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Paul Pierce ‘game-time decision’ while Kevin Garnett misses shootaround 04.03.13 at 2:11 pm ET
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Paul Pierce is a game-time decision for the Celtics against Detroit. (AP)

Paul Pierce is a game-time decision for the Celtics against Detroit. (AP)

It could be another night without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

Pierce, who missed just his second game of the season on Monday night due to personal reasons, is officially listed by the team as a “game-time decision” for tonight’s game against the Pistons. Pierce was spotted with an ice wrap on his right foot in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game in New York but the team said at the time it was simply maintenance and not a serious injury.

Garnett, who has missed the last six games with inflammation in his left foot, was not at Wednesday morning’s shootaround. Boston is just 2-4 in those six games.

Without the two stars, the Celtics (38-36) fell to the Timberwolves on Monday night in Minnesota. As a group, Celtics starters have struggled badly in their last two games. In a loss to the Knicks Sunday night, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradey and Chris Wilcox each scored two points. On Monday, Bradley led the way with 19 points but as a unit, the starters scored just 46 points in the 110-100 loss to the Wolves.

Tonight, the Celtics host the Detroit Pistons (25-50) at the Garden (7:30 p.m. tipoff). Despite their woeful record, the Pistons have beaten the Celtics in both previous meetings, scoring 103 points each time while shooting 50 percent from the field in each game. Detroit beat the Celtics 103-88 on Jan. 20 and 103-83 on Nov. 18.

Pierce leads Boston this season, scoring 18.8 points per game and has been the top assist man since Rajon Rondo went down on Jan. 25.

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Doc Rivers: ‘I just want us to play the right way. Overall, I think we did that’ 04.01.13 at 11:10 pm ET
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Doc Rivers was not downtrodden after Monday's loss in Minnesota. (AP)

Doc Rivers was not downtrodden after Monday’s loss in Minnesota. (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers put a silver lining on a 110-100 road loss to the Timberwolves Monday night at the Target Center. It was a game in which Rivers did not have four of his projected five starters, as Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jared Sullinger were out.

The latest addition was Pierce, who was not with the team Monday due to personal reasons. Rivers said before the game he expects Pierce to be ready to go on Wednesday at home against Detroit.

Still, Rivers thought his undermanned team played hard and handled adversity the right way, starting with a lineup of Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox.

“I go into every game thinking we’re going to win the game,” Rivers said afterward. “We had our chances tonight. But I get it, too. I just want us to play the right way and do things our way. I think overall we did that.”

The Celtics trailed for most of the game and never got closer than eight points in the fourth quarter against a Minnesota team that had 26 wins coming in and had lost to Boston 11 straight times dating back to Feb. 11, 2007, before Garnett arrived in Boston.

The Timberwolves took full advantage as 6-foot-11 Nikola Pekovic scored 29 points, including 15 in the first quarter and 21 in the first half.

“I thought we played pretty hard,” Rivers said. “We had no one to deal with that big monster they had down there. I was kidding with Longo [defensive coach Mike Longabardi], we held him to about eight points in the second half after he had 21 in the first [half].

“I thought our guys did everything I wanted them to do. One of the things I told them was that seven out of the last nine games, we’ve given up 100 points. We’ve proven we can score. We scored 100 tonight even without 50 points of our offense [in Garnett, Pierce and Rondo]. We’ll be able to score but, especially with all the new guys, learning the little things on our defense, there’s a we need a lot of work with them, and it showed tonight.”

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Inside job: Nikola Pekovic, Dante Cunningham dominate as T’Wolves finally beat Celtics at 10:21 pm ET
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Nikola Pekovic overpowered Brandon Bass and the undermanned Celtics Monday night in Minnesota. (AP)

Nikola Pekovic overpowered Brandon Bass and the undermanned Celtics Monday night in Minnesota. (AP)

Another road game. Another undermanned Celtics team. And another road loss.

The Celtics, playing without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, were overpowered by Nikola Pekovic, Dante Cunningham and the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 110-100 loss at the Target Center Monday night. Pekovic took advantage of an undersized front court with a game-high 29 points while Cunningham added 19 points and five rebounds off the bench for Minnesota, which beat Boston for the first time in 12 meeting dating back to the pre-Garnett era in Boston.

The defenseless Celtics (38-36) fell for the second straight night and dropped their seventh in nine games. With Milwaukee beating Charlotte, the seventh-place Celtics are just 1.5 games ahead of the Bucks (one game in loss column) for eight-place. If Boston, which has eight games left, finishes eighth, they will face Miami in the first round.

What Monday’s game lacked in star power it made up for in offense from unexpected places.

The Celtics were without Garnett (left foot) and Pierce (personal reasons) while the Timberwolves were still without U.S. Olympic champion Kevin Love (broken hand).

The Timberwolves (27-46) turned to Pekovic and he responded with a huge opening quarter. The 27-year-old native of Montenegro scored 15 points as Minnesota dominated the paint and took a 27-25 lead after 12 minutes.

Since acquiring Garnett – the most accomplished player in Timberwolves history – after the 2006-07 season, the Celtics were 10-0 against Minnesota. Overall, the Celtics had won 11 straight against Minnesota dating back to Boston’s last loss, 109-107, on Feb. 11, 2007 in Minnesota.

Adding to Boston’s misery on the inside, big men Shav Randolph and Chris Wilcox each picked up three personal fouls. Courtney Lee’s three with 3:15 left in the second quarter tied the game, 45-45. But the Timberwolves came back with the next four points before Avery Bradley connected on a jumper as the game kept a quick tempo leading up to halftime. Bradley’s hit 6-of-8 in the first half and single-handedly kept Boston within range with 15 first half points. Bradley led the Celtics with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting.

Boston was manhandled in the paint in the first half. Pekovic scored 21 points in the first half, part of an effort that had Minnesota outscoring getting outscored 34-18 and allowing Minnesota to grab a 57-52 halftime lead.

The Timberwolves went on a 10-4 run midway thought the third to open their biggest lead, 80-66, before Jason Terry responded with a long two-point jumper. Terrence Williams followed that up with a baseline three to cut Minnesota’s lead down to nine, 80-71, with just over three minutes left in the third.

Randolph picked up his fifth foul seconds later but stayed in the game to give the Celtics some size in the paint. As the Celtics were making a run late in the third quarter, Jeff Green came up limping, holding his left hip. Green, who played the entire first half and the first six minutes of the third quarter before finally coming out for a breather, took a knee from Pekovic to the left thigh/hip area. Green stayed in the game and was part of a 12-4 run that cut Minnesota’s lead to six, 84-78, heading into the fourth. Green finished with just 10 points in 38 minutes.

With the Celtics defense forcing a near turnover, Derrick Williams hit a three to open the fourth quarter and push Minnesota’s lead back to nine.

Lee came in for Green with just over 10 minutes left as Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte tended to Green’s left hip. The T-Wolves went on a 7-0 run midway through the fourth that was capped by an Alexey Shved three with 7:45 left to put Minnesota up, 96-82. The Celtics could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.

The Celtics are off Tuesday before hosting the Pistons on Wednesday night at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Courtney Lee returns, Doc Rivers ‘has no idea’ on Kevin Garnett 03.29.13 at 6:45 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said Courtney Lee‘s left ankle had healed enough to return to action Friday night against Atlanta.

“I’m not going to start him, but I’m going to play him,” Rivers said. “I’m just going to see the minutes and see how he feels.”

Lee took part in Celtics shootaround on Friday morning and was classified as a “game-time” decision afterward.

“He looked OK in shootaround, but he didn’t have a practice to fall back on, so who knows and we’ll just see,” Rivers said.

Lee made his return with 2:46 left in the first quarter and played into the second quarter before coming out again.

Lee injured his left ankle in the final minute of the loss last Friday night in Dallas. He missed the games against Memphis, New York and Cleveland before playing Friday night.

As for Kevin Garnett, Rivers said he had no further update than what Danny Ainge told Salk & Holley on WEEI Thursday afternoon, that “two weeks should be sufficient time” for his left foot to heal.”

“I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I think two weeks should be enough but if we get to two weeks and it’s two-and-a-half, I don’t want you guys calling me a liar or anything.”

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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
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J.R. Smith (8) was a step ahead of Jordan Crawford (27) and the Celtics all night. (AP)

J.R. Smith (8) was a step ahead of Jordan Crawford (27) and the Celtics all night. (AP)

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.

All five starters scored in the first six minutes of the game for the Celtics, who were without Kevin Garnett (left foot) and Courtney Lee (left ankle) for the second straight game.

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.

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Doc Rivers: ‘I’m not happy that [Kenyon Martin] went to the Knicks’ 03.25.13 at 3:55 pm ET
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Kenyon Martin has been a force for the Knicks since joining them earlier this month. (AP)

Kenyon Martin has been a force for the Knicks since joining them earlier this month. (AP)

There are – no doubt – Celtics fans wondering the following: How good would Kenyon Martin look playing alongside Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce right about now?

But that didn’t happen, and to make matters worse, Martin is playing for a team that is threatening to run away from the Celtics in the Atlantic Division after Boston’s four-game losing streak has dropped them 6.5 games behind the Knicks entering Tuesday’s showdown at the Garden.

Doc Rivers acknowledged before Monday’s practice that Martin was on the Celtics’ radar but it never worked out. One reason, according to Rivers, it didn’t work out was the area of immediate need didn’t match. The Celtics had just lost Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa to season-ending injuries. The Celtics were looking to build depth in the back-court.

“I don’t know,” Rivers said when asked why Martin didn’t wind up with the Celtics. “We looked at all the guys, we were still looking at guards at the time. So we were in no hurry at the time for a big. We were looking for more a big of size, if you know what I mean. And by the time we got around to it, he was gone.”

With injuries to Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks were more desperate and willing to take a chance on Martin. It’s worked out quite well for New York. Martin is averaging 8.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 23.1 minutes per game, starting six of the 11 games.

“I think Kenyon’s been great,” Rivers said of the former All-American out of Cincinnati. “He’s been absolutely fantastic. I’m happy for Kenyon. I’m not happy that he went to the Knicks, but I am happy for him. Because he was out there and we looked at him — a lot of [teams] looked at him — and, in the end, I didn’t care where he ended up, I just wanted him to do well. I don’t know him well, but we’ve always had a very good relationship. Guys like that, you want them to do well. For me, it’s as simple as that.”

With or without Martin, the Celtics have always seemed to be primed and ready for New York. Before splitting the previous six regular season meetings over the past two seasons, the Celtics owned the Knicks. Boston swept the four games in 2010-11 and won three of four in 2009-10. And of course, they swept the Knicks in the 2011 playoffs.

“It’s New York, our guys get up for them,” Rivers said. “I think they get up for us. Up until this year and last year, we had an advantage. We had the advantage and our guys were up, that usually meant good things for us. Now it’s pretty even, but both teams get up each other. It’s a fun matchup. I preferred it better in the past, but it’s good now. I like games when guys are up for each other, I think they are a lot of fun.”

If the Celtics don’t sweep the next two games with New York in the next six days, there’s virtually no chance of Boston catching New York in the division. It will be the first time in the Pierce-Garnett-Rondo era that the Celtics haven’t won the division. But to Paul Pierce, he knows full well they could still play New York in the playoffs if the Knicks finished with the No. 3 seed and the Celtics finish sixth in the East.

“Well, definitely being that this is a team you may face in the playoffs, you get a chance to beat them a couple more times, it really takes away a team’s confidence going into the playoffs,” Pierce said. “So that’s got to be a little extra motivation. They’ve been playing well all year long, they’ve been on top of the Atlantic Division. But right now it’s about heading into the playoffs, picking up the pace. The Knicks are a team we might have to face, so we want to try to put a little bit of doubt in their minds if we can go out here and get a couple of wins verse them going into the season’s end.”

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Irish Coffee: Five reasons not to panic about Celtics at 3:00 pm ET
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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.

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