|Pacquiao fights for the Celtics||03.10.10 at 7:15 pm ET|
Prior to Wednesday’s game with Memphis, many of the Celtics had a special motivational gift waiting for them in their lockers.
Manny Pacquiao, widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, sent several red autographed boxing gloves to the Celtics as a measure of gratitude for being bestowed an honorary member of the Celtics, according to Phillipines news report.
“There’s no message, no message,” insisted Celtics coach Doc Rivers before Wednesday’s game.
“It honestly wasn’t from me,” Rivers added. “Pacquiao is obviously a huge Celtics fan and he tried to get to our walk-through in the hotel ballroom before we played the Lakers [in Los Angeles] so he just sent that to us. That’s nice. It’s a good gesture.”
Asked if he hopes his players make use of the gloves, Rivers quipped, “No, not on each other.”
The relationship between Pacquiao and the Celtics grew closer in 2008 when Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo watched him capture the World Boxing Council lightweight title from David Diaz and then congratulated him afterward.
|Movie critics||02.27.10 at 2:45 pm ET|
There was plenty of hype surrounding the debut of the HBO movie, “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals.” Our own Jess Camerato summarized it.
“I just thought it was a good thing to watch,” Rivers said. “I saw it in L.A. the night before the Laker game and I loved it. I thought there were a lot of great things in it for our team, not just for our team but anyone who plays basketball or anybody who likes sports actually.
“I thought [Friday] was a good day. I didn’t think we needed work. I thought we needed to be together. So instead of watching us play, and I don’t know if anybody wanted to watch that, instead of watching a horror film, I decided to watch a good film.”
It unfortunately did not have the desired impact – at least initially – as the Celtics came out and played one of their flattest games of the season. They allowed the 5-52 Nets to outscore them 44-24 in the first half and take command, leading by as many 14 midway through the third.
“I don’t know if it had any effect short term,” Rivers said. “But I just thought it was a good day for us.
“We’ll see. It’s really good. There’s a lot of team stuff in it and just a lot of good messages in it, and more than just the Magic-Bird thing. I thought Bird was phenomenal because I thought it captured him exactly as he was.”
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Lakers||02.19.10 at 1:26 am ET|
Danny Ainge made his trade deadline move and, all things considered, it was a relatively minor one. He effectively traded Eddie House for Nate Robinson and while it will give the second unit a different look, it doesn’t do a lot to alter the makeup of this team.
The Celtics hopes will still rise and fall primarily upon the health and effectiveness of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. To that end Allen looked positively rejuvenated and Garnett looked like the 2007 version of himself in an emotional 87-86 victory over the Lakers Thursday night in Los Angeles.
The Big Three will get at least one more chance to see if they can win a championship together. That’s what they have been asking for the last few weeks and now that the final decision has been made there can be no more excuses. It’s on them to turn it around in the final 30 games and through the playoffs.
Turning Point: For three quarters the Celtics controlled the matchup, but when the Lakers made their inevitable run to start the fourth quarter and turned a nine-point deficit into a four-point lead, the Celtics had a decision to make. They could retreat into a shell, as they have done so often the last few weeks, or they could stand and fight. They chose to fight.
Player of the Game: Ray Allen. It’s dangerous to read too much into a player’s one-game performance but Allen resembled the dangerous outside shooter that he’s been known for being throughout his career. He made his first four shots and finished with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Was he more relaxed after the trade deadline passed? Who knows for sure, but if this is the Allen the Celtics can get night in and night out for the rest of the season, it will go a long way toward making them a serious contender again.
* The game was physical throughout with several big dunks and a few minor staredowns. Ron Artest and Pierce continued their rivalry, Garnett and Lamar Odom exchanged words after a jump ball and Kendrick Perkins and Andrew Bynum battled under the glass.
* The officials let the two teams play for the most and both sides wanted calls in the final seconds of the game. Doc Rivers could be seen asking the refs, “That wasn’t a foul?” after Pierce drove to the basket. On the other end, the Lakers though Allen fouled Derek Fisher’s last-second shot.
* Kobe Bryant didn’t play for the Lakers. He is battling an assortment of injuries but it’s his ankle that seems to be giving him the most trouble.
* Robinson and Marcus Landry, the other player acquired from the Knicks in exchange for House, J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker did not play. The Celtics had only 11 players in uniform and lost Tony Allen with an ankle injury, but Doc Rivers stayed with a tight rotation throughout.
* All five started scored in double figures.
* Once again Rondo was on the floor for the final offensive possession. The play involved Pierce and Garnett in a high pick and roll, but without House, expect to see more of that.
|Halftime wrap: Celtics vs. Lakers||02.18.10 at 11:55 pm ET|
At the half, the Celtics have a 53-48 lead. The Lakers grabbed an slim advantage early in the second quarter, but the Celtics were able to build an 11-point lead capped by a thunderous Ray Allen dunk on Shannon Brown. LA came right back, however, led by Lamar Odom who had a big dunk of his own on Kendrick Perkins. Ron Artest leads the Lakers with 12 points.
Both teams will deal with foul trouble in the second half. Allen has three fouls as does LA’s Andrew Bynum.
Tony Allen and Glen Davis gave the Celtics energy, if uneven, minutes off the bench. Both players got on the glass and attacked the basket, but both had trouble finishing. Still, by the time the starters returned to the floor they had given them a 41-34 lead.
|First quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Lakers||at 11:15 pm ET|
The Celtics started quickly with an 11-2 run to open the game, but the Lakers closed the gap in the final minute, leaving the Celtics with a 29-27 lead after one. Rajon Rondo scored eight points and had two assists, while Ray Allen made all four of his shots to finish the quarter with nine points.
Newest Celtics Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry are not with the team.
|Kobe plays Keyshawn: ‘Give me the damn ball’||01.31.10 at 8:26 pm ET|
“I didn’t say, ‘Give me one more chance.’ I said, ‘Give me the damn ball.’ I didn’t really give [my team] much of a choice,” Bryant said of the moments in the huddle before his game-winner with 7.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“All we talked about was the execution of [the play], where I was going to catch the ball. That was the only difference. Throughout the course of the game, I was pretty much a decoy because of all the traps they run, but if I catch it at the top of the floor, it’s a different story.”
Then there are Celtics fans, who had a slightly different perspective ‘ one that had Bryant clearly pushing off of Ray Allen to create space for the game-winner.
“I just tried to create space and get to a spot where I could elevate and knock it down,” Bryant explained.
Speaking of pushing off, Bryant said his left ankle was so sore he couldn’t elevate, leading to this tidy little jab at Allen.
“Oh yeah, I couldn’t push off,” Bryant said. “Ray’s athletic, but my elevator goes to the 12th floor, his stays at the seventh. But I couldn’t get to the 12th floor today, so it was hurting.
“Special for me, personally, because I had opportunity to win the game last year and I didn’t do it. I didn’t get the shot I wanted, so I wanted to make sure I redeemed myself today.”
“He had a couple of looks before that that were good looks in that area and we were mystified he couldn’t put it in. He told me the next one he got out there he would drop it in and so we went with it,” Jackson said.
|Doc on Lakers: ‘Better than last year’||at 3:51 pm ET|
Last year, the Celtics won 62 but lost in seven games to the Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals when being without Kevin Garnett proved to be just too much to overcome.
Instead of a repeat, the Lakers won the title. And before Sunday’s game, Rivers sounded just a tad envious because instead of losing two key players like Boston lost in James Posey and P.J. Brown, the Lakers added Ron Artest, Shannon Brown and a healthy Andrew Bynum.
‘I think having won the title, having the same title back , adding Artest, that continuity and health I think those have been three pretty good things for them,” Rivers said. “Gasol has been in and out for them, which hurt them early in the year, too. It’s rare when you get a championship team that adds to their team and they did. You don’t see that very often. People are taking away from championship teams. It’s rare that they come back better and they’re better than last year.
‘I thought we took away from it. Losing Posey hurt us, losing P.J. Brown hurt us. But I think we’ve addressed that. Bringing in Marquis this year, bringing in Rasheed this year.”
[Click here to listen to Rivers compare his 2009 Celtics to the 2010 Lakers, teams attempting to defend a title.]