|Grant Hill on Doc Rivers: ‘He’s a great communicator’||02.04.13 at 10:45 am ET|
On an afternoon when Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro didn’t exactly cover himself in glory, his veteran wingman Grant Hill had high praise for the coach in the locker room across the hall.
Del Negro opted not to foul Celtics Courtney Lee or Paul Pierce in the final 26.6 seconds of a 103-101 game. As a result, Lee delivered the ball to Pierce, who dribbled the clock down before sinking a game-clinching 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds remaining. And the Clippers coach wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“I wouldn’t foul him there,” said Del Negro. “I wouldn’t want to foul Paul Pierce there. It was right on the number. We’ve done it both ways. If we get a stop there, we have three or four seconds to go. We’ve got plenty of time in a two-point game. If I was going to do it, I would’ve foul Courtney Lee early right when he got the ball, but you play the percentages. We went back and forth with it. We just felt like we could get it done.”
Lee (88.6 FT%) is actually shooting better from the free throw line this season than Pierce (78.8 FT%), and while the latter has made just 38.3 percent of his isolation attempts this winter, even if Pierce missed his shot with 2.6 seconds left, the Clippers would still have had to track down a long rebound and call timeout.
‘If coach addressed that,” said Hill, “then I don’t need to address it.’
The 40-year-old Hill played two seasons against Celtics coach Doc Rivers as a player and then three-plus years under the former Magic coach in Orlando from 2000-03.
“Doc’s a good friend and somebody who I’ve enjoyed getting to know — him and his family. I competed against him as a player and obviously played a little bit for him,” said Hill, who of course attended Duke, where Doc’s son Austin Rivers played his lone college season. “He’s just a good man. He’s come up here and had tremendous success, and you’re happy that he’s been able to establish himself as one of the better coaches in the league.”
|Courtney Lee: ‘We’re playing hard for Rajon Rondo’||02.03.13 at 5:36 pm ET|
“I wouldn’t say that all,” said Courtney Lee, who replaced Rondo in the C’s starting lineup. “Rondo’s an All-Star. Any time you can add an All-Star to your team, your team is going to be better, so we definitely miss Rondo. We don’t look at it as we’re better off without Rondo, I think we came together and we’re playing hard for Rondo.”
That those remarks come from Lee might come as a surprise to those who listened to Grantland writer Zach Lowe‘s assertion that “Lee has been really unhappy in Boston because he feels like the whole offense is Rondo pounding the ball, and he doesn’t get to do anything.” Lee has since denied the report.
|Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics sink Clippers ship||at 3:44 pm ET|
The Celtics nearly blew a 19-point halftime lead, as the Clippers closed to within a single possession with three minutes to play, but a long Jason Terry jumper with 1:09 remaining and Paul Pierce‘s 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds on the clock helped put the game away, 106-104. Matt Barnes and 37 combined turnovers made for an ugly basketball game, but the C’s improved to 4-0 since All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending ACL injury.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Bench production: Facing what many consider the NBA’s best bench — save for Eric Bledsoe‘s insertion into the Clippers starting lineup in place of the injured Chris Paul (knee) — the C’s reserves made a statement in the first half. The Celtics bench outscored their counterparts 32-5 in the opening 24 minutes, reaching that total on just 15 shots. Terry and Jeff Green led the way with nine points apiece by the break.
Jamal ball: Conversely, the Celtics kept Jamal Crawford and his explosive offense under control until he heated up late. C’s coach Doc Rivers stuck Avery Bradley on the perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate, and when Bradley picked up three first-half fouls, Courtney Lee picked up where his backcourt mate left off. Crawford, who broke his nose against the Raptors on Friday, grew so frustrated that he abandoned his protective facemask.
Balancing act: Once again, just about everybody stepped up in Rondo’s absence. Green, Terry and Leandro Barbosa all reached double digits off the bench. Pierce owned the third quarter. Brandon Bass tied his career high in assists (4). And Jason Collins set a new season high for scoring (5). Rivers needed to capture his team’s attention after a 20-23 start; it’s too bad it took Rondo’s season-ending injury to do it.
Paul Pierce scored 22 points while Jeff Green and Leandro Barbosa added 14 apiece off the bench as the Celtics outlasted the Clippers, 106-104, Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. Pierce’s three as the shot clock expired sealed the win with 2.5 seconds left in the game and helped the Celtics avoid the embarrassment of blowing a 19-point halftime lead. The Celtics finished 11-for-18 from 3-point range while Boston’s bench outscored LA’s reserves, 52-29, with 23 of those 29 coming from Jamal Crawford.
Jason Terry hit a big shot as the shot clock expired late in the fourth quarter as the Celtics won their fourth straight and moved back over .500 at 24-23 on the season. While the Celtics were playing without Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, the Clippers were without star point guard Chris Paul, missing his seventh game in nine outings with a sore right knee.
Both teams came out on fire in the first quarter. The Celtics started off 8-of-13 from the field while the Clippers hit 6-of-9 to start the game. The Celtics overcame four Clippers dunks in the first quarter to take a 33-30 lead after 12 minutes.
The Celtics turned the defensive screws on the Clippers in the second quarter while staying red-hot themselves. The Celtics scored the first six points of the quarter while Los Angeles didn’t get on the board until Lamar Odom‘s turnaround over four minutes into the quarter. The Celtics forced 15 Clippers turnovers in the first half, including nine in the second quarter. The Celtics managed to turn those 15 turnovers into 24 points and race out to a 59-40 halftime lead.
The Celtics had remarkable balance in the first half, with 10 of their 11 players finding the scoring column. Only rookie Fab Melo, who didn’t see the floor, failed to score. Green and Terry led a potent attack off the bench with nine points apiece, combining to go 4-for-5 from the three-point range.
The Clippers responded to open the third, scoring the first eight points to cut the lead back to 11, 59-48. But after Blake Griffin picked up his fourth foul midway through the third, the Celtics, thanks to a pair of responded, building the lead back to 19, 74-55. The Celtics closed the third as they did in the second quarter, on a run. Green and Barbosa hit back-to-back threes and Barbosa hit a top-of-the-key jumper as time expired to give the Celtics a 92-77 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Celtics were 10-for-14 from long range through three quarters before going ice cold in the fourth. Read the rest of this entry »
Coach Doc Rivers, general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics may very well be interested in adding Greg Oden to their roster but they’re doing a job of not going overboard in expressing their enthusiasm after meeting with him on Saturday while the rest of the team had the day off.
“I got the Clippers tonight,” Rivers said before Sunday’s game with the Clippers. “I said hi to him, reminisced about high school days when I watched some AAU, but other than that, I can tell you I thought far more about the guys we are playing tonight than next year.
“We really haven’t talked about [additions]. Honestly. We obviously can, because we need a body. But we really haven’t talked about it much at all. Nothing really. What I think Danny is doing is probably doing all the work right now and I’m sure this week maybe, or who knows in two weeks, he’ll come with a long list of scenarios.”
The Celtics are in the market for a big man after losing Jared Sullinger for the season to back surgery on Friday. Rivers said he has only heard from Sullinger via text since the surgery and expects him out of New England Baptist Hospital this weekend.
Other Sunday pregame notes: Eric Bledsoe started for Chris Paul (knee), who missed his seventh game in nine contests Sunday. “In some ways, they are harder to guard and some ways they are not. Obviously, Chris Paul is fantastic. But when he plays, at least you know where the ball is at a lot, because it’s in his hands and that helps you somewhat defensively. When he doesn’t play, the ball is going all over the place, and they are in some ways difficult to guard.”
As for Doc Rivers’ Super Bowl prediction: “Oh, San Fran; it’s not even really close. It won’t be close, it’ll be a blowout,” he said, before hinging his bet bigtime. “Three points. No I do think San Fran, but who knows? I think they are the better team, but clearly I don’t know enough about football. That’s why I’m here.”
|Paul PIerce on Jeff Green: ‘That’s the Jeff we pretty much envisioned’||02.02.13 at 1:53 am ET|
Jeff Green has picked a good time to show his best side.
Green had three monster slams and 17 points off the bench as the Celtics beat the Magic, 97-84, Friday at TD Garden. Hours before the game, the team was informed that another player was lost for the season.
With the loss of Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, it was Green who took advantage of a newly-discovered spread offense. Green played aggressive and fearless defense on LeBron James on Sunday against the Heat. On Wednesday, he led the Celtics over the Kings. On Friday, he was the energy force of a Celtics team that made it back to .500 at 23-23.
“You know, we’re spreading the floor for him which helps too,” Doc RIvers said. “And that helps. But he’s just been aggressive. We’re getting the ball to him in the open court, which I think is really important for him because of his speed, the defense can’t set, and it gets him to the rim, which is good. Yeah, so he’s doing great and we’ve got to keep him thinking about rebounds. That’s important for us.’
And when the lead shrank from 16 points to three, it was Green who again provided the spark with a one-handed jam.
‘Yeah, and the defense obviously is what got us out on the break, and I thought that changed the game,” Rivers said. “We went small in that stretch. I got on Paul again; Paul we just want him to stay being a scorer. I think he’s trying to create too much right now. His scoring will create for us.’
Courtney Lee also flew to the basket for a dunk in the fourth quarter, and like Green, started from the baseline. Which dunk was better?
‘Definitely mine, definitely mine,” Lee joked. “But Jeff, he soars through the air man. He does the Statue of Liberty so’¦you can see how high he’s elevated, and he get his elbow off the ground when he do that. So I’m going to give him credit. I’ve seen Top 5 plays of the season, I think he was on there like 3 or 4 times so he got it.’
‘It’s great,” added Paul Pierce. “He’s been very aggressive, he’s getting easy baskets out on the break. He’s been attacking the rim in the half court and that’s the Jeff we pretty much envisioned you know coming into the season. I think we are doing a good job of finding him in his spots. And he’s taking his time and really getting the job done.’
‘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.’
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.