|Doc Rivers: Rajon Rondo, Big Baby and other things that made the Celtics super on Sunday||02.07.11 at 1:47 pm ET|
For many reasons, the first 12 minutes and 59 seconds didn’t start out very well for the Celtics on Sunday.
There was Orlando jumping out to a 12-2 lead as Dwight Howard dominated. There was Glen Davis leaving a mark in the parquet with the back of his head, suffering a bruised skull. But as he returned to the bench to start the second quarter, that paled in comparison to the bruise to the spinal cord of Marquis Daniels as he ran into the chest of Gilbert Arenas and fell suddenly to the floor.
Things were just completely out of whack. But then it was Rajon Rondo‘s time to take over the game. And did he ever. Immediately after kneeling to check on the well-being of Daniels, Rondo came out of the delay and drove to the basket for a lay-up exactly 20 seconds later that energized the crowd and – more importantly – his teammates. He was on his way to a season-high 26 points.
So, what was the difference in his point guard Sunday?
‘Well, after ‘ you mean after the first six minutes of horrendous basketball from our team?” Rivers replied rhetorically. It just looked like the first six minutes, we were there to play basketball but I thought they were really invested into the game. And you know, why that changed I don’t know, but it was good. We went to an open set which we rarely do. I just didn’t see us with any ‘ we didn’t have anything going.
“And Jameer [Nelson] picked up that one foul and we just decided to go basically open spread. And we told Rondo to get to the rim, and, you know, use his instincts. He’ll find open guys.’
The Celtics went with a spread offense that allowed more lanes for Rondo to drive to the basket and create off the dribble.
‘Well it really depends on the game,” Rivers said. “I want him to be aggressive every game. We’re not going to run spread every game because it doesn’t make a lot of sense every night. We’d like to match up with him, especially Jameer wanted to stay on the floor because of his fouls, but that is how we want him to take the ball to the basket.
“Whenever he does go, we want him to go with power and speed and be willing to get fouled. And I thought over everything that was it. Obviously he made great shots and all that. I just liked the fact that he had no problem if he got fouled.’
Then there were the 21 missed 3-pointers by the Magic, who missed 61-of-93 shots. After the Celtics allowed the Mavericks to beat them on 8-of-17 shooting from long range, Rivers realized early his team was committed to not allowing that again.
Rivers asked for prayers for Davis and Semih Erden, who drew the assignment of guarding Dwight Howard when Kendrick Perkins was forced to the bench to rest. Those prayers were essentially answered in the form of a 91-80 win. Yes, Howard ate up Big Baby, Perkins and Erden for 22 points in the first half. But he had just six points in the second half as the Celtics put on the defense clamps, led by Davis’ ball denial in the post.
‘Phenomenal,” Rivers said of the effort. “Great defense. I think any time you lose a game where you think you broke your principals and defensively you were not right, then the next time you play if you’re a defensive team, you’re probably going to have a good defensive effort. And I thought we did that. I said this with Baby and Perk, it was a test for them.
“It was tough because we were going to leave them on an island and Dwight had it going early. And we just kept telling them, ‘We’re doing the right thing. Just keep doing it.’ And that was tough for them, and the fact that they stayed with it and stayed on it was good.’
|Celtics show they are a band of ‘brothers,’ like in 2008||02.06.11 at 11:58 pm ET|
When Marquis Daniels went down early in the second quarter, it was like a vacuum sucked up every bit of noise and energy in the Garden. Players, coaches and fans all stood silent as Daniels was being tended to on the court as he lay motionless.
‘Honestly I didn’t really know what was up,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said. “Obviously when you see guy lay down there for a sense of time you get worried and you pray and hope that he’s alright. When we came back to the locker room at half time I asked how he was doing and they said he was moving and doing pretty good. I guess he has some type of condition in his neck or spine that I don’t know about. Hopefully, you know, he can take some time off, hopefully if he can get back on the court but most importantly we’re more worried about his health.”
Daniels will be out for at least a month as doctors perform tests on his bruised spinal cord, a condition that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and team doctor Brian McKeon said afterward was preexisting before Daniels became a Celtic.
As for the current day Celtics, they turned a 24-17 deficit at the time of Daniels’ injury into a 91-80 demolition of the Magic.
‘I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that after Marquis went hurt that we kinda rallied together,” Pierce said. “I guess it seemed that way but I’m just glad that usually when you see a guy get injured that teams use that as an excuse and have a letdown and you know kind of go through the motions for the rest of the game worried about the guy that went down because your worried about him.”
Just like on Nov. 24, when the Celtics watched helplessly as Delonte West went down with an ugly fracture of his right wrist. The Celtics were down 40-36 after West’s lay-up with 2:48 left in the second quarter. Ironically, that night it was none other than Daniels who came into replace West.
The Celtics would win that game 89-83. On Sunday, it was Ray Allen‘s turn to take the place of a fallen teammate, as he came in with 11:01 left in the second quarter.
‘I was trying to process what just happened, and when I saw the way he hit the ground it was I just started thinking about any time I watched a football game, and I saw a guy on the ground, how their body just kind of didn’t respond to anything,” Allen said. “It looked like he got hit in the wrong spot where whatever happened to his body he just couldn’t move. And when I saw his face, it was the scariest feeling because it was almost like he couldn’t do anything. It’s the risk we always run, but for that moment it just seemed like ‘let me go to the hospital and let me do what I need to do to see that he’s all right’, cause basketball is the last thing on my mind.’
But once the game re-started, the Celtics were all business.
“it seemed like the complete opposite and I think we kind of fed off of it and it was kind of like let’s do this for Quis kinda, Pierce added. ” I mean that’s what I saw you know it just seemed like our energy went up because I was on the bench at the time and I was watching and it just seemed like that’s what started the run so we’re happy that he’s okay and unfortunately he probably gave us the spark. Thanks Quis, hope you’re doing good buddy.’
‘Well this is a very close knit team. I mean, this is one of the closer teams, it kind of reminds me of the team in 08. It’s like when Marquis goes down it’s like your brother, when Delonte goes down it’s like your brother,” Pierce said. “If you ever have a family member and something ever happens to them you don’t feel right. And we’re around each other so much; plane, bus, we even go to each other’s houses so it’s like we created this bond with one another and when something bad happens to him we all feel for him but the rest of us try and rally together and that’s what you kind of saw in those two injuries.’
Of course, everyone remembers how 2008 ended. As long as Daniels is healthy, the Celtics wouldn’t mind history repeating itself.
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.
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