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Irish Coffee: Celtics’ NBA All-Star Weekend in quotes 02.21.11 at 12:05 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Celtics Ray Allen and Paul Pierce may have lost to overlooked Heat forward James Jones in the final round of the 3-Point Contest, and more heralded Miami forward Lebron James (29 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) might have singlehandedly played Allen, Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo (28 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists) even at the NBA All-Star Game, but all was not lost.

After sorting through all 29,562, 317 interviews from the All-Star festivities, I present the weekend in quotes …

Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen bring their star-power to Los Angeles. (AP)

Kevin Garnett (via USA Today): “I’m far from dirty. Dirty is like hate. Don’t use that word. I’m competitive, and I play hard, but don’t call me dirty. Just like if you dislike me, dislike me. ‘Hate’ is a very strong word, just like ‘dirty’ is a very strong word.”

Garnett (via CBS Sports): “All-Star weekend is a chance for all players to sit down and relax. Get to know one another. I don’t like the word ‘fraternizing’ and I don’t like the word ‘fronting’. It’s the one time that we get to socialize and be friendly, I don’t think it’s fronting, I think everybody is sort of in a relaxed state.”

Garnett (via NBA.com): “Look here, I don’t play for the Phoenix Suns. I could care less what Spike [Lee] or whoever else has to say about me. As long as Doc Rivers and my organization is happy with what I’m doing, I could care less. …

“If I’m playing against you, I’m not trying to be your friend. I’m out here to win. I’m just competitive. I go about this a certain way. Always have, always will. I don’t make any excuses about that or apologize for anything I’ve done. I carry myself in a well-fashioned manner. I respect the game first-off, respect the players that are in it. And I’m definitely not trying to hurt anybody — I don’t want to be hurt. I’m just out there playing hard and playing competitive. If that comes off as something else, then that’s your problem.”

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Jackie MacMullan on D&H: Celtics’ problems at center critical 02.11.11 at 1:12 pm ET
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Basketball Hall of Fame writer Jackie MacMullan joined the Dale & Holley show Friday to talk about the Celtics and news from around the NBA. While Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half to spark a Lakers comeback Thursday night, MacMullan attributed most of the blame for the Celtics’ loss on their sudden lack of depth at center. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“That was the game in a nutshell,” she said. “Their bigs just played really, really well, crushed them on the boards, made things happen in the paint. We know Kobe can turn it on, as he did in the second half. And we all knew when he had three points at halftime that it wouldn’t end that way. But to me, it really was about what went on in the paint last night.”

Ray Allen broke the NBA record for career 3-pointers Thursday night. MacMullan noted that despite the lofty praise, Allen has not always been the most coachable player. Said MacMullan: ”It was just so funny to me how, as he was approaching the record, everyone was saying, ‘Oh, Ray Allen, a coach’s dream, the greatest veteran, what a model, an ambassador for the NBA.’ And I was thinking, ‘Whoa.’ I can remember a lot of coaches that really struggled with Ray, including the one here.

“And that doesn’t mean they don’t love him — and certainly Doc [Rivers] and Ray have found their way together — but that’s not who Ray is. Ray’s going to challenge you and Ray’s going to question you. Because he wants things to work within his own parameters. And to me, that was the most interesting part about this quest for the 3-point title, was he did it through multiple coaches, each of whom at one point or another I’m sure were saying, ‘This guy drives me nuts!’ ”

Addressing the rumors of a trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers, MacMullan noted that Lakers owner Jerry Buss has been looking to trim payroll, not add to it. Plus, the Lakers already have a title-contending team without adding a player with defensive liabilities who would take some time to learn the triangle offense. “It just didn’t make sense to me,” she said. “Not if you’re the Lakers and you’re right there.”

MacMullan, who had lunch Thursday with Lakers coach Phil Jackson, said she believes Jackson will stick to his word and retire at the end of the season. “The impression I get is that Phil is at the end of the road,” she said. “He didn’t say that, he won’t say anything about it. But that’s the impression I get. I think he’s come to the point where it’s time to step away again.”

MacMullan was talking to Jackson for a book she’s writing about Shaquille O’Neal. “He gave me some great insight on Shaquille, who he has a great affection for to this day, really loved being with him,” she said. “And you know, when it was Phil, Kobe and Shaq, nine times out of 10, Phil was siding with Shaq, not Kobe.”

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Irish Coffee: Perfect remedy for loss to Lakers at 11:30 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Few game films exist of Bill Russell‘s playing days, but a United States Information Agency documentarian by the name of Gary Goldsmith had some rare footage in his vault: Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Cincinnati Royals.

The video has since been shown on NBA TV, and SLAM Magazine recently caught with the filmmaker. Goldsmith takes us through the documentary’s process, and the unquestionable highlight of the interview is this aside on a retired Bob Cousy wandering the Garden hallways:

“He was holding his head in his hands and saying to somebody, ‘We can’t lose. If we lose, they’ll never let us up. It will be like the Yankees; they’ll grind us in to the earth. We’ve got to win.’ He wasn’t saying this to anybody for publication; this was a private comment that he made. It’s that sense of how important it was to sustain their championship level. I got a feel for it from moments like that.”

Part 1 of Goldsmith’s “The Final Game” is embedded in this blog. Be sure to check out Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 on YouTube. There’s nothing better than watching a game from the last run of the Celtics’ nine consecutive championship seasons to get over a loss to the Lakers.

The time spent is worth it just to hear Red Auerbach‘s incessant chatter from the sidelines:

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Doc Rivers: We weren’t up the challenge of the Lakers at 10:57 am ET
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One characteristic Doc Rivers has always admired about his team was that it fights through almost every kind of adversity.

On Thursday night, he didn’t have that feeling. Whether it was the overwhelming number of injuries, the foul trouble of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Kobe being Kobe or just all of the above, Rivers just didn’t have the feeling that his team had the energy or will to overcome all of it. And that, more than the 92-86 loss to the Lakers at TD Garden seem to bug him the most.

“I thought they came out and jumped on us early in the third quarter, first –scored the first 10 points,” Rivers began. “And I never thought we fought through it, really. I mean obviously the fatigue and all that – you know, one of our concerns going into the game were Paul or Ray couldn’t get in foul trouble obviously, because of what we had left. And that happened.

“But I just thought mentally we were not a very good team tonight and usually we are. I didn’t think we fought hard enough through adversity, and we’re great at that usually.”

But not on this night. While the Celtics are not a great rebounding team to begin with, they usually find a knack of dominating their opponent in the paint. Not on this night when they were outscored, 50-32.

They usually get to loose balls and find a way to score on second-chance points. Not on this night. They were outscored, 16-9, in that category. And while Rajon Rondo posted his 21st double-double of the season, he was just 5-of-14 and – after feeding Ray Allen for his record-breaking three in transition – couldn’t let his team back. It didn’t help that Nate Robinson went down with a bruised right knee in the second quarter and didn’t return.

“It was one of those nights; I just thought we didn’t do a very good job of [battling],” Rivers said. “And we obviously did have a lot of adversity with the injury of Nate and foul trouble and the lack of bodies, but you know that that could happen before the game and I don’t think we handled that very well.”

And watching Kobe Bryant – with just three shots in the first half – take over in the third quarter didn’t help either.

“Well once he saw there was a chance to win, Kobe was going to be Kobe,” Rivers said. “I think we knew that a week ago. And, he also knew that we had foul problems on the floor and he was aggressive. Kobe didn’t win the game with his offense. Kobe won the game today with his defense. I thought defensively he was absolutely phenomenal. He was everywhere. He was trapping, he was helping, you know off Rondo all night, and trapped the post, blocked shots. I mean, he just had a great floor game to me more than just scoring.”

The Celtics face another NBA superstar when LeBron James and the Heat come calling on Sunday. The same Heat team that has been dominated twice this year by the Green. And whether or not Delonte West returns from a broken right wrist, the C’s better find their fight on Sunday or history will repeat itself.

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Kobe Bryant: ‘I’ll bust your ass’ at 1:10 am ET
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Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to help his Lakers drop the Celtics 92-86 and even their season series at one apiece. And then he issued a warning to the four Celtics who will be attending the All-Star Game in Los Angeles next weekend.

“It doesn’t matter who I play,” said Bryant. “I could play you, and I’ll bust your ass.”

During a five-minute interview with the media following the Lakers’ victory, Bryant hit on everything from Ray Allen‘s record-breaking 3-pointer to the latest book assignment he’s received from coach Phil Jackson. Here’s a rundown of the conversation:

  • On Ray’s record: “I just told him congratulations. It’s a mutual respect kind of thing, because we came into the league together. There’s not too many guys from that draft still playing and competing at a high level. I’m just very, very happy for him. We always compete when we go at it. That’s part of it. At this stage of our careers, there’s a respect because of that. I don’t get along with chumps very well, and he’s not a chump.”
  • On the Garden: “It’s great. This is one of the best atmospheres — if not the best atmosphere — you can play in in the league today. This arena, what they do, this is a challenging place to play, but it’s a lot of fun.”
  • On his play: “I wanted to be more aggressive in the first half, but I didn’t want to force it too much. I wanted to keep my guys in the game a little bit. In the second half, I just forced it. The game wasn’t coming to me, so I took it.”
  • On the win: “It depends on where we go from here. We don’t go to New York and lay a dud. Then this game doesn’t much.”
  • On the Lakers: “We always remain a pretty confident bunch. It’s good to see the hard work that we’ve been putting in paying off. We’re seeing results. From the last time we played them until now, we’ve gotten a little bit better in our defensive rotations, and we didn’t make as many mistakes down the stretch.”
  • On the East: “[The Celtics] are right up there. It’s them and Miami. We’ve played against Boston twice and Miami once, and they look good.”
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Fast Break: Lakers put damper on Ray Allen’s night 02.10.11 at 10:54 pm ET
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Even Kobe Bryant congratulated Ray Allen on his record-breaking night. (AP)

With two first-quarter 3-pointers, Ray Allen set the all-time record as Reggie Miller could only watch from his broadcasting chair. Oh, and it came against the Lakers — off a transition pass from Rajon Rondo,  over Kobe Bryant — but the Celtics lost, 92-86, Thursday night at the TD Garden.

Allen led the Celtics (39-13) with 20 points. Rondo (12 points, 10 assists) and Kevin Garnett (10 points, 11 rebounds) each registered double-doubles, but Bryant scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the second half as the Lakers (36-17) earned a season split with the C’s.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Rebounding (what’s new?): It was their Achilles’ heel in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals, and the rebounding issue reared its ugly head again. The Celtics were outrebounded 35-24 on the defensive end and 47-36 overall against the Lakers.

Points in the paint: With the O’Neal “brothers” and Semih Erden all out of action, the Celtics had little if any depth behind Kendrick Perkins at the center position. They not only paid for it on the glass but in the paint as well. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined for 36 points and 19 rebounds, as the Lakers outscored the C’s 50-32 in the key.

Emotional letdowns: The Celtics rode an emotional wave after Allen’s record-breaking trey to a 45-30 lead midway through the second quarter, but the Lakers responded with a 14-4 run that cut the lead to five and gave LA its confidence back. Another 10-0 run to start the third gave the Lakers a lead and even more momentum.

Finishing the game with just four healthy players on the bench — two of them rookies — the C’s had nobody but Von Wafer to give them a lift, especially considering the fact that Glen Davis struggled from the floor (3-for-10) all night long.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Ray Allen’s big 3: In what was probably the best singular moment at the new Garden since the 2008 title run, Allen ripped his record-setting 2,561st career 3-pointer 10:12 into the game. The crowd let out a deafening roar as Allen pumped his fist in celebration.

Following the first quarter, the C’s recognized Allen, who in turn acknowledged the fans, shook Miller’s hand, hugged his mother Flo and kissed his wife Shannon and his children.

The shot also helped Allen record 12 points in the first quarter, as the C’s took a 27-20 lead.

Taking care of the ball: The emotion of the night didn’t hurt the Celtics’ concentration. They committed just three first-half turnovers. Much of the credit went to Rondo, who the Lakers simply had no answer for in the first half. The point guard had eight assists and zero turnovers in the opening 24 minutes of the game, helping the C’s establish a 53-45 halftime advantage.

In the second half, however, Bryant cracked down on defense. Rondo produced just five points and two assists in the final two quarters. The C’s finished with only 10 turnovers. Of course, one of them was an errant Paul Pierce pass on a fast break that would’ve cut the lead to three with two minutes to go.

Von Wafer’s boost: With Marquis Daniels (bruised spinal cord) and Nate Robinson (bruised right knee in 3:39 of playing time) out, the Celtics had to rely heavily on Wafer. And he produced. His eight second-quarter points actually gave him an 8-3 scoring edge against Bryant at the half. Yup, you read that correctly.

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Irish Coffee: Shaquille O’Neal talks Hoopz 02.03.11 at 12:31 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …  

  

During the filming of “Flavor of Love” on VH1, Nikki “Hoopz” Alexander dominated Flavor Flav in a game of one-on-one. Then she owned some dude named “Entertainer” with a flurry of profanities on “I Love Money” — another VH1 reality show.  

But she’d probably have a tougher time defeating her current boyfriend, Shaquille O’Neal.  

Sudbury’s most famous couple went two-on-one in an interview with The Globe’s Meredith Goldstein for a Home & Lifestyle section cover story. Here’s what we learned:  

  • Hoopz, 28, on Shaq, 38: “I knew he was a goofball. We’re the same. We’re both goofballs.’’
  • Shaq is 7-foot-1; Hoopz is 5-foot-2. A full Nelson de la Rosa separates them.
  • Hoopz is filming another reality show, based on their suburban life and her desire to become a women’s heath and self-defense guru. Like I won’t watch that.
  • Shaq has a pit bull named Shamrock. Do you think the dog has a Kobe Bryant chew toy?
  • Ther’s a room in Shaq’s house that features Taylor Swift and “Alice in Wonderland” posters on the wall and candy canisters everwhere. Oh, and there’s a pink bathroom, too. Thankfully, that room is Hoopz’s. Shaq calls it the “dungeon.”
  • Hoopz won “Flavor of Love” Season 1, capturing Flavor Flav’s “on-camera affection” and the ultimate prize: a set of gold teeth. I think I just found my Valentine’s Day gift.
  • Hoopz then took home $250,000 for winning “I Love Money,’’ a crazy reality show spinoff about the craziest VH1 reality show castoffs that could only happen in America.
  • Hoopz once followed another basketball player,  James “Boo” Jackson, to Tennessee. A gym gypsy of sorts, Jackson left town for another team. Hoopz stayed behind.
  • Hoopz and Shaq’s first date was in Las Vegas. Luckily, it didn’t end up at The Best Little Chapel — a la Stu and Jade in “The Hangover.”
  • The next few dates between Hoopz took Shaq included fishing, visiting a Waffle House and listening to music by Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift. You know, typical Shaq things.
  • Shaq on Hoopz: “She’s my first female best friend, besides my mother.’’
  • Shaq has a live-in chef. Unfortunately, it’s not Chef from “South Park.”
  • Hoopz and Shaq watch “Spartacus” on Starz together. Loin cloths optional.
  • Hoopz attends every Celtics home game. Shaq attends most, too.

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