|Kobe Bryant: ‘I’ll bust your ass’||02.11.11 at 1:10 am ET|
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.’
|Fast Break: Lakers put damper on Ray Allen’s night||02.10.11 at 10:54 pm ET|
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.
Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer from right wing with 1:48 left in the first quarter to pass Reggie Miller for the most 3′s in NBA history with 2,561. Allen went over and gave a hug to Miller, on hand courtside to broadcast the game nationally on TNT.
Appropriately, it was Rajon Rondo who set the stage for history with a trademark pass on the fast break to a wide-open Allen on the right wing. Allen was several feet behind the arc when he took the shot.
Allen led all scorers in the first quarter with 12 points and helped the Celtics to a 27-20 lead. In the break before the start of the second quarter, Allen went over again to the TNT table and hugged Miller again and then went to the went to the seats under the Lakers basket and gave a hug to his mom, who was courtside. Allen then waved to the sellout crowd, which erupted in pandemonium after the historical shot and then during the first-quarter break.
Allen tied the record with a trey from the left top of the circle with 4:15 left in the first quarter to tie the mark. The crowd rose in anticipation on each 3-point attempt by Allen on the night. Allen’s first attempt came from the left baseline with 7:24 left in the first quarter.
Miller had held the record with 2,560 since retiring after the 2004-05 season. Miller posted the record over a span of 1,389 games. Allen needed just 1,074 games to pass Miller. Allen’s first 3 came on Nov. 1, 1996, at Philadelphia, a game his Bucks won.
|NBA Power Rankings, 2/10||at 8:28 pm ET|
A quick explanation of the top four: While the Celtics and Lakers have fallen prey to the annual February malaise at times, the Spurs continue to separate themselves in the standings, establishing a 5.5-game lead for homecourt throughout the playoffs.
Meanwhile, neither the Heat nor the Lakers have proven this season they can beat the Celtics, although that could change when both come to town in the next four days. While the Mavericks have won 10 straight and swept the C’s this season, I’m still not confident they’re any better than the third-best team out West. There you have it.
Now, it’s time to unveil this week’s full NBA Power Rankings. In a tribute to Ray Allen‘s chase for Reggie Miller‘s all-time 3-point record, we give you the best current and former long-distance shooters on each of the league’s 30 teams …
1. San Antonio (44-8): Sinking 916-of-2,450 (37.4 percent) in his Spurs career, Manu Ginobili is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter.
2. Boston (38-13): Sinking 1,540-of-4,158 (37.0 percent) in his Celtics career, Paul Pierce is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter. Allen has made 639 of his 1,586 3-point shots (40.3 percent) since coming to Boston in 2007.
3. Miami (38-14): Sinking 806-of-2,263 (35.6 percent) in his Heat career, Tim Hardaway is the team’s all-time leading 3-point shooter. Dwyane Wade is Miami’s current 3-point shooting leader, making 288-of-985 (29.2 percent) in his career with the team.
4. LA Lakers (36-16): Sinking 1,370-of-4,042 (33.9 percent) in his Lakers career, Kobe Bryant is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter.
5. Dallas (37-15): Sinking 1,175-of-3,084 (38.1 percent) in his Mavericks career, Dirk Nowitzki is both the team’s current and all-time leading 3-point shooter.
|Ray Allen thinks Reggie Miller is one classy guy||02.09.11 at 4:37 pm ET|
Allen comes in with 2,559 treys in his career and, most appropriately, Reggie Miller will be on hand to broadcast the game for TNT television.
Allen said he has nothing but respect for the way Miller has handled himself and is glad that the former Pacers sharpshooter will be on hand for the big moment, assuming it does come to pass on Thursday.
“The one thing I can say about Reggie is that he’s been in my corner over the last three or four years since I’ve been here,” Allen said. “I catch him in the hallway, catch him the hotels, he’s always been a great supporter of everything I’ve done.
“He’s taught me how to be even a better person, be a humbled success when great things happen to you. He’s had a great career and so many great things have happened to him. For him not to have any ego or animosity towards me because I’m breaking his record, he wants to be in the building when it happens.”
The irony of Miller’s presence on Thursday night at the Garden is not lost on Allen.
“It’s like the stars have aligned because he’s able to be here and people are able to see him,” Allen said. “I always tell people the record is not just about me, it’s about the people who have built into who I am and allowed me to get to this place.
“At the same time, it’s about the people that have built this record up, and Reggie is the guy who has built this record up to this point and every other shooter that he’s beat out to get to the point where he’s at. It’s a long list and I’m glad to be making my way to the top of it.”
They don’t care that the Celtics had just 10 players for practice Wednesday. They don’t care that Paul Pierce was home sick instead of gearing up for the rematch with the Lakers Thursday night at TD Garden. They don’t care that 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal is nursing a sore right Achilles tendon that has forced him to miss the last three games.
They don’t care that Semih Erden is about to miss his second straight game with a right adductor strain. They don’t care that the Celtics don’t have a proven replacement for Marquis Daniels, who went down with a bruised spinal cord on Sunday afternoon.
“You come to play the game,” Rivers said. “We don’t worry about the body count. They’re not going to worry about the body count, I can guarantee you that. We’ll be read. We’ll be fine.”
All the Lakers care about is getting revenge for that 109-96 Celtics win on Jan. 30 at Staples Center.
The Celtics were reduced to 10 healthy players in practice on Wednesday.
On the bright side, Delonte West participated in his first full contact practice since his broken right wrist, suffered on Nov. 24 against New Jersey.
“We had 10,” Rivers said following Wednesday’s practice. “Paul’s is sick so he stayed at home. Semih is out, Shaq is out. Delonte practiced today but he won’t play [Thursday] or probably won’t play until after the break.”
Rivers said he does expect Pierce to play Thursday but not O’Neal or Erden. “I expect him to play,” Rivers said of Pierce. “He’s just not feeling good. We’ll see [Thursday]. I don’t expect Shaq, I don’t expect Semih. I don’t think [O'Neal] can go yet so we’re just going to wait until he gets healthy.”
Rivers said West was allowed to return but cautioned his players to try and use good judgment so that West’s right wrist wouldn’t be hit.
“We told [players] no reaching which is impossible with some of our guys but other than that, we got through it,” Rivers said.
|NBA Power Rankings, 2/3||02.03.11 at 6:14 pm ET|
The Celtics haven’t claimed the top spot in our NBA Power Rankings since Jan. 6, but as Paul Flannery wrote following the C’s 109-96 victory against the Lakers on Sunday, “The Celtics’ performance proved that as of this moment they are the team to beat in the NBA. On their best day, and this may have been it, no one can even come close to matching them.”
There are four other legitimate contenders for the 2011 NBA title — the Spurs, Bulls, Heat and Lakers — and the Celtics have beaten all of them, recording six wins in seven games against those teams. That’s kinda good.
The C’s have now defeated 23 of the 29 other teams in the league. The only two teams they haven’t faced yet are the Clippers and Warriors. They’ve lost their only games against the Mavericks, Suns, Rockets and Hornets so far, but they get their respective shots at revenge on Friday, March 2, March 18 and March 19.
In short, pretty much everybody has praised the Celtics as one of, if not THE best in the league. Kevin Garnett might be one of the most disliked opponents in the league, but the C’s are getting their share of respect. That’s why we’ve decided to highlight the best quotes about the Celtics from opposing coaches and players in this week’s edition of the Power Rankings. Without further ado, here goes …
1. Boston (37-11): I don’t care that the Celtics have lost to the Wizards, Pistons, Raptors and Cavaliers. I don’t care that they scored only 71 points against the Suns. Four of those losses occurred on the road after playing the previous night, and the other came at 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. When the Celtics are motivated, they’ve been almost unbeatable. Just ask the Spurs, Lakers and Heat.
2. San Antonio (40-8): Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after losing to the Celtics on Jan. 5, 105-103: “It’s just frustrating that we’re a definite, significant notch below the big boys — of course, Boston being one of the big boys — come playoff time if this continues. You know, Boston is third in field-goal percentage ‘D,’ and first in defensive rebounding. Those are the kind of stats we used to have defensively to do what you need to do to be the last team standing.” (via Sporting News)
3. Chicago (34-14): Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau after losing to the Celtics in overtime on Nov. 5, 110-105: “They’ve got a lot of weapons, they’re experienced, they know how to work the game and they’re hard to guard. I think the thing that often gets overlooked with them is not only their individual greatness but their collective greatness and willingness to share with each other. ‘¦ It puts enormous pressure on your defense. Your defense can’t get set, and that’s something we’re striving for.”
4. Miami (34-14): Heat forward LeBron James on Wednesday: “We’re way behind [the Celtics]. Just look at the number of games played, the number of playoff series those guys have had. We’re only a few months in together — 40-something-plus games. I’ve seen the statistics. Boston has like 250-plus games played together. We’re way behind those teams.” (via ESPN.com)