|Fast break: Celtics-Knicks||11.22.09 at 4:12 pm ET|
Depending on your point of view, the Celtics 107-105 victory over the Knicks in overtime Sunday at Madison Square Garden was either a gritty gut-check, or a further sign that things are not right with the C’s.
Kevin Garnett hit the winning shot, but was 4-for-15 for the game. Ray Allen made a huge 3-pointer late in regulation, but was 3-for-13. Rasheed Wallace continued his slump missing all six shots. And on the defensive end, the Celtics held the Knicks to 43 percent shooting, but allowed Al Harrington to drop 30 points on them off the bench, which contributed to the C’s blowing a 14-point lead in the second half.
Either way, it’s a win the Celtics will take after losing three of their last four.
Player of the game: Paul Pierce. The Celtics captain had been content to play distributor at times this season, but with the memory of so many slow starts in his head, Pierce elected to take over early and often. He scored 17 of his 33 points in the first half and lived at the free throw line, all while helping handle some of the point guard duties. There are lot of things that are “off” with the Celtics right now, but Pierce is not one of them.
Turning point: There were so many ebbs and flows that it’s hard to pick one moment as the turning point, but as big shots go it was hard to top Allen’s corner 3-pointer in transition that gave the Celtics a 96-94 lead late in regulation. New York came back to tie the game on a couple of occasions, but never regained the lead.
* It’s still too early to judge Garnett on his comeback, but the judgments will start to come after yet another lackluster performance, despite his game-winning shot. Doc Rivers has acknowledged that Garnett is still a work in progress but he continues to insist that KG is 100 percent healthy.
* Kendrick Perkins played the role of unsung hero with 16 points and 13 rebounds in what might have been his best game of the season. He also refused to get into anything extra with Eddy Curry who has returned to the Knicks a far more feisty player than when they banished him. Curry was sent to the bench, and assessed a flagrant foul, after whacking Rajon Rondo in the back of the head. That came after Perkins stymied him on the block.
* Where was Nate Robinson down the stretch? Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni did the Celtics a favor by keeping Robinson on the bench in favor of Chris Duhon, who is neither a good shooter nor a good creator with the ball in his hands.
|Who needs Marbury?||02.07.09 at 12:06 am ET|
NEW YORK — There is a fur-lined coat and baseball cap hanging in Stephon Marbury’s locker. They don’t belong to Marbury, though. Al Harrington is using the empty space for storage. Many of the Knicks don’t need Marbury or his belongings in their locker room. In fact, they aren’t sure who needs him either.
‘It’s hard to say,’ said Jared Jeffries. ‘There’s a lot of ‘what ifs.”
There is no question Marbury is a talented point guard, his teammates don’t deny that. He is a two-time All-Star with a career average of nearly 20 points and eight assists per game over the course of 11 years. These are numbers that rival premiere point guards like Dwyane Wade, Allen Iverson, and Chris Paul.
‘Obviously Steph is an experienced guard,’ said David Lee. ‘He’s been in the league a long time. He’s been through the battles in the West and the battles in the East. He’s a guy that’s obviously a very skilled player.’
‘He’s definitely a talented player,’ he said. ‘He’s a big guard, he’s a really good scorer, he’s scored a lot in this league. He’s a good point guard, he really is talent-wise. He’s a really good point guard so any time you have a talent like that you could use that.’
Yet the Knicks don’t want to use that talent. The experience and stats are there, but is the potential to help a team win it all? While rookie Anthony Roberson praised his mentorship off the court, his teammates are indecisive about what he has to offer anymore.
‘I don’t know,’ Lee said of Marbury’s abilities to help a team in the running for the title. ‘I’m not sure if he’s ever been to the Finals. I could be wrong. It’ll be interesting to see and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Steph and New York and if he does get released or if he decides to go to another team. I heard them talking about that during the TNT game against L.A. the other night. That should be interesting.’
What’s more interesting is the fact that Lee has been Marbury’s teammate since 2005 and he can’t form a decisive opinion. But teams like the world champion Boston Celtics have still expressed interest in Marbury, dramatics and all. So why, if a team of that caliber is willing to take a closer look at him, can’t his teammates who know his game best speak to his value?
Don’t ask Nate Robinson. Even though he entered the NBA as Marbury’s back up, he no longer feels comfortable commenting on the issue. The one thing the Knicks are certain on is their choice of point guard this season. Chris Duhon leads the floor without the drama, an asset they’d take any day.
‘He’s a guy that really knows how to play the game,’ Lee said of Duhon. ‘But we are very happy with what Chris has done this year. I’m not sure you could ask for any more than Chris has done. Steph’s a great guard, but we’re very happy with Duhon.’
The fur-lined coat and baseball cap still hung in Stephon Marbury’s locker after the Celtics banned together to beat the Knicks on Friday night. They won with a fourth quarter push fueled by communication and chemistry. It’s the type of victory may not have been possible if Marbury’s belongings were hanging in a Celtics locker.
|It’s not just Yankees fans …||01.04.09 at 4:27 pm ET|
Yankees fans aren’t the only New Yorkers who speak their minds. The Madison Square Garden crowd is just as vocal when the Boston Celtics come to town. Rather than get annoyed, the Cs appreciate their dedication to the Knicks.
“One thing I’ve always liked about Madison Square Garden, and actually our fans … they actually come to watch the game,” Doc Rivers said. “I mean seriously, they don’t walk around and it’s not a fashion show. Both Garden crowds, Boston and Madison Square, people sit and watch basketball and that’s what they’re there for. They’re not there to be seen and they’re there to cheer for their team. And I’ve always appreciated that.”
Ray Allen attributes their die-hard mentality to the intense media coverage in New York.
“You figure from any New Yorker who comes to a game, you know baseball or you know basketball or you know football, and you know every team basically around the United States,” he said. “You might not see them but you know them because being in New York, walking through Times Square you see every stat, sport, game, whatever it is, through the media outlets in New York. So the fans are very knowledgeable, they appreciate good sports. They appreciate great athletes, the ones that works hard.”
Whether they are loved or hated, at least the Celtics always know where they stand in the Big Apple.
“When you’re walking down the street and everybody knows who you are,” Allen said. “They’ll tell you if you suck or if they really appreciate you.”
|Allen Feels for Marbury||01.03.09 at 12:13 pm ET|
Ray Allen has always felt a connection to Stephon Marbury. The two have been linked together since they were teenagers and Allen has kept tabs on Marbury’s career, from the highs of All-Star seasons to the lows of the on-going standoff with the New York Knicks. Even though Marbury is direct competition in the backcourt, Allen can’t help but feel for the embattled guard.
‘It’s somewhat disappointing watching what happened with Stephon,’ Allen said after Saturday’s practice. ‘He and I grew up playing together, against each other [in] high school basketball and then being drafted together, we got traded for each other. So I’ve always followed his career. He was in my draft class.
“So this year was somewhat disappointing regardless of whatever was going on in the organization, I thought he still could help that team. So it’s not like he’s a guy who can’t play basketball anymore. With his skill set, his talent, he still can come out and play basketball and carry a team.’
‘Danny’s the guy who has to make decisions and we feel as though he’s very, very qualified to make those decisions,’ Allen said of Celtics President Danny Ainge. ‘So for us right now, we’ve got to focus on what’s going on here on the floor. If that does happen then will move on with that, with Stephon.’
Even though Allen won’t speculate on Marbury, that doesn’t mean he would oppose an additional asset this season.
“We welcome the help,” he said. “Our egos, we’re pretty selfless here on this team when it comes to playing basketball. We just want to win.”
While Marbury’s future is in question, Allen has little doubt about his game. Even though he hasn’t seen him play since preseason action, he has a feeling Marbury’s not letting up.
‘He’s always been a strong guy so I know he hasn’t, basketball-wise, he hasn’t fallen off,’ Allen said. ‘And not to mention with the speculation out there, in his mind I bet you he believes that if he has a chance to come here that he’s probably doing what he needs to do to take care of himself.’
The Celtics will take on the Knicks on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
|Sunday Afternoon NBA Analysis||11.23.08 at 12:44 pm ET|
Checking in on a couple of fairly big developments in the NBA this weekend, while watching the Celtics and the Raptors. On Friday night, the Knicks moved two big contracts (Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford) and moved closer toward fulfilling their rebuilding plan, while out in the place that stole the Sonics from Seattle, the Robber Barons axed P.J. Carlesimo.
First, the Knicks. Most fans are already sick of hearing about the 2010 free agency class, but for roughly half the teams in the league, getting cap space is their reason for being. The Knicks, meanwhile, have put a big blinking sign on the marquee at Madison Square Garden saying “OPEN FOR BUSINESS–2010,” ever since Donnie Walsh to clean up the toxic spew that Isiah Thomas left behind.
On Friday, the Knicks traded Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Clippers for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley and dealt Crawford to Golden State for unhappy forward Al Harrington. Those moves were genius in that they replaced three players who would be due $30 million in 2010-11 with three players who will be due nothing. Nada.
|Richardson Still Unimpressed by Celtics||11.18.08 at 8:56 pm ET|
This time last year Quentin Richardson wasn’t buying into the hype surrounding the Big Three. To him, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett were just another handful of players who hadn’t won a championship. Despite their hot start to the 2008 season, Richardson wasn’t in awe.
“It’s not that big a deal to us,” the New York Knicks forward told the New York Post last year. “It’s like the media makes more of The Big Three and all of them. We’re not in awe of them. They ain’t won no championships. They have a good record right now, but that don’t matter.”
At the time, Pierce shrugged it off.
“You know what? I really don’t get caught up in all that talk,” Pierce said. “He’s going to say what he’s going to say to try to motivate his team. We don’t need to be motivated. We’re a self-motivated team and we’re going to go out there and take care of business.”
Fast forward 12 months. The Knicks faced off against the Celtics on Tuesday night in Boston for a heated battle that included plenty of trash-talking and technical fouls to go around. This time the Knicks were playing the defending NBA champions. This time … was no different than the last for Richardson.
‘I think a few of those guys know they can’t just say anything to us,” he said following the Celtics tension-filled 110-101 victory. “I’m just real curious to see what those guys will be saying if we weren’t in a basketball league and didn’t have referees. I mean it wouldn’t be the same story. I mean they are the World Champions and rah-rah-rah, but the tough part I don’t factor. I come from a neighborhood where you can say what you want to say, but til you do something, it don’t mean nothing. Some of those guys are happy to get a ring, but you ain’t been in the league long enough to talk to people like that. I don’t have a lot of respect for that. Like I said, I’d be curious to hear what they have to say in a different setting, I’d be very curious to see that.’
A year later, Pierce is still shrugging off Richardson’s rants.
‘We just have to keep our composure,” the Celtics captain said. “The Knicks try to get you to play their game with the talking and the small ball. We can’t get caught up in the way they’re playing. We have to play our game and take advantage of what we do out there well.’
Don’t expect this to be the last heard from Richardson. The Celtics and Knicks will see each other again three times this season. Next up, December 21 at the Garden.
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