|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo stops Magic, ties John Stockton for consecutive double-digit assists||11.25.12 at 8:57 pm ET|
The Magic finally missed a couple of 3-pointers, and for the Celtics, the misses couldn’t have come at a better time. Both Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis missed treys in the final minute, and the Celtics made 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch to escape Orlando with a 116-110 overtime victory.
Rajon Rondo (15 points, 16 assists, 9 rebounds) fell one rebound short of his first triple-double of the season (and 24th of his career), but he did eclipse double-digit assists for the 37th straight game, tying John Stockton for the second-longest streak in NBA history, trailing only Magic Johnson (46).
Kevin Garnett (24 points, 10 rebounds) notched his first double-double since Nov. 9, and Paul Pierce added 23 points despite missing his signature elbow jumper at the end of regulation. Leandro Barbosa (15 points), Brandon Bass (13 points) and Jared Sullinger (11 points) also reached double figures for the Celtics (8-6).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Blurring the lines: In four first-half minutes, Leandro Barbosa scored 11 points, making all four of his shots, including a pair of 3-pointers and a traditional three-point play. He entered the game averaging 15.8 points, 4.5 assists and 2.7 rebounds per 36 minutes, and that kind of production can’t be ignored. Makes you wonder how many guard minutes will be left for Courtney Lee once Avery Bradley returns.
Painting a masterpiece: Without Dwight Howard to stop them, the Celtics took full advantage of a rare frontcourt strength advantage. At halftime, when the Celtics built a 58-48 advantage, the Celtics owned the advantage in points in the paint (30-16) rebounds (23-21) and second-chance points (10-4). Rarely do the C’s lead any of those three categories, but it’s nice to see Pierce, Garnett and Bass deliver when they should.
Sully tapped: Less than two minutes into his night, Jared Sullinger‘s first attempt got swatted back into his face by Josh McRoberts. It was the beginning of an 0-for-3 start for the Celtics rookie. The larger concern: Opponents have blocked 19.4 percent of Sullinger’s shots this season, which ranks fifth-worst among NBA players who average at least 15 minutes a night. But Sullinger responded, taking a page out of Glen Davis‘ around-the-basket book, making five of his next nine shots to finish with 11 points and six boards in 19:25 off the bench.
|Chris Wilcox: Secret to the Rajon Rondo alley-oop||at 2:55 pm ET|
“It is what it is, man,” said Wilcox, whose averaging 13.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. “I’m playing hard, just trying to be in the right spot at the right time, and good things happen. His No. 1 goal is to find us, to find the open man. All I do is just make it easier for myself and get to the right spot at the right time.”
Remarkably, 19 of Wilcox’s 21 field goals this season have come at the rim, where he’s making 86.4 percent of his shots (19-22 FG), and 15 of them have come from assists. The other four? All from offensive rebounds. He’s made a living from scoring around the basket — honing his alley-oop skills from guys like Andre Miller and Sam Cassell on the Clippers as well as Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson on the Sonics — but never like this.
“Rondo’s one of a kind,” said Wilcox.” I’ve been with some great point guards — Andre Miller, Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson — and they were basically the same kind of point guards. You just get to the right spot and good things happen. I’m just out there trying to be aggressive and trying to make things easier for him.”
|Jeff Green: ‘Being aggressive’ turns out to be his niche||11.24.12 at 9:47 am ET|
Green went out and make Rivers look very smart as he scored 17 points and showed a driving and cutting game not seen in his game this year as the Celtics beat the Thunder, 108-100, Friday night at TD Garden.
‘I was aggressive, attacking the rim,” Green said. “Just trying to make plays, and you know got to the free throw line a couple times. Got an and one, just being aggressive that’s what I gotta do. I just gotta find my niche and I just gotta to work at it and continue to stay positive and continue to be aggressive.’
The reason Rivers wanted Green to play instinctively was because he knows how good he can be when plays break down.
“I thought Jeff Green was spectacular,” Rivers said. It’s funny, I think the two plays that I called for him. He didn’t score on those. He scored on all the plays that wasn’t his and that’s what we kept telling him he has to do. Stop waiting for us to call it, go get it, and I thought he did that. A lot of good efforts.”
‘You still gotta do what you gotta do and you do whatever it takes for your team to win,’ Green said.
Green even helped out on defending Kevin Durant, guarding him when the second unit was on the floor.
‘He still got 29 [points], Green said out of humility. “We just tried to make every shot for him tough. He’s [darn] near seven feet, but the handle that he’s got and the way he can shoot it’s tough. So you just gotta make every shot for him tough.’
Making him work defensively-’You got to, you got to. You gotta make him play both ends. We got him in foul trouble. We gotta be aggressive, we can’t allow him to relax at all on the defensive end.’
What did Green learn about how good the Celtics can be?
‘We are one hell of a defensive team when we are in sync and that’s how we gotta be each game,’ Green said.
|Doc Rivers: ‘We played with great force’ in win over Thunder||11.23.12 at 11:42 pm ET|
Doc Rivers watched his team register its most significant win of the season Friday night, overcoming an early nine-point deficit and withstanding a late charge to beat the defending Western Conference champion Thunder, 108-100, at TD Garden.
‘The biggest difference is this time they scores 100 and we scored 108,” Rivers said, referencing the 112-100 loss to the Spurs on Wednesday at the Garden. “It’s the same game really. I told the guys at halftime and even after the game, that was the Celtics. That’s the team that we’ve been looking for, but can we continue to do it. We’ve got to do it over and over again. I thought there were some mistakes made, we kept playing. There were some runs, we kept playing. They made a run, we kept playing. No hanging heads, yelling at each other. We played through all clutter, it was like a clutter free game, for us. That’s who we have to be.”
“I thought Jeff Green was spectacular tonight,” Rivers said. “It’s funny, I think the two plays that I called for him. He didn’t score. He scored on all the plays that wasn’t his and that’s what we kept telling him he has to do. Stop waiting for us to call it, go get it, and I thought he did that tonight. A lot of good efforts. I thought our bench was huge. I thought [Leandro] Barbosa, it’s funny he didn’t score a point, and I thought his defensive pressure was extremely effective tonight. He has that reputation of being an offensive player. What we have found since getting him, he’s a heck of a defensive player. He has the ability to put pressure on the ball. That’s something we didn’t know. So again, we’re still discovering guys on our team, but that was a good effort.
‘We just need to play right. It’s great to beat Oklahoma, they were in the finals last year, and they’re the team to beat, I guess, in the West. But it was more how we played. We played with great force tonight. I thought that was the difference.”
|Kendrick Perkins on Paul Pierce: ‘He’s got a lot of tricks’||at 11:32 pm ET|
Perkins was witness to Pierce’s greatness again on Friday night as the Celtics captain went 4-of-6 from long range and finished with 27 points in Boston’s 108-100 win over the Thunder at TD Garden.
‘He’s got a lot of tricks,” Perkins said. “That’s the reason he’s been scoring the ball like he has for years. Got a lot of tricks man. He did a great job tonight of just playing smart. He’s moving well and it looks like he’s in great shape, he’s doing his job’
Perkins was held to five points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes for the Thunder in his return to Boston.
‘Yeah, it does (feel strange) but at the same time we’re both out there trying to get wins and it’s over with now,” Perkins said. “You can’t change the past’
“He’s tough,” Rivers said. “He’s good. He’s a good defender. I’m looking at their whole team. I haven’t thought about the one guy more than the sentimental stuff.”
Then Rivers articulated exactly what it is that the 7-foot center brings to any team he’s on. Call it the “scowl” factor.
“Perk has never had big stats,” Rivers said. “That’s not why you have Perk on your team. You can’t put a number on identity or perception. There is a number but I don’t know what it is but Perk gives the team that.”
|Matt Bonner’s day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich saga||11.22.12 at 12:57 pm ET|
In case you you haven’t read his “Sandwich Hunter: The Quest for the Hoagie Grail” blog on NBA.com, the Spurs’ Matt Bonner is the league’s sandwich connoisseur. (Although, I have to disagree with the New Hampshire native’s selection of D’Angelo’s as New England’s sandwich haven. Total rookie movie from an NBA veteran.)
Considering the day-after-Thanksgiving hoagie is the greatest in history, we couldn’t let him escape Boston without first getting Bonner’s recipe for that sandwich Squanto and Myles Standish probably invented in the 1620s.
“Typically, you’ve got the turkey out of the fridge with some stuffing and gravy and cranberry sauce,” said the pride of Concord, N.H., “and you’ve got yourself an amazing leftover sandwich.”
Unfortunately, San Antonio’s 112-100 win over the Celtics on Thanksgiving eve was the start of a long road trip, so after relaxing with family after the game, he joins the Spurs in Indiana for a Friday night game against the Pacers. And that means Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are the only heroes the Red Rocket will be seeing.
“I’m out of luck,” said Bonner, “because it’s the first game of a six-game East Coast 10-day road trip. So, we’re having a team Thanksgiving dinner, which means no leftovers, so no sandwiches.”
Hey, professional basketball players can’t have it all, so be thankful when you’re devouring that leftover turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce (and my brother’s secret day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich addition: mashed potatoes) — all on toasted bread, of course. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.