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Fast Break: Celtics win ugly entering All-Star break 02.13.13 at 10:00 pm ET
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Brandon Bass

Brandon Bass

Thanks to another all-out effort by the few healthy players left on the roster, the Celtics outlasted the visiting Bulls 71-69 to win ugly, earning their eighth victory in nine tries since the first of the injury dominoes fell two weeks ago.

The Celtics (28-24) equaled their highest point above .500 as four C’s reached double digits, led remarkably by Brandon Bass (14 points, 9 rebounds). Kevin Garnett (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Paul Pierce (8-6-6) scored the C’s final nine points as they held off a Chicago charge to close the final quarter.

The Celtics’ 19 combined points in the second and third quarters marked the team’s lowest point total in consecutive quarters of a game during the shot clock era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Likewise, their 71 total points was the third-lowest point total in a C’s victory since the inception of the shot clock.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Defense: The Celtics held the Bulls to 15 points in the first quarter and 13 in the third. Chicago’s five starters — Luol Deng (4-10 FG), Carlos Boozer (5-14 FG), Joakim Noah (3-8 FG), Richard Hamilton (1-6 FG) and Nate Robinson (2-7) — shot a combined 33.3 percent. It’s a good thing, because the C’s actually shot worse until …

Heart beats: As they’ve done since the injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, the Celtics never quit. Playing their third game in four nights, shooting miserably and trailing by as many as seven in the first few minutes of the final quarter, the C’s found life. Capped by back-to-back buckets from Jason Terry (12 points) and Jeff Green (8 points) off the bench — both assisted by Garnett — the Celtics put together a 12-0 run, holding the Bulls scoreless for a stretch of 5:44 midway through the fourth quarter and capturing a 59-54 lead.

Bass finishing: In desperate need of offensive help, the Celtics found an unlikely hero. Beginning to emerge from a season-long funk, Bass scored his highest total (14) since Nov. 28. He also grabbed more rebounds (9) than he has since Nov. 25. Bass and Garnett combined for 26 points and 20 rebounds, forming a formidable frontcourt that limited a sizable advantage by the bigger Bulls, who got 27 rebounds from Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.

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Barbosa officially done for season with torn ACL 02.12.13 at 4:02 pm ET
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Multiple reports indicate that Celtics guard Leandro Barbosa is officially done for the season after suffering a torn left ACL in Monday’s loss to the Bobcats in Charlotte. Barbosa went down with the injury in the third quarter of Monday’s game and had to be carried off the court. (After the game, teammate Kevin Garnett told the media that Barbosa was going to be sidelined for the rest of the year.) The 30-year-old reserve was averaging 5.2 points and 1.4 assists in 41 games with the Celtics this season.

(UPDATE, 4:51 p.m. The Celtics have issued a statement that reads in part: “The Boston Celtics announced today that guard Leandro Barbosa underwent an MRI this morning at New England Baptist Hospital after his left knee injury last night against the Charlotte Bobcats. The MRI revealed that Barbosa suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. No surgery date has been scheduled and he will be out for the remainder of the season.”)

For more Celtics news, check out weei.com/celtics.

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Jason Terry: ‘My gut tells me to keep shooting’ 02.10.13 at 10:43 pm ET
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Jason Terry hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:33 remaining in triple overtime to leave the Celtics to a 118-114 win over the Denver Nuggets Sunday night at TD Garden. The Celtics won their seventh straight with a thrilling victory while ending Denver’s nine game winning streak.

After missing six straight threes, Terry wasn’t about to turn down another chance at coming through for his team. He took a pass from Paul Pierce and hit a triple with 1:33 left in triple-overtime to give the Celtics a lead they would not relinquish.

“Well shooters shoot, and the looks they were giving me were great ones,” Terry said. “I’ve got to admit, JaVale McGee is a huge target to shoot over, so a lot of those shots were over him and they were short but my instinct, my gut tells me to keep shooting. Paul Pierce did a hell of a job drawing defenders all night long and I just knew if I got a clean, clean look uncontested, I was going to knock it down.”

Pierce said after the game that Terry promised he would make his next 3-point attempt.

“No question. I told him and whoever else wanted to listen – that’s just my motto, that’s how I’ve been,” Terry said. “In a game like that it’s just so mentally draining – you have to stay into it. Defensively we continued to get stops but not only was Paul Pierce’s shot tremendous but I thought Kevin Garnett I mean, the man’s 50-years old. For him to make those shots that he made when we direly needed them was tremendous for us.”

As for his steal at the end of the third overtime on Andre Miller, a play Pierce called the “biggest” of the game, Terry said right place, right time.

“That was just individual defense,” Terry said. “Mano-a-mano. I know Andre, we came in at the same time together. Many battles. He wants to get right, he got right. I cut him off, he exposed the ball, I got the strip, and I was able to knock it out.”

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Donny Marshall on M&M: Celtics ‘more mentally healthy’ without Rajon Rondo 02.08.13 at 12:35 pm ET
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Donny Marshall of CSNNE joined Mut & Merloni to talk about the state of the Celtics without Rajon Rondo and why he thinks Kevin Garnett, not Rondo, is the team’s true leader.

Marshall said he thought the third quarter of the Celtics’ win over the Lakers on Thursday night was the best he’s seen the C’s play in a long time.

“They looked perfect,” Marshall said. “It was one of those situations, at least in my opinion, where it wasn’t just the bad Lakers, but it was the great Celtics. We’ve seen this team play really well, but the other teams are just so horrendous that me, you and Lou could get out there and play with them … Last night I really think it was the product of the Celtics playing great.”

Marshall said he doesn’t think the Celtics are a better team overall without Rondo, but that his absence is allowing them a change of perspective that’s helped them.

“It seems like they needed to be more mentally healthy, and it looks like that’s what they are right now,” Marshall said. “I don’t want to make it sound like Rondo is … by no means is he a Dwight Howard that’s going to screw things up just because it’s all about him, going to purposely screw the mechanism up of Doc [Rivers'] machine there. But sometimes when we’re young and have success early we can’t stay out of our own way, and I think Rondo kind of ran into that a little bit. He really is a great player, but there’s more than just being a great player when it comes to basketball.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On Rondo’s leadership: “You can’t go in the locker room and alienate your teammates. I don’t know if he’s doing that or not, but it seems like that locker room is much healthier. You can’t go on the court and say, ‘I’ll handle the ball, get out of the way, I’ll make you better.’

“There would be situations where Ray Allen would be in position to make a move one-on-one, and Rondo would run over to him and grab the ball from him and say, ‘Get to the corner, I’m going to run the play.’ This team doesn’t have that guy right now, and they’re playing so free. Their spacing is amazing, which helps their ball movement. It’s just incredible to see, for a team that doesn’t really have that one guy that stands out to you over this streak, it’s really amazing.”

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Kobe Bryant, the Celtics and the fountain of youth at 1:54 am ET
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Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the Garden parquet, laughing side-by-side as Gino danced his ridiculous dance on the Jumbotron. The former had submitted his finest performance against the Lakers since walking off the same floor with an NBA Finals MVP trophy. The latter had scored his 25,000th point in owning the league’s most dominant big. Together, they delivered a sixth straight Celtics win sans Rajon Rondo.

They are 35 and 36 years old, respectively. Combined, they’ve played nearly 90,000 minutes, which translates into more than a year of playing time on NBA basketball courts across the country. And they’re not done yet.

“It’s a generational thing,” said 34-year-old Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant after an embarrassing 106-95 loss to the Celtics. “In that generation, we all seem to hold on or have found the same fountain of youth somewhere.”

And not the kind of fountain of youth Alex Rodriquez reportedly found in Miami. “Not that one,” laughed Bryant. “Not that one.” More like a pacemaker that keeps a championship heart beating year after year. Like a 32-year-old Muhammad Ali biding his time against a 25-year-old George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle.

“It’s typical Celtics basketball,” said Bryant. “They all just put their hard hats on, and they go out, play hard and figure things out. Whenever their backs against the wall, that’s when you really see the best from them. … It’s just like last year, when they made their playoff run. That’s just what this team does. They kind of rope-a-dope you.”

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Kevin Garnett: ‘If it’s up to me, I’m going to retire a Celtic’ 02.07.13 at 11:51 pm ET
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Following Thursday’s blowout win over the Lakers, Kevin Garnett left no doubt where he wants to end this season and his career.

There has been plenty of speculation in the last week, linking Garnett’s name to trade rumors involving the Clippers and, most recently, the Nuggets.

Garnett, one of the most sensitive and informed superstars in the league, took the opportunity – unsolicited – to remind everyone of his intentions.

“On a last note, I just want to say I love my situation here,” said Garnett, who has a full no-trade clause and can veto any deal the Celtics may encounter heading toward the Feb. 21 trade deadline. “I don’t know what y’all’s sources are or whoever is making up these bulls**t articles about me getting traded to Denver and all these other places. I bleed green and I continue to do that. If it’s up to me, I’m going to retire a Celtic. I just want y’all to know that. Keep it real.”

Minutes earlier, when asked what kind of message a six-game winning streak sends Celtics GM Danny Ainge about keeping the team together, Garnett offered this:

“I don’t know what Danny and upper management has up their sleeves as far as making this team better,” Garnett said. “But we, as players, can only control us. Right now, we are in a rhythm; we are moving the ball. I know I kind of sound like a broken record but we are continuing to consolidate the ball and everybody’s touching the ball and playing with a lot of confidence. We are playing together on both ends and that’s important right now.”

The Celtics are 6-0 since Rajon Rondo went down with season-ending ACL tear in his right knee. Garnett explained that the Celtics lost their best chef but they’re still cooking up a winning recipe.

“Well, the only way I can really explain it is that when you sit back, Rondo does so many great things for this team, you kind of get lackadaisical if you will,” Garnett began. “It’s very similar to if you had someone cooking for you and you’re expecting that every day. All of sudden, someone isn’t there for you in your house to do that. And it’s up to you to feed yourself. All of sudden, you start making all of these gourmet dishes and then it’s more people over to the house. You never knew you possess that unless you lost that person who was cooking. It’s kind of like that.”

Garnett then went into the above soliloquy on bleeding green for life.

All of this on a night when he became the first player in NBA history with 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists and 1,500 blocks.

“I’m sure someday I’ll fall back and rock in my rocking chair having a cigar, thinking about what I’ve done, I’m sure it will make some sense to me,” Garnett said. “But you know, I told Doc when I came here to all the coaches and ex-players and current players and systems and organizations, this great organization that I play for, I’m more than honored, because without the systems and the coaches, and obviously players that put you in a position to score the basketball none of this would be possible. You know, I try to keep my body young and keep together. But there’s so many different components going into some of the individual awards, and I’d just like to obviously say I’m more than honored. But thank you, to all the ones that you guys don’t see. So, I guess all that said and done I’m more than flattered and honored.”

For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics slay Kobe Bryant, Lakers to win 6th straight sans Rajon Rondo at 10:29 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett scored his 25,000th career point, Paul Pierce outshined Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard showed up (but not really), Fab Melo scored his first NBA points and the Celtics won their sixth straight game without Rajon Rondo, 116-95 against the Lakers. All in all, not a bad night for the C’s.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Exclusive membership: With a fadeaway jumper 3:52 into the second quarter, Kevin Garnett became the 16th player in NBA history to score 25,000 points. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon, Oscar Robertson, Dominique Wilkins, John Havlicek, Alex English, Reggie Miller and Jerry West. Garnett became the first player to amass 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks and 1,500 steals in his career. During the following timeout, after Doc Rivers drew up a play, the crowd saluted Garnett, who returned the favor.

Winter Green: For the sixth time in seven games, Jeff Green scored double-digit points. He entered the game averaging 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 26.3 minutes a night this month. That’s 17.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes. That’s good. He’s also played better defensively, assuming some of the load on Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant over the past eight games.

The sequence: The Celtics closed the third quarter on a 12-3 run that seemed more like an 83-1 run. The remarkable stretch featured the best of what these C’s have to offer: the Brandon Bass mid-range game (18-footer), Avery Bradley‘s defense (picked Bryant’s pocket), Jason Terry on the runway (a transition triple), Jeff Green‘s athleticism (a fast-break dunk followed by a block of Antawn Jamison) and both Paul Pierce‘s step-back jumper (from 19 feet) and his sense for the moment (a dagger of a 3). All that gave the Celtics a 95-69 lead after three, sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy and reminded just about everyone of Game 6 of the 2008 NBA finals.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Foul mood: In a span of 39 seconds — just two minutes into the game — the Celtics committed five fouls, including two by Kevin Garnett. Enter Jason Collins, who didn’t fare much better despite his reputation as the so-called Dwight stopper. Collins quickly racked up three personal fouls, giving way to Chris Wilcox. On the bright side, the Lakers missed 10-of-18 first-half free throws (Howard: 1-6 FT) and Garnett survived the first half with the two fouls.

Kobe being Kobe: It’s probably hard for Celtics fans to stop and appreciate Bryant’s offensive bag of tricks, but there’s something special about the fact that two natural born scorers like he and Pierce have played in L.A. and Boston for the entirety of their careers. Bryant’s best shot of the night — a ridiculous up-and-under — got waved off by a foul, but his jump shot along the baseline to close out the first half was classic Kobe. Keeping the Lakers within striking distance for most of the night, Bryant finished with 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting.

No Leandro: The Celtics scored 100 points, and somehow Leandro Barbosa wasn’t involved. He finished 0-for-4 from the floor in 16 minutes, but still managed to contribute four rebounds and three assists. This is nitpicking, for sure, but the Celtics ran the Lakers out of the Garden and won their sixth straight game without Rondo. There wasn’t much that went wrong.

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