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Doc Rivers: ‘I thought the fouls on [Kevin Garnett] were horrendous and had a huge effect’ 04.24.13 at 1:03 am ET
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NEW YORK — The Celtics wanted more out of Kevin Garnett and got it in Game 2, as he scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

But in the mind of coach Doc Rivers, it could’ve been more – much more – if it weren’t for the officials. For the second straight game, Garnett got into foul trouble, with three fouls at halftime and five midway through the fourth quarter. When the Celtics needed him the most, Garnett couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm in the second half, and Rivers said the officiating early had an impact in the end.

“I thought the fouls on Kevin were horrendous, and had a huge effect on us,” Rivers said after the 87-71 loss in which Boston scored 23 points in the second half. “He never got his rhythm when you could see he was going to have a game. It hurt us.”

Garnett felt the frustration as well, but held back a bit, deflecting some of the criticism on himself.

“At times, it’s frustrating,” Garnett said. “But fouls are part of the game. Refs are calling things but it’s an aggressive time in postseason play. I just have to be consistent and position myself not to foul so much.”

The trio of David Jones, Rodney Mott and Derrick Stafford officiated the game, which ended with Garnett and Paul Pierce each with five fouls before they were taken out after the game was out of reach with four minutes left.

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Doc Rivers on his offense: ‘So far, I haven’t gotten them to the right spots’ at 12:39 am ET
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Doc Rivers had Paul Pierce back in the lineup Wednesday against Detroit. (AP)

Doc Rivers had no answers for another second-half freeze out. (AP)

NEW YORK — Celtics coach Doc Rivers took full responsibility for the historic futility of his offense has suffered through in dropping the first two games of their series at Madison Square Garden.

For the second straight game, the Celtics established a playoff franchise record for fewest points in a half when they scored just 23 in the second half of Tuesday’s 87-71 loss to the Knicks.

“We are who we are,” Rivers said when asked about the effect of not having Rajon Rondo available. “We can’t apologize for that. That is who we have been left with and I think it is good enough to win. So far, I haven’t gotten them to the right spots. We can play better and we have to play better.”

The Celtics led 48-42 at the half. But Iman Shumpert hit a pair of threes early in the third quarter, part of a 29-6 New York run that put the Knicks in complete control. The Celtics were outscored 32-11 and converted just 4-of-17 shots from the floor in posting another abysmal third-quarter performance.

“They attacked us,” Rivers said. “We didn’t handle it very well. We have to be able to do better. I don’t know what we are doing wrong in the beginning of third quarters but we gave up those two back-to-back threes, which helped their confidence. It was a tale of two halves.”

Paul Pierce led the way with 18 points but came out with four minutes left as the Celtics conceded.

“He needs some help,” Rivers said. “I think Paul was playing pretty well. He started getting tired in the second half because he tried to do everything.”

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Bad sequel: C’s repeat their horrific Game 1, fall again to Knicks in Game 2 04.23.13 at 10:39 pm ET
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J.R. Smith shoots over Jordan Crawford Tuesday in New York in Game 2. (AP)

J.R. Smith shoots over Jordan Crawford Tuesday in New York in Game 2. (AP)

NEW YORK — Another horrific second-half drought. Another very bad result for the Celtics.

Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points, NBA “Sixth Man of the Year” J.R. Smith added 19 while Raymond Felton (16 points) chipped in with several big drives to the basket, as the Knicks beat the Celtics, 87-71, in Game 2 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The series now shifts back to Boston with the Celtics, down 0-2, facing a virtual must-win on Friday night at TD Garden.

Paul Pierce scored 18 while Kevin Garnett added a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) for the Celtics, who suffered through another horrendous second-half drought, blowing a nine-point lead late in the first half to fall two games down to the Atlantic Division champs. After scoring just 25 points in the second half Saturday in Game 1, and eight in the fourth quarter, the Celtics scored just 11 points in the third quarter and finished the second half with just 23 points, the lowest second-half scoring output in team playoff history since the introduction of the shot clock.

The Celtics appeared to have momentum early. They built a 20-15 lead in the first quarter on Jason Terry‘s first field goal of the series. After going 0-for-5 in Game 1, Terry’s 3-pointer was the first of three treys in the first half. But the Knicks then ran off the next 12 points, closing the first quarter on an 11-0 run, thanks in part to a troubling turn at the end of the period.

Smith hit a jumper with 6.8 seconds left to put the Knicks up 23-20. Pierce committed a turnover and the Knicks found Smith, who drained a 36-foot three at the buzzer, putting the Knicks up 26-20.

After the Knicks went up 27-20, the Celtics answered with the next 11 points as Terry led a resurgent bench. When Pierce hit a 12-foot turnaround with 1:02 left in the second quarter, Boston had its biggest lead, 48-39. That would be the last time the Celtics had control.

The Knicks scored the final three points as another Pierce turnover kept Boston from building momentum at the half. As hot as the Celtics were in shooting 11-of-18 from the field in the second quarter, the Knicks were just as cold, making just 4-of-17 shots.

Those three points at the end of the first half started a remarkable turnaround for New York. Iman Shumpert hit a pair of threes to open the third quarter as the Knicks exploded on a 29-6 run. Before the third quarter was over, the Knicks had outscored the Celtics 32-11, building their lead up to 15, 74-59, heading into the fourth. It was a complete role reversal for the two teams in the third, as the Celtics made just 4-of-18 while the Knicks were blazing hot, converting 12-of-17 from the field.

Pierce rattled in a three with 9:47 to cut New York’s lead down to 11, 76-65. Jordan Crawford hit a jumper over Steve Novak with 9:15 left and Boston trimmed the deficit to single digits, 76-67.

Following a Knicks timeout, Anthony hit a shot over Garnett with 8:56 left to put the Knicks up, 78-67. After two Garnett free throws, it was Anthony again with a jumper. The Garden crowd exploded when Felton fed Smith with 7:52 left for an alley-oop dunk putting New York ahead, 82-69. After Garnett picked up his fifth foul with 6:28 left, Felton hit a mid-range jumper at the free throw line to put New York up, 84-69.

Pierce and Garnett came out with just over four minutes left as the Celtics conceded their second straight playoff loss in New York. With the Knicks up, 2-0, the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday night at 8 p.m. at TD Garden. Game 4 will also be played in Boston (Sunday, 1 p.m.).

For more from Mike Petraglia with the Celtics in New York, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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‘Brilliant’ Pablo Prigioni returns for Game 2, Doc Rivers talks road toughness at 8:25 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Pablo Prigioni, who did not play in Game 1, returned Tuesday night from a sprained right ankle and will start for the Knicks against the Celtics in Game 2.

What does the return of Prigioni to the Knicks starting lineup mean Doc Rivers?

“Well, it just gives them another decision-maker. He’s brilliant,” Rivers said. “He’s another Jason Kidd-ish-type guy. It just gives them another smart player on the floor and another guy that can create plays. That makes them really good. It’s no coincidence that when he’s in the lineup they play better because they have a lot of IQ on the floor at the same time.”

“He gives us a guy who can help run our team, and gives us a defensive presence out front guarding the ball,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, adding there won’t be a minutes restriction. “Not at all. He’s practiced the past few days and moved around real well. I think he’s going to be fine.”

Prigioni came out and guarded Avery Bradley while Raymond Felton was on Paul Pierce.

“We’re going to attack whoever guards Paul,” Rivers said. “I’m sure [Mike Woodson] is thinking the same thing, it doesn’t matter who’s guarding Paul because Paul’s going to get the ball in the post. They’re going to come trap. I hope there’s an advantage there but I don’t know if there is.”

With Prigioni returning to action, that sent Chris Copeland to the bench.

Rivers said the 72 hours is a long time to wait between playoff games but there’s no better city to spend it in if you’re on the road then in New York.

“You never know but I think pretty well,” Rivers said when asked how he thought his team handled it. “Obviously, especially on the road, you’d rather get right back at it. You just feel like you’re sitting around the room and things like that, but obviously being in New York helps in some ways. It’s not a bad city to hang out in, go have dinner so I think we’ll be ready.”

Rivers is hopeful his team can channel the 2008 team in terms of toughness and the 2010 team that found a way on the road.

“I was going into the ’08 playoffs because we literally had the easiest year you could possibly have,” Rivers said. “We won every game it felt like and didn’t get tested a lot. I was concerned going into the playoffs with a team, even though they were really good, that didn’t get tested. I thought Game 6 in Atlanta we came apart a little bit.”

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Tuesday shootaround: Jeff Green says C’s ‘can still play good without force-feeding’ Kevin Garnett at 11:45 am ET
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Jeff Green felt relaxed and comfortable at Tuesday morning's shootaround at Madison Square Garden. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Jeff Green felt relaxed and comfortable at Tuesday morning’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

NEW YORK — Jeff Green isn’t necessarily buying into the theory that the Celtics have to get Kevin Garnett involved on every possession he’s on the court for the Celtics to have a chance of tying the series, 1-1.

“I think we have one of the best coaches [Doc Rivers] in the league who can figure out the adjustment and how we can still play good without force-feeding [Garnett],” Green said Tuesday morning prior to the team’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden.

But Green added later that an established Garnett in the post will clearly increase the chances of Boston walking out of MSG with a victory in Game 2 Tuesday night.

“Well, to make it easier for him in the post, I’ve got to continue to be aggressive off the dribble, trying to get to get to the rim, because if I do that it’s going to take a man [to guard me] in the post and open up a lane for Kevin,” Green said.

Green scored a team-high 26 points and played nearly 46 minutes in Saturday’s Game 1 loss to the New York Knicks. Rivers Green also said he needs to work through the fatigue to remain productive. Green scored 20 points in the first half but only six in the second half as the Celtics offense went cold. Green split time with Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass in guarding Carmelo Anthony, who scored 36 but needed 29 shots to do so.

“I just have to do it. I have to play through the fatigue,” Green said. “I have to continue to look for mine, basically. There’s no excuses now. I want to be out there. I want to compete. I want to play against the best. I want to guard Carmelo. I want to do it all. It’s something I just have to get through.

“Just continue to be more aggressive in the open court, that’s about it. Defensively, continue to make everything for Carmelo tough, keep him off the offensive boards and get all the 50-50 plays.”

Green is confident that if he remains aggressive, the offensive – and points – will continue to flow for him.

“I got to the free throw line,” said Green, who made all seven free throws Saturday. “I made a couple of shots outside on the perimeter to get me going and I got some layups in transition. That’s how you get yourself going. That’s how you get a rhythm.”

Told that Anthony feels this is a “must-win” game for the Knicks before the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday, Green said Boston feels the same way.

“Every game is a must-win game,” Green said. “It’s the playoffs. That’s the only way you can move on is to win. We go into every game thinking it’s a must-win.”

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Jordan Crawford: ‘I was trying to make sure I made my first shot’ 04.22.13 at 3:18 pm ET
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NEW YORK — On the same day he received a first-place vote for the NBA “Sixth Man” award (awarded to New York’s J.R. Smith), Jordan Crawford was insistent on one thing Monday, he wanted his first shot in a playoff game to go in.

“I was trying to make sure I made my first shot,” Crawford repeated several times when asked why, for the first time in his career, he didn’t even attempt a shot when playing at least 10 minutes in a game. That’s exactly what happened during Saturday’s Game 1 loss to the Knicks.

The irony was not lost on coach Doc Rivers, who put Crawford in for his explosive scoring ability. Rivers actually wants to play Crawford more in Game 2 and that means Crawford needs to get over his pursuit for perfection and worry about putting up big numbers for a bench that didn’t register a single field goal in Game 1 and was outscored, 33-4.

“I thought Jordan should have played more in the second half,” Rivers said. “It’s funny, he didn’t score, but he created baskets. He created that [Jeff Green] three at the end of the [first quarter] because he has the ability to do that. And, I’ll tell you, he’s buying in defensively and if he can continue to do that, then he has a chance to help us.”

Crawford was acquired from the Wizards at the NBA trade deadline in February, with the hope that he could provide some instant offense to a team that had just lost Rajon Rondo and was watching as Jason Terry went through a prolonged slump.

“Play my game, the game I continue to play that got me here that Doc Rivers wants me to play,” Crawford said. “So I’m just trying to help them win any way…Just be precise, don’t second guess nothing, be precise. Whatever you think to do, do it quick. If you make a mistake, do it hard.”

As for his other big first – an NBA playoff game – Crawford said he didn’t feel overwhelmed or overmatched.

“I really wanted to see if it was any different, if the intensity picked up or anything. But it’s pretty much the same, games just matter more,” he said.

Rivers made a point of saying how much he appreciated Crawford’s self control in his NBA playoff debut.

“I thought he was good. He stayed in his lane, let’s put it that way,” Rivers said. “He didn’t go outside of it. And usually guys in their first game, young guys do one or the other. They don’t do anything, and I thought he did far better than that. Or they try to do too much. I thought he was pretty much under control, emotionally.”

Maybe, as it turned out, too much.

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J.R. Smith wins NBA ‘Sixth Man’ award, Jordan Crawford gets a first-place vote, finishes seventh at 2:31 pm ET
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J.R. Smith (8) was a step ahead of Jordan Crawford (27) and the Celtics on March 26. (AP)

J.R. Smith (8) was a step ahead of Jordan Crawford (27) and the Celtics on March 26. (AP)

NEW YORK — The Celtics got an up-close and personal look at just how dangerous J.R. Smith can be off the New York bench on March 26.

He scored 32 points and powered the Knicks to a 100-85 win, a victory that was part of New York’s 13-game winning streak at the end of the season that propelled them toward the Atlantic Division title.

On Monday, Smith was honored as the 2012-13 Kia NBA Sixth Man Award as the league’s best player in a reserve role. Smith, who came off the bench in all 80 games in which he appeared, led all reserves in scoring, averaging 18.1 points. Additionally, Smith added 5.3 rebounds per game, 2.7 assits and 1.3 steals in 33.5 minutes per game to a Knicks squad that went 54-28 and earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Smith received 484 of a possible 1,084 points, including 72 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers finished second with 352 points (31 first-place votes). Jarrett Jack of the Golden State Warriors finished third with 170 points (14 first-place votes).

Boston’s Jordan Crawford received a first-place vote and finished seventh.

In order to be eligible for this award, players had to have come off the bench in more games than they started. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

Smith, who led reserves in 30-point (seven) and 20-point games (29), became the first player with four 30-point games off bench in same month (March) since Ricky Pierce had four in November of 1990. He earned Player of the Week honors for games played March 25-31, leading the Knicks to a 4-0 record with averages of 29.8 points (second in the league), 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals. In Smith’s 80 games, the Knicks enjoyed a +5.3 score differential with him on the court compared with +1.9 when he was on the bench. Read the rest of this entry »

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