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Kevin Garnett is still using ‘bulls*** comments’ from Doc Rivers as motivation 02.02.13 at 12:48 am ET
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Kevin Garnett has a long memory – at least long enough to remember what Doc Rivers said about his team after the 95-83 loss on Nov. 28 to the Brooklyn Nets.

“If I’m Brooklyn and the league, you’ve got to think we’re pretty soft the way we’re playing,” Rivers said after that game. “We’re a soft team right now; we have no toughness.”

Ouch.

The Celtics seemed to have righted their ship and eventually improved to 20-17. They followed that with a six-game losing streak. They have lost Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger for the season in the space of five days. But they have won three straight and have proven toughness even without two star players.

Something Garnett, with 14 points and 10 rebounds, pointed out after the 97-84 win over the Magic Friday night at TD Garden.

“I told you all when Rondo went down, obviously we were going have to pick up the load, and now with Jared, even more,” he said. “He’s a great rebounder for us, great facilitator. Guys now getting opportunities are going to have to come in, like I said with Rondo, it’s going to have to fall on the backs of everybody.”

Then Garnett, asked what the team has learned about itself, brought back Rivers’ comments from late November.

“We have a lot of fight in us,” Garnett said. “I know Doc made his bulls**t comments about us being soft, we’re a team that will fight and we are a team that is very competitive and is very prideful. We’re learning that when you pieces, you learn to fight through with each other and follow that. More than anything, we’re just being competitive out here and sharing the basketball and playing.”

For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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High-wire act: Jeff Green, Celtics slam door on Magic 02.01.13 at 9:42 pm ET
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Jeff Green had several highlight plays Friday, including this dunk in the second quarter, to lead the Celtics (AP)

Jeff Green electrified the crowd with three sensational dunks as part of a 17-point night and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett added double-doubles to lead the Celtics to a 97-84 win over the Magic Friday night at TD Garden. The Celtics played the game just hours after Jared Sullinger had season-ending back surgery, winning their third straight game to get back to .500 on the season at 23-23. The lowly Magic fell to 14-32.

Pierce fell just three assists shy of his second triple-double in three games, finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists while Garnett matched Pierce’s 14 points while chipping in with 10 boards. Green was dominant in the second half and finished 8-of-13 from the field. Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa each added 12 points off the rejuvenated Celtics bench.

Playing without Sullinger, it was Pierce who picked up the rebounding load in the first quarter, grabbing six boards. The Magic grabbed an early 13-7 lead before Pierce and the Celtics went on a 18-5 run to end the quarter to help the Celtics to a 25-18 lead after 12 minutes.

The Celtics continued to play good defense in the second quarter, holding the Magic to 35 percent shooting. Garnett led the way with 10 points in the quarter as the Celtics took a 46-35 lead to the locker room. The Magic were awful from long range, hitting just 1-of-13 from three-point range and making just 15-of-46 shots (32.6 percent). While the Celtics were dealing with the loss of Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, the Magic were also battling a bad injury bug.

Glen Davis fractured his left foot Wednesday in New York and is likely done for the season. Starting point guard Jameer Nelson bruised his left forearm in the second quarter and did not return.

Despite their injuries, the Magic managed to cut the Boston lead to three, 57-54, on an E’Twaun Moore three-point play with 5:04 left in the third quarter. But the Celtics, thanks to a spectacular one-handed dunk from Green a minute later, closed the quarter on a 15-5 run to take a 72-59 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Celtics continued their barrage to open the fourth, as Green and Courtney Lee added one-handed slams that sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy. Boston opened the period on a 14-5 run to take an 86-64 lead and were not threatened the rest of the way.

Garnett’s 728th career double-double moved him ahead of Shaquille O’Neal (727) on the NBA’s all-time list. Since 1990, only Tim Duncan (751) has more.

The Celtics have Saturday off before taking on Blake Griffin and the Clippers Sunday at 1 p.m. at TD Garden. For more, including video from Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Danny Ainge: ‘We’re not ready to cave in yet… It’s going to take more than that’ at 6:29 pm ET
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Celtics chief basketball executive Danny Ainge says it was the right thing to do for the career of Jared Sullinger to end the rookie’s season and have back surgery now, leaving the Celtics without yet another weapon in their lineup.

The team announced late Friday afternoon that Sullinger underwent successful lumbar disc surgery Friday at the New England Baptist Hospital. Surgery was performed under the direction of Celtics Team Physician, Dr. Brian McKeon. The team announced through its release that Sullinger is expected to be ready in time for training camp for the 2013-14 season.

Ainge said Sullinger spent the last two days in the hospital before the decision was made Friday on advice from specialists to go ahead with the surgery.

The Celtics lost Rajon Rondo for the season to a torn ACL in his right knee on Sunday. Five days later, they have lost their most physical rebounder. The Celtics are 22-23 and have won two straight after a six-game skid, and are hanging on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Still, Ainge isn’t giving up on the season.

“We’re not ready to cave in yet, are you kidding? It’s going to take more than that,” Ainge said just before Friday’s game with the Magic at TD Garden. “We’ll just have to win in a different way. Jared’s our best rebounder. We don’t have to play that way. Last two games, we played without Jared last game and I think our team looked great. The second half and most of the Miami game, we played smaller ball and were able to win. Against New York, they’re a small-ball team, we played small against them, had a win against them in New York.

“I think we’re going to have to win in a different way without Jared and without Rajon. We’ll see what we have.”

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Jared Sullinger out for the season after back surgery at 4:10 pm ET
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Jared Sullinger.

First it was Rajon Rondo and now Jared Sullinger. The Celtics rookie will miss the rest of the season after surgery Friday to repair his chronic back injury.

The team announced that Sullinger underwent successful lumbar disc surgery at the New England Baptist Hospital. Surgery was performed by the medical staff under the direction of Celtics Team Physician, Dr. Brian McKeon. The Celtics also announced Sullinger is expected to be ready in time for training camp for the 2013-14 season.

Sullinger aggravated his back in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s win over Sacramento. The news came just four hours before the Celtics host the Orlando Magic at TD Garden.

When Sullinger went down four minutes into Wednesday’s game, fears were raised that this was a recurrence of back problems that forced him to miss nearly half of his final (sophomore) year at Ohio State and fall to 21st overall in the NBA draft last June. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed those fears Friday. Head coach Doc Rivers said before Wednesday’s game that Sullinger was playing at a “top 5″ draft pick level.

The numbers support that. He averaged 7.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in 15 games in January, and finishes the season with averages of 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He had four double-doubles, including three in January. Sullinger spent most of the season as one of the best weapons off the Boston bench but Rivers rewarded Sullinger for his development and play by moving him into the starting lineup last Sunday for the game against the Heat.

Sullinger started Wednesday and grabbed one rebound but did not score before coming out with what was first diagnosed with back spasms. He received ice treatment in the locker room and the team was hopeful he could return. Just before halftime, the team revised the prognosis and announced he would not be returning.

The story was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports Friday afternoon.

The loss comes just five days after the Celtics lost Rondo to a torn ACL in his right knee.

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Danny Ainge ‘would like to see Paul Pierce retire as a Celtic’ 01.31.13 at 5:22 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

As always, in his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Big Show, Celtics president Danny Ainge spoke openly about the state of his team. He made two things clear following Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury: 1) “It’s silly” to think they’ll be better without him and 2) Paul Pierce trades haven’t been discussed.

“He single-handedly carried us many nights, and I don’t see how people don’t see that,” said Ainge. “When people say we’re going to be better without Rondo or the team’s going to do better without him, it’s silly. He’s a great, great player, and he’s proven that time and time again. The guy’s been MVP of probably four or five series over the last five years — not just individual games here and there or triple-doubles on national TV. He’s been the best player in a series against LeBron James. He’s been the best player in a series against Derrick Rose. He’s been the best player in three games of an NBA Finals.”

Even before Rondo’s injury, Pierce’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors. His contract, which has just $5 million guaranteed for next season, seemingly makes him an attractive target around the league.

“Nothing has been talked about with Paul,” said Ainge. “Nothing is close to being done. I too would like to see Paul retire as a Celtic. That would be great. We’re all attached to Paul. He’s been great for the city, the franchise, and he’s been a true pro. Having said that, if something came up, I would talk to Paul. My job is to do what’s in the best interest of our team, regardless of my personal ties or my personal feelings with the players.”

The Celtics president claimed few teams have come calling for any Celtics outside of Ray Allen the last few years — citing the fact “nothing got close” in the recent Rudy Gay sweepstakes — and explained that none of his players have asked that they be kept in the loop about trades (again, except for Allen last season).

Ainge also said he’s not searching for point guard help right now, allowing Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa to seize their opportunity.

“We are open [to making deals] and listening, but we don’t feel pressure to do anything,” said Ainge. “Whether we win every game or whether we struggle, I think it all depends on what opportunities are presented. We want to make some change to help improve our team.”

Meanwhile, Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger left Wednesday’s win in the first quarter with back spasms. He missed practice Thursday, is undergoing tests and remains day-to-day. The issues are apparently the same ones that led to Sullinger falling to the C’s in the draft. Ainge admitted, “I’m a little surprised that it’s taken this long.”

To listen to the entire interview, visit the Big Show’s audio page.

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Doc Rivers reminds Paul Pierce that he is ‘still our scorer’ at 1:59 am ET
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Doc Rivers knew everyone would have to pick up their game without Rajon Rondo. He also knew that Paul Pierce had experience doing it. But as the game began, the Celtics coach felt he was too concerned with distributing and not doing what he does best – scoring.

The Celtics’ leading scorer at 18.7 points per game was scoreless before a layup and a free throw with 2:53 left in the second quarter. Time for intervention.

“Listen, that’s how we have to play overall,” Rivers said. “Just simple, good basketball; pass the ball, move the ball. I got on Paul at the beginning of the game because I thought he was trying to be the facilitator – he must’ve read some of your all dumb-ass articles – and then once he started moving the ball, he was great. Because he’s still our scorer. I said, ‘Paul, you’re still our scorer, by the way.’ But overall I thought everybody just played their role, and played great.”

Pierce got the message, finishing with a team-best 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Celtics also made concerted effort of rushing the ball up the court against the athletic Kings.

“Again, not having Rondo, we don’t want teams to get set, where you’ve got to grind out a play and late clock, and moving,” Rivers said. “It’s just easier for us if we can get into our stuff quicker. We just advanced it at the pass, we got early posts for Kevin (Garnett), had some quick lay-ups, easy baskets, that’s what we have to do.”

Pierce wasn’t the only one facilitating the Celtics’ offense. Kevin Garnett (13 points, nine rebounds) established himself early with nine points in the first quarter.

“Yeah, he was terrific,” Rivers said. “He really did. And that’s what he – you know, all of them, everybody has to do their job. Some have to do better. And Kevin I thought tonight was terrific. Really, I thought everyone did what they needed to do. I thought our bench came in and had an unbelievable run. And I thought offensively what we did is if a play worked, we didn’t try to get smart and run another play. We kept running the same play. And when that stopped, we went to another play. It’s simple, and it sounds simple, but that’s what we did.”

The first game the Celtics played knowing Rondo was no longer an option couldn’t have gone much better for the Celtics in a 99-81 win that Boston led by as many as 28 in the third quarter.

“Well it’s important because we believe we can and we want to and we need to,” Rivers said. “So, yeah, I mean it’s vital for us. We have to win every game; that’s how we think. We have to go in every single game and look at them as single games now, and try to win them. But it’s always nice to get off to a start like this.”

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You don’t want DeMarcus Cousins on the Celtics at 1:17 am ET
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After all the trade rumors earlier this month that had the Kings shipping DeMarcus Cousins across the country in exchange for some package of Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and/or Fab Melo, the third-year center’s Wednesday night in Boston proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that you don’t want him on the Celtics.

Of all the reasons not to package a deal for Cousins, and there are many, the fact he played dumb when asked about the rumored trade isn’t one of them. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I didn’t know that.”

In the span of two minutes during his postgame press conference, Cousins openly questioned his coach and threw the Kings organization under the bus. Do Keith Smart and the Maloof brothers deserve criticism? Absolutely. But after submitting, to put it kindly, a disinterested performance probably isn’t the best time to do so.

Asked about what went wrong in Sacramento’s 99-81 loss to the C’s, Cousins explained: “We made changes that we didn’t really need. That affected the flow of the game. We have a tendency to do that. Sometimes, you’ve got to just keep letting it ride. Sometimes, you’ve got to stick with the original game plan and just let it play through.”

First of all, I don’t even know what that means. Second of all, here’s what went wrong: The Kings allowed 37 points in the second quarter. The Celtics made their first 14 shots and finished 16-of-20 from the field in the frame.

Read the rest of this entry »

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