|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.”
|Kevin Garnett puts Rajon Rondo on the same level as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James||11.17.12 at 6:48 pm ET|
After Rajon Rondo tallied 20 assists for the second time in nine games in a 107-89 victory against the Raptors on Saturday, new Celtics teammate Jason Terry declared him an NBA Most Valuable Player candidate — and even Rondo himself admitted “MVP is in the picture” — but Kevin Garnett saw this coming three days after first coming to Boston five years ago. We’ll let the league’s 2004 MVP explain.
“I’ve never played with a point guard who is in control of the flow the way he is,” said the 14-time NBA All-Star. “Probably if anybody comes to mind I’m thinking Sam Cassell. He was pretty good at controlling the flow; he could score the ball. But as far as both ends, controlling the game, understanding the flow, knowing when to slow it down, [Rondo]‘s probably the best at it. He’s very conscious of the game from both ends. Usually, you have a point guard who’s a scoring point guard or you have a point guard on the other side of the ball, which is the defensive side, but but as far as 48 minutes on both sides of the ball, he’s the best at it.
“I’ve always looked at someone as the MVP as someone who makes his player not only better, but is able to dictate the game from different stat-wise, is able to get rebounds, does multiple things for his team. That’s personnel. That’s preference. Obviously, I’m going to be biased, because I play with him, and I see his growth and I see how hard he works, but when it comes to his presence on the game, that’s hard. That’s up there with the modern day Kobe [Bryant]s and LeBron [James]es and all that, so I think he gets his knock, because he doesn’t score the ball and all that stuff. But when you look at the overall package, it’s unbelievable what he’s doing.
“After the third day when I first got here, we were doing pickup without you guys knowing, and you could see his potential from how he was dictating the pickup games. I’m not saying he was scoring the ball, but he was dictating a lot of plays from both ends. I evaluate the game from not just a scoring perspective, but a defensive perspective, too. I told him a long time ago, when I first met him, that he had the potential to do both — that he had the energy and the IQ to do both — and it was up to him. Obviously, you all see what this product is coming out to be, and the future is whatever he wants it to be. I’ve always said with Rondo it’s always between his ears, and consistency is everything. Whatever you put into this, that’s what your’e going to get out of it, and he’s doing a great job of it.”
|Irish Coffee: What if this Celtics chemistry experiment doesn’t work?||11.07.12 at 11:24 am ET|
As a member of Mark Cuban‘s ever-changing Mavericks, Jason Terry saw his share of rookies, castaways and veterans enter the turnstiles attempting to adjust to the Dallas system. Even last season, a year out from winning the NBA championship, the Mavs lost five of their top 12 rotation players. Now, Terry’s the one adjusting.
“We had a lot of turnover in Dallas where we’d bring in new guys every year, it seemed like, so this is nothing new, but for me it’s definitely an adjustment,” said Terry, who averaged 15.1 points, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals last season. “And I know for the guys that have been here, it’s an adjustment for them, because they’re used to playing one way and now you’re implementing guys who are used to playing another, so it’s difficult.”
Even if last year’s Mavericks lost Tyson Chandler, Juan Barea, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Peja Stojakovic, they returned nine players from the title team while adding Vince Carter and Lamar Odom. Yet, Dallas dropped from a No. 3 to a 7 seed during the lockout season and got swept by the Thunder in the first round.
“For us, it never jelled,” said Terry, who made his desire to keep the championship core together clear at the time. “It never happened. That’s why we were out in the first round. It can happen, or it won’t.”
This season, the Celtics returned only four players from the roster that lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Heat. Even when you include Avery Bradley, Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green, coach Doc Rivers still has eight fresh faces in his locker room. What’s to say this team never jells?
|Paul Pierce: Celtics ‘defense has got to come a lot faster’||11.02.12 at 10:08 am ET|
That was evident during the TNT telecast of Tuesday night’s season-opening loss in Miami.
He was wearing a microphone and barking out calls on the floor and words of encouragement to Rajon Rondo when things weren’t always going well.
On Thursday, before the Celtics home opener tonight against the Bucks, he was barking out something else.
“The defense has got to come a lot faster, and that’s something that’s come a lot faster in the past than the offense,” Pierce said of Boston’s 120 points allowed in a 120-107 loss to the Heat. “I’m pretty surprised we scored 107 points, to tell you the truth. Usually, the defense, we pick it up pretty fast. We understand our schemes, our rotations. But I just think we have to understand the type of atmosphere it was going to be. Some of the guys have never been in that atmosphere before, first game, playing against the defending champs on the road. We have to pick up our intensity, understand the moment, understand where we’re at and understand the type of game it’s going to be and raise our game.”
Doc Rivers thought his coaching staff had too much time to prepare and filled their players’ minds with too much information.
“I think our on-ball defense was average because our help defense was worse,” Rivers said. “If everybody is up guarding their own man and there’s no help and guys see gaps [in the defense], they’re taking it. What really upset us, every key guy got every shot he wanted, where they wanted the whole, and that’s a bad defensive night.
“It was team wide. It was spread. Like I told them, from the coaching standpoint, I thought we had way too much time to prepare for it and we put way too much stuff in their head. I thought they were thinking more than playing on instinct. I told our coaches we share in that. We had them doing a couple of different things and that’s not who we are defensively.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Who’s a dirtier player: Rajon Rondo or Dwyane Wade?||11.01.12 at 4:27 pm ET|
After Rondo wrapped his left arm around Wade’s collar in the waning seconds of a game already in Miami’s hand on Tuesday night, the Heat guard called his Boston counterpoint out for what he interpreted as “a punk play.”
“I got my kids watching so I stopped myself but it was a punk play by him,” said Wade. “He clotheslined me.”
He added: “I’m here to play basketball. If you want to do something else, then go do something else. Boxing, this is not it. I was glad I was able to stop myself in that very moment and move on from it. We’ll see next time we play.”
After C’s practice on Thursday, Rondo responded, recalling a certain play in Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals, when Wade pulled him to the floor and dislocated his elbow.
‘I don’t think it was a hard foul,’ said Rondo, referring to Tuesday’s flagrant-1 on Wade. “He sold it a little bit, and that’s basketball. They were up, he drove to the hole and I didn’t want to give up a layup. Simple as that. I didn’t yank him down or dirty plays that you’ve seen him play in the past, so that’s what it is.’
Wade didn’t get whistled for a flagrant on Rondo two seasons ago, but that’s a different argument about superstar calls and whether the Celtics point guard fits that bill among NBA officials. As for which play was dirtier, it’s simple: Wade walked to the free throw line unharmed; Rondo walked off the floor clutching his arm in excruciating pain.
|Box and 1: Inside Celtics, Heat and ‘punk plays’||10.31.12 at 4:32 pm ET|
– On seven shots, Ray Allen scored 19 points (2-3 3P, 7-8 FT) against his former team. Not good. Not good at all. Allen delivered his first dagger — a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner — 1:03 into his 30:35 on the floor thanks to a missed defensive assignment by Jason Terry. So much for Terry’s “Ray Allen who?” routine.
Doc Rivers (via ESPN.com): “You can live with LeBron [James] and [Dwyane] Wade making jump shots, but the first play I think Ray was on the floor, we leave him by himself in the corner. You’d think we would know better.”
Translation: “We made dumb plays on defense. That’s why we gave up 31 points in three consecutive quarters.”
– When the Celtics signed Leandro Barbosa two weeks ago, Rivers already understood what his newest backcourt ingredient brought to the recipe: Instant offense. Directions are simple: If trailing by double digits late, insert Barbosa. And results are appetizing: 16 points (6-8 FG, 3-3 3P) and a 19-point lead trimmed to two.
Rivers (via Celtics.com): ‘If you get in a scoring contest and Barbosa’s on the floor, you’re going to feel pretty good about it,’ said Rivers. ‘Because that’s how he’s played. That’s how he’s used to playing.’
Translation: “I trust veterans. Barbosa is a veteran. Therefore, I trust Barbosa.”
No one saw this coming this quick.
Leandro Barbosa was signed on Oct. 18 as another scoring threat off the bench who is also capable of handling the ball when Rondo is not on the floor.
On Tuesday night, it was not Jason Terry, Jared Sullinger or Jeff Green who was big off the Celtics bench. All three frankly struggled. It was Barbosa – the Brazilian beast – who exploded for 16 points in 16 minutes, making six of his eight shots from the floor and running with Rondo in the fast break.
“He was terrific,” Doc Rivers said. “If you get into a scoring contest and Barbosa’s on the floor, you’re going to feel pretty good about it. that’s how he’s played, that’s how he’s used to playing. I love him, the way he attacks. He’s clearly not scared of the moment. He bailed us out. We got back in that game down the stretch and it was because Barbosa was on the floor.”
Indeed, Barbosa entered the game with 16.1 seconds left in the third quarter and played the entire fourth quarter, leading the Celtics from 19 points down to just a four-point deficit, 111-107, with two minutes left. Barbosa scored all 16 of his points in the final quarter, making quite the impression.
And it also creates quite the decision for Rivers to consider. Green played 18 minutes in the first three quarters but when Kevin Garnett came in for Green with 7:06 left in the fourth quarter, making just three free throws and missing all four field goal attempts. Terry wasn’t much better on this night, going 2-for-7 from the field with eight points in 28 minutes.
But read between the lines in what Rivers said about Terry and apply it to the bench overall, and you get an idea of the patience Rivers plans to apply early in the season while he finds the right mixes and matches off the bench.
“Not great but there’s 81 more,” Rivers said. “He’ll make up for it.”