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No show: Doc Rivers gives Paul Pierce night off as C’s don’t show against Bobcats 03.12.13 at 9:22 pm ET
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The Bobcats collapsed on Kevin Garnett and made life miserable on the Celtics all night. (AP)

The Bobcats collapsed on Kevin Garnett and made life miserable on the Celtics all night. (AP)

Gerald Henderson scored a career-high 35 points and Josh McRoberts dominated with 13 points and 10 rebounds as the lowly Charlotte Bobcats ended a 10-game losing streak with a 100-74 laugher over the Celtics Monday night at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte.

Playing without captain Paul Pierce, given the night off by coach Doc Rivers, the Celtics came out and played one of their most uninspired games of the season. Jeff Green got the start for Pierce and led the Celtics with 14 points. Kevin Garnett had another ice-cold game, finishing just 2-for-10 from the field and finishing with five points. Garnett, who is 8-for-29 in losses to the Thunder and Bobcats, will head into Wednesday’s game needing just five points to pass Jerry West for 15th place on the NBA all-time scoring list.

Similar to Garnett on Feb. 22 in Phoenix, Pierce – the team’s leading scorer – was given the night off after playing in Boston’s previous 62 games. Pierce, who has been battling a nerve problem in his neck, has also been averaging over six assists a game in the absence of Rajon Rondo.

Nowhere was the lack of effort more obvious than on the glass, where the Celtics were outrebounded by the Bobcats, 48-29.

The Bobcats (14-50) entered the game with a 10-game losing streak, including seven straight by an average score of 14 points. They also ended the Celtics’ seven-game win streak on Feb. 11, making Boston one of just four teams to lose to the Bobcats twice this season. The Celtics will have their chance at revenge on Saturday night when they host Charlotte at TD Garden.

Henderson scored at will in the first half, as the son of the former Celtics guard scored 21 points and the Bobcats built a 49-46 lead. Henderson hit a jumper at the halftime buzzer to give Charlotte the three-point advantage.

The Celtics came out sluggishly in the third quarter and allowed Charlotte to open the second half on a 12-3 run. Garnett continued to be ice cold from the field, carrying over his performance from Sunday when he was 6-for-19 against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

Down 20, 83-63, Rivers pulled the plug on Garnett with 10 minutes left. Shav Randolph and DJ White saw their first action in a Celtics uniform. The Celtics had a season-worst 27 field goals and scored just 28 points in the second half. Boston (34-29) was embarrassed 51-28 in the second half in losing their second straight game.

The Celtics return home to take on the Raptors on Wednesday night at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Gerald Henderson, NBA
Josh Smith: Celtics trade ‘was a possibility’ 03.09.13 at 1:27 am ET
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Josh Smith was in Boston, so naturally it was time to ask Josh Smith about the latest Josh Smith to the Celtics trade rumors. It’s like an annual rite of passage for the Hawks forward whose contract expires at season’s end.

Leading up to the Feb. 21 trade deadline, this season’s rumors had either Celtics captain Paul Pierce or a package of Jeff Green and Brandon Bass headed to Atlanta in exchange for Smith’s services. Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that the C’s, Hawks and Mavericks nearly pulled the trigger on a three-team deal that would have brought Smith to Boston for Pierce and a first-round pick.

Of course, Smith also almost landed on the Nets and Bucks, among other places.

“It was a possibility of me going a lot of places,” Smith said after his near triple-double (32 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds) in Boston, “but I’m here and I’m focusing on what’s at stake right now. I’m trying to get a little higher playoff position, so I am not worried about anything else but winning games for this organization and this team.”

Generally, the logic goes something like this: Smith and Rajon Rondo were amazingly entertaining high school teammates, and they’re still best friends, so the C’s are a natural fit for a guy the Hawks probably won’t re-sign.

“That’s my friend, so we talk almost every day,” Smith said of the injured Celtics point guard. “We don’t talk about surgery. We just talk about friendship stuff, off-the-court stuff. That’s the least of both of our concerns. It’s a far-fetched injury, so right now we’re just focusing on staying positive.”

(Aside: Somehow I doubt his ACL tear is the least of Rondo’s concerns, and I can assure you it’s not far-fetched.)

Perhaps they discuss the C’s surprising 14-4 record sans Rondo, including Friday’s overtime win over his Hawks?

“They’re a successful basketball team, and they know how to win,” said Smith. “They have a lot of professionals on that team. They have some players that have won championship rings on their team, so I’m not surprised.”

What about those pesky trade rumors? Surely, Smith and Rondo discuss those in their daily phone conversations.

“We don’t talk about that,” finished Smith. “We don’t talk about that.”

OK, then. Nothing to see here. Move along. Until the next time Smith rolls into Boston, I’m sure.

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Josh Smith, NBA
Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics ground Hawks in overtime 03.08.13 at 10:50 pm ET
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The over-35 crew of Paul Pierce (27 points), Jason Terry (19) and Kevin Garnett (17) combined for 63 points, 19 rebounds and 14 assists, leading the Celtics to their fifth straight win — 107-102 over the Hawks in overtime — and helped the C’s keep pace with the Bulls in the Eastern Conference seeding race.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Piercing hot: In the first quarter, Pierce made his first four buckets, including two 3-pointers, to finish with 12 points in the opening 12 minutes. Of course, he missed his easiest shot of the frame — a layup as time expired — but his shooting set the tone for the C’s 28-point quarter. Garnett and Avery Bradley also started a combined 4-of-6.

And more Pierce: The captain dropped back-to-back 18-foot jumpers late in the fourth quarter to keep pace with a furious Atlanta comeback. In overtime, he drained a 27-footer with a hand in his face to regain the lead with 1:37 remaining. And he assisted on Terry’s 3 that gave the C’s a 105-102 lead a minute later. Basically, he did it all.

Board to death: The Hawks started big against the Celtics with Josh Smith, Al Horford and Johan Petro in the frontcourt. While Horford and Smith combined for 20 points, 9 rebounds and six assists in the first half, the Celtics owned a 19-16 rebounding edge, didn’t allow a single second-chance point and took a 52-47 lead into halftime. That margin got flipped on its heels in the second half, when the Hawks made their comeback, and the Hawks star tandem totaled 54 points, 21 boards and 14 assists to give Atlanta a 41-35 rebounding edge.

KG being KG: Regardless of which lineup Celtics coach Doc Rivers pieced around Garnett, the C’s center made the most of his 35 minutes. He started 7-of-11 from the field — including a 3 in a second straight game that even got him excited — to go along with his eight boards and two dimes. When the Hawks cut the lead to two starting the fourth quarter, Garnett seemingly had a hand in every play, including a beautiful assist to a cutting Courtney Lee and a driving baby hook over Horford that pushed the lead back to 12.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, Paul Pierce
Front-running: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett lead the way as C’s hold on against Hawks at 10:47 pm ET
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Paul Pierce and the Celtics had a step up on Josh Smith and the Hawks for most of the night. (AP)

Paul Pierce and the Celtics had a step up on Josh Smith and the Hawks for most of the night. (AP)

Jason Terry connected on a straightaway 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in overtime to lead the Celtics to a thrilling 107-102 win over the Hawks Friday night at an electrified TD Garden. The game marked a franchise-record 11th overtime game for the Celtics this season, with Boston going 7-4 in those contests.

More importantly, it extended Boston’s home-court winning streak to nine games and improved them to a season-best seven games over .500 at 34-27. They tied Atlanta (34-27) in the East. The Hawks entered the night as the No. 5 seed in the East.

Paul Pierce had 27 points while Kevin Garnett added 17 points to lead the Celtics, who won their ninth straight at home. Terry had 19 points to lead the Boston bench while Jeff Green added 12.

The Hawks, who burned the Celtics with 12 3-pointers in their double-overtime win in Atlanta on Jan. 25, came out blazing again Friday night. Devin Harris, Jeff Teague and Josh Smith connected from long range to account for Atlanta’s first three field goals on the night.

Smith finished with a game-high 32 points while Al Horford had 22 points and 13 rebounds. The Hawks finished the night 9-of-27 from long range.

The Celtics built a 10-point lead in the second quarter, 41-31, as the Celtics rode the hot shooting of Pierce and Jason Terry. Pierce was 5-for-7 from the field in the first half, including a pair of threes in the first quarter while Terry scored all 10 of his first-half points in the second quarter. Terry finished with 14 off the bench.

But the Hawks made a 13-2 run to take a very brief 44-43 lead on an Anthony Tolliver 3-pointer. The Celtics responded by finishing the half on an 8-4 run to take a 52-47 lead to the locker room.

After the Hawks closed to within seven, 86-79, Jeff Green, who was slowed by the Hawks for the first three quarters, threw down a spectacular reverse dunk with 5:14 left to put Boston up, 88-79.

But the Hawks weren’t done. Jeff Teague converted a three-point play when he was fouled on a layup and hit the free throw to help Atlanta close to within five, 90-85, with just over three minutes left. Smith then hit a layup with 2:54 left as the Hawks cut the Boston lead down to three, 90-87.

Pierce hit an 18-foot fadeaway jumper with 2:26 left to restore the lead to five before Smith came back to answer, making it 92-89 Celtics. After a Garnett missed jumper, Kyle Korver hit a three with 1:31 left to tie the game, 92-92. Pierce hit another fadeaway from 18 feet to put the Celtics up but Al Horford got free for a game-tying dunk with 55.2 seconds left.

The Hawks had a chance to take the lead with 31 seconds left but Smith committed a turnover with a bad pass and Garnett came up with the steal with 25 seconds left. Pierce ran an iso play at the top of the key before dishing to Garnett with five seconds left in regulation. Garnett missed his jumper, giving the Hawks a chance with 2.2 seconds left. Harris inbounded for the Hawks to Smith, who missed an open look over Brandon Bass.

The Hawks scored the first four points of overtime before the Celtics responded. Green’s baseline three hit the front of the rim, bounced straight up in the air and rattled home with 2:34 left in overtime, putting Boston back up, 99-98. With the shot clock about to expire, Smith drained a three with 2:14 left to put Atlanta back up, 101-99. Pierce connected for a three with 1:37 left to put the Celtics back up, 102-101. Smith connected on 1-of-2 free throws with 1:20 left to tie the game, 102-102.

Terry drilled a straightaway three with 35 seconds left to put the Celtics up, 105-102. The Celtics are off Saturday before taking on Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET

For complete coverage from the Garden from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Jason Terry, Jeff Green
The true brilliance of Doc Rivers: ‘It’s great when you win on execution’ 03.06.13 at 11:09 pm ET
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The Celtics are coming together as a true team under Doc Rivers. (AP)

The Celtics are coming together as a true team under Doc Rivers. (AP)

Everyone is going to point to the back-pick play drawn up by Doc Rivers, with a huge assist to offensive coach Armond Hill, as the latest example of what makes Rivers one of the truly best coaches in the NBA.

And they should.

But his real brilliance comes in how he’s prepared Jeff Green for the game-winning moment all season. Kevin Garnett fired a bullet pass to Green under the basket after Paul Pierce set Green free on a perfect back-pick. Green makes the adjustment under the basket, puts the game-winner off glass for an 83-81 road win over the second-seeded Pacers.

“It was executed great,” Rivers said. “We got it down to the last second. Either Kevin was going to try and hit Jeff or [hit Paul Pierce]. The whole play was [made] by Paul Pierce’s back pick. He was terrific. He set a nice back pick. They [Pacers] got a little mixed and then Jeff had to make a tough shot. They doubled Kevin so the pass was a little bit off-mark and Jeff had to adjust but it’s great when you win on execution.

“I told our players I had drawn up another play. Armond Hill walked over, and he rarely does it, and he says, ‘Listen, the play you drew up in the first half worked so let’s run it again.’ So I switched to the play that he wanted me to run and it was great. It worked out perfect.”

Funny thing, earlier in the season, Rivers probably would’ve gone with his first instincts for a pick-and-roll but decided to go with Hill’s recommendation.

“It was going to be a pick-and-roll, actually a pick-and-roll with Jeff and Kevin because we like that combination because Jeff is at the ‘4’ with his speed can always get a shot off,” Rivers said.

Green has been brought along at a pace all season that varied between breakneck and breakdown. Rivers struggled all season to find that comfort range for Green to excel so that he could put Green in the position he was Wednesday night on the road – a tired team that needed young legs to make up a 14-point deficit in the second half against a red-hot, No. 2 seed in the East.

Thursday night was not one of Green’s best games but it was one of his best moments. Eleven points in 34 minutes. He was just 5-of-14 from the field. Still, Rivers and Hill believed in Green enough to draw up the game-winning play to go to him. It was why Pierce was grinning ear-to-ear coming out of the timeout. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Indiana Pacers, Jeff Green
Perfectly played: C’s steal a huge road win over Pacers at 9:27 pm ET
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Jeff Green was the hero with 0.5 seconds left in the game, scoring the winning basket. (AP)

Jeff Green was the hero with 0.5 seconds left in the game, scoring the winning basket. (AP)

Jeff Green scored on a reverse lay-up on a bullet pass from Kevin Garnett with 0.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter to lift the Celtics to an unlikely 83-81 road win over the Pacers, Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The brilliant play was drawn up by head coach Doc Rivers and executed by a team that appears to be hitting its stride.

Rivers called for Green to get free on the baseline on a back-pick set by Pierce, with Garnett at the top of the key. That’s exactly how the play unfolded as Green got free underneath, caught the ball under the basket and turned his body just in time to hit the layup off the glass.

Garnett finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley finished with 13 points apiece for the Celtics, who won their fourth straight and improved to a season-best six games over .500 at 33-27. They also improved to 12-4 without Rajon Rondo.

With the Celtics playing their second road game in 24 hours, the Pacers were predictably the stronger team out of the blocks, shooting out to a 27-19 lead after one.

The Celtics got a layup from Pierce right before the halftime buzzer as Boston cut Indiana’s lead to seven, 49-42, at the break.

Garnett made history with a defensive rebound in the first minute of the third quarter. It was his sixth of the game and No. 13,370 of his career, passing Wes Unseld for 10th all time in NBA history.

The Pacers went to their inside game to build the lead to 14, 63-49, midway through the third but the Celtics finished the quarter on a 9-5 run to close to within 10, 68-58, heading into the fourth.

The Celtics pulled to within one, 73-72, on a Jason Terry three with just over six minutes left, capping a 20-7 run. The Pacers then responded with the next eight points to build a nine-point lead.

As great as the play execution was for the Celtics, Boston was the beneficiary of some highly questionable play-calling on the part of the Pacers. Leading by 14 points and with Roy Hibbert taking it to the Celtics inside, Pacers fell in love with the three-point shot, finishing a miserable 6-of-27 from long range.

The Pacers had all five starters in double figures, led by Paul George with 16 points. David West had 11 points and 16 rebounds while Hibbert finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

The Celtics are off Thursday before returning to action Friday at home against Atlanta at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett
Jeff Green: A hard fall ‘woke me up’ 03.02.13 at 10:00 am ET
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Jeff Green chose to use humor to deal with pain Friday night – specifically the pain of falling down on his left side hard midway through the third quarter.

Green fell to the floor with 6:13 left in the third quarter. He remained there on the court for several minutes while Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte tended to him.

“I fell. I didn’t hurt myself. I was tired so I wanted to lay there a little bit and catch my breath. It kind of woke me up a little bit, got my shot to start fall so I’m glad I fell.”

“He was fine,” Doc Rivers said. “He came back in and played great. I thought Jeff struggled tonight. And it was almost after he got down he came back in and played really well. I thought he kind of got it going. You know in his defense offensively, I thought our spacing was poor in the first half. Every time, there were no driving lanes for him, and we were small. And when you’re small, you should have a lot of driving lanes.”

After the fall, Green came back in with 2:22 left in the third, sporting a white protective sleeve on his left elbow and arm. He hit his next two shots and finished the game by hitting six of seven attempts, scoring 18 points on the night in Boston’s 94-86 win over the Warriors at TD Garden.

“He was awesome,” Paul Pierce said. “He really carried us that fourth quarter, took it upon himself to be aggressive. You know, he’s coming into his own, after a slow start, which you can expect. Its tough when you take a year off from basketball and try to get back in the game, but I think since January he’s just been phenomenal, very consistent doing what we ask on both ends of the court, and he’s getting better and better as time goes on.”

Asked if it would just be easier for Rivers to just hit him in the head to wake him up the next time, Green laughed, “I would like that to happen. Those things seem to happen for a reason. Tonight was just not a ‘smack in the head’ type of night for me.”

What exactly happened on the fall?

“My whole body hurt,” Green said. “Whatever hurts in the morning, I guess that’s what I fell on the most.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jeff Green, NBA
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