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Milestone win: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce pass NBA legends in laugher over Raptors 03.13.13 at 9:53 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce achieved significant NBA scoring milestones while leading the Celtics to a bounce-back 112-88 blowout win over the Raptors Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Garnett scored 12 points and passed Jerry West for 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with a dunk with 6:30 left in the first half. Pierce scored 15 and passed Charles Barkley for 20th place on the same list with a pair of free throws midway through the third quarters.

Both Pierce and Garnett received a video tribute during separate timeouts and a standing ovation from the Garden crowd.

Riding a two-game losing streak, the Celtics (35-29) raced out to an early 18-12 lead but thanks to six first-quarter turnovers, allowed Toronto to go on a 10-4 run to end the quarter and trailed the Raptors, 22-21, after 12 minutes. Seven Celtics scored in double figures and Shav Randolph was the only Celtic not to score.

The Celtics took better care of the ball in the second quarter and raced out to a 49-40 lead at the half, as Jeff Green scored 12 points in the quarter. Green finished with a team-best 20 points while Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford had 12 each off the bench.

THe Celtics quickly built their lead to 13 in the opening minute of the third, 53-40, but the Raptors came back to close to within four, 60-56. The Celtics finally put the game away with a 21-6 run to end the third and head into the fourth with an 81-62 lead. Former Celtic Sebastian Telfair picked up his second technical foul in the third quarter intermission and was ejected.

The Celtics built their lead up to as many as 25 in garbage time, allowing Doc Rivers to take out Garnett with just under 10 minutes left. However, unlike the night before, Garnett was getting rest because of a blowout lead.

The win came one night after arguably Boston’s worst effort of the season in a 26-point loss to the lowly Bobcats in Charlotte. The Celtics have Thursday off and will practice Friday in advance of their rare Saturday night home game, a revenge contest against the Bobcats at the Garden.

The Celtics will conclude their three-game homestand with a Monday night game at the Garden with LeBron James and the Heat, who ran their win streak to 20 games with a narrow 98-94 win over the Sixers Wednesday night in Philadelphia. The Heat have road games against Milwaukee Friday and Toronto Sunday afternoon before taking on the Celtics in Boston Monday night.

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

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charles Barkley, Jeff Green, Jerry West
Doc Rivers: ‘I wish I had given [Kevin Garnett] the night off, too’ 03.12.13 at 10:22 pm ET
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All of the talk before Tuesday’s game in Charlotte was the decision by Doc Rivers to give captain Paul Pierce his first night off of the season.

Midway through the disaster that was a 100-74 no-show loss to the Bobcats in North Carolina, Rivers was thinking he didn’t go far enough. Kevin Garnett played 20 minutes, but struggled badly again, going 2-for-10 from the field.

“Yeah, definitely, otherwise he’d been part of that,” Rivers said when asked if he thought he did the right thing in giving Pierce the night off. “What I was thinking was I wish I had given Kevin the night off, too, in the middle of the game. That would’ve been terrific because then we could’ve had two guys that got some rest.”

As for Garnett, who is 8-for-29 in losses to the Thunder and Bobcats, Rivers says it’s a matter of getting him better looks.

“We’ve got to get him a better rhythm,” said Rivers, who refuted speculation that Garnett was tired or injured. “He’s been in a [bad] way now for a while now and that’s more on us. We have to get him the right shots and we’re not do a very good job of that.”

Rivers said he could sense early that his team had the wrong approach with Pierce getting the night off.

“I just thought we approached the game with the wrong mentality,” Rivers said. “I thought we were really cool tonight and they were really hard. And then I thought everyone thought they were going to take up for Paul’s points instead of coming into the game with the right mentality. You grind games out, you move the ball, you defend.”

The Celtics clearly had no defensive answer for Gerald Henderson, who torched them for a career-high 35 points, including 21 in the first half.

“You could see it early on. Our guys thought we can trade baskets,” Rivers said. “They score, we can score right back on them but we couldn’t do that. We fouled a lot. We shot 50 percent in the first half and basically fouled every time down, it felt like. And Gerald Henderson looked at whoever was guarding him and said, ‘I’m better than you tonight,’ and proved that.”

Even though his team was outscored 51-28 in the second half, Rivers didn’t want to read too much into the second loss to coach Mike Dunlap and his Bobcats in a month.

“I just thought we laid an egg,” Rivers said. “I thought it was a by-product of the first half, honestly. It just carried over. We never could get it started. They played really hard. I tell you, every time I watch them, you look at their record, you have to give Mike a lot of credit, especially with the young guys. They played so hard and we, honestly, just couldn’t match how hard they played tonight for whatever reason. That’s on me. That’s disappointing that I couldn’t get that out of our guys. But we clearly did not.

“They were so much more competitive than us the entire night. It felt like we had a band-aid on the dam in the first half and then it came off, and they just blew it open.

“It’s one game. I’m not going to overdo it. Listen, we were awful tonight. Our spirit was awful, the way we played was awful but we also have to look at our team as a whole. We haven’t had a lot of nights like that. I’m not happy with the way the game went but overall, I like our team.”

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

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Gerald Henderson, Kevin Garnett
No show: Doc Rivers gives Paul Pierce night off as C’s don’t show against Bobcats at 9:22 pm ET
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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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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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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.

‘€œIt 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.

‘€œI 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.

‘€œIt 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
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