|Inside job: Nikola Pekovic, Dante Cunningham dominate as T’Wolves finally beat Celtics||04.01.13 at 10:21 pm ET|
Another road game. Another undermanned Celtics team. And another road loss.
The Celtics, playing without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, were overpowered by Nikola Pekovic, Dante Cunningham and the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 110-100 loss at the Target Center Monday night. Pekovic took advantage of an undersized front court with a game-high 29 points while Cunningham added 19 points and five rebounds off the bench for Minnesota, which beat Boston for the first time in 12 meeting dating back to the pre-Garnett era in Boston.
The defenseless Celtics (38-36) fell for the second straight night and dropped their seventh in nine games. With Milwaukee beating Charlotte, the seventh-place Celtics are just 1.5 games ahead of the Bucks (one game in loss column) for eight-place. If Boston, which has eight games left, finishes eighth, they will face Miami in the first round.
What Monday’s game lacked in star power it made up for in offense from unexpected places.
The Celtics were without Garnett (left foot) and Pierce (personal reasons) while the Timberwolves were still without U.S. Olympic champion Kevin Love (broken hand).
The Timberwolves (27-46) turned to Pekovic and he responded with a huge opening quarter. The 27-year-old native of Montenegro scored 15 points as Minnesota dominated the paint and took a 27-25 lead after 12 minutes.
Since acquiring Garnett – the most accomplished player in Timberwolves history – after the 2006-07 season, the Celtics were 10-0 against Minnesota. Overall, the Celtics had won 11 straight against Minnesota dating back to Boston’s last loss, 109-107, on Feb. 11, 2007 in Minnesota.
Adding to Boston’s misery on the inside, big men Shav Randolph and Chris Wilcox each picked up three personal fouls. Courtney Lee’s three with 3:15 left in the second quarter tied the game, 45-45. But the Timberwolves came back with the next four points before Avery Bradley connected on a jumper as the game kept a quick tempo leading up to halftime. Bradley’s hit 6-of-8 in the first half and single-handedly kept Boston within range with 15 first half points. Bradley led the Celtics with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
Boston was manhandled in the paint in the first half. Pekovic scored 21 points in the first half, part of an effort that had Minnesota outscoring getting outscored 34-18 and allowing Minnesota to grab a 57-52 halftime lead.
The Timberwolves went on a 10-4 run midway thought the third to open their biggest lead, 80-66, before Jason Terry responded with a long two-point jumper. Terrence Williams followed that up with a baseline three to cut Minnesota’s lead down to nine, 80-71, with just over three minutes left in the third.
Randolph picked up his fifth foul seconds later but stayed in the game to give the Celtics some size in the paint. As the Celtics were making a run late in the third quarter, Jeff Green came up limping, holding his left hip. Green, who played the entire first half and the first six minutes of the third quarter before finally coming out for a breather, took a knee from Pekovic to the left thigh/hip area. Green stayed in the game and was part of a 12-4 run that cut Minnesota’s lead to six, 84-78, heading into the fourth. Green finished with just 10 points in 38 minutes.
With the Celtics defense forcing a near turnover, Derrick Williams hit a three to open the fourth quarter and push Minnesota’s lead back to nine.
Lee came in for Green with just over 10 minutes left as Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte tended to Green’s left hip. The T-Wolves went on a 7-0 run midway through the fourth that was capped by an Alexey Shved three with 7:45 left to put Minnesota up, 96-82. The Celtics could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.
The Celtics are off Tuesday before hosting the Pistons on Wednesday night at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Paul Pierce (personal reasons) out against Timberwolves||at 8:06 pm ET|
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.
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.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Easter bummer: Hot-shooting Knicks overcome Jeff Green and Paul Pierce, beat Celtics||03.31.13 at 10:03 pm ET|
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.
|The Celtics love them some Shavlik Randolph||03.30.13 at 2:12 am ET|
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.”
|Doc Rivers on Rajon Rondo: ‘They say he’s doing tremendous’||03.29.13 at 11:39 pm ET|
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.
|Fast Break: Shavlik Randolph, Celtics shoot down Hawks||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.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Why Celtics Will Be Better Than Expected in 2014-15
- Should Celtics Fans Buy or Sell Rondo's Hot Start?
- Lessons Learned from Celtics so Far
- Why Green Will Finally Succeed in Boston
- C's Big Offense Showing a Sign of Things to Come?
- Green's Transition to PF Could Reshape NBA Career Arc
- Could Rondo's Play Increase the Chances He's Dealt?