|Celtics: Marquis Daniels has ‘spine issues’ that led to Sunday’s injury||02.06.11 at 6:38 pm ET|
When Marquis Daniels stumbled to the floor Sunday afternoon – just 59 seconds into the second quarter – it was an all-too-familiar sight for Doc Rivers. He immediately flashed back to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the same Magic team when Daniels fell awkwardly to the ground. It seemed like the exact same injury.
After Sunday’s game, the Celtics announced that – for all intents and purposes – it was.
The team announced that Daniels, who quickly regained full movement in all extremities, has a preexisting condition in his spinal cord that makes him vulnerable to the spinal cord “bruise” he suffered as he hit the ground Sunday.
“And this one looked worse,” Rivers said in a somber tone after the 91-80 win over the Magic at TD Garden. “I don’t actually know how our players kind of got back their senses that quickly, because they all knew it, too.
The Celtics trailed 24-17 at the time but gathered themselves to outscore the Magic, 74-56, the rest of the way.
“I knew it immediately,” Rivers added. “It was no doubt. Right when he went down, I was already out on the floor. Gilbert [Arenas] or someone was standing near him and I just told him, ‘Don’t touch him,’ because, you could see it was not good.’
The good news was that Daniels had full function of his motor skills following a scary injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s game at TD Garden, according to Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, who left to visit him at New England Baptist Hospital.
“Marquis is doing well,” Ainge said. “I was just with him at New England Baptist Hospital. He’s moving, he’s fine. His arms and legs are fine.”
Ainge was flanked by team doctor Brian McKeon, who announced that Daniels will be out “indefinitely” and that guard has a pre-existing condition that contributed to Sunday’s freak injury, sustained one minute into the second quarter. Daniels fell awkwardly to the court after driving to the right on Gilbert Arenas and remained motionless for over four minutes before being wheeled out on a stretcher.
“He basically bruised his spinal cord,” McKeon said. “He’ll be out indefinitely. We’re getting all the tests at the Baptist and we’ll have more information [Monday]. We’ll get CT scans, MRIs and serial examinations.”
McKeon confirmed that Sunday’s injury was directly related to the same injury sustained in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals last spring, when the team announced at first that Daniels had a concussion.
“It’s not a concussion,” McKeon announced. “This is the same type of neck injury that he had so it’s just a little bit worse. He’s got some spine issues in the past that have been addressed by other teams and so we’ll just have to see how it plays out in the next few days.’
“I think he was scared when he was out on the court because he couldn’t really move there for a short period of time so that scared him,” Ainge said. “But he’s had some issues with this before and some tingling in his body and his arms and things before so I think he wasn’t scared, he was fine. He had it last year against Orlando in Game 5 and I’m not sure before that. He’s had a couple of episodes throughout his career.’
On Sunday, it was apparent that – when and if Daniels returns this season – he’ll be dealing with a lot more than just getting back in game shape.
|Fast Break: Celtics silence Magic||at 5:16 pm ET|
After an opening 15 minutes that was both scary and sloppy, the Celtics rallied to put away the Magic, 91-80, led by a season-high 26 points by Rajon Rondo. The C’s won the season series against their Eastern Conference rivals, 2-1.
Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels both hit the ground hard on separate first-half instances. Davis (head bruise) returned. Daniels (neck injury) did not. Meanwhile, the Celtics made only five field goals in the first 15 minutes and trailed by as much as nine points.
Rondo added seven assists, as the Celtics improved their East-leading record to 38-12. Ray Allen (11 points) made 2-of-4 3-pointers on the afternoon to bring himself within four of breaking Reggie Miller‘s all-time record. Howard recorded game-highs of 28 points and 13 rebounds in a losing effort for the Magic (32-20).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Rallying around Marquis Daniels: Just as they did in a comeback win over the Nets when Delonte West broke his wrist, the Celtics rallied around an injured member of the team. Daniels left with the scary neck injury 59 seconds into the second quarter, when the C’s trailed 24-17. Over the next 19:37 — stretching late into the third quarter — the C’s outscored the Magic by 22 points.
Rondo playing aggressive: Led by a concerted effort by Rondo to get to the rim, the Celtics earned (a rare) 34 trips to the free-throw line. They even made 28 of them (82.4 percent). Entering the game shooting just 51.6 percent from the charity stripe, Rondo made seven of his nine free-throw attempts (Paul Pierce made 10-of-12). The Celtics point guard also converted seven layups around the hoop. Rondo’s effort throughout the game helped the C’s stay in a game when their outside shooting wasn’t as sharp as normal.
Defense: As they did against Kobe Bryant in their win over the Lakers, the Celtics appeared content allowing Howard to pile up buckets as long as Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson & Co. didn’t also heat up. The plan worked, thanks to the efforts of Pierce and Allen on the latter two Magicians.
The Celtics held the Magic to 43 first-half points. Howard scored 22 points on 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) shooting from the field entering the break, while the rest of the team was just 9-of-36 (25 percent). In all, Orlando shot 32-of-93 from the field (34.4 percent) and 3-of-24 from 3-point range (12.5 percent), despite Howard’s 10-of-20 shooting on the afternoon.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Marquis Daniels goes down: Colliding with Gilbert Arenas around the rim, Daniels fell to the floor and lay motionless on the parquet for what seemed like forever. As paramedics brought out a stretcher and strapped Daniels in, the Garden crowd stood deathly quiet. Daniels was conscious and talking as he was taken to New England Baptist Hospital. He reportedly later moved all extremities and will be Ok.
Glen Davis also hit the floor hard in the first quarter, taking a charge against Magic point guard Jameer Nelson of all people. Davis walked with team Dr. Brian McKeon. Shortly afterwards, the Celtics announced Davis suffered a “head bruise” and would return. He did, to start the second quarter.
Shooting: The Celtics made only four first-quarter field goals and did not hit a 3-point shot until Allen knocked down his third attempt with 4:09 left in the second quarter. In all, the C’s made just 14-of-33 shots (42.4 percent) in the first half.
Subtract Rondo and Garnett (a combined 8-of-14) from the equation in that opening 24 minutes, and the rest of the C’s were shooting just 31.6 percent entering the break. They rallied to shoot 16-of-30 in the second half for a 47.6 percent clip for the game.
Taking care of the ball: Whether it was the Sunday afternoon start or anticipation for the Super Bowl, the Celtics looked extremely sloppy to start the game, committing six first-quarter turnovers. That number declined to an average of three over the next three quarters.
|Jason Kidd might just get another chance at a ring and C’s might get another chance at Mavs||02.05.11 at 10:53 am ET|
Ray Allen and the Celtics weren’t and neither was Kidd, who downplayed it afterward.
“It’s just two good teams playing and you just hope you can find a way to win on the road,” Kidd said. “If this were June, it’s a different story. But it’s only February.”
The Celtics saw history repeat itself as the Mavericks did to them on the road what they were able to do down in the heart of Texas on Nov. 8 – stop the C’s from running their offense down the stretch and execute theirs. The Mavericks won that game, 89-87.
The Celtics were up 87-82 with 1:58 left before the Mavericks ended the game on a 7-0 run.
“We were in the same position at home,” said Kidd. “We were down and we found a way to get some stops and made some big shots at home and that’s what guys were talking about on the bench, that look, we’re in the same position we were at home against the Celtics and we found a way to make some big shots down the stretch.”
None bigger, of course, than Kidd’s dagger with 2.5 seconds remaining. And now, Kidd and the Mavericks could be in the midst of another run at an elusive title. Kidd was with New Jersey when they lost in the 2002 and 2003 NBA finals to the Lakers and Spurs, respectively. The Mavericks were done in by Miami in the 2006 NBA finals.
Another reason is Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 14 of his game-high 29 points in the third quarter. The Celtics had a 95-89 lead with just over three minutes left before Dallas ended the game by scoring the last 10 points and holding Boston scoreless on its home court for the final 2:43.
Tyson Chandler could very well be a missing link that 2006 team didn’t have. He was huge inside for the Mavs, who improved to 34-15 on the season. The big man finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds as the Mavericks swept the season series.
“You’ve got so many players that have been through it on this team, and been in that moment that any time any of those guys can step up,” Chandler said. “Jet [Jason Terry] has hit game-winners, Dirk has hit game- winners, Jason Kidd has hit game-winners. We’ve got options to go to down the stretch.”
The Celtics know all about options and could easily be seeing the Mavs again come June. Then, Kidd can talk even more about big games.
|Ray Allen knows Jason Kidd isn’t bad from three, either||at 10:00 am ET|
There was a great deal of irony in the game-winning 3-point shot delivered by Jason Kidd with 2.5 seconds remaining, a shot that highlighted a stunning Mavericks’ comeback in a 101-97 win over the Celtics Friday night at TD Garden. The shot was made by the man ranked third on the all-time 3-point field goal list and it came with Ray Allen, No. 2 on that list, guarding him.
“Very underrated Jason Kidd is with shooting the three but he’s proven over his career he’s proven he can knock the 3-ball down,” Allen said. “The only way he has been able to stay around as long as he has was to develop a jump shot. It was in form today and beat us today.”
Kidd, who finished with a pair of threes, now has 1,742 in his career, a mere 813 shy of Allen on the all-time list.
Allen hit three treys and now has 2,555, just six shy of passing Reggie Miller for the all-time NBA record. And Allen admitted afterward that he’s actually enjoying the chase as it nears its end.
“Actually, I truly am enjoying it. This is a moment I’ve never experienced before. I don’t know how many people can experience this type of moment. We’re playing a team sport but there’s an individual element associated with me right now. As much as I’ve always been associated with team, it’s something that everybody keeps pointing at me that you’ve got to keep doing that.
“It’s always a testimony to the guys that can stay around a long time, 20,000 points, however many minutes, whatever it may be but longevity produces greatness at some point.”
But Celtics coach Doc Rivers was forced to talk about Kidd’s greatness after Friday night’s contest, that and his team’s inability to defend the three.
“That one stood out obviously but I thought we gave up way too many,” Rivers said. “I thought offensively we played well, we shot 50 percent. I just thought defensively we broke a lot of our defensive rules. I thought we played hard, but I thought we tried to cheat a lot defensively as a team, you know gambles, and they made us pay for every one of them.’
Dallas finished just under 50 percent from 3-point range, making 8-of-17 in recording their seventh straight win.
|Delonte West shows TD Garden crowd he’s getting closer||02.04.11 at 7:32 pm ET|
Delonte West keeps progressing in his attempt to return from a broken right wrist. One day after he went through a full shootaround and skeleton practice with the Celtics on Thursday at their practice facility, he warmed up on the TD Garden floor, showing everyone he can catch with his right hand and shoot with his left.
“He didn’t practice,” coach Doc Rivers said on Thursday. “He just did the shootaround and the shooting and that’s about it.”
But Rivers acknowledged it was significant that West could take part in catch-and-shooting drills without any protection whatsoever on his wrist, broken on Nov. 24 in home game vs. New Jersey.
“That’s nice. He did run through all of our skeleton stuff so obviously, the next step will be him going through a practice,” said Rivers before adding that there is still no specific timetable for West to return to game action. “I have no idea. No time soon I don’t think but I’m not sure.”
Meanwhile, with Shaquille O’Neal out Friday and likely Sunday vs. the Magic, Kendrick Perkins was thrust into the starting lineup on Friday against the Mavericks, a little sooner than the All-Star break timetable Rivers orginally expected.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics’ Top 10 NBA All-Star performances||at 1:14 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
5. PAUL PIERCE sunk all five money balls in the final round of the 2010 NBA 3-Point Shootout. Neither Stephen Curry or Chauncy Billups could match Pierce, and the Celtics captain took home the title.
4. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL (as a member of the Lakers) recorded 24 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks to lead the West to a 136-132 win over the East and capture 2004 NBA All-Star Game MVP honors. Also the 2000 and 2009 All-Star Game MVP, O’Neal announced in his postgame interview, “Can you dig it?”
3. RAY ALLEN (as a member of the Bucks) outdueled Peja Stojakovic for the 2001 NBA 3-Point Shootout championship. Entering the final rack, Allen needed to make 3-of-5 to tie. He made four.
1. KEVIN GARNETT (as a member of the Timberwolves) outperformed Michael Jordan in the Bulls legend’s final NBA All-Star Game in 2003. Amassing the most points in an All-Star contest since Jordan’s 40 in 1988, Garnett totaled 37 points, nine rebounds, five steals and three assists to lead the West to a 155-145 double-overtime victory against the East, capturing MVP honors in the process.
“The All-Star Game is not about individual,” said Garnett. “It’s totally a group effort. It’s a time for you to share stories, good times, emotional times with your teammates.”
Given the Celtics’ storied history in NBA All-Star Games ever since Ed Macauley captured MVP honors with 20 points and six rebounds in the league’s first-ever All-Star competition, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also provide the top-five All-Star Weekend performances by former Celtics …
|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)