|Fast Break: Rockets shoot past Celtics||01.10.11 at 10:06 pm ET|
This is not how Doc Rivers and the Celtics envisioned starting a season-long six-game homestand.
The Rockets came to Boston without the services of their leading scorer, as Kevin Martin was out with a sore right wrist. They had lost their last five and six of seven.
But the Celtics fell behind at halftime and couldn’t overcome the energy of Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola and the rest of the Rockets in a 108-102 loss to Houston Monday night at TD Garden. (Recap.) It’s the third straight win for Houston in Boston.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Defense: Quite simply, on a night when Kevin Garnett remained in street clothes, it wasn’t there in this one. Forget the fact that Houston shot 53 percent for the game — they made 11 of 19 shots in the third quarter alone to build a six-point lead heading into the fourth. Worse yet, every time the Celtics got a big lay-up from Paul Pierce or an offensive rebound or jumper from Glen Davis, the Rockets not only scored on the next possession, but got very open looks, including Aaron Brooks on a killer 3-ball with 4:26 left that put Rockets up, 101-90. Another three by Brooks with 3:10 left put Houston up by 12.
Glen Davis’ stamina: He worked hard but looked very, very tired in the third quarter. He had huge problems keeping up with Scola in the third quarter as the Rockets improbably built upon their lead by going inside and the Celtics didn’t play very good defense, allowing Houston to score 30 in the quarter on 58 percent shooting. Rivers was also on Davis early about the number of passes he was dishing out and the Celtics were guilty of shot clock violations on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter.
Not taking Kyle Lowry seriously: Yes, the Rockets didn’t have their leading scorer, Martin - out with a sore right wrist. But the Celtics apparently forgot that Lowry is very quick and developing as a legitimate two-way guard in his fourth year. Lowry played 18 minutes in the first half and had 11 points. But more than that, the former Villanova Wildcat brought the energy on both sides of the court. It continued into the third quarter as he took it to the basket just like he did when he played with Randy Foye and Allan Ray on the Main Line. Tough kid.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Marquis Daniels and the bench: After a rough showing on Saturday night in Chicago, the Celtics’ bench woke up Wednesday out of necessity as Daniels led the way, making 7-of-8 shots from the field and finishing with 19 points, tied with Allen for the team lead. He also chipped in with seven rebounds. He played practically the entire fourth quarter as Rivers held Nate Robinson and Jermaine O’Neal on the bench.
Domination in the paint: When they made the commitment to get there, the Celtics owned the paint, with mid-range jumpers, cuts and lay-ups. They finished with a 48-22 advantage over the Rockets.
Ray Allen takes a licking and keeps on ticking: The last thing – obviously – the Celtics need is another star to go down with an injury, and so the sight of Allen taking a vicious hit on a blindside pick early in the fourth quarter was troubling for Boston. But after Allen had his left shoulder examined briefly by trainer Ed Lacerte, he returned with five minutes to go. He drilled a 3-pointer with 2:10 left to bring the Celtics to within seven, 106-99.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics’ shooting aim historically high||at 1:42 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
In the past 20 seasons, only a handful of teams have shot at least .500 from the field for an entire season. Despite shooting just .378 against the Bulls on Saturday night, the Celtics are still shooting .502 as a team this year, keeping pace with some pretty remarkable company historically.
Here are the teams that have shot better than .500 for an entire season since 1991-92:
- 1994-95 Utah Jazz (.512)
- 1991-92 Chicago Bulls (.508)
- 1991-92 Golden State Warriors (.507)
- 2008-09 Phoenix Suns (.504)
- 1996-97 Utah Jazz (.504)
- 1994-95 Orlando Magic (.502)
- 2007-08 Phoenix Suns (.500)
There are plenty of conclusions to draw based on that list. Here are a few:
- Of those seven teams, two — the 1991-92 NBA champion Bulls and 1994-95 Magic — reached the NBA Finals.
- The guys who those offenses ran through: Michael Jordan, John Stockton, Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Hardaway — which means Rajon Rondo would join some pretty remarkable players.
- The fact that the 1984-85 Lakers shot .545 from the field for the season is simply ridiculous.
- The last time the Celtics eclipsed .500 was in 1990-91, when Larry Bird & Co. shot .512 for the season.
The overwhelming positive for the Celtics is that they’re only allowing their opponents to shoot .437 from the field — better than any of the seven teams on that list. Six of those teams let their opponents shoot better than .450, and only the 1996-97 Jazz came close to this year’s C’s, allowing their opponents to shoot .438 from the field.
|Paul Pierce and the rest of the Celtics make sure the Luke Harangody ‘legend’ grows||01.08.11 at 12:13 am ET|
After each home game of late, Paul Pierce usually takes his place – right in front of the doorway to the training room – to speak to the media about what went right and/or wrong in the just-completed game.
But this night was different. Luke Harangody made sure of that with his first career double-double, 17 points and 11 rebounds in Boston’s 122-102 laugher at the Garden.
“Paul Pierce is officially taking the the night off,” the captain announced on his way to the vanity where the Celtics usually check themselves in the mirror to make sure they’re presentable. “There’s plenty of players to give you great quotes today. All my quotes will be coming from Luke Harangody… and tweets.”
Friday night, Harangody’s play spoke volumes. The rookie out of Notre Dame has been used by Doc Rivers to come off the bench in the last two weeks to provide energy, a strategy that began against New Orleans on New Year’s Eve and continued against Minnesota and San Antonio this week.
But on Friday, he showed that when he focuses and doesn’t rush his rhythm, he can be much more than just an energy upgrade from Semih Erden. After all, he had over 2,400 points and 1,200 rebounds in four years with the Fighting Irish.
“Yeah, he can do that, and that’s the one thing we knew,” Rivers said of the rookie’s ability to draw a big man away from the basket and shoot the ball. “And when he slows down like he did today, he makes those shots, and that was good. You know, every time he makes a shot, you know the legend of Luke grows, in a lot of ways. We laugh, but it does, because the next game you’ll hear the other team yelling ‘Get back out to him’ and that creates space for [Rajon] Rondo and everybody else.”
And that’s what the starters on the bench really love to see.
“I think he was in all of a half-second and he took a shot and the whole bench started laughing, because that’s who he is,” Rivers said. “And we want him to stay that way. He’ll make mistakes because he’s young, he’ll make mistakes because he’s going fast but he’ll never make mistakes because he’s not going hard.
“The guys appreciate that, honestly. They love effort. When you get guys that come off the bench and play with the effort and intensity he plays with, the starters love that. That’s what gets them up and cheering and that’s why they like him so much. They see his effort everyday.”
And what about his habit of jacking up shots as soon as he gets in the game? Blame it on his coach at Notre Dame.
“I think we should blame, or thank [coach] Mike Bray for that,” Rivers joked of the Irish head coach. “I watched him a couple times against Georgetown when my son [Jeremiah] was there. He shot it basically every time he touched it there, too. He’s just got that tradition and he’s going to keep it going.”
Bray won’t be there Saturday night in Chicago as his team has a little date with St. John’s about 70 miles away in South Bend. But he will have friends and family, no doubt all of whom are expecting Harangody to do exactly what the Celtics now expect – shoot from the hip.
|Doc Rivers believes Jermaine O’Neal is going to have a sore knee ‘the rest of his life’||01.07.11 at 11:34 pm ET|
Using a flare for the dramatic, Doc Rivers explained why Jermaine O’Neal didn’t play in the second half of Friday’s 20-point blowout win over Toronto. Rivers pointed to Boston’s 67-45 halftime lead and O’Neal’s stiff left knee as reasons O’Neal played just nine minutes, allowing Luke Harangody to have his rookie breakout game. Rivers said the hope is that he’ll be ready for the Bulls in Chicago on Saturday night.
“His knee was sore, so I knew in the second half I wasn’t going to go with him,” Rivers said of O’Neal’s chronic left knee. “And we had a lead, so we just looked at it and if we could get him through this game and maybe play him [Saturday] it would be great.
“It was a little sore before the game, but it got – at halftime he came to me and said, ‘Man, my knee’s sore.’ So I think his knee’s sore for the rest of his life. But there’s going to be different degrees of pain.”
O’Neal, who has backed up Shaquille O’Neal off the bench, played in seven of the first eight games of the season before missing 19 straight with the bad left knee. Friday marked his eighth game back but Rivers said he will likely have to keep a close eye on his minutes going forward.
O’Neal is averaging 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 15 games for the Celtics this season.
|Leon Powe in Celtics’ prayers||at 11:01 pm ET|
Former Celtics forward Leon Powe underwent surgery for a meniscus tear in his right knee on Friday and is expected to miss six weeks for the Cavaliers, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
Even before his time as a member of the 2007-08 NBA champion Celtics, Powe’s knee problems plagued him, as he missed his entire sophomore season at the University of California. Powe later tore his left ACL and meniscus in Game 2 of the C’s first-round series against the Bulls in 2009.
Powe was a popular member of the title team, and Glen Davis expressed what many Celtics felt after their 122-102 blowout of the Raptors: “Yeah, I just heard about it,” said Davis. “It’s tough. He’s a great guy, and he’s had some bad breaks. I pray for him and his family, and just hope that he’s OK.”
|Fast Break: Luke Harangody leads Celtics over Raptors||at 9:57 pm ET|
Celtics rookie Luke Harangody produced the first double-double of his career, totaling 17 points and 11 rebounds, as the Celtics scored a season-high in a 122-102 victory against the Raptors in Boston. The win marked the team’s 3,000th career win.
Six Celtics (28-7) scored in double figures: Harangody, Paul Pierce (20), Ray Allen (17), Nate Robinson (15), Glen Davis (14) and Shaquille O’Neal (12). Only Avery Bradley didn’t get on the board against the Raptors.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Luke Harangody dominates; yup, you read that right: Harangody played so well on Friday night that his name was actually a trending topic on Twitter in Boston. In just under four first-quarter minutes, the Celtics rookie scored eight points to help the C’s race to a 34-22 lead in the opening 12 minutes.
The only person who could cool down Harangody was Doc Rivers. The Notre Dame product knocked down his fifth straight shot (a trey) and grabbed three of his 11 rebounds in the opening 4:15 of the second quarter. Harangody finished his best game of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds in 26-plus minutes.
The Raptors forget to play defense: In the first half, the Celtics shot almost as well from the floor (65.9 percent) as they did from the foul line (70 percent) — scoring a season-high 67 first-half points against the Raptors. Entering the break, only Rondo (2-for-5) and Von Wafer (0-for-1) failed to shoot 50 percent.
At halftime, four Celtics — Harangody, Allen, Pierce and Robinson — had already reached double figures. Combined, those four shot 16-of-20 in the opening 24 minutes. After the break, the C’s cooled to a 57.5 shooting clip for the game.
Shaq & Co. share the wealth: Shaq doesn’t get enough credit for his passing ability. Twice against the Raptors, he made great looks — once on an offensive board that he kicked to an open Pierce for 3 and another on a touch-pass to a waiting Davis underneath the basket.
In all, the Celtics recorded 31 assists on 46 field goals. Led by Rondo’s seven dimes, eight Celtics produced multiple-assist nights.
The C’s also shared the rebounding load. Harangody’s 11 boards led the way, but Rondo, Pierce, Allen and Shaq all had at least four rebounds on the night. As a team, the Celtics out-rebounded the Raptors, 43-31.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Defensive activity: As bad as the Celtics beat the Raptors on Friday night, it could’ve been worse. Sure, the C’s shot 60-plus percent from the floor, but they failed to lock it down defensively on the other end.
Toronto got a ton of open looks, leading to a 50.6 percent shooting percentage against the Celtics. Against the Raptors, that’s OK. Against everybody else, that’s trouble.
DeMar DeRozan is a heckuva scorer: DeRozan’s youthful athleticism gave the Celtics’ defense problems at times. He got into the lane at will and maneuvered around Shaq like a squirrel around a tree. The Raptors’ shooting guard finished with 20 points.
DeRozan is signed with Toronto in the Atlantic Division through 2014, so the Celtics should be seeing plenty of him over the years — unless the Raptors trade him away like every other good player that goes through Canadian customs.
Fourth-quarter brain fart: What was once a 23-point lead disintegrated into a 98-86 advantage after an Andrea Bargnani dunk over Davis with nine minutes remaining in the game. Then, Allen buried a 3-pointer, Davis and Rondo made four straight free throws, and Harangody buried an 18-footer to push the lead back to 21. The Raptors never sniffed a comeback again.
|Irish Coffee: What’s your Celtics Banner Moment?||at 10:40 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
The Celtics launched the Banner Moments program, encouraging fans to share their favorite C’s moments through video, photos and text. Until March, two Banner Moments are chosen each month. Prizes include Celtics tickets, meet and greets with legends, and practice facility shoot-arounds.
In March, the C’s will put the top-10 moments up for a vote on Celtics.com. The winner will be recognized during an April 13 Knicks game in addition to potentially watching a playoff game from their own private suite.
I’d have to say my “Banner Moment would be the Celtics’ 21-point comeback in the fourth quarter of Game 3 in the 2002 Eastern Conference finals. That was the unquestionable highlight of a Celtics season that shouldn’t have sniffed the NBA Finals, yet came within two games of playing the Lakers for a title. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the new Garden louder. The building was literally shaking.
It’s between that and the time my buddy started running down the Garden stairs – only to slip, throwing his arms upward and splashing an entire beer in some poor Blazers fan’s face by accident. I mean, he couldn’t have tried to spill more on this guy than he did. Let’s just say the dude was none too happy.
Part 1 of that comeback against the Nets accompanies this post. You can revisit Parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 on YouTube. As part of the program, members of the Celtics, their mascot, dance team and celebrity fans shared a few of their Banner Moments: