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Twelve minutes to make it count 02.08.09 at 5:40 pm ET
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Ray Allen knew what to expect days before playing the San Antonio Spurs.

‘€œIt comes down to a fourth-quarter battle,’€ he said on Friday. ‘€œThey’re not going to come in and make small mistakes. They’re going to operate their offense. Defensively they’re going to know what they’ve got to do.’€

Allen was exactly right. On Sunday, the Celtics entered the fourth quarter with a two-point lead and were outscored 31-23 by the Spurs. They lost 105-99 (RECAP HERE). It was the second time in two games the defending champs fell in the final 12 minutes. Last week they started the fourth quarter up by four on the Los Angeles Lakers before losing 110-109 in overtime.

‘€œWhen you play the top teams in the league it comes down to the little things,’€ said Paul Pierce. ‘€œAnd I just thought last couple of games at home it was one or two-point games. It’€™s the little things — defensive transition late in the game, covering for one another, one possession. It’s like the playoffs, one play can kill you. Every possession counts and we got to understand that when we play against the top tier teams like the San Antonio Spurs and the Lakers.’€

The Celtics have hit cold streaks in their last two losses. Up six with eight minutes to go against the Lakers, the C’s failed to build on their lead. The Lakers went on an 11-5 run during a five minute stretch to tie it up, eventually winning in OT.

On Sunday the Celtics allowed an 11-4 Spurs run in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. Later in the game they watched a 93-90 lead slip away to a 101-93 deficit.

‘€œYou’ve got to get stops, everybody’s got to be on the same page,’€ said Kendrick Perkins. ‘€œBesides getting stops, on the offense you’ve got to execute, you’ve got to throw the extra pass when guys are open. Usually a team like San Antonio, you can’€™t beat them with the dribble. You’ve got to beat them with the pass. You can’€™t turn the ball over at all against San Antonio. So I just thought in stretches we played together and stretches we didn’€™t move the ball and that was the key.’€

The Celtics have allowed a total of 215 points in their last two games at home. It is an overwhelming difference for a team who has held their opponents to just 92 points per game over the season. Nonetheless, head coach Doc Rivers was able to see a silver lining in the losses.

‘€œWell it tells me that we’€™re really good, because we’€™ve not played with our A-game, as Tiger Woods would say, I guess,’€ he said. ‘€œAnd we still had a chance to win both. Both games we had the lead and gave it up. Gave up points, which is not like us. In a sick way I guess I’€™d rather be down and not be able to score than up and give up baskets, because we’€™re a defensive team. But we clearly have to improve. Our bench has to be more consistent. They gave up an 8-1 run to start the fourth. You know, that hurts you. It’€™s tough to recover from that.’€

The Celtics will have two days to regroup before facing the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday. They are aware of their mistakes; now it is a matter of fixing them.

‘€œIn general, you can’t turn the ball over,’€ Allen said. ‘€œYou have to execute on both ends down the floor in the fourth quarter.’€

The Celtics know what to expect down the stretch. Lucky for them, there’s another 12 minutes to prove they can take care of business.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, LA Lakers
Sounds of the game… Celtics 109, Timberwolves 101 02.01.09 at 6:27 pm ET
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Who needs All-Star Kevin Garnett?

Not the Celtics on Super Sunday. When news of Garnett’s flu spread before the game, Paul Pierce knew it was time to step up his game, offensively. In his last three games against Dallas, Sacramento and Detroit, he has posted games of eight, eight and 20 points. Not exactly the stuff that All-Star reserves are made of.

But obviously, when Kevin Garnett, Eddie House and Rajon Rondo are picking up their fair share and more and blowing out the competition in the first half, Pierce has not needed to be THE guy.

But on Sunday, against old friends Al Jefferson (34 points), Ryan Gomes and a vastly improved Sebastian Telfair, he was THE guy, scoring a game-high 36 points from all different angles, including a clinching fadeaway with 2:24 remaining to put the pesky Timberwolves away and clinch Boston’s 11th straight win, improving the Green to 40-9.

Doc Rivers said Pierce had little choice BUT to pick up the slack for Kevin Garnett.

Rivers said the T’Wolves will be good soon.

Paul Pierce on picking up the scoring slack.

Pierce said he enjoyed watching Big Al, Gomes and Telfair return to Boston.

Al Jefferson said Minnesota killed itself early with turnovers.

Jefferson said the T’Wolves had their shot without KG in the lineup.

Minnesota coach Kevin McHale said his team was alseep in the first half.

McHale said the T’Wolves had some big boo-boos on defense.

Read More: Al Jefferson, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin McHale
A Big All-Star Push 01.23.09 at 9:47 am ET
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When is there a possibility that 22 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game not good enough for an All-Star selection? When you play on the 13-27 Minnesota Timberwolves.

“Big Al” Jefferson has been quietly running up the leaderboards since being traded from the Boston Celtics in July of 2007. His performance, which includes 22 double-doubles, went relatively unnoticed in fan voting. So the T’€™Wolves are doing everything they can to make sure Jefferson receives the recognition he deserves in spite of their losing record.

The organization has less than a week to win the votes of the Western Conference coaches who will vote on All-Star reserves. They have developed a marketing campaign ‘€“ ‘€œBig Al’s Road Trip: Navigating his way to Phoenix’€ ‘€“ and mailed each coach a Sony GPS device. The devices have been named the ‘€œDouble-Double Machine’€ and play a highlight video set to Lupe Fiasco’€™s ‘€œSuperstar.’€

“It would mean a lot,” Jefferson told the media. “Just growing up, before I even knew I was going to be an NBA player, just watching the All-Star games on TV you always wanted to be there as a kid. Me having that chance to make it, it would mean a lot to me. It’s something I could talk about for the rest of my life.”

All-Star reserves will be revealed next Thursday, January 29. Celtics Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Kendrick Perkins are also on the Eastern Conference ballot. Kevin Garnett was named as a starting forward for the East.

Read More: Al Jefferson, Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett
Sounds of the game… Celtics 104, Suns 87 01.20.09 at 1:48 am ET
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For the Celtics, Monday night was an embarrassment of riches. For the Phoenix Suns, it was just an embarrassment.

Rajon Rondo had perennial All-World point guard Steve Nash for lunch, scoring 23 points while dishing out seven assists and grabbing five rebounds in three quarters. Nash was held to 12 points and eight meaningless assists.

Kevin Garnett and Brian Scalabrine feasted on Shaq Diesel, who couldn’t believe his teammates didn’t bother showing up.

The Celtics forced 15 first half turnovers, matching the same number of field goals the Suns managed in the same 24 minutes.

Maybe the Celtics were inspired by the fact that they will be traveling to Washington early Tuesday for the historical inauguration of Barack Obama. Whatever the reason, the Celtics made the Suns look like the Arizona Cardinals when they visited Foxboro in December.

But, as the Cardinals showed, regular season games sometimes don’t mean much, just don’t tell Shaq that.

Shaquille O’Neal had no excuses for his teammates’ performance.

O’Neal said it was an old-fashioned butt-whoopin.

Steve Nash said the Celtics put on a clinic.

Doc Rivers was proud that his team is so excited to see the Presidential Inauguration.

Rivers said the team defense was the key to the win.

Kevin Garnett said the team did a great job on Shaq Diesel.

Paul Pierce said Garnett and Brian Scalabrine were huge in containing O’Neal.

Rondo on being better than Steve Nash for one night.

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo
Sounds of the game… Celtics 118, Nets 86 01.15.09 at 10:37 am ET
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When the Celtics were in the midst of a slump that had them losing seven of nine, captain Paul Pierce said they needed to get their swagger back, especially on defense.

Well they can thank the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets for helping them to regain some of the confidence that was on display when they opened the season 27-2.

Pierce hit all five of his three-pointers in the third quarter as the Celtics romped to their thrid straight win. This looked more like the romps that were common place in the first two months of the season. The defense forced 20 turnovers and even without Kendrick Perkins, the Green dominated the glass. And on the offensive side, Rajon Rondo, when he wasn’t throwing in half-hooks, dished out 12 assists helping the Celtics ease to their 32nd win, by 32 points.

Doc Rivers said the team’s rhythm isn’t back but it’s getting there.

Paul Pierce feels the team’s confidence is coming back slowly but surely.

Pierce on his five three-pointers in the third quarter.

Rajon Rondo said the team is playing better after their 2-7 dip.

Rondo said he can sense the team is starting to play better together.

Eddie House said the Celtics are getting back to where they were early in season.

Bill Walker said his improved defense will keep him up with the Celtics.

Nets coach Lawrence Frank said the Celtics just kicked the Nets good.

Next up for the Celtics, after a day off on Thursday and practice on Friday, a rematch with the Nets in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, eddie house, Lawrence Frank
Sounds of the game… Celtics 115, Raptors 109 OT 01.13.09 at 6:42 am ET
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Maybe Kevin Garnett is right. Maybe the Celtics should play the theme from Superman every time Paul Pierce steps on the court. On a bum right knee, or at least very ‘ginger’ as Pierce himself said, the Celtics captain made 13 of his 26 shots and totaled a season-high 39 points to lead the Celtics to a 115-109 overtime win against the Toronto Raptors Monday night at TD Banknorth Garden. With the Celtics already missing starting center Kendrick Perkins with a bad left shoulder and Tony Allen in a protective boot with a sprained right ankle, Pierce picked it up a notch for the entire game, even when Andrea Bargnani hit a three with one second remaining. Pierce did have a supporting cast, as Kevin Garnett scored 20, Ray Allen 12 and Brian Scalabrine, playing for Perkins, chipped in with 11, including three three-pointers.

Paul Pierce said he can play through the injury.

Pierce and Garnett together talk about Pierce’s secret weapon on dealing with the pain.

Garnett has an idea for those running the music at the Garden.

Head coach Doc Rivers said Pierce has a way of playing through the pain.

Rivers said Scalabrine has a way of getting the job done.

Scalabrine said this was just a good win.

Doc Rivers describes what Kendrick Perkins is going through.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brian Scalabrine, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
Sounds of the game… Rockets 89, Celtics 85 01.08.09 at 8:14 am ET
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You can sense the concern growing each and every day. What was a juggernaut headed for 70+ wins two weeks ago is now a team that has lost three straight, six of eight and in second place, IN ITS OWN CONFERENCE. Talk about a change of direction. The Celtics haven’t hit a bump in the road, they’ve hit a Boston-sized pothole that has messed up their alignment and they desperately need a trip to the garage to get it fixed. Problem is their next pit stop is against the Cavaliers, the team ahead of them in the East, in Cleveland Friday night where they haven’t lost at home this season in 18 games. Wednesday night, someone named Von Wafer drilled a three with 44 seconds remaining and the Celtics couldn’t overcome Yao Ming’s 26 points as Houston handed the Green their sixth loss in eight games since Christmas.

Head coach Doc Rivers is philosophical about the losing ways of late.

Rivers thinks the defense at the end of games is what needs to improve.

Paul Pierce says the team needs to get back to trusting each other again.

Pierce says this is where Ubuntu comes in handy.

Kevin Garnett says the team needs some good practice time together.

Ron Artest says last year’s Celtics taught the Rockets a good lesson.

Ray Allen says the Celtics need to be tougher against hungry teams.

Allen isn’t worried about facing Cleveland on Friday night.

Glen Davis said the Celtics will be ready for the Cavs on Friday.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cavaliers, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
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