|Gut check: Paul Pierce, Celtics pull out 2OT thriller over LeBron James, Heat||01.27.13 at 4:09 pm ET|
Paul Pierce hit the go-ahead jumper with 30.4 seconds left in double-overtime and earned a triple-double with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists as the Celtics snapped their six-game losing streak with a heart-pounding 100-98 win over the Heat Sunday at TD Garden. It was Boston’s second straight double-overtime game.
LeBron James scored a game-high 34 points and forced overtime with a clutch 3-pointer while Ray Allen had 21 off the bench in his first return to Boston since leaving for Miami as a free agent, and help the Heat rally in the final minute of regulation. The Heat fell to 28-13.
Kevin Garnett scored a team-high 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Celtics, who could not protect a four-point lead in the final minute of regulation but managed to improve to 21-23 on the season.
The game was played under a cloud for the Celtics, as they found out in the second half that Rajon Rondo tore the ACL in his right knee and was done for the season. Rondo returned in the third quarter and watched the rest of the game from just behind the Celtics bench.
With Courtney Lee starting for Rondo and Jared Sullinger in the starting lineup, the Celtics stayed close in the first quarter, trailing by just four, 26-24, after 12 minutes. The Celtics managed to stay close in the second and forged a 45-45 tie.
WIth news breaking in the third quarter that Rondo had a torn ACL in his right knee and was done for the season, the Celtics managed to put up a fight taking a three-point lead. Garnett’s jumper 16 seconds into the second half gave Boston its first lead since early in the first quarter. Boston built the lead to 60-57 before Miami finished the period on a 11-4 run to take a 68-64 lead into the fourth.
Jeff Green drilled a three from the left baseline to bring the Celtics within one, 72-71, and then after James missed a three, Leandro Barbosa put back a miss to give the Celtics a 73-72 lead with 8:26 left in the fourth. Green’s one-handed slam over Chris Bosh with 7:48 left sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy and put the Celtics up, 75-72.
Pierce drove in for a go-ahead layup with just under six minutes left. Allen connected for a three with 4:38 left to put the Heat up, 78-77, and grabbed a rebound off a Pierce miss moments later. Jason Terry responded with a 15-foot step-back jumper to put Boston back up, 79-78, with just over four minutes left. James responded with a 12-foot fadeaway with three minutes left, putting Miami ahead, 80-79.
Garnett hit a pair of free throws with 2:40 left to put Boston back ahead, 81-80. Allen was fouled by Pierce with 2:19 remaining and Allen converted only one of two for an 81-81 tie. Pierce drove to the basket on a spinning move with 1:59 left to put Boston up, 83-81. After a missed three from Shane Battier, Garnett hit a mid-range jumper with 59.9 seconds left to give the Celtics their biggest lead, 85-81. Read the rest of this entry »
|Is one NBA scout’s scathing take on Celtics accurate?||01.26.13 at 3:05 pm ET|
NBA general managers must be hovering like vultures over Danny Ainge‘s struggling Celtics, so it’s no surprise they are a main focus ESPN.com writer Marc Stein’s must-read Weekend Dime.
With all due respect to the NBA scout who rightfully ripped the Celtics to shreds in Stein’s piece, the outlook isn’t quite as bad as he makes it out to be, despite their current six-game losing streak.
“Their bench has to be playing at the top of their abilities for them to win.”
According to HoopsStats.com, the Celtics are 12-11 when their bench outperforms the opposing team’s and 7-11 when it doesn’t. That lends some credence to this statement, but they can win when their reserves don’t contribute. We knew these C’s would rely on their depth more this season than they have in the past, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers couldn’t even begin to structure a consistent rotation until Avery Bradley returned this month.
And they don’t have enough guys big-guy-wise that Doc [Rivers] is comfortable with.
The C’s everlasting search for frontcourt depth behind Kevin Garnett has been no secret. Hence, their rumored interest in both Marcin Gortat and DeMarcus Cousins. The struggles of Brandon Bass and the thumb injury to Chris Wilcox haven’t helped, but don’t rule out those two contributing more in the second half of the season.
|Rajon Rondo: When a triple-double is ‘irrelevant’||01.25.13 at 11:18 am ET|
Rondo had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, his 27th career triple-double and fourth the season. But that couldn’t prevent Boston from suffering its fifth straight loss, 89-86, to the Knicks Thursday, dropping to 20-22 on the season.
“It wipes it out. It’s kind of irrelevant. You score 40 or 50 points, you lose, you lose. All that matters is Ws and Ls.
“I like our group, I like our guys,” Rondo insisted. “We have a group of guys that listen. Right now, we’re not getting it done. It’s like night and day. We won six in a row and we were clicking on all cylinders. But now, it’s not all five guys at one time throughout the game for 48 minutes. We go through stretches where we’re not scoring the ball and our defense is lacking as well. We just have to pick it up collectively as a team, and individually as well.”
“We’re not worried about that,” Rondo said. “We’re worried about Atlanta.”
|Wasted chance: Knicks beat Celtics despite triple-double from Rajon Rondo||01.24.13 at 10:35 pm ET|
Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points to lead the Knicks over the Celtics, 89-86, Thursday night at TD Garden. Rajon Rondo had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in collecting his 27th career triple-double and his fourth this season for the Celtics, who lost their fifth straight. The Celtics lost five straight twice last season before rallying at the end of the season for a 37-29 record and the Atlantic Division title.
They might not be as lucky this season, as the Atlantic-leading Knicks improved to 26-14, seven games ahead of the 20-22 Celtics in the division.
There were no war of words or trash-talking incidents between Kevin Garnett and Anthony, who greeted each other with a fist-pound at the beginning of the game. Anthony even helped Garnett up from the floor after Garnett hit the deck early in the third quarter.
The Celtics managed a 24-20 lead after one quarter, despite shooting just 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) from the field. The Knicks started the second quarter on fire, opening on a 9-0 run and scoring 11 of the first 12 points in the period to take a 31-25 lead. But the Celtics answered as Paul Pierce started to dominate.
The Celtics went on a 15-3 run to take a 40-34 lead. The Knicks rebounded and managed a 50-48 halftime lead on a pair of free throws with 7.1 seconds left by Amar’e Stoudemire. Rondo missed a layup just before the buzzer that would’ve tied the game. Still Doc Rivers pounded his fist in the air and appeared happy with his team’s effort.
Rivers was particularly pleased with the fact that the Celtics held Anthony to just 4-for-13 shooting in the first 24 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
|LeBron James thinks Paul Pierce got All-Star snubbed||at 8:14 pm ET|
Count Heat superstar LeBron James of all people as the first NBA player to count Celtics captain Paul Pierce among the Eastern Conference’s All-Star snubs. Pierce was left off the team for the first time since 2007, when he missed 35 games due to injury; the 35-year-old 10-time All-Star also made the East roster from 2002-06.
|Paul Pierce left off Eastern Conference All-Star squad||at 7:43 pm ET|
For just the second time in 13 seasons, Paul Pierce did not earn a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star squad as the reserves were announced Thursday night on national television prior to the Celtics‘ game vs. the Knicks.
Pierce is leading the Celtics in scoring at 18.9 points per game and has started all 41 games for the Celtics, but that wasn’t enough to win a spot on the team. Pierce didn’t make it in 2007 when his season was shortened due to a stress reaction in his foot. The last time a healthy Pierce was left off the All-Star team was 2001, just his third season in the NBA.
Joining starters Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony are five first-time All-Stars, including Tyson Chandler (Knicks), Paul George (Pacers), Jrue Holiday (76ers), Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers) and Joakim Noah (Bulls). Miami’s Chris Bosh and Chicago’s Luol Deng, making his second consecutive All-Star appearance, round out the East reserves.
Joining Duncan as reserves in the West are LaMarcus Aldridge (Trail Blazers), James Harden (Rockets), David Lee (Warriors), Tony Parker (Spurs), Zach Randolph (Grizzlies) and Russell Westbrook (Thunder). It’s the first selection for Harden, in his first season with the Rockets. It’s the second All-Star nod for Lee, Randolph and Aldridge, while Westbrook earns his third consecutive trip to the All-Star Game. Parker is an All-Star for the fifth time in his career.
The 62nd NBA All-Star Game will be played at the Toyota Center in Houston on Feb. 17.
|Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers keep Celtics reeling||01.22.13 at 9:30 pm ET|
Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 40 points and Tristan Thompson added 21 as the Cavaliers added to the misery of the Celtics with a 95-90 win at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Irving completely dominated the Celtics in the final six minutes, scoring nine points and helping the Cavaliers win for just the 11th time in 43 games. After a season-high six-game winning streak, the Celtics lost their fourth straight and are again under .500 at 20-21. Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Making matters worse, the Cavaliers were playing without their starting center Anderson Varejao, who was ruled out for the season this week due to a blood clot in his lower right lung.
Paul Pierce had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while Jared Sullinger had another big game off the bench with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Garnett was the only other Celtic in double figures in scoring with 16 points, as Boston shot just 38.1 percent from the field.
Defense was non-existent in the first quarter as the Celtics allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 59.1 percent, as Cleveland made 13-of-22 shots from the floor in building a 31-27 lead. The Celtics cut the deficit to 54-53 at the half.
The Celtics built their lead up to six 64-58 early in the third on back-to-back threes from Avery Bradley but couldn’t pull away.
Irving’s pull-up jumper in transition gave the Cavaliers a 76-75 lead with 7:30 remaining but Pierce found an open Rondo moments later for a layup to give the Celtics the lead right back. Sullinger picked up his fifth foul with just under six minutes remaining and the Cavaliers immediately began their charge behind Irving.
The Cavaliers reassumed the lead 82-81 when Pierce missed a jumper and Tyler Zeller raced out on the break for a layup. But again it was Rondo who answered, this time with a layup with just over four minutes remaining, as the Celtics went back in front, 83-82. Rondo then drew Irving’s fifth foul when he took a charge with 3:30 remaining. But the Celtics couldn’t convert as Garnett missed with the shot clock winding down.
Irving’s reverse layup with 2:30 left gave Cleveland the lead again, 84-83. Replays showed rookie Zeller kicking the ball ahead to Irving but no violation was called and the basket stood. Irving scored 15 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter as he took control of the game.
Then Rondo committed a mental mistake on a loose ball that careened into the Celtics backcourt. He tried to throw it off Irving but was unsuccessful, allowing Irving to go in for an uncontested layup with just over two minutes left.
Garnett drew the sixth foul of the night on Zeller with 1:30, with Garnett hitting both free throws cutting Cleveland’s lead to one, 88-87. With a chance to give Boston the lead, Garnett missed a baseline fallaway jumper. That led to another spectacular coast-to-coast drive by Irving to put Cleveland up, 90-87, with 52.9 seconds remaining.
The Celtics host the Knicks Thursday night at TD Garden. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.