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Paul Pierce (personal reasons) out against Timberwolves 04.01.13 at 8:06 pm ET
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Paul Pierce missed just his second game of the season Monday night for personal reasons. (AP)

Paul Pierce missed just his second game of the season Monday night for personal reasons. (AP)

Paul Pierce will not play Monday night against the Timberwolves in Minnesota due to personal reasons. Pierce was not with the team as they prepared for their second game in as many nights on a trip through New York and Minnesota.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made the announcement prior to Boston’s game at the Target Center.

Pierce was spotted with an ice wrap on his right foot in the closing moments of Sunday night’s loss at Madison Square Garden. But Rivers told reporters before the game that his foot had nothing to do with the absence and that Pierce would return to the lineup on Wednesday against the Pistons at TD Garden.

Monday marks just the second game Pierce has missed this season in 74 contests. He leads the Celtics in scoring at 18.8 points per game in 72 games.

Courtney Lee took Pierce’s place in the lineup, giving the Celtics a starting lineup of Lee, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox.

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

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Easter bummer: Hot-shooting Knicks overcome Jeff Green and Paul Pierce, beat Celtics 03.31.13 at 10:03 pm ET
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Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks overpowered the Celtics all night. (AP)

Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks overpowered the Celtics all night. (AP)

Jeff Green and Paul Pierce were not enough to overcome a 3-point barrage as the Knicks blew out the Celtics, 108-89, Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Pierce had 24 points and 15 rebounds while Green led the Celtics with 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field as the Celtics (38-35) had their modest two-game winning streak snapped. Carmelo Anthony scored 24 points to lead the Knicks, who won their eighth straight to improve to 46-26. Big man Chris Copeland came off the Knicks bench to score 22 points, as New York won the season series, 3-1.

While Pierce and Green were highly productive, Boston’s three other starters, Avery Bradley, Chris Wilcox and Brandon Bass could only manage two points apiece and combined to shoot 3-for-11 from the floor.

The loss all but assured the Celtics of seeing their five-year reign atop of the Atlantic Division come to an end. Boston is 8.5 games behind the Knicks but more importantly, now 2.5 games behind the sixth-place Hawks in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are now just 2.5 games ahead of eighth-place Milwaukee, two games in the loss column.

The Knicks raced out to a halftime lead of 65-48 thanks to a scorching performance from beyond the 3-point circle. The Knicks made 11-of-16 attempts from 3-point range as the Celtics allowed a season-high in first-half points. New York finished 14-of-27 from long range while the Celtics were just 7-of-25 from 3-point range.

Anthony had 18 of his 24 points in the first half to lead New York.

The Celtics were within 11, 55-44, when the Knicks closed out the first half on a 10-4 run. Boston closed to within 11 again midway through the third but the Knicks again closed with a big run, 11-4, to head into the fourth quarter with a comfortable 86-69 lead.

Avery Bradley continues to struggle, finishing with just two points in 24 minutes on 1-of-5 shooting with one rebound and one assist before fouling out in the final two minutes.

Pierce did not play in the fourth quarter as the Knicks built their lead up to as many as 21. Pierce was spotted with an ice pack on his right foot for the entire quarter. The Celtics said it was simply a precaution and that there is no serious injury involved.

The Celtics left immediately after the game for a game Monday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. Boston returns home for a Wednesday night game against Detroit, a game that kicks off a four-game homestand at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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The Celtics love them some Shavlik Randolph 03.30.13 at 2:12 am ET
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When security opened the Celtics locker room after Friday’s 118-107 win over the Hawks, reporters rushed to Shavlik Randolph‘s locker, but the PR staff announced he had already left. The Duke product generally makes postgame small talk for a bit with anybody willing to listen, so his absence came as a surprise to some.

For the C’s, though, it should be refreshing. On the best night of his NBA career, Randolph ducked the media scrum, dodged questions that would have made his China-to-Boston journey the headline in Saturday’s papers and generally just avoided becoming the focus on a night when veteran teammates Paul Pierce (20-10-10 triple-double), Jeff Green (game-high 27 points) and Jason Terry (24 points on 10 shots) all performed better.

In other words, Randolph knows his role. That or he wanted to watch his alma mater’s Sweet 16 date with Michigan St. Either way, his new teammates welcomed the opportunity to heap praise upon the journeyman.

“He understands who he is,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, “and he does it.”

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Doc Rivers on Rajon Rondo: ‘They say he’s doing tremendous’ 03.29.13 at 11:39 pm ET
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The Celtics got an added boost on their bench for Friday’s showdown with the Hawks.

Rajon Rondo made his first appearance on the sidelines with the team since having season-ending ACL surgery on his right knee.

“It was nice. It was nice,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He told us today he was coming in, and it was good to have him back around. He’s moving okay. You know, it’s funny, I’m looking at it knowing he’s nowhere near, but that’s the first thing you look at. Having gone through that experience, we sat and talked about a lot of the stuff you have to go through. So, it brought back these horrendous memories, actually. But he’s, from his doctors, they say he’s doing tremendous.”

Rivers was asked to describe Rondo’s spirits while on the sidelines.

“Oh, I don’t know, I have no idea,” Rivers said. “I mean, I don’t care who you are, especially if you’re on a team sport I think these types of injuries are very lonely. Very hard, because rehab is all by yourself with some stranger. And you’re away from your team. Just brutal rehab. That’s what it is. He’s been in – wherever, Jacksonville, wherever, Florida, Pensacola – and that’s tough. His family has been going back and forth. But he’s made the commitment and he’s been great.”

Asked if Rondo tried to exert himself in the huddle, Rivers laughed, “No, no, no. I told him to be nice. And he was.”

The players were the most affected – and inspired – by Rondo’s presence.

“Definitely,” Paul Pierce said. “It’s good to get him around the guys, to see some of his new teammates. Who knows – a lot of these guys might be here for him next year. It’s good for him to get acquainted with them. He’s done his surgery, he seems to be in good spirits, so its good to see him.”

“It was fun. It was good to see him. He’s got a little fro now,” Jeff Green laughed. “It was good to Rondo, glad he’s doing well. Wish he were on the court but I think it was a big emotional boost for us to have him on the bench with us.”

How big of a boost was it to the players?

“It’s big,” Green said. “I think a lot of people counted us out when he went down, when Sully [Jared Sullinger] went down, too. But we’ve been coming together, doing our part, playing hard. We’ve been talking and he’s been seeing things from a different point of view.

“Definitely, most definitely,” Green added. “He sees us playing hard and that’s all you can do.”

Since Rondo had his ACL repaired on February 12, the Celtics have added several new players, including Shav Randolph, DJ Williams, Jordan Crawford (at the trade deadline) and Terrence Williams.

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Fast Break: Shavlik Randolph, Celtics shoot down Hawks at 9:59 pm ET
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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.

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Three for all: Jeff Green, Jason Terry and Shav Randolph lead C’s to key win over Hawks at 9:49 pm ET
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Paul PIerce (34) and the Celtics had Jeff Teague (0) and the Hawks under close watch all night. (AP)

Paul PIerce (34) and the Celtics had Jeff Teague (0) and the Hawks under close watch all night. (AP)

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.

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Doc Rivers: ‘I’m not happy that [Kenyon Martin] went to the Knicks’ 03.25.13 at 3:55 pm ET
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Kenyon Martin has been a force for the Knicks since joining them earlier this month. (AP)

Kenyon Martin has been a force for the Knicks since joining them earlier this month. (AP)

There are – no doubt – Celtics fans wondering the following: How good would Kenyon Martin look playing alongside Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce right about now?

But that didn’t happen, and to make matters worse, Martin is playing for a team that is threatening to run away from the Celtics in the Atlantic Division after Boston’s four-game losing streak has dropped them 6.5 games behind the Knicks entering Tuesday’s showdown at the Garden.

Doc Rivers acknowledged before Monday’s practice that Martin was on the Celtics’ radar but it never worked out. One reason, according to Rivers, it didn’t work out was the area of immediate need didn’t match. The Celtics had just lost Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa to season-ending injuries. The Celtics were looking to build depth in the back-court.

“I don’t know,” Rivers said when asked why Martin didn’t wind up with the Celtics. “We looked at all the guys, we were still looking at guards at the time. So we were in no hurry at the time for a big. We were looking for more a big of size, if you know what I mean. And by the time we got around to it, he was gone.”

With injuries to Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks were more desperate and willing to take a chance on Martin. It’s worked out quite well for New York. Martin is averaging 8.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 23.1 minutes per game, starting six of the 11 games.

“I think Kenyon’s been great,” Rivers said of the former All-American out of Cincinnati. “He’s been absolutely fantastic. I’m happy for Kenyon. I’m not happy that he went to the Knicks, but I am happy for him. Because he was out there and we looked at him — a lot of [teams] looked at him — and, in the end, I didn’t care where he ended up, I just wanted him to do well. I don’t know him well, but we’ve always had a very good relationship. Guys like that, you want them to do well. For me, it’s as simple as that.”

With or without Martin, the Celtics have always seemed to be primed and ready for New York. Before splitting the previous six regular season meetings over the past two seasons, the Celtics owned the Knicks. Boston swept the four games in 2010-11 and won three of four in 2009-10. And of course, they swept the Knicks in the 2011 playoffs.

“It’s New York, our guys get up for them,” Rivers said. “I think they get up for us. Up until this year and last year, we had an advantage. We had the advantage and our guys were up, that usually meant good things for us. Now it’s pretty even, but both teams get up each other. It’s a fun matchup. I preferred it better in the past, but it’s good now. I like games when guys are up for each other, I think they are a lot of fun.”

If the Celtics don’t sweep the next two games with New York in the next six days, there’s virtually no chance of Boston catching New York in the division. It will be the first time in the Pierce-Garnett-Rondo era that the Celtics haven’t won the division. But to Paul Pierce, he knows full well they could still play New York in the playoffs if the Knicks finished with the No. 3 seed and the Celtics finish sixth in the East.

“Well, definitely being that this is a team you may face in the playoffs, you get a chance to beat them a couple more times, it really takes away a team’s confidence going into the playoffs,” Pierce said. “So that’s got to be a little extra motivation. They’ve been playing well all year long, they’ve been on top of the Atlantic Division. But right now it’s about heading into the playoffs, picking up the pace. The Knicks are a team we might have to face, so we want to try to put a little bit of doubt in their minds if we can go out here and get a couple of wins verse them going into the season’s end.”

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