|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: ‘I’m not happy that [Kenyon Martin] went to the Knicks’||03.25.13 at 3:55 pm ET|
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.”
|Irish Coffee: Five reasons not to panic about Celtics||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.
|Kevin Garnett expected to miss ‘4-5 games’ with foot injury, Courtney Lee likely to return||at 12:39 pm ET|
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge confirmed Monday that Garnett will be out for Tuesday’s game against the Knicks.
“Take a couple of Advil and give it some rest,” Ainge said. “Could he play [Tuesday]? Yeah but we’re not playing him [Tuesday]. The time frame, I don’t know but it’s not an ankle sprain but there’s inflammation in the ankle, sort of like an ankle sprain in unpredictability. So I think that it’s not longer than three weeks or it could be a week. I’ll guess two weeks just because we want to make sure he’s really ready. We need to get him fresh anyway.”
Doc Rivers said Garnett aggravated the injury against the Mavericks and the discomfort forced him to miss Saturday’s game in Memphis. He was sent back to Boston for an MRI.
In the meantime, Rivers said it’s likely that Garnett will miss at least “four to five games” with the injury.
“I think we’ll know more later,” Rivers said, referring to the MRI. “I would say doubtful for [Tuesday] but we’ll know more later. I don’t think Kevin is playing [Tuesday]. I’m almost positive of that but then what we want to make sure is that he’s going to be good soon.
“At the end of the day, I want him right, not half-right.”
Rivers said he doesn’t expect this to be a season-ending ailment.
“But can he miss four or five games? Yeah that’s probably possible,” Rivers said. “I don’t know that but to me [season-ending] is not a concern. He hurt his foot in that Dallas game. [It’s not season-ending] unless something crazy happens in the MRI that I can tell you the first look, they didn’t see that. At the end of the day, he may miss some games.
“We’re going to err on the right side, whatever they decide. If they give me an option of you can play him every third game or give him two weeks rest, I can tell you right now I am going to say two weeks rest, if it’s my decision.”
Ainge later confirmed Rivers’ estimate, telling reporters at practice that the results of the MRI along with consultation with the team’s medical staff indicate that he’ll likely miss two weeks.
“I’ll guess two weeks, just because we want to make sure he’s really ready” said Ainge, who added that he thought Garnett originally injured the ankle against New Orleans last Wednesday.
“I think it happened in New Orleans game, it was just sore, just inflammation. A lot of things can cause inflammation. I think everyone has a little bit of inflammation this time of year. KG, we need to get him fresh anyway.”
On the bright side, Courtney Lee is expected to return from his sprained left ankle suffered in the final minute of Friday’s loss in Dallas.
Neither player took part in Monday’s practice, which included just 10 healthy Celtics.
Rivers said the Celtics will be forced to go with a smaller lineup that he says includes “no point guards” while the Knicks feature a lineup with two point guards in Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton, with Jason Kidd off the bench.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Shortfall: Celtics come up short again in loss to Mavericks, Courtney Lee injures left ankle||03.22.13 at 11:12 pm ET|
Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points and Brandan Wright added a team-high 23 – 16 above his season average – as the Dallas Mavericks handed the Celtics their third straight loss, 104-94, Friday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Celtics have lost five of seven and three straight for the first time since losing six in a row between Jan. 16-25.
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each scored 16 for the Celtics, who fell to 36-31 on the season. Adding to Boston’s misery was a left ankle injury to Courtney Lee, who rolled the ankle late in the fourth quarter. He had to be helped off the court and to the locker room and did not play in the final minute.
In his return to Dallas for the first time since signing with the Celtics as a free agent last summer, Jason Terry was held to eight points on 3-of-9 shooting. The appreciative Dallas crowd gave Terry a standing ovation when he checked into the game for the first time with 3:57 left in the first quarter. His former Mavericks teammates also applauded his returned on the Dallas bench.
The only Celtics player in double figures in the first half was Brandon Bass with 10 points. Boston had no answers for Vince Carter off the Dallas bench. Carter had 12 points in 12 minutes, a big reason the Mavericks were able to take a 55-44 halftime lead.
The Mavericks built their lead to as much as 14 twice in the second quarter.
Jordan Crawford hit a baseline three early in the third quarter and followed that up with a steal and reverse layup with 10:19 left in the fourth to cut Dallas’ lead down to six, 81-75. Crawford hit another tough shot – a baseline fadeaway – to keep the Celtics within six, 83-77, with just over nine minutes left.
But the Celtics couldn’t keep the Mavericks from responding and building the lead back to 11, 94-83, with three minutes left. Pierce hit a straightaway three with 2:59 left to cut the Dallas lead down to eight, 94-86. Green’s layup with 1:51 brought the Celtics within five, 97-92. The Celtics forced a missed shot by Carter but Knight got the rebound and kicked it to Carter, who then found O.J. Mayo, who knocked down the three to push the lead back to eight, 100-92, with 1:21 left.
Mayo then stole a pass on the next Celtics possession as the Celtics lost their third straight.
The road gets no easier on Saturday night, as the Celtics travel to Memphis to battle the Grizzlies. The Celtics return home for a Atlantic Division showdown with the Knicks on Tuesday night at the Garden.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Stung again: Celtics blow 13-point second-half lead, lose to lowly Hornets||03.20.13 at 10:35 pm ET|
Anthony Davis – the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft last June – tipped in the go-ahead basket with 0.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter to allow the Hornets to nip the Celtics, 87-86, Wednesday night in New Orleans. The Hornets were able to sweep the season series with the Celtics this season. The Celtics could managed just 31 points in the second half and lost their second straight, with road games in Dallas and Memphis on tap for Friday and Saturday nights.
On the final play, Eric Gordon went right on Avery Bradley and drove to the basket. His layup went hard off the glass and the rim. Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green failed to box out Davis, who tipped in the miss. The play was reviewed on replay but was upheld. A final shot by Garnett was off the mark and wouldn’t have counted.
Paul Pierce scored a game-high 28 points while Garnett returned to action after a two-game absence to add 20 points. Green, who had 13 points in the first half, was held scoreless in the second half.
Green picked up where he left off Monday night, when he scored a career-high 43. Green hit 4-of-6 shots in the first 24 minutes, scoring 13 points from his more customary spot coming off the Boston bench.
Garnett, showing no rust or residual effect from his left leg injury and flulike symptoms, was 6-of-9 from the floor and had 14 points. Pierce added 12 points, as the Celtics used an 11-1 run to build the lead to 12 before settling for a 55-45 halftime lead. Boston shot a blazing 21-of-35 (60 percent) in the first half.
The third quarter was a brutal one for the Celtics. They scored just 12 points and turned the ball over seven times, allowing the Hornets to erase a 13-point lead.
Courtney Lee‘s midrange jumper broke a drought of nearly 4 1/2 minutes late in the third quarter and put an end to an 18-5 run that saw the Hornets come all the way back from a 60-47 Celtics advantage.
The Celtics’ ship continued to take on water in the first four minutes as Ryan Anderson hit a pair of free throws that made it 76-69 with 7:39 left. Anderson hit a jumper to build New Orleans’ lead to nine, 78-69, with 6:25 left.
The Celtics – at one point – were outrebounded 26-9 as the Hornets attacked at will in the paint.
But the Celtics responded with a 10-0 run, including four straight free throws by Pierce over a 20 second span. But Anderson responded with a three with Pierce dunk 3:14 tied the game at 81-81. The New Orleans defense collapsed on Garnett, who found Pierce with 2:34 left. Pierce drilled the three-ball to put the Celtics back up, 84-81.
With just under two minutes left, Brandon Bass followed his own miss and tipped it in to put Boston up, 86-81, finishing off a 17-5 run. Bass got another key offensive rebound on an Avery Bradley missed three with 50 seconds left.
Pierce was called for fouling Ryan Anderson on a baseline three attempt with 35.5 seconds left as Anderson had the chance to tie the game. But Anderson, an 85 percent free throw shooter, missed the first one before making the next two to draw the Hornets within one.
The Celtics caught a break when Green called timeout just before getting whistled for a five-second violation.
Pierce missed a 15-foot fallaway with 17.9 seconds left, giving New Orleans a chance to win the game in regulation.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Heartbreaker: Jeff Green puts on show for the ages but Heat win 23rd straight||03.18.13 at 10:52 pm ET|
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 »
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