|Overpowered: Without Kevin Garnett, Courtney Lee, C’s no match for Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Knicks||03.26.13 at 9:42 pm ET|
J.R. Smith scored 32 points off the bench and Carmelo Anthony added 29 as the Knicks overpowered the undermanned Celtics, 100-85, Tuesday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, who committed 20 turnovers, lost their fifth straight game and fell to 36-34 and dropped 7.5 games behind the first-place Knicks in the Atlantic Division. With just 12 games left, it’s almost certain that Boston’s five-year run atop the division will end this season.
Smith outscored Boston’s bench, 32-17, and helped New York to its fifth straight win, improving the Knicks to 43-26 on the season.
The Knicks, meanwhile, relied on a heavy dose of Anthony to keep up with Boston. Anthony had 11 points in the opening quarter and the Knicks scored the final five points of the period to take a 28-24 lead after 12 minutes.
With the game tied, 35-35, the Knicks used a 14-0 run to gain control of the game. Smith went wild in the second quarter, going 5-of-11 from the field and scoring 11 of his 21 first-half points as the Knicks assumed a 58-44 halftime lead.
The Celtics opened the second half on an 8-2 spurt, thanks to threes from Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green, and closed to within eight, 60-52. Green led the Celtics with 19 points while Paul Pierce added 16 before being pulled with six minutes left.
The Celtics couldn’t get closer than seven the rest of the quarter and the Knicks used 9-0 run to expand their lead to 78-62 and re-gain control.
The Celtics appeared to have some momentum heading into the fourth quarter when Jason Terry drilled a three with 6.1 seconds remaining but Smith drilled a three over Avery Bradley at the buzzer to give the Knicks an 84-69 lead heading into the final period.
The Knicks built their lead up to 17, at 91-74, with just under eight minutes left in the game. The Celtics never threatened after that.
The injury-riddled Celtics have no time to rest as they hit the road to play in Cleveland Wednesday night. Doc Rivers said before the game that Courtney Lee is doubtful for that game, leaving the Celtics short-handed again. Boston returns home Friday night to take on the Hawks at TD Garden, as the Celtics play five games in seven days.
For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers rules out Courtney Lee while Jordan Crawford starts as Jason Terry prefers bench||at 6:50 pm ET|
In a bit of a surprise announcement, Courtney Lee will miss his second straight game with a sprained left ankle, rolled last Friday night in Dallas. Jordan Crawford will start in his place.
Adding fuel to that fire was Lee’s presence on the court for pre-game shootaround two hours before Tuesday’s tip.
But Rivers announced 45 minutes before the tip with the Knicks that the guard, who had an MRI on Monday, would not be available. Adding to the concern level on Lee is that he is also unlikely to play Wednesday night in Cleveland.
‘No,’ Rivers said in announcing whether Lee would play against New York. Asked if Cleveland were a possibility on Wednesday, Rivers added, ‘I doubt it. I think he may go, but we’ll see.
‘He just didn’t improve much [from Monday]. You pretty much prepare for anything. Just a lot of injuries right now for us, and for [the Knicks].’
Rivers announced Crawford will start in Lee’s place after a talk with Jason Terry in which the veteran guard said he would rather come off the bench.
‘I’m going with Jordan,’ Rivers said. ‘It was more JET really does not like to start. He likes coming off the bench.
‘I talked to JET about it. You could just see it. He likes being in his role. When he knows Courtney will be back, and other guys will be back, so he’d rather just stay in his own role. That’s rare. Most guys love hearing their name called, with the flames and all that. But Jason’s over that at this point in his career. And he really believes he’s better for the team coming off the bench. So that’s refreshing. It’s nice.’
For the Knicks, Tyson Chandler is missing his seventh straight game with a neck injury.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Irish Coffee: Five reasons not to panic about Celtics||03.25.13 at 3:00 pm ET|
Add Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee to the list of walking Celtics wounded. While neither will join Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger on the season-ending injury manifest, only 13 games remain in the regular season, they’ve lost four straight and the goodwill built from a seven-game win streak without Rondo seems like ancient history.
So, is it finally time to bury the C’s this season? Not so fast. Here are five reasons not to panic about the current state of the Celtics, even if they only have 10 healthy bodies at this point.
They’re firmly entrenched in seventh place, even if they’re only two games up on the Bucks.
Even with Rondo, when the Celtics owned a 20-23 record and sat in eighth place, the best they could’ve hoped for was either a sixth or seventh seed and a chance to avoid the Heat until the Eastern Conference finals.
Well, Doc Rivers‘ Rondo-less charges play seven of their remaining 13 games at home, including a four-game stretch from April 3-10 that includes the Pistons, Cavaliers and Wizards. Not a brutal stretch by any measure. Meanwhile, the Bucks face the Thunder (twice), Lakers, Knicks, Heat, Hawks and Nuggets over their final 13 games — seven of which are on the road. As a result, a seventh seed seems to be the C’s most likely scenario.
Their road record isn’t as bad as it seems, even if they’re a putrid 12-23 away from home.
|Jason Terry: ‘My best basketball is ahead of me’||03.02.13 at 12:35 am ET|
It’s been a month since Jason Terry proclaimed the unpredictable, “free-wheeling” and Rajon Rondo-less offense more suitable to his style of play, but he’s been just as inconsistent as he was for the first three months of the season, including Friday night’s disappointing 2-for-11 performance against the Warriors.
“At this point, I’m as comfortable as I’m going to get,” admitted Terry after the 94-86 victory. “It was an adjustment period earlier, but now the way we’re playing, things are flowing and we’re having fun.”
While Terry’s shooting percentages (43.9 FG%, 36.8 3P%) are comparable to last season’s (43.0, 37.8), he’s been held to five points or fewer on 14 occasions and scored 20 or more points just three times this season. On the Mavericks in 2011-12, those numbers were essentially reversed.
“I’m very satisfied right now,” said Terry, who finished with seven points on his 11 shots in 30 minutes Friday night. “We’re winning, and that’s the most important thing. You never want to be too hard on yourself. So, for me, my best basketball is ahead of me. I’m a guy that in big games is going to hit big shots and make big plays.”
One thing Terry never lacks is confidence, and that should only benefit the Celtics going forward. If his best basketball has yet to come, the C’s 11-4 run in the 15 games since Rondo’s injury is all the more impressive.
|Doc Rivers pregame: Terrence Williams ‘can be a great’ playmaker||03.01.13 at 7:34 pm ET|
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers spoke about how the new players Shav Randolph, DJ White and Terrence Williams will fill the bench for the Celtics who come into Friday nights game against the Golden State Warriors having won two of their last three. Jordan Crawford is also making his Garden debut in a Celtics uniform.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo, Williams signed a deal that is good for the rest of the season at the league minimum. It also has a clause that extends to next season but is not guaranteed. It is a report that Rivers confirmed before Friday’s game with the Golden State at TD Garden.
Williams was on a 10-day contract with the Celtics and has appeared in three games, averaging 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in 14.1 minutes before Friday’s extension.
Williams, White and Randolph were all playing in China. Rivers was asked before Friday’s game, tongue-in-cheek, if he had ever been to China to see any of three actually play in person.
“Not me,” he said. “I can tell you that. You can watch film these days. You don’t have to travel.”
Williams is one player that has made an impact, except for the game in Portland Sunday night.
“I like the way he’s played, minus one game. Now that he’s going to be here, we have a chance to hopefully turn him into a player we think he could be.
“I saw him this summer. He came in and worked out with us for a week, pick up games. Just watching the way he played, you really that even in those situations, he’s more point than ‘2’ [guard]. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a great scorer in our league but he can be a great playmaker.
“It’d be nice if we found a superstar but there are very few of those in the entire league. We’re just looking for a solid player.”
Were any of the three on Doc’s radar?
“No, because we were healthy,” Rivers said. “They may have been on Danny’s and [management] but honestly I’m looking at the guys we have in the gym not those in China. I’m focused on that. Because of the injuries, we had to look around and that’s where we went.
“This is different because a lot of them are young and a lot of these guys really haven’t established themselves as players yet. In the past, the P.J. Browns, the Gary Paytons, and whoever else we brought in had pretty much established themselves and we knew who they were.”
Rivers did acknowledge that the spread offense likely makes their transition to Boston easier.
“Probably because it’s not just one play or the execution part of it, it’s spreading the floor, moving it to the open guy. That I would think would make it easier.”
What Rivers made very clear Friday are the roles he wants Randolph, Williams, White and, to a lesser degree Crawford, to all understand while in Celtics green. They are, for the most part, here to fill out a bench and help when needed, which is mainly in practice.
“I would rather put Kevin and Brandon Bass and Jeff Green out there [in games],” Rivers said. “We’re bringing them in to fill our bench and to help us if we need it. I’m not bringing in guys to take any of those other guys’ spots. Obviously, if one of them comes in and helps us, that’s good. But that’s their role to be ready to play, and be ready not to play and understand what we’re doing.”
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
The Celtics signed former Duke big man Shavlik Randolph to a 10-day contract on Friday. The 6-foot-10, 236-pounder is the C’s third Chinese Basketball Association import in the past two weeks.
Following the signings of CBA stars Terrence Williams and D.J. White, Randolph’s deal effectively fills the Celtics roster at 15. All three players were signed to 10-day contracts, and Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported Williams will sign for the remainder of the season and on a non-guaranteed deal in 2013-14.
This is what the Celtics must resort to after season-ending injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa. They’ll sign players off the scrap heap for 10 days at a time until someone better comes along, which they probably won’t. Meanwhile, they’ll kick the tires on the Lou Amundsons of the world. (After narrowing his list to the Heat, Knicks, Bulls and Celtics, Amundson “committed to Chicago,” his agent Mark Bartelstein said.)
“We’re just going to wait,” said Rivers, who doesn’t expect anybody of importance to become available on Friday’s buyout deadline. “That’s the only thing you have now. Once the buyout season is over, you basically just have overseas guys and free agents who are just out there, and usually they’re out there for a reason.”
Not exactly rolling out the red carpet for the C’s three newest Chinese imports, huh? Anyhow, let’s take a look at where the Celtics roster stands now that it’s full for really the first time all season.
|Ainge on Big Show: ‘I didn’t want to move’ Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett||02.22.13 at 6:09 pm ET|
‘We really like those guys,’ said Ainge on Friday evening. ‘I like Kevin and I like Paul a lot, and I didn’t want to move them.’
Ainge wouldn’t discuss how close he ever came to trading Garnett to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan — other than to say, ‘I never talked to Kevin’ — or dealing Pierce to the Nets for Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a pick.
“You don’t just give them away,’ he said. ‘There is great value in those guys.’
So, Ainge apparently wasn’t offered a deal that matched the value he places on either Garnett or Pierce, so he never had the opportunity that Red Auerbach had. For some background, here’s what Ainge told The Boston Globe two years ago (h/t @trubygreen):
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