|Fast Break: Celtics win ugly entering All-Star break||02.13.13 at 10:00 pm ET|
Thanks to another all-out effort by the few healthy players left on the roster, the Celtics outlasted the visiting Bulls 71-69 to win ugly, earning their eighth victory in nine tries since the first of the injury dominoes fell two weeks ago.
The Celtics (28-24) equaled their highest point above .500 as four C’s reached double digits, led remarkably by Brandon Bass (14 points, 9 rebounds). Kevin Garnett (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Paul Pierce (8-6-6) scored the C’s final nine points as they held off a Chicago charge to close the final quarter.
The Celtics’ 19 combined points in the second and third quarters marked the team’s lowest point total in consecutive quarters of a game during the shot clock era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Likewise, their 71 total points was the third-lowest point total in a C’s victory since the inception of the shot clock.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Defense: The Celtics held the Bulls to 15 points in the first quarter and 13 in the third. Chicago’s five starters — Luol Deng (4-10 FG), Carlos Boozer (5-14 FG), Joakim Noah (3-8 FG), Richard Hamilton (1-6 FG) and Nate Robinson (2-7) — shot a combined 33.3 percent. It’s a good thing, because the C’s actually shot worse until …
Heart beats: As they’ve done since the injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, the Celtics never quit. Playing their third game in four nights, shooting miserably and trailing by as many as seven in the first few minutes of the final quarter, the C’s found life. Capped by back-to-back buckets from Jason Terry (12 points) and Jeff Green (8 points) off the bench — both assisted by Garnett — the Celtics put together a 12-0 run, holding the Bulls scoreless for a stretch of 5:44 midway through the fourth quarter and capturing a 59-54 lead.
Bass finishing: In desperate need of offensive help, the Celtics found an unlikely hero. Beginning to emerge from a season-long funk, Bass scored his highest total (14) since Nov. 28. He also grabbed more rebounds (9) than he has since Nov. 25. Bass and Garnett combined for 26 points and 20 rebounds, forming a formidable frontcourt that limited a sizable advantage by the bigger Bulls, who got 27 rebounds from Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.
|Doc Rivers: ‘We are really right at the threshold’||at 9:31 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers touched on just about every issue facing his team — and there are many — prior to his team’s final game before the NBA All-Star break: 1) the season-ending ACL injury suffered by Leandro Barbosa (who he “absolutely” wants back next season); 2) the search for a point guard (or any warm body, for that matter); 3) losing Barbosa, Jared Sullinger and Rajon Rondo in the locker room (a bigger deal than people think); 4) his depleted roster (“We are really right at the threshold”); 5) whether we’ll see more Fab Melo (we won’t); 6) similarities between Rondo and reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson (few beyond the ACL tear); 7) Michael Jordan‘s 50th birthday (“I wish they were all like that”), he hit them all. Here goes:
On Leandro Barbosa’s absence: “You don’t know a player or a coach or anybody until you actually coach with them or play with them, and he’s one of those guys you just like in your locker room — forget the basketball part. His spirit has been really good for us, and losing that, that’s big. And then he was our wild card. It’s good to have a wild card. When you throw him in, it could go either way, but you knew he was going to be aggressive.”
On point guard prospects: “In the last 48 hours, [Celtics president] Danny [Ainge] and I have probably covered every human being that’s breathing and can dribble and shoot. We’re just going to take our time. At the end of the day today, that’s basically what we came to. You don’t want to rush anything. We don’t have a lot of flexibility cap-wise. We’re just going to wait. If somebody shakes loose or you can get somebody, we will, but until then we’re stretched at the guard spot.”
|Jared Sullinger: ‘I think I’ll come back better’||at 8:20 pm ET|
Most of Jared Sullinger‘s days since undergoing season-ending back surgery on Feb. 1 have been spent sitting at an angle that resembles a reclining chair, so the 20-year-old Celtics rookie has plenty of time on his hands.
“I haven’t been doing anything but Twitter, playing video games and catching up on movies,” Sullinger said during a press conference prior to the C’s hosting the Bulls before their NBA All-Star break begins. “That’s about it.”
The back problems that have plagued Sullinger since Nov. 29, 2011, when the Ohio State product scored 21 points in a blowout win over Duke, flared up for the first time this season four minutes into a game against the Kings exactly two weeks ago. The next day, he couldn’t walk. And the next, he underwent surgery to repair a disc that was bulging into his central nervous system.
“I didn’t think it was going to come this fast; maybe two or three years later down the line,” said Sullinger. “That’s what an NBA season does to you. It’s a long season. You’re going to have a couple knick-knack injuries. My knick-knack injury turned into surgery. I’d rather have it now than later.”
|Paul Pierce: ‘This is the type of win that can give us confidence to move forward’||02.11.13 at 1:19 am ET|
Celtics captain Paul Pierce did it yet again on Sunday night with a triple-double scoring 27 points with 14 rebounds and 14 assists in 54 minutes of action as the Celtics outlasted the Denver Nuggets 118-114 in a triple overtime thriller at TD Garden.
‘It was a good win, man. It was hard fought, we’re playing against one of the hottest in the league, on our home court,” Pierce said. “It’s definitely a satisfying win. When you come out and we looked bleak, especially in the overtimes, this was a great game to be a part of. It was a great win against a quality ball club, not to say the other teams weren’t quality teams we played, but you know, this is the type of win that can give us confidence to move forward.’
Pierce hit game-tying three with time running out on their six-game win streak at the end of double-overtime before Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett took over in triple-overtime. The three that rattled home with 5.2 seconds left in double-overtime, sending the Garden crowd into pandemonium.
‘Well, the original play was Pierce coming off pick-and-roll, if he can get a three off, get it,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “If not, Jet [Jason Terry]. Then it was broken and Paul just made a play. I mean, that’s what great players do. I would love to tell you I had something to do with it. I was sitting just like the fans playing, ‘Please, Lord, Paul make a shot.’ Once he got below 11 ‘ originally we were going to go for a quick two ‘ once he got under the 11-second mark I was yelling, ‘We have to take a three now.’’
Pierce said once the Celtics got the game into triple-overtime, it was time for Garnett to take over.
‘That was part of the plan,” Pierce said. “We wanted to get him on the block, we wanted to get it to him on the spots where he can take the shot. That was a big part of the plan. We felt like he had the advantage, wasn’t going to it enough, but we just tried to keep going to him, keep wearing out the matchup, he made three quick baskets in that last overtime, Jason hits a big shot, and that’s what you gotta do. A lot of different guys stepped up for us tonight. Jeff Green in the first overtime was huge. Two huge shots at the end of regulation and one in overtime, so it’s got to be a team effort. Avery’s defense’¦I mean it was a combination of everybody and that’s what its gonna take for us to move forward.”
Garnett hit Boston’s first three shots of the third extra period before Terry’s three gave the Celtics the lead for good.
‘Roles expand,” Pierce said. “I know what im capable of, but when you have a guy like Rondo, not as much is needed from you because you have another guy who can do so many things also. So I think with him out the roles gonna change. I’m gonna be more of a facilitator for this ball club, and you know it’s got to come from not only me, its gotta come from a number of guys. You see other guys being able to step up, we were scoring more. So it’s not only me, its everybody whose roles change, and has to do more with the injuries that we have.’
|Jason Terry: ‘My gut tells me to keep shooting’||02.10.13 at 10:43 pm ET|
Jason Terry hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:33 remaining in triple overtime to leave the Celtics to a 118-114 win over the Denver Nuggets Sunday night at TD Garden. The Celtics won their seventh straight with a thrilling victory while ending Denver’s nine game winning streak.
After missing six straight threes, Terry wasn’t about to turn down another chance at coming through for his team. He took a pass from Paul Pierce and hit a triple with 1:33 left in triple-overtime to give the Celtics a lead they would not relinquish.
‘Well shooters shoot, and the looks they were giving me were great ones,” Terry said. “I’ve got to admit, JaVale McGee is a huge target to shoot over, so a lot of those shots were over him and they were short but my instinct, my gut tells me to keep shooting. Paul Pierce did a hell of a job drawing defenders all night long and I just knew if I got a clean, clean look uncontested, I was going to knock it down.’
Pierce said after the game that Terry promised he would make his next 3-point attempt.
“No question. I told him and whoever else wanted to listen ‘ that’s just my motto, that’s how I’ve been,” Terry said. “In a game like that it’s just so mentally draining ‘ you have to stay into it. Defensively we continued to get stops but not only was Paul Pierce’s shot tremendous but I thought Kevin Garnett I mean, the man’s 50-years old. For him to make those shots that he made when we direly needed them was tremendous for us.’
As for his steal at the end of the third overtime on Andre Miller, a play Pierce called the “biggest” of the game, Terry said right place, right time.
‘That was just individual defense,” Terry said. “Mano-a-mano. I know Andre, we came in at the same time together. Many battles. He wants to get right, he got right. I cut him off, he exposed the ball, I got the strip, and I was able to knock it out.’
The two hottest teams in the NBA rewarded hearty New England basketball fans with the game of the year in professional basketball. In a game with countless ebbs and flows, the Celtics outlasted the Nuggets, 118-114, in triple overtime Sunday night at TD Garden, earning their season-high seventh straight win in the process. The Celtics also ended Denver’s nine-game win streak, with Rajon Rondo in attendance.
In 54 spectacular minutes, Paul Pierce finished with a triple double, scoring 27 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing 14 assists. But with a chance to tie the game, his second free throw rattled in and out with 32.5 seconds left in double overtime. Ty Lawson hit jumper to put Denver up three. Pierce came down and drained a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left to send the game into triple overtime.
After missing six straight 3-pointers, Jason Terry drilled a straightaway trey with 1:33 left in triple OT to put the Celtics up 116-113. Terry finished with 26 points off the bench. Sunday marked Boston’s ninth overtime game this season, matching a franchise record for a season (1950-51 and 1953-54). Kevin Garnett was big on the boards in 47 minutes, hauling in 18 rebounds to go with 20 points.
The Celtics were 3.6 seconds from their seventh straight win when the officials overturned a Nuggets turnover out of bounds under the Celtics basket. Given a second chance, Lawson hit the game-tying layup off the glass to send the game into overtime.
There were very few empty seats in TD Garden as Celtics fans braved the elements and lack of public transportation to get to the game just 24 hours after a state of emergency was lifted in the wake of the “Nemo” blizzard.
The Nuggets entered the game with an NBA-best nine-game winning streak, beating the Cavaliers Saturday night. The Nuggets (104.8) entered the game as the third-highest-scoring team in the NBA, with only the Thunder (106.6) and Rockets (106.0) scoring more per game.
Kris Joseph has a new start with a new team in the NBA.
Joseph cleared waivers and was released last month after appearing in six games for the Celtics. He was subsequently re-signed by the Red Claws. Joseph averaged 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game in 12 games with Boston’s D-League affiliate.
As for Mays, he was invited to Brooklyn Nets training camp and cut before being assigned to the Springfield Armor, the D-League affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets. Mays was undrafted in 2008 before signing as an unrestricted free agent with the Nuggets. Mays is averaging 16.4 points and 10.6 rebounds in 26 games, earning him a spot on the D-League All-Star team.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
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