|Fast Break: Pierce, Celtics take down Bird, Bobcats||02.07.12 at 9:47 pm ET|
BOSTON — All went according to plan for the Celtics in a 94-84 defeat of the Bobcats. Captain Paul Pierce climbed another rung on the team’s all-time scoring list, passing Larry Bird for No. 2 behind John Havlicek, and the C’s picked up their season-best fifth straight victory and ninth win in their last 10 in the process.
PIerce amassed 15 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the Celtics (14-10) reached four games over .500 for the first time this season. The remaining Big Four and Brandon Bass (13 points) all reached double figures as well (Kevin Garnett 22, Ray Allen 17 and Rajon Rondo 10).
UConn’s Kemba Walker totaled 16 points and seven rebounds in defeat for the lowly Bobcats (3-22).
WHAT WENT RIGHT
A Bird in hand: With 10:22 remaining in the third quarter of Tuesday night’s game against the Bobcats, Pierce passed Larry Bird for No. 2 on the team’s all-time scoring list. After 13-plus seasons in a Celtics uniform, the 34-year-old Pierce entered the game needing just nine points to tie (and 10 to pass) Bird, who finished his 13-year career with 21,791 points. After scoring seven first-half points to close within two of Larry Legend, The Truth made his fourth 3-point attempt to clip Bird’s wings.
KG’s hot start: Garnett made four of his first five field goal attempts and reached double figures by halftime. He even attempted another 3-pointer, which he missed (But he can shoot 3s, Ok!). Rivers has been on KG all season to assert himself into the offense more regularly, and Garnett did just that — leading all Celtics scorers with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting to go along with seven boards.
Rounding into form: For much of the season, somebody in the Celtics nine-man rotation (the starters plus Bass, Mickael Pietrus, Chris Wilcox and Avery Bradley) has either been sidelined or still recovering from injury. Not so against the Bobcats. All played, and all — with the possible exception of Wilcox — played admirably. Five of the nine reached double figures, Rondo recorded double-digit assists for the third consecutive night, O’Neal grabbed eight rebounds and Bradley made both of his field goals while playing his usual pesky defense and spelling Rondo for the entire fourth quarter. The C’s are hitting their stride.
|Where does Paul Pierce rank among Celtics greats?||02.06.12 at 9:06 am ET|
On the verge of surpassing Larry Bird for second on the Celtics career scoring list, Paul Pierce only further cements his status as one of the storied franchise’s all-time greats — his No. 34 already reserved in the rafters.
How far Pierce climbs that ladder remains to be seen. Even when he surpasses Larry Legend’s 21,791 career total with 10 more points, it’s hard to argue Pierce soars past Bird, but where does he rank if he retired today?
‘It’s nothing I ever really think about,’ said Pierce. ‘I never go into the season trying to break records. They’re going to happen if they happen. Just to be mentioned among the great Celtics of the past is just an honor.’
As soon as seven years ago — in the aftermath of Pierce’s infamous jersey-swinging, head-wrapping ejection from Game 6 of a playoff series — this thought seemed utterly insane: The Truth is one of the top five C’s in history.
Still don’t believe it? Just examine the resumes of the best quintet ever to call the Garden home.
|Irish Coffee: Ray Allen’s guide to being a Celtic||02.02.12 at 6:55 pm ET|
BOSTON — The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Ever since he first arrived in New England as a University of Connecticut freshman in 1993 (the same year he became a Patriots fan, by the way), Celtics guard Ray Allen‘s work ethic has remained as steadfast as Fort Independence. Even now, after three years of college, 15 NBA seasons and about 3.5 million shots, his role continues to mutate annually — but his approach never will.
“Every year, no matter what team I played on, my role changes,” said the 36-year-old Allen. “You come to training camp, even when I was in Milwaukee, you change things and the league changes a little bit, so you have to figure out how different you’re going to play and you’re going to be played and guarded defensively. I always just said, well, let’s see how everything works and how it goes.”
So far, so good. Before being traded to Boston, Allen had built a Hall of Fame career during 11 seasons on the Bucks and SuperSonics, averaging at least 20 points, four rebounds and three assists for 10 straight years before being dealt for Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak and Jeff Green during the 2007 NBA draft.
Joining forces with fellow superstars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett under head coach Doc Rivers, Allen like the others had to sacrifice numbers for the greater good of the team. In his first season on the Celtics, his attempts dipped by 7.5 field goals per game while his shooting percentages rose across the board.
“When I got here, that was extremely hard, because I wanted to do more,” he said. “I still want to do more, but then I was going off what I’d done my whole career, so I wanted to come here and do the same thing. But in order for this team to be successful I had to take a couple step backwards to fit in a system where it’s going to work, because it wasn’t built around me. That’s just being part of a team and trying to win on your team’s terms and not yours.”
|Fast Break: Celtics team effort scratches Raptors||02.01.12 at 9:47 pm ET|
Without starting point guard Rajon Rondo for the eighth consecutive game, the Celtics shared the wealth anyway — assisting on 28 of their 37 field goals — to dominate the Raptors from start to finish, 100-64.
Captain Paul Pierce led the way with just 17 points for the Celtics (11-10), who eclipsed .500 for the first time since Jan. 4 and improved to 4-2 on the second night of the deadly back-to-backs. Ray Allen (12 points), Brandon Bass (12 points), Avery Bradley (11 points) and JaJuan Johnson (11 garbage points on 5-5 FGs) all reached double figures as 10 different Celtics scored at least six points.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Start C’s up: Considering both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back, it wasn’t pretty basketball early, but the Celtics went on a 12-0 run midway through the first quarter — thanks to six straight Bass points sandwiched by four from Pierce– that gave the C’s an early 25-9 advantage they never relinquished. Even against the likes of the Raptors, the Celtics have had trouble getting off to good starts, so Doc Rivers had to like what he saw against Toronto.
Moore Bradley: Without Rondo for an eighth straight game and Keyon Dooling for his 11th game in 12 outings, the point guard duo of Bradley and E’Twaun Moore (8 points) continued to hold court — this time both in the same game. Bradley’s getting a knack for getting free under the basket, and his fellow starters are rewarding him for easy buckets. And Moore is proving himself as simply a good NBA offensive player, especially evident on one particular shot clock-beating pull-up jump shot.
Downtown Kedrick Brown: The Celtics connected on 12-of-24 3-pointers, actually shooting almost as well from beyond the arc than they did overall (52%). The dozen treys tied a season high for the C’s. Pierce led the way, burying 4-of-6 from long distance, while Allen, Pietrus and Sasha Pavlovic each added a pair.
|Irish Coffee: Solving Celtics points in paint riddle||at 1:20 pm ET|
Simply watching the Celtics this season, you might guess they get outscored by 20 points a night in the paint. They seemingly settle for jump shots at an alarming rate while opponents like Anderson Varejao own them in the key.
So, it might be surprising to learn the Cavaliers only outscored the Celtics by two in the paint on Tuesday. Or that the Celtics allow fewer points in the paint (31.2) than any other team in the NBA, according to HoopsStats.com. Not only that, but opposing teams are shooting a league-worst 43.8 percent in the key against the Celtics.
There’s a clear discrepancy between what we see and what we know. So, what gives?
|Fast Break: Celtics (barely) avenge loss to Cavaliers||01.31.12 at 9:47 pm ET|
If you thought Sunday’s loss to the Cavaliers was bad, Tuesday’s win might have been worse.
After blowing a 12-point lead in the final five minutes at home in the first meeting of their home-and-home series, the C’s let a 22-point lead dwindle to two with 1:18 remaining in Cleveland. Luckily, Kevin Garnett dropped a turnaround jumper and Paul Pierce made a pair of free throws in the waning seconds to on for a 93-90 win.
Pierce finished with a team-high 20 points as well six assists and four rebounds, lifting the Celtics (10-10) to .500 once again. Brandon Bass chipped in 13 points to lead a 28-point effort by the C’s bench.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
In his defense: Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving beat the Celtics with his offense on Sunday night, but his porous defense helped the C’s return the favor two days later. Avery Bradley (8 points) beat him through the back door, making himself an easy target underneath the basket for open layups, and E’Twaun Moore (5 points) took advantage of Irving’s tendency to cheat by knocking down open shots on the perimeter.
Riding the pine: Led once again by Bass (13 points) and Mickael Pietrus (6 points, 2 treys), the Celtics bench dominated the Cavaliers reserves in the early going, outscoring their counterparts 23-5 in the first half alone. Moore and Sasha Pavlovic also lended a helping hand as the C’s established a double-digit lead by halftime.
Protecting the rock (for the most part): Without Rajon Rondo for the seventh straight game, the Celtics assisted on 19 of their first 26 field goals while committing only six turnovers as they built the lead to 22 in the third quarter. The C’s finished with 25 assists on 37 FGs, but their turnovers climbed to 14 — allowing the Cavaliers to climb back into the game.
|Irish Coffee: It’s not the Celtics bench’s fault||01.30.12 at 7:40 pm ET|
After the Celtics blew an 11-point lead to the Cavaliers with a little more than five minutes left, Paul Pierce told reporters, “Maybe I should play a little bit more” in the fourth quarter. In so many words, the bench blew the game.
Not so. A lineup of E’Twaun Moore, Mickael Pietrus, Sasha Pavlovic, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett entered the final 12 minutes with an eight-point lead, and various combinations of four reserves and one starter played Cleveland even until Pierce re-entered the game with 3:42 remaining and the Celtics holding an 87-79 lead.
In fact, rarely has any of the 10 losses through the first third of the season fallen on the Celtics bench’s shoulders. Just the opposite. With Garnett the lone starter to play all 19 games, an argument could rather easily be made that the C’s reserves are the main reason the team hasn’t started worse than 9-10.
“The first full month has been a tough month for us, but we are a team of workers,” KG said last week. “Since I’ve been here, that’s all we’ve done. We haven’t really leaned on a lot of the talent, moreso the hard work.”
While Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal have all nursed injuries through the first four weeks of the lockout-shortened season, the hodgepodge that includes a second-year guard, a pair of trade acquisitions, two free agent signings and three rookies has formed some semblance of a cohesive group.
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