|False start: Celtics stumble in Denver to open second half||02.19.13 at 11:27 pm ET|
In their first game following the All-Star break, the Celtics couldn’t keep pace with the Nuggets in a 97-90 loss in Denver on Tuesday night.
Playing a Nuggets team that, at 23-3, is one of the most dominant at home in the NBA, the Celtics’ balanced offensive attack proved insufficient. After arriving at halftime with a 50-49 lead, the Celtics were outscored 29-20 in a game-changing third quarter, with the eight-point deficit entering the final period proving too much to overcome.
In defeat, the Celtics featured five scorers in double figures, led by Jeff Green‘s 20 points off the bench on 8-of-12 shooting. Avery Bradley chipped in with a season-high 17.
However, Paul Pierce struggled both from the floor (shooting 2-for-14 en route to 10 points) and with foul trouble, fouling out in the final seconds. The Nuggets attempted more than twice as many free throws as the Celtics (34 to 16).
The Nuggets were led by forward Danilo Gallinari, who had 26 points, and guard Ty Lawson, who had 24 points along with six rebounds and six assists.
Boston falls to 8-16 on the road with four games remaining on the current Western Conference swing. The Celtics are 28-25 on the season.
For a complete recap, click here.
|Trade rumor: Celtics ‘salivating’ over landing Hawks’ Josh Smith for Jeff Green, Brandon Bass||02.16.13 at 9:39 am ET|
The Celtics “would be receptive” to trading both Jeff Green and Brandon Bass for Hawks forward Josh Smith, according to longtime Bucks beat reporter Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times.
The Nets and Bucks are also reportedly interested, but “for a few weeks now” the Celtics have been “salivating” over the possibility of landing Rajon Rondo‘s Oak Hill Academy teammate, according to the report.
|Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics sink Clippers ship||02.03.13 at 3:44 pm ET|
The Celtics nearly blew a 19-point halftime lead, as the Clippers closed to within a single possession with three minutes to play, but a long Jason Terry jumper with 1:09 remaining and Paul Pierce‘s 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds on the clock helped put the game away, 106-104. Matt Barnes and 37 combined turnovers made for an ugly basketball game, but the C’s improved to 4-0 since All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Bench production: Facing what many consider the NBA’s best bench — save for Eric Bledsoe‘s insertion into the Clippers starting lineup in place of the injured Chris Paul (knee) — the C’s reserves made a statement in the first half. The Celtics bench outscored their counterparts 32-5 in the opening 24 minutes, reaching that total on just 15 shots. Terry and Jeff Green led the way with nine points apiece by the break.
Jamal ball: Conversely, the Celtics kept Jamal Crawford and his explosive offense under control until he heated up late. C’s coach Doc Rivers stuck Avery Bradley on the perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate, and when Bradley picked up three first-half fouls, Courtney Lee picked up where his backcourt mate left off. Crawford, who broke his nose against the Raptors on Friday, grew so frustrated that he abandoned his protective facemask.
Balancing act: Once again, just about everybody stepped up in Rondo’s absence. Green, Terry and Leandro Barbosa all reached double digits off the bench. Pierce owned the third quarter. Brandon Bass tied his career high in assists (4). And Jason Collins set a new season high for scoring (5). Rivers needed to capture his team’s attention after a 20-23 start; it’s too bad it took Rondo’s season-ending injury to do it.
Paul Pierce scored 22 points while Jeff Green and Leandro Barbosa added 14 apiece off the bench as the Celtics outlasted the Clippers, 106-104, Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. Pierce’s three as the shot clock expired sealed the win with 2.5 seconds left in the game and helped the Celtics avoid the embarrassment of blowing a 19-point halftime lead. The Celtics finished 11-for-18 from 3-point range while Boston’s bench outscored LA’s reserves, 52-29, with 23 of those 29 coming from Jamal Crawford.
Jason Terry hit a big shot as the shot clock expired late in the fourth quarter as the Celtics won their fourth straight and moved back over .500 at 24-23 on the season. While the Celtics were playing without Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, the Clippers were without star point guard Chris Paul, missing his seventh game in nine outings with a sore right knee.
Both teams came out on fire in the first quarter. The Celtics started off 8-of-13 from the field while the Clippers hit 6-of-9 to start the game. The Celtics overcame four Clippers dunks in the first quarter to take a 33-30 lead after 12 minutes.
The Celtics turned the defensive screws on the Clippers in the second quarter while staying red-hot themselves. The Celtics scored the first six points of the quarter while Los Angeles didn’t get on the board until Lamar Odom‘s turnaround over four minutes into the quarter. The Celtics forced 15 Clippers turnovers in the first half, including nine in the second quarter. The Celtics managed to turn those 15 turnovers into 24 points and race out to a 59-40 halftime lead.
The Celtics had remarkable balance in the first half, with 10 of their 11 players finding the scoring column. Only rookie Fab Melo, who didn’t see the floor, failed to score. Green and Terry led a potent attack off the bench with nine points apiece, combining to go 4-for-5 from the three-point range.
The Clippers responded to open the third, scoring the first eight points to cut the lead back to 11, 59-48. But after Blake Griffin picked up his fourth foul midway through the third, the Celtics, thanks to a pair of responded, building the lead back to 19, 74-55. The Celtics closed the third as they did in the second quarter, on a run. Green and Barbosa hit back-to-back threes and Barbosa hit a top-of-the-key jumper as time expired to give the Celtics a 92-77 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Celtics were 10-for-14 from long range through three quarters before going ice cold in the fourth. Read the rest of this entry »
|Paul PIerce on Jeff Green: ‘That’s the Jeff we pretty much envisioned’||02.02.13 at 1:53 am ET|
Jeff Green has picked a good time to show his best side.
Green had three monster slams and 17 points off the bench as the Celtics beat the Magic, 97-84, Friday at TD Garden. Hours before the game, the team was informed that another player was lost for the season.
With the loss of Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, it was Green who took advantage of a newly-discovered spread offense. Green played aggressive and fearless defense on LeBron James on Sunday against the Heat. On Wednesday, he led the Celtics over the Kings. On Friday, he was the energy force of a Celtics team that made it back to .500 at 23-23.
“You know, we’re spreading the floor for him which helps too,” Doc RIvers said. “And that helps. But he’s just been aggressive. We’re getting the ball to him in the open court, which I think is really important for him because of his speed, the defense can’t set, and it gets him to the rim, which is good. Yeah, so he’s doing great and we’ve got to keep him thinking about rebounds. That’s important for us.”
And when the lead shrank from 16 points to three, it was Green who again provided the spark with a one-handed jam.
“Yeah, and the defense obviously is what got us out on the break, and I thought that changed the game,” Rivers said. “We went small in that stretch. I got on Paul again; Paul we just want him to stay being a scorer. I think he’s trying to create too much right now. His scoring will create for us.”
Courtney Lee also flew to the basket for a dunk in the fourth quarter, and like Green, started from the baseline. Which dunk was better?
“Definitely mine, definitely mine,” Lee joked. “But Jeff, he soars through the air man. He does the Statue of Liberty so…you can see how high he’s elevated, and he get his elbow off the ground when he do that. So I’m going to give him credit. I’ve seen Top 5 plays of the season, I think he was on there like 3 or 4 times so he got it.”
“It’s great,” added Paul Pierce. “He’s been very aggressive, he’s getting easy baskets out on the break. He’s been attacking the rim in the half court and that’s the Jeff we pretty much envisioned you know coming into the season. I think we are doing a good job of finding him in his spots. And he’s taking his time and really getting the job done.”
|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.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers says his team will have to play more small ball now that big man Jared Sullinger is lost for the season to lumbar disc surgery in his back, surgery that took place Friday at New England Baptist Hospital.
While the news was somewhat surprising to outsiders on Friday, the Celtics knew all along that this was the risk of drafting Sullinger, who missed nearly half of his final (sophomore) year last winter with Ohio State, a team he led to the Final Four. Sullinger’s bad back dropped him on draft day last June and the Celtics took the gamble, taking him 21st overall.
“We knew this could happen,” Rivers said. “We knew it a month before the draft that this could happen and at some point it probably would happen. We were hoping it would be a summer thing, rather than the middle of the season, but it happened now. He was playing great and the good news is we know he can play. We know he’ll be a very good player and, in the long run, this will make him healthier.”
As for Rivers’ reaction to the news, “My emotions are to the team, I have to give them that. I told them after shootaround. Our goals haven’t changed, nothing’s changed. We will have to play differently, again.”
Rivers said he would use more of a “small-ball” approach, like the Magic and Knicks already do in the East. Rivers also inserted Brandon Bass back in the starting lineup and hinted that he would use Jeff Green more at the power forward spot, with the following caveat.
“It’s probably not fair but I’m going to lean more on Jeff to do more rebounding,” Rivers said. “When he’s rebounded for us, he’s played well.”
“I think we’re still working on what we may have to do. But I think we definitely have to be a small-ball team. We’ll start big, as usual with Brandon and Kevin [Kevin Garnett] — I don’t know if that’s big, but that’s how we’ll start. After that we just have to put our five best players on the floor, so we’re going to have to be creative.”
As for leaning on rookie center Fab Melo, don’t expect Rivers to be using the Syracuse product, meshing with what Danny Ainge told reporters before Friday’s game.
“I know how people here love the young guys — love to see the young guys,” Rivers said tongue-in-cheek. “I’m sure at some point, Fab will find his way on the floor. Obviously, I think you try to give him as much as he can handle. You do try to put him in situations like when he’s on the floor, Kevin’s on the floor with him to help him.”
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