lift. But right now, if y’all want to focus on something, that’s what you should focus on, is what are we going to do when Kevin goes off the floor in the first half. Every time we do it, and we have to do it, we’re struggling.
“And that’s on me. I have to figure that out because he’s not going to be on the floor. He’s coming out and he’s coming out at an exact time. We have to figure out something to make us click, and I think it’s on both ends. I don’t think it’s just our defense going down. I think our offense really struggles when he goes out. We have to do something about it.”
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|Bad Jeff Green is a sad Jeff Green||11.09.12 at 11:43 pm ET|
After shooting just 1-of-5 from the field and scoring four points in 18 minutes off the bench during a 100-94 loss to the 76ers, Celtics forward Jeff Green gave a few curt responses during his postgame press conference, eventually offering a “mmm-hmm” to one final question before catching the team’s flight to Milwaukee.
After scoring three points in the season opener, Green tallied 22 points over his next two games before netting just 10 points in 40 minutes over his past two — a drastic drop from his stellar preseason play. On Thursday, Danny Ainge expressed his disappointment in Green’s adjustment, and Friday was coach Doc Rivers‘ turn.
“It’s a dilemma, but he’s going to be a good player for us this year,” said Rivers. “And sooner rather than later, I’m hoping. We’ve just got to unlock him. Right now, he’s just absolutely frustrated; you can see it in his play. But that’s on all of us; it’s not just on Jeff. Jeff’s the easy target right now. Jeff’s part of this team, just like everyone else, and we have to do a better job of getting him going. He’s probably got to do a better job of getting himself going.”
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