|Fast Break: Shavlik Randolph, Celtics shoot down Hawks||03.29.13 at 9:59 pm ET|
In his first game back on the Celtics bench since his knee surgery, Rajon Rondo witnessed everything his new-look team had to offer. Shavlik Randolph (9 points, 13 rebounds) turned in the finest performance of his NBA career and Jeff Green (27 points) submitted another critic-silencing effort in a 118-107 victory against the Hawks that gave the C’s a 2.5-game lead on the seventh seed over the idle Bucks.
Kevin Garnett may have missed his fourth straight game with a foot injury, but fellow over-35 club members Paul Pierce (20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) and Jason Terry (24 points) shined. Here’s what else went right.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Shav: In eight first-half minutes, Shavlik Randolph made both his shots and grabbed five boards. The C’s trailed by four when he entered early in the second quarter and led by 11 when he left. Given his team’s depth and Chris Wilcox‘s struggles, Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been turning to Randolph earlier, and the 6-foot-10 big man has delivered in limited action. His biggest contribution has been rebounding (10.4 per 36 minutes), but he also appears to grasp the defensive rotations, which doesn’t hurt in Doc’s book.
Terry and Terrence: Sounds like a bad Disney Channel program, right? Actually, the duo put on a good show. A second quarter, Terry (7-10 FG) made back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game, and Terrence Williams sandwiched a pair of emphatic dunks around a Pierce layup to give the C’s a lead. That kickstarted a 22-6 run that pushed the edge to double digits. Terry scored 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc in the frame.
Green and Pierce: The two Celtics wings have each raised their game for a Celtics squad in desperate need of leaders without Garnett on the floor. Green, obviously, has been the bigger surprise, eclipsing 20 points for the fourth time this month and fourth time in eight starts. Meanwhile, despite hobbling his way through a portion of the game, Pierce continued to do Truth things, submitting his third triple-double of the season. In all, they combined for 47 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds.
|Three for all: Jeff Green, Jason Terry and Shav Randolph lead C’s to key win over Hawks||at 9:49 pm ET|
Shav Randolph picked a fine time for the game of his NBA career. The 29-year-old Duke product had 13 rebounds and nine points, just missing his first career double-double, as the Celtics continued their fight for playoff position with a 118-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night at TD Garden. The win drew Boston to within 1.5 games of sixth-place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference race, just two games back in the loss column.
With the injured Rajon Rondo watching from the Celtics bench, the Celtics put on an offensive exhibition, led by 27 points from Jeff Green and 24 from Jason Terry. The Celtics shot 11-of-23 from 3-point range, including 5-of-7 from Terry, who paced a big effort from the bench. Paul Pierce picked up a triple-double with a strong fourth-quarter effort. Pierce finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Celtics, who improved to 38-34.
For Pierce, it was his third triple-double of the season and 10th of his career. Another milestone was reached as Terry passed the 1,900 plateau in career 3-pointers, becoming just the fourth player in NBA history to pass the milestone. Terry stands behind only Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Jason Kidd. Pierce is fifth with 1,810
Thanks to scorching shooting from beyond the arc, the Celtics posted their highest point total of the first half all season when they put up 66 points and raced out to a 66-56 halftime lead.
Leading the charge was Terry, who was 4-for-5 from 3-point range and scored 14 of his team-leading 16 points in the second quarter. Jordan Crawford nailed a three at the first-quarter buzzer and Green answered with 5.8 seconds left in the second as the Celtics seized momentum.
The unsung hero of the first half was Randolph. With Chris Wilcox fighting foul trouble and the Hawks attempting to take advantage of their superior size, Randolph grabbed five rebounds and scored four points. Randolph came into the game with the Celtics trailing, 38-34, with just under 10 minutes left in the second quarter.
When he checked back out eight minutes later, the Celtics had completed a 27-10 run and built a 11-point lead, 61-50.
Randolph thrilled the crowd again in the third quarter when Wilcox picked up his fourth foul with 9:15 left in the quarter. He blocked a Josh Smith shot and hauled in three rebounds, including an offensive put-back during a key run that ended in a Jeff Green three that put Boston up, 83-68, Boston’s biggest lead to that point.
The Celtics led comfortably, 98-87, on a Crawford jumper when the Hawks put on a push to get back into the game. The Hawks scored the five points to make it a six-point game before Terry answered with a mid-range jumper. Terry stepped into a three with 5:49 left after a wild loose-ball scramble. That three was Boston’s 10th of the night and put them up, 105-94. Green hit a jumper with 5:08 left to stretch the lead back to 13, 107-94.
Green’s three with 2:27 left put Boston up, 112-101, sealed Atlanta’s fate.The Celtics are off Saturday before playing Sunday night at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks. For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
Palm Beach Post columnist Ethan J. Skolnick was among the first to tweet Riley’s official reaction, delivered to the media by a team official: “Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team. He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”
Correction to Riley quote: “Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team.” My bad. Typing too fast.
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) March 29, 2013
James was far more mild-mannered.
“I’m not surprised about anything that comes from Boston,” Skolnick tweeted.
Ainge delivered his response to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
“We’re both right,” Ainge said. “LeBron should stop complaining and I should manage my own team.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has his own unique perspective. He played for Pat Riley with the Knicks at the end of his career. He tells stories of how tough Riley was on his own players and their conditioning. Rivers also played against Ainge in the prime of his career, when Ainge was on the Celtics and Rivers was on the Celtics.
“Yeah, I think it’s funny,” Rivers said. “I think it’s very interesting. I can relate. It’s cool. I think they should duke it out.”
Does Friday’s exchange add anything to the Celtics-Heat rivalry?
“Not unless they’re playing,” Rivers said. “Really. I just think it’s just talk both ways. I’ll just let those two grown men handle their own grown men argument. I’m going to stay out of it. On a side note, it gives me a smile and it’s interesting. I think it’s fun. It’s a flashback.”
Rivers wasn’t about to pass judgement either way on the fouls called on James at the end of the game with the Bulls on Wednesday.
“I did see those fouls,” Rivers said, before being asked what he thought. “I don’t know. I’m going to stay out of it.”
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
“I’m not going to start him, but I’m going to play him,” Rivers said. “I’m just going to see the minutes and see how he feels.”
Lee took part in Celtics shootaround on Friday morning and was classified as a “game-time” decision afterward.
“He looked OK in shootaround, but he didn’t have a practice to fall back on, so who knows and we’ll just see,” Rivers said.
Lee made his return with 2:46 left in the first quarter and played into the second quarter before coming out again.
Lee injured his left ankle in the final minute of the loss last Friday night in Dallas. He missed the games against Memphis, New York and Cleveland before playing Friday night.
As for Kevin Garnett, Rivers said he had no further update than what Danny Ainge told Salk & Holley on WEEI Thursday afternoon, that “two weeks should be sufficient time” for his left foot to heal.”
“I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I think two weeks should be enough but if we get to two weeks and it’s two-and-a-half, I don’t want you guys calling me a liar or anything.”
|Avery Bradley: Celtics not ‘playing the right way’||03.27.13 at 12:25 am ET|
Avery Bradley‘s performance had New York media wondering what all the fuss has been over the 22-year-old.
Average Bradley better be the second coming of Michael Cooper defensively because offensively he’s a liability.
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) March 27, 2013
Bradley submitted another poor shooting effort in Tuesday night’s 100-85 loss to the Knicks, making just 3-of-11 attempts and dropping his field goal percentage to only 30.5 percent over his last eight games. In that same stretch, a 2-6 run for the Celtics, he has committed as many turnovers as he has collected assists (14).
“He’s struggling,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, whose team has lost five straight games. “Listen, Avery’s trying his best. His shot is struggling right now. He can shoot the ball, but when you’re thinking about it, he’s clearly going through something. And so we’re going to have to to try to get him through that.
“Especially now with all the guys out, we’re going to need him to be effective. I’m probably going to have to do something to try to get him going more, not less. But I feel for him, because he wants to play hard, he wants to play right, but you can see it. So, we’ll get him going.”
The most troubling part of Bradley’s offense has been his inability to finish at the rim. He entered Tuesday’s game shooting just 45.7 percent within eight feet, and he clanged another four gimmes against the Knicks. He’s missed significantly more layups (76) than he has corner 3-pointers (53), where he’s been decent despite his struggles.
|Carmelo Anthony: ‘It’s a great feeling’ to beat the Celtics||03.26.13 at 11:46 pm ET|
Knicks star Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 36 minutes and was helped out by J.R. Smith, who scored a game-high 32 points off the New York bench as the beat the Celtics 100-85 Tuesday night at TD Garden. With the win the Knicks won their fifth straight and improved to 43-26 and now lead the Celtics by 7 1/2 games in the Atlantic division. The Celtics five-year reign as division champions appears certain to come to an end the season.
‘We want to beat them,” Anthony said. “Let’s just be quite frank about them. We always want to beat Boston. New York in anything wants to beat Boston. And when we do it it’s a great feeling. Right now, we’re playing good basketball. Great road win for us, especially here in this arena. Knowing how hostile it can get here, knowing how well they play here at home in front of their fans. It just says a lot about our team at this moment.’
Anthony played in back-to-back games for the first time since getting his right knee drained and he said the winning helps the recovery.
‘For me it’s just taking it day by day,” Anthony said. “Just seeing what happens and staying on top of what I need to stay on top of as far as injuries and things like that. Just trying to stay healthy. You can’t really control injuries but you can do things to try to prevent them.’
Anthony scored 11 points in the first quarter as the Knicks waited for another player to step forward.
‘For me I know my mindset was just to be as aggressive as I can,” Anthony said. “Offensively, defensively, my team fed off me. JR came off the bench and took it over from there. There was sometimes during the game we were looking to follow his lead out there. Anytime he’s playing like that, it always makes us tough to beat.’
That player turned out to be J.R. Smith, who scored 21 points in the first half, on his way to a 32-point night against Boston.
‘When he’s attacking its kind of hard to stop that,” Anthony said. “He attacks, he gets to the free throw line, he can make outside shots. We feed off of him. We let him do his thing and we space out. He finds guys out there on the basketball court and it’s just a matter of us making shots.’
|Fast Break: J.R. Smith, Knicks knock out Celtics||at 9:50 pm ET|
J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony combined for 61 points and the Knicks delivered a 100-85 knockout of a Celtics team without Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee that all but ended the C’s reign atop the Atlantic Division.
Jeff Green, Paul Pierce, Jordan Crawford, Brandon Bass and Jason Terry all reached double figures, but the C’s committed 20 turnovers and couldn’t stop New York on the other end. Here’s what else went wrong.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Ugly start: It took almost three minutes for either team to score, and neither club’s former NBA Defensive Player of the Year was involved. The Celtics missed their first three shots and committed a pair of turnovers while the Knicks missed their first five attempts until an Anthony (29 points, 8 rebounds) layup broke a scoreless game 2:42 into the first quarter. This wasn’t exactly the epic Celtics-Knicks battle national television had banked on.
J.R. Smith: The Knicks Sixth Man scored 32 points on 24 shots (oddly, just three 3-pointers) in 35 minutes. He outscored the entire Celtics bench by 13 points. Smith also grabbed four of his six first-half rebounds on the offensive end, helping New York establish a comfortable 58-44 halftime lead.
Chris Wilcox: Speaking of rebounds, Chris Wilcox had none in 10 minutes. That’s not good, and neither were his five total boards in three previous games. Meanwhile, the Knicks reached double-digit offensive rebounds by halftime, netting 50 points in the paint and outscoring the C’s 29-6 in second-chance points for the game. Meanwhile, D.J. White and his eight boards per 36 minutes in his career rode the pine until the final three minutes and Shavlik Randolph out-rebounded Wilcox 4-0 in five garbage minutes.
Avery Bradley: The lone healthy Celtics pitbull hasn’t had much bite on the offensive end. He’s shooting worse than 40 percent this month and hasn’t hit half of his shots in a game for more than two weeks. That includes Tuesday night’s 3-for-11, six-point effort against the Knicks that featured a pair of badly missed layups.
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