|Fast Break: Paul Pierce’s 40 points end Celtics skid||12.19.12 at 9:54 pm ET|
His Celtics in desperate need of a victory after a winless three-game road trip, Celtics captain Paul Pierce scored a season-high 40 points for the first time since 2010 to will the C’s over the Cavaliers, 103-91.
With help from veteran teammates Rajon Rondo (20 points, 8 assists), Jason Terry (15 points) and Kevin Garnett (12 points), Pierce also contributed eight rebounds and five assists to push the Celtics above .500 (13-12).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Raging Rondo: Add another strange stat line to Rondo’s resume. He finished the first quarter with 12 points, four rebounds and zero assists. More importantly, he attacked the basket, attempting all five of his field goals in the paint and making four of them. Rondo also set the tone early against Kyrie Irving on the other end, holding his Cavaliers counterpart to four points and no assists in the opening quarter as the C’s took a 27-25 lead.
Captain on course: Slowly, inevitably, Pierce is righting his ship. After shooting a respectable 13-of-23 (4-8 3P) in his last two games, Pierce started a perfect 6-for-6 from beyond the arc against Cleveland. He finished 13-of-16 from the field and 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Pierce’s 10 first-quarter points staked the Celtics to an early lead, and his 17 third-quarter points kept the Cavaliers at bay. All in all, Pierce’s best night of the season.
JET grounded no more: A night after attempting just two shots against the Bulls, Terry returned to the starting lineup, scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and drilled a trio of treys, including a dagger with 2:48 remaining.
|Paul Pierce: Celtics 2OT win ‘just comes down to mental toughness’||12.13.12 at 1:39 am ET|
There were many times over the course of the two overtimes Wednesday night where Paul Pierce felt drained.
Five times in the final two minutes of regulation, the Celtics took the lead only to have the Mavericks respond with either O.J. Mayo or Darren Collison.
Pierce played 44 minutes and scored 34 points and led the charge in the second overtime as the Celtics finally put away the Mavericks, 117-115.
How did Pierce, at the age of 35, manage to dig deep as the game went past the three-hour mark?
‘I think it just comes down to mental toughness,” Pierce said. “You get an edge out there,. You see the score go up, then you see a tie score, then the tendency is to get down, so you just have to really maintain a mental edge and just stay positive and know that you are gonna pull through. These types of long games, these types of marathon games can be really draining on you, I like the way we pulled through.’
‘This is a good win, especially with the huge road trip coming up. Our defense was kind of up and down throughout most of the night, but the positive part is we turned them over. We allowed them to shoot a high percentage, it says a lot about how this team has grown when you can win games like this.’
Despite 44 minutes of action, Pierce said he felt energized because he could sense the kill.
‘I felt good, I felt like this is our chance,” he said. “We didn’t want to let this one get away. Especially with a huge road trip coming up this is a big win for us. Dallas is one of those sneaky teams, you don’t really know what to expect from them night in and night out. They have so many good players, a lot of them that can beat you, a lot of them that can play well’¦For us to go double overtime and show some resiliency it was great.
‘I’m caught into the game. When the game is tight, the type of game that was going on tonight I’m really caught up in the game, not really thinking about my minutes. That’s the coach, he’s watching the game, seeing the floor game, seeing how I’m playing, seeing how I’m defending. If he sees I’m still playing at a high level he’s going to leave me out there.’
|Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics outlast Mavericks in double OT||12.12.12 at 11:28 pm ET|
After Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce each missed potential game-winnters to end regulation and the first overtime, they combined for 10-of-12 points in the second OT as the Celtics outlasted the Mavericks, 117-115. Courtney Lee scored the other two, a pair of free throws that kept an O.J. Mayo 3-pointer at the buzzer from forcing a third overtime.
Pierce finished with a season-high 34 points, Rondo missed his second triple-double in three games by a single rebound (16 points, 15 assists, 9 rebounds) and four other Celtics reached double figures: Kevin Garnett (16 points), Jeff Green (15 points), Jason Terry (10 points) and Chris Wilcox (10 points).
In a wild final two minutes of regulation, Derek Fisher‘s 3-pointer gave the Mavericks their first lead, 95-94 with 1:47 to play in the fourth quarter. A Pierce jumper briefly gave the Celtics the lead back, but O.J. Mayo made 1-of-2 free throws to force a tie. That resulted in a seven-second span in which Rondo poked the ball loose from Mayo with 6.9 seconds left and got his shot blocked by Fisher as time expired on the other end.
Likewise, in the first overtime, Pierce and Garnett each drilled go-ahead jump shots in the final minute, but Shawn Marion (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Mayo (team-high 21 points) answered on both occasions. And the unimaginative Pierce elbow jumper failed as the clock ran out on OT No. 1.
A Pierce triple to begin the second overtime gave the Celtics the lead for good, as they held off every run the Mavericks had left in them, including a Vince Carter trey that brought them within one in the final minute.
|Irish Coffee: How Celtics perform in clutch situations||12.10.12 at 5:10 pm ET|
After Rajon Rondo missed not one, but both game-winning opportunities in a 95-94 Celtics loss to the 76ers over the weekend — a failed 19-footer to end regulation and the infamous slippery 16-footer as overtime ran out — I got to wondering how the C’s are performing in clutch situations (either team within five points with five minutes remaining in regulation and overtime), since half of their 20 games have been decided by six points or less.
The C’s are 6-4 in those 10 games despite shooting 37.4 percent as a team in a whopping 60.2 clutch minutes, including three overtime games. They’ve had four potential game-winning shots at the buzzer — all misses on long jumpers — and Rondo has taken three of them. Paul Pierce attempted the fourth (from the elbow, of course).
Before we started reading into who’s doing what in the clutch, here are the numbers (Leandro Barbosa, Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger have all played sparingly in crunch time, but not a large enough sample size). Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc Rivers pays his respect – in person- to Rick Majerus||12.08.12 at 7:11 pm ET|
In a whirlwind of a day, Doc Rivers traveled from Philadelphia to Milwaukee for Saturday morning’s funeral of his former assistant coach and close friend Rick Majerus.
“I’ve been with Rick since fifth grade for the most part so I felt like I had to be there. It was important for me,” Rivers said. It was Majerus who gave Rivers his nickname of “Doc” when he showed up at a basketball camp wearing a Julius Erving t-shirt.
Rivers then jumped on plane and made it back to Boston, getting back about 90 minutes before Saturday night’s tip-off with Philadelphia at TD Garden. Rivers said he didn’t give much consideration to not coaching Saturday.
“If I really want to [tick] Rick off, then don’t coach the game,” Rivers joked. “No, I didn’t give that much thought. Life is involved with what we do every day. You deal with life and then you deal with your job. I always try to separate them when you can. Sometimes, you can’t.”
Doc on Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday: “Jrue right now is an all-star, and Evan played like one last night for sure. He made a couple of incredible shots. His game-winning shot, he was trapped for the most part, he puts up a one-handed push shot. The blocked shot by [Paul Pierce] and getting the rebound and he had another one where he split our pick-and-roll [defense]. That’s what he does. That’s what he’s always done. He did it in college. He made three sensational plays. I think he’s getting comfortable in our league right now. I thought it started last year and I think it carried on to this year.”
Rivers had some good-natured fun with Doug Collins after being told that Collins expects to take advantage of the fact that Pierce and Kevin Garnett have combined to play an extraordinary number of minutes combined in their careers: “We played how many minutes, 51,000? We’re smarter. We’re the wiser team. I don’t know how you counteract that. I tell you what you can’t do. You can’t turn the ball over.”
The Celtics committed 19 turnovers leading to 21 Philadelphia points in Friday’s overtime loss. The Sixers committed just nine.
|Paul Pierce and Celtics get another chance to prove their toughness against Kevin Love||12.04.12 at 6:46 pm ET|
WALTHAM ‘ All season, the Celtics have been looking for a chance to prove their toughness.
At 9-8, they get another chance Wednesday night when they host the most impressive rebounder in the NBA. Kevin Love isn’t among the league leaders with 15.3 rebounds per game since he’s played just six games due to a broken knuckle on his right hand. But he will be eventually.
“Kevin Love is one of the best rebounders of our era,” said C’s coach Doc Rivers. “I know that’s saying something early on in his career, but he really is.”
In addition to coaching against him, Rivers got an up close and personal look at Love at the Olympics in London. Love, as Rivers noted Tuesday, was there helping Team USA flex its muscle early on in the Games while Team USA was still finding itself.
“Two of those games early in the Olympics were kind of close in the first half, the U.S. would have been down by 20 but Kevin Love kept getting rebounds and you stare at it and watch it, it’s an art.”
“Our main objective is to try and slow him down,” Paul Pierce said. “He’s shown he can dominate the game with his offensive rebounding, and defensive rebounding. That’s definitely an emphasis.”
Rivers thought the Celtics cleared a mental hurdle against the Thunder and Kevin Durant. Then they barely beat the Magic two days later and were beat up by the Nets. Pierce knows the Celtics can’t afford a relapse, even if they handle Love and the Timberwolves Wednesday.
“Going up against a guy like that definitely is a chance but it’s something you want to see consistently,” Pierce said. “In order to build and in order to get better, you can’t just pick your moments because you get one of the more physical players in the NBA coming into our building. It has to be a something that’s a mindset that we have to be able to do every night, regardless of who we’re going against”
Love is also averaging 21.7 points and represents the ultimate toughness challenge for Pierce and the Celtics, because he can also step back and shoot the three, though he has shot just 19.4 percent from long range this season.
“Kevin Love is such a different kind of player,” Pierce said. “He’s a power forward but he can step out and shoot the three, but he’s an interior player when it comes to rebounding and doing all the dirty work.”
|Paul Pierce: ‘When we set the tone defensively, that’s the Celtics I know’||12.01.12 at 5:19 pm ET|
It’s great defense that will lead the way out of the dark and uncertain times the team is experiencing right now.
When the team plays defense like it did Friday night, holding Portland to 23 percent shooting in the first half, easy offense will follow, and so will rhythm. That was particularly important with Rajon Rondo not available this weekend.
‘It made things easier on our offense to come out and play the way we did and cause turnovers,” Pierce said of the Celtics D, which forced 22 turnovers on Friday. “Then we were able to get out in transition. Guys ran’¦got easy opportunities. When we come out and set the tone defensively like we did tonight, that’s the kind of team that we are and that’s the Celtics I know.’
Before Friday’s game, Doc Rivers said the combination of Courtney Lee and Jason Terry would have to pick up the ball-handling slack in the backcourt. But as it turned out, the offense wound up running through the bigs starting with Pierce – a style the Celtics have employed in the past when they haven’t had Rondo available.
‘It’s a combination of guys, so Doc wanted us to be aggressive,” Pierce said. “He wanted us to move the ball and make the extra passes and I thought we did a good job of that most of the night. We could’ve toned down our turnovers, but I think we will be better tomorrow. It’s tough, we’re used to playing with Rondo and he makes a lot of our plays. We’ll get better and better.’
‘Courtney he really ran the floor well. Defensively he did a good job on his man, He’s out there getting 4 or 5 assists tonight, he just shows you flashes of what he’s capable of. Jeff [Green] is running the break, getting easy opportunities for himself. He’s one of the fastest guys out there’¦when he’s able to use that length.’
As for the motivation of Rivers calling the Celtics “soft” after Wednesday’s loss, Pierce just shrugged his shoulders and generally discounted it.
“You know, I’m always a true believer that you just just be motivated to go out and play, regardless,” Pierce said. “As an NBA competitor, you shouldn’t need anybody else to go out and motivate you. Maybe some guys took it as motivation. I’m motivated for the opportunity to come out here night in and night out. Whatever is going to get guys going, hopefully they can build on on that, if that what it was, and continue to do it throughout the season.”
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