|Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics slay Kobe Bryant, Lakers to win 6th straight sans Rajon Rondo||02.07.13 at 10:29 pm ET|
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.
|Paul Pierce, Celtics embarrass Kobe Bryant, Lakers||at 10:28 pm ET|
Paul Pierce 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter while Kevin Garnett scored 15 points and made NBA history as the Celtics embarrassed the Lakers on national TV, 116-95, Thursday night at TD Garden. Jeff Green added 19 points off the bench for the Celtics, who matched their season-best six-game winning streak while improving to 26-23 on the season.
Kobe Bryant scored 27 in the loss and Dwight Howard had little impact on the game, scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds in 28 minutes in his return from three-game absence due to a right shoulder injury. He fouled out with 5:07 left in the game. It was his first game since being called out by Bryant on Wednesday. The Lakers lost for just the second time in eight games and fell to 23-27 on the season.
The Celtics overcame early foul trouble as Garnett picked up two fouls in the first two minutes and found an early spot on the bench. Jason Collins picked up three fouls in five minutes and the Lakers were in the bonus before the first three minutes were in the books as Boston was called for five fouls in the first 2:22 of the game.
The Celtics finished the first quarter with 10 personal fouls while the Lakers had only three.
But the Lakers could not take advantage, missing 7-of-12 free throws and shooting just 8-for-21 from the field. The Celtics took the lead for good on a Jeff Green three-foot hook shot with 4:03 left in the first quarter. Bryant had eight points in the opening 12 minutes but Pierce went even further, scoring 10, as the Celtics grabbed a 27-23 lead after one quarter.
With 8:08 left in the second quarter, Garnett hit an 11-foot turnaround over Earl Clark to reach the 25,000-point plateau. He made history as the only player in NBA history with 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists and 1,500 blocks. Garnett had nine points in the second quarter as the Celtics began to pull away, outscoring Los Angeles, 31-21, to take a 58-44 halftime lead. The Celtics committed just two turnovers in the first half as they began to pull away.
In a throwback to Game 6 of the 2008 NBA finals, when the Celtics clinched their 17th title on the parquet, the Celtics blew out the listless and defenseless Lakers in the third quarter. Following a Steve Blake three that closed the gap to 81-66, the Celtics closed the quarter 14-3 spurt that featured a one-handed slam by Green and a 3-pointer from Pierce that sent the Garden into a frenzy. The Celtics led 95-69 heading into the fourth.
With chants of “Beat LA” ringing throughout the sellout crowd, the Celtics kept pouring it on, building their lead up to 32, 103-71, midway through the fourth.
Fab Melo checked into the game with just under five minutes left for Chris Wilcox and the Celtics up by 27. He scored his first NBA points on a layup with 1:22 remaining in the game.
The Celtics are off Friday and likely will not practice on Saturday either due to the blizzard forecast for Boston. The Celtics are next scheduled to play Sunday at 6 p.m. against the Nuggets at TD Garden. For more from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach at the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Kevin Garnett reaches 25,000 points in the NBA||at 8:59 pm ET|
With a patented turnaround jumper over Earl Clark with 8:08 left in the second quarter of the Celtics‘ game against the Lakers, Kevin Garnett became the 16th player in NBA history to reach 25,000 points. Garnett becomes the only player in NBA history with 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks, and 1,500 steals.
During a timeout several minutes later, the Celtics honored him with a tribute on the TD Garden video board. The crowd gave him a standing ovation and Paul Pierce led the cheers in the Celtics huddle. As the Celtics came out of the timeout, Garnett tipped his hand to the crowd in appreciation.
Garnett scored a season-high 27 on Wednesday night in Toronto, making it a near-certainty KG would reach the mark on national TV against the Lakers, needing just six points to reach the 25,000-point plateau.
It’s the second time in three seasons a Celtics player has achieved an NBA milestone against the Lakers. In Feb. 2011, Ray Allen became the NBA’s all-time leading 3-point shooter, passing Reggie Miller in a Thursday game against the Lakers.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Doc Rivers: Lakers ‘have more firestorms going on’||at 8:04 pm ET|
“We don’t have time for it to heal,” Bryant told ESPN on Wednesday, a day before the Lakers’ showdown with the Celtics in Boston. “We need some urgency.”
Howard responded Thursday.
“That’s his opinion; that’s it,” Howard told ESPN. “He’s not a doctor. I’m not a doctor. That’s his opinion.”
Doc Rivers, obviously aware of this dynamic, figured Bryant’s words would be enough to get Howard back in the lineup Thursday.
“He’s playing,” he said without hesitation. “We’ve only prepared for one way.”
Rivers was right as Howard returned from a three-game absence as he deals with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Just another turn in the NBA’s longest and most prestigious rivalry.
“They still wear that same color. And we wear the same color,” Rivers replied when asked about the current state of the rivalry before Thursday’s game. “Through all of it, it’s still the same thing, you enjoy the game because they are fun. Kobe [Bryant is] there; Kevin [Garnett] and Paul [Pierce] are there. It always will be fun.”
Then he threw a good-natured jab at the Lakers.
“It’s more, we’re just playing right now; we’re not dealing with anything,” Rivers said a week after losing Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger. “They have more firestorms going on. Give them credit, they’ve won six out of seven through it. In some ways, it may be helping them.”
Speaking of big men, Rivers said he’s not worried about Kevin Garnett‘s minutes after scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 32 minutes Wednesday in Toronto.
“It’s not a game-to-game thing with Kevin’s minutes, it’s more the accumulative of the year,” Rivers said. “We’ve had eight overtimes, I think, that hasn’t helped at all with him. So it’s just, we get through the year and try to keep him as fresh as possible.”
Meanwhile… Celtics players presented Rivers with the game ball from his 400th regular-season win as Celtics coach on their flight home from Toronto on Wednesday night. Garnett and Pierce were among those to honor Rivers on the flight, something Rivers acknowledged Thursday.
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|Lakers will take on Celtics without Pau Gasol||02.06.13 at 9:04 pm ET|
Following an MRI, the Lakers big man was diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot Wednesday in Boston, sidelining the 7-footer indefinitely, just as the Lakers (23-26) were showing signs of turning around a season that right now has them on the outside looking in on the playoffs.
Gasol felt a pop in his foot Tuesday night late in the Lakers’ 92-83 victory over the Brooklyn Nets and Wednesday’s exam in Boston confirmed his fears.
While his teammates get ready to take on the Celtics Thursday night at TD Garden, Gasol will fly to Los Angeles to be examined by team physician Steve Lombardo and foot specialist Kenneth Jung. The Lakers announced Wednesday they will give a timeline for Gasol’s return after his LA exam. The injury could knock Gasol out for the season if he undergoes surgery.
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) February 6, 2013
The Lakers are losing Gasol just as it appears they’re turning a corner. They come into Boston as winners of six of seven games, including three in a row on their season-long seven-game road trip. The Lakers have played the last three games without center Dwight Howard, who has a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and top backup big man Jordan Hill is out for the season with a bad hip.
Gasol has been dealing with tendinitis in both knees and fasciitis for two months. The four-time All-Star big man also missed five games in January with a concussion. Since then, Gasol largely has been coming off the bench. Gasol is averaging a career-low 13.4 points per game and 8.0 rebounds while playing in just 36 of his team’s 49 games.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Jason Terry praises Paul Pierce, blasts LeBron James||12.20.12 at 1:10 am ET|
Two months after his 35th birthday, Celtics captain Paul Pierce scored 40 points on 16 shots in Wednesday night’s 103-91 victory against the Cavaliers. It took a superhuman effort, as his three most veteran teammates can attest. Maybe that’s why Jason Terry called him Kryptonite in the locker room afterwards.
Pierce, Terry, Kevin Garnett and Jason Collins have a combined 55 years of NBA experience between them, but this was a first. The Celtics captain became the oldest player in franchise history to eclipse 40 points in a regulation game (at 35 and three months, Larry Bird scored 49 in double overtime in 1992).
“Not a lot of guys in this league stay in one franchise,” said Terry. “You can count them on your hand right now. It’s not many that are superstars, that have been in the league longer than 12-13 years, and he’s one of them.”
Terry played his last eight seasons alongside one of those other guys in Dirk Nowitzki, who has stayed in Dallas ever since being selected one spot ahead of Pierce in the 1998 NBA draft. There’s a certain respect among veterans around the league for loyalty like that, Terry said, especially after younger superstars like LeBron James and Dwight Howard jumped ship for the Heat and Lakers early in their careers over the past several years.
As Terry elaborated, Pierce has demonstrated a “willingness to stick through the tough times and not just jump off: ‘I’m outta here.’ ‘I’m going to go join forces with Kobe [Bryant].’ Or, ‘I’m going to go play with Dwyane Wade.’ That’s a shot right there. … I think that’s what guys look at, and they respect him.”
How’s this for respect? Pierce joined Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Clyde Drexler, Alex English, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller and Walter Davis as the only players since 1985 to scored 40 points in regulation after turning 35 years old. None of the others accomplished that feat on 16 shots.
“Paul was on fire tonight, man,” added Garnett, who was traded to Boston after 12 up-and-down seasons for the Timberwolves. “Paul had a flashback to like ’03 or ’04 or something, man. It was good to see, though. As we walked in tonight, I could tell — just because it was a long day — that he felt kind of down in the dumps. After the game, I told him, ‘You need to feel more down in the dumps a little more often.’ But he had the rhythm going, and we were just trying to feed him. I thought he did a good job getting it out of the offense and letting it come to him.”
|Irish Coffee: Why Rajon Rondo’s assist streak is more impressive than John Stockton’s or Magic Johnson’s||11.26.12 at 4:50 pm ET|
This topic stemmed from a conversation with Celtics guard Jason Terry about the evolution of the assist after colleague Rob Bradford compared the dwindling distribution of assists to baseball errors: Considering teams in the 1980s scored at a higher rate, is Rajon Rondo‘s current streak of 37 consecutive games with at least 10 assists more impressive than John Stockton‘s string of 37 in 1989 or Magic Johnson’s record stretch of 46 in 1983?
In a word? Yes. Let the 35-year-old NBA veteran of 13 seasons who grew up on ’80s basketball explain.
“It’s just a different style of play,” said Terry, whose longest streak of double-digit assists lasted all of three games in 2003. “Now, it’s a lot more difficult to get those assists per se as in the ’80s. If you look at the style of play, it was up-and-down, run-and-gun. Now, there are much more intricate defenses. There’s also the zone defense, so it makes it a lot tougher to get assists. So, that makes his feat a lot more amazing.”
Great points all around. Let’s look at that style of play. Last season, when Rondo’s streak began, the C’s averaged only 90.4 possessions per 48 minutes. By comparison, in 1989, when Stockton’s stretch started, the Jazz averaged 98.0; and in 1983, when Magic’s string commenced, the Lakers averaged a whopping 103.8. All three hover around the league average that season, so defense has clearly muddled the pace over the years.
To put a finer point on it, not only must Rondo generate his assists on fewer possessions — and thus fewer field goal attempts — but the maturation of defensive schemes over the past quarter-century has also forced lower shooting percentages. Translation: Even fewer opportunities for Rondo to collect his dimes.
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