|Fast Break: LeBron James spoils Jeff Green’s career night||03.18.13 at 11:00 pm ET|
Jeff Green (career-high 43 points) became the first Celtics player not named Paul Pierce in more than 12 years to score 43 points in the regular season, and it still wasn’t enough to end the Heat’s winning streak, which LeBron James (37 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds) extended to 23 games in a 105-103 thriller in the Garden.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Garnett loss: Considering they shot 62 percent from the field in the first half, the Celtics’ offense didn’t miss Garnett all that much — thanks to Green’s monster night. The defense? Different story. After building a 17-point lead, the C’s allowed five straight second-quarter layups. Doc Rivers quickly reinserted Avery Bradley — whose ridiculous chase-down block of Norris Cole gave the C’s a brief lift — but Miami responded with a 12-4 run to close the half, taking a more manageable six-point deficit into the break. That doesn’t happen with Garnett. Of course, neither do the Heat’s 8-0 run to start the second half nor the 18-4 string down the stretch of the fourth quarter, each of which erased comfortable Celtics leads.
LeBron being LeBron: Growing increasingly frustrated with his teammates — even showing up Chris Bosh when the Heat center allowed Brandon Bass to waltz into lane for an offensive rebound on a missed free throw — James took over. He showed again and again why he’s the game’s greatest player, even if for one night Green gave him a run for his money. When he wasn’t posterizing Jason Terry, he was drawing defenders and finding everyone from Ray Allen to Shane Battier for wide-open 3-point attempts.
Bench pressed: At some point, there’s a breaking point. Since Garnett’s absence moved Green into the starting lineup, the reserves featured only two players who started the season with the Celtics. Outside of Jason Terry, who knocked down four of his six attempts in 24 minutes, the C’s didn’t get much from the rest of the roster. For the most part, Jordan Crawford (8 points) seemed lost, Chris Wilcox racked up the fouls and the China trio of Terrence Williams, D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph didn’t see the floor.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Green lantern: Either James and Green switched jerseys, or Green played his best basketball in a Celtics uniform. The C’s closed the first quarter on a 17-0 run, including 12 points from Green, to take a 31-19 lead after one. That momentum carried into the second, as Green scored 22 points in a span of 10:43, nearly playing the Heat to a standstill (24-22) through the games’s first 15 minutes. What’s more, he grabbed six boards in that same span — twice his season average. Basically, Green unlocked God mode for 15 minutes.
Truth matters: You can bet Rivers took mental note as his starting combination of Green and Pierce gave the Heat fits. While Miami attempted to guard one of the two with Udonis Haslem (and for some reasonn Chris Andersen), Green and Pierce took advantage. As the former enjoyed a career night, the latter submitted another retro performance, quietly approaching a triple-double (17 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds) in tandem.
Quality Lee: Courtney Lee followed up perhaps his most complete performance of the season (13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks against the Bobcats) with another solid effort against the Heat. He contributed 13 points — including a huge fourth-qaurter triple to snap a 9-0 Heat run — to go along with four assists, three rebounds and three steals. His performance helped offset a mostly underwhelming night for fellow pitbull Avery Bradley, who struggled in the face of fullcourt pressure from Miami’s Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole.
LeBron James rattled home the game-winning basket with 10.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter and finished with 37 points and had 12 assists to lead the Heat to their 23rd straight win, a 105-103 decision over the Celtics Monday night at a crazed TD Garden. The win streak is now alone as the second-longest in NBA history with only the 33-game streak of the Lakers in 1972 surpassing it.
The James shot spoiled one of the greatest single-game performances in Celtics history as Jeff Green finished with 43 points in a losing cause. In a season of unparalleled regular season drama, Green nearly single-handedly ended the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. Green, starting for Kevin Garnett, had a career high 43 points on 14-of-21 shooting.
The Celtics learned before the game they would not have Kevin Garnett in their quest to end Miami’s 22-game winning streak as the superstar was sent home by coach Doc Rivers with flu-like symptoms. Filling in was Green, making his third start of the season, and he put on one of the most spectacular single-game performances in Celtics history.
In a remarkably fast and furious first half, the Heat shot out to a 19-14 lead thanks to seven points from James. But Green led the Celtics on a stunning 17-0 run to end the quarter and put the Celtics up, 31-19, after 12 minutes.
Green and the Celtics continued their run in the second quarter, twice building the lead up to 17 points in the first three minutes of the period.
Green finished the first half with 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting in 20 minutes. The Celtics, as a team, were blazing hot in the first half, hitting 23-of-37 shots (62.2 percent) from the field.
The highlight of the surreal first half came with just under six minutes left. Dwyane Wade stole the ball from Jason Terry just before midcourt and fed Mario Chalmers. Norris Cole took the dish from Chalmers and lobbed a pass up near the rim and James, trailing the play, finished in authoritative style, dunking viciously over Terry, who tried in vain to block it. Terry was called for a foul and James for called for a technical for taunting Terry on the court.
Seconds later, Avery Bradley block Cole on a dunk attempt and that led to a Paul Piece 3-pointer in transition, sending the Garden crowd into pandemonium and putting the Celtics up 52-38. The Heat made a key run at the end of the half, outscoring Boston 15-6 to close to within six at halftime, 59-53. Read the rest of this entry »
|Green Night: With no Kevin Garnett, C’s find a way to blow out Bobcats||03.16.13 at 9:50 pm ET|
With Kevin Garnett sitting out with a strained adductor (groin) in his left leg, all five starters managed to score in double figures as the Celtics exacted revenge on the Charlotte Bobcats with a 105-88 laugher Saturday night at TD Garden. The Celtics avenged their 100-74 loss on Tuesday night in Charlotte, when Doc Rivers gave Paul Pierce the night off.
On Saturday night, Pierce scored a very efficient 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field, adding eight assists and six rebounds as the Celtics pulled away in the second half for the blowout win, their 11th straight at home. The Celtics improved to 36-29 while the Bobcats fell to a league-worst 14-52, with two of those 14 coming against Boston. Gerald Henderson, who had a career-high 35 points in Tuesday’s game, finished with just 16.
The Celtics hit 10-of-14 from three-point range, led by a perfect 3-for-3 from Jason Terry, who finished with a team-leading 15 points. Avery Bradley had 13 while Jeff Green, starting for Garnett, had 10 on 5-of-9 shooting. The Celtics, out-rebounded 48-29 in Tuesday’s loss, picked it up on the glass, beating Charlotte on the boards 42-35.
Leading 40-39 late in the second quarter, the Celtics went on a 10-4 spurt to close the half, as Pierce scored the final six points of the run.
The Celtics went up nine points in the first half and early third quarter, only to have the Bobcats respond. But leading 59-53, Green converted a layup that started a 16-4 run that put the game away. The Celtics led 83-66 heading into the fourth.
The Celtics scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter, capped off by slam dunks from Chris Wilcox and Shav Randolph as the Celtics led, 92-66. The Bobcats made things somewhat interesting with a three-point barrage as part of a 20-7 run that cut the lead to 13 with 3:35 left.
The Celtics will practice on St. Patrick’s Day Sunday in preparation for LeBron James and the Miami Heat Monday night at TD Garden.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Milestone win: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce pass NBA legends in laugher over Raptors||03.13.13 at 9:53 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce achieved significant NBA scoring milestones while leading the Celtics to a bounce-back 112-88 blowout win over the Raptors Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Garnett scored 12 points and passed Jerry West for 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with a dunk with 6:30 left in the first half. Pierce scored 15 and passed Charles Barkley for 20th place on the same list with a pair of free throws midway through the third quarters.
Both Pierce and Garnett received a video tribute during separate timeouts and a standing ovation from the Garden crowd.
Riding a two-game losing streak, the Celtics (35-29) raced out to an early 18-12 lead but thanks to six first-quarter turnovers, allowed Toronto to go on a 10-4 run to end the quarter and trailed the Raptors, 22-21, after 12 minutes. Seven Celtics scored in double figures and Shav Randolph was the only Celtic not to score.
The Celtics took better care of the ball in the second quarter and raced out to a 49-40 lead at the half, as Jeff Green scored 12 points in the quarter. Green finished with a team-best 20 points while Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford had 12 each off the bench.
THe Celtics quickly built their lead to 13 in the opening minute of the third, 53-40, but the Raptors came back to close to within four, 60-56. The Celtics finally put the game away with a 21-6 run to end the third and head into the fourth with an 81-62 lead. Former Celtic Sebastian Telfair picked up his second technical foul in the third quarter intermission and was ejected.
The Celtics built their lead up to as many as 25 in garbage time, allowing Doc Rivers to take out Garnett with just under 10 minutes left. However, unlike the night before, Garnett was getting rest because of a blowout lead.
The win came one night after arguably Boston’s worst effort of the season in a 26-point loss to the lowly Bobcats in Charlotte. The Celtics have Thursday off and will practice Friday in advance of their rare Saturday night home game, a revenge contest against the Bobcats at the Garden.
The Celtics will conclude their three-game homestand with a Monday night game at the Garden with LeBron James and the Heat, who ran their win streak to 20 games with a narrow 98-94 win over the Sixers Wednesday night in Philadelphia. The Heat have road games against Milwaukee Friday and Toronto Sunday afternoon before taking on the Celtics in Boston Monday night.
For more from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach from the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics ground Hawks in overtime||03.08.13 at 10:50 pm ET|
The over-35 crew of Paul Pierce (27 points), Jason Terry (19) and Kevin Garnett (17) combined for 63 points, 19 rebounds and 14 assists, leading the Celtics to their fifth straight win — 107-102 over the Hawks in overtime — and helped the C’s keep pace with the Bulls in the Eastern Conference seeding race.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Piercing hot: In the first quarter, Pierce made his first four buckets, including two 3-pointers, to finish with 12 points in the opening 12 minutes. Of course, he missed his easiest shot of the frame — a layup as time expired — but his shooting set the tone for the C’s 28-point quarter. Garnett and Avery Bradley also started a combined 4-of-6.
And more Pierce: The captain dropped back-to-back 18-foot jumpers late in the fourth quarter to keep pace with a furious Atlanta comeback. In overtime, he drained a 27-footer with a hand in his face to regain the lead with 1:37 remaining. And he assisted on Terry’s 3 that gave the C’s a 105-102 lead a minute later. Basically, he did it all.
Board to death: The Hawks started big against the Celtics with Josh Smith, Al Horford and Johan Petro in the frontcourt. While Horford and Smith combined for 20 points, 9 rebounds and six assists in the first half, the Celtics owned a 19-16 rebounding edge, didn’t allow a single second-chance point and took a 52-47 lead into halftime. That margin got flipped on its heels in the second half, when the Hawks made their comeback, and the Hawks star tandem totaled 54 points, 21 boards and 14 assists to give Atlanta a 41-35 rebounding edge.
KG being KG: Regardless of which lineup Celtics coach Doc Rivers pieced around Garnett, the C’s center made the most of his 35 minutes. He started 7-of-11 from the field — including a 3 in a second straight game that even got him excited — to go along with his eight boards and two dimes. When the Hawks cut the lead to two starting the fourth quarter, Garnett seemingly had a hand in every play, including a beautiful assist to a cutting Courtney Lee and a driving baby hook over Horford that pushed the lead back to 12.
Jason Terry connected on a straightaway 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in overtime to lead the Celtics to a thrilling 107-102 win over the Hawks Friday night at an electrified TD Garden. The game marked a franchise-record 11th overtime game for the Celtics this season, with Boston going 7-4 in those contests.
More importantly, it extended Boston’s home-court winning streak to nine games and improved them to a season-best seven games over .500 at 34-27. They tied Atlanta (34-27) in the East. The Hawks entered the night as the No. 5 seed in the East.
Paul Pierce had 27 points while Kevin Garnett added 17 points to lead the Celtics, who won their ninth straight at home. Terry had 19 points to lead the Boston bench while Jeff Green added 12.
The Hawks, who burned the Celtics with 12 3-pointers in their double-overtime win in Atlanta on Jan. 25, came out blazing again Friday night. Devin Harris, Jeff Teague and Josh Smith connected from long range to account for Atlanta’s first three field goals on the night.
Smith finished with a game-high 32 points while Al Horford had 22 points and 13 rebounds. The Hawks finished the night 9-of-27 from long range.
The Celtics built a 10-point lead in the second quarter, 41-31, as the Celtics rode the hot shooting of Pierce and Jason Terry. Pierce was 5-for-7 from the field in the first half, including a pair of threes in the first quarter while Terry scored all 10 of his first-half points in the second quarter. Terry finished with 14 off the bench.
But the Hawks made a 13-2 run to take a very brief 44-43 lead on an Anthony Tolliver 3-pointer. The Celtics responded by finishing the half on an 8-4 run to take a 52-47 lead to the locker room.
After the Hawks closed to within seven, 86-79, Jeff Green, who was slowed by the Hawks for the first three quarters, threw down a spectacular reverse dunk with 5:14 left to put Boston up, 88-79.
But the Hawks weren’t done. Jeff Teague converted a three-point play when he was fouled on a layup and hit the free throw to help Atlanta close to within five, 90-85, with just over three minutes left. Smith then hit a layup with 2:54 left as the Hawks cut the Boston lead down to three, 90-87.
Pierce hit an 18-foot fadeaway jumper with 2:26 left to restore the lead to five before Smith came back to answer, making it 92-89 Celtics. After a Garnett missed jumper, Kyle Korver hit a three with 1:31 left to tie the game, 92-92. Pierce hit another fadeaway from 18 feet to put the Celtics up but Al Horford got free for a game-tying dunk with 55.2 seconds left.
The Hawks had a chance to take the lead with 31 seconds left but Smith committed a turnover with a bad pass and Garnett came up with the steal with 25 seconds left. Pierce ran an iso play at the top of the key before dishing to Garnett with five seconds left in regulation. Garnett missed his jumper, giving the Hawks a chance with 2.2 seconds left. Harris inbounded for the Hawks to Smith, who missed an open look over Brandon Bass.
The Hawks scored the first four points of overtime before the Celtics responded. Green’s baseline three hit the front of the rim, bounced straight up in the air and rattled home with 2:34 left in overtime, putting Boston back up, 99-98. With the shot clock about to expire, Smith drained a three with 2:14 left to put Atlanta back up, 101-99. Pierce connected for a three with 1:37 left to put the Celtics back up, 102-101. Smith connected on 1-of-2 free throws with 1:20 left to tie the game, 102-102.
Terry drilled a straightaway three with 35 seconds left to put the Celtics up, 105-102. The Celtics are off Saturday before taking on Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET
For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|The true brilliance of Doc Rivers: ‘It’s great when you win on execution’||03.06.13 at 11:09 pm ET|
Everyone is going to point to the back-pick play drawn up by Doc Rivers, with a huge assist to offensive coach Armond Hill, as the latest example of what makes Rivers one of the truly best coaches in the NBA.
And they should.
But his real brilliance comes in how he’s prepared Jeff Green for the game-winning moment all season. Kevin Garnett fired a bullet pass to Green under the basket after Paul Pierce set Green free on a perfect back-pick. Green makes the adjustment under the basket, puts the game-winner off glass for an 83-81 road win over the second-seeded Pacers.
“It was executed great,” Rivers said. “We got it down to the last second. Either Kevin was going to try and hit Jeff or [hit Paul Pierce]. The whole play was [made] by Paul Pierce’s back pick. He was terrific. He set a nice back pick. They [Pacers] got a little mixed and then Jeff had to make a tough shot. They doubled Kevin so the pass was a little bit off-mark and Jeff had to adjust but it’s great when you win on execution.
“I told our players I had drawn up another play. Armond Hill walked over, and he rarely does it, and he says, ‘Listen, the play you drew up in the first half worked so let’s run it again.’ So I switched to the play that he wanted me to run and it was great. It worked out perfect.”
Funny thing, earlier in the season, Rivers probably would’ve gone with his first instincts for a pick-and-roll but decided to go with Hill’s recommendation.
“It was going to be a pick-and-roll, actually a pick-and-roll with Jeff and Kevin because we like that combination because Jeff is at the ‘4’ with his speed can always get a shot off,” Rivers said.
Green has been brought along at a pace all season that varied between breakneck and breakdown. Rivers struggled all season to find that comfort range for Green to excel so that he could put Green in the position he was Wednesday night on the road – a tired team that needed young legs to make up a 14-point deficit in the second half against a red-hot, No. 2 seed in the East.
Thursday night was not one of Green’s best games but it was one of his best moments. Eleven points in 34 minutes. He was just 5-of-14 from the field. Still, Rivers and Hill believed in Green enough to draw up the game-winning play to go to him. It was why Pierce was grinning ear-to-ear coming out of the timeout. Read the rest of this entry »
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