|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 »
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo-less Celtics defeat Heat||at 4:08 pm ET|
Ray Allen returned to Boston, and it wasn’t even the biggest story of Sunday’s battle between the Eastern Conference rival Celtics and Heat. While news of Rajon Rondo‘s ACL tear trickled out around halftime, the C’s submitted their most impressive performance of the season in a 100-98 double-overtime victory.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Starting Sully: Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger‘s production was finally too much for coach Doc Rivers to ignore. The C’s are 9.3 points better when he’s on the floor than when he sits, the best of any player on the team, so his replacement of Brandon Bass in the starting lineup was practically inevitable. His rebounding, ability to score on the inside and willingness to hit the floor for loose balls helped the Celtics remain tied going into halftime.
Brazilian Blur: Likewise, Leandro Barbosa gave the Celtics an energetic lift off the bench, scoring seven points in 10 first-half minutes. Entering the game, Barbosa’s 15.8 points per 36 minutes ranked third on the team behind only Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. While Jason Terry continues to struggle, there’s no reason Rivers shouldn’t give his minutes to Barbosa to kickstart a woeful Celtics offense.
“Pitbulls”: Apparently, that’s the nickname for the starting backcourt of Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee, who started in place of the injured Rondo. They lived up to the moniker, holding their Heat counterparts Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers to subpar nights. Even on a tough shooting night for both, their defense made a definite impact on the game. That’s what the Celtics will have to rely upon going forward.
Heart of a champion: With Rondo out for the season, Celtics veterans Paul Pierce (17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) and Kevin Garnett (24 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists) each came up huge in the final minutes of regulation and both overtimes, punctuating a valiant effort from a team without its brightest star. Pierce’s sweet spin move past Allen in the lane and Garnett’s 18-foot jumper gave the Celtics an 85-81 lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Pierce also fed Garnett for a pair of buckets to tie the game 93-93 with 1:14 left in the first overtime. And Pierce buried a jumper over LeBron James to give the C’s a 99-98 lead with 30.4 seconds left in double OT.
|Celtics pay video tribute to Ray Allen||at 1:32 pm ET|
In somewhat of a surprise, the Boston crowd gave Ray Allen a standing ovation during a first-quarter video tribute from the Celtics. Those cheers quickly turned to boos once Allen checked into the game for the Heat.
|Doc Rivers hesitantly starts Jared Sullinger in desperate move to shake up his Celtics||at 12:39 pm ET|
And sometimes that means making moves you don’t want to make.
Sunday, Rivers took Jared Sullinger out of his comfort zone off the bench and placed him in the starting lineup to add some energy to a team that has lost six straight.
“More because Jared is playing well,” Rivers said. “Honestly, I don’t love it because I worry about our bench. Our bench has been off the charts and that may affect them. But we’re doing it because he’s been playing so well.”
Sullinger has hit a speed bump in his last two games, being held scoreless in the double-overtime game against the Hawks Friday night and scoring just seven points with three rebounds in 15 minutes Thursday against the Knicks.
“Not much,” Rivers said. “Just the way our starters were playing, I thought our lineup needed a shaking up. I’m really doing it cautiously because I just think at some point our starters will find themselves. The one thing I always worry about is our bench. Our bench has been off the charts. The one thing about the Atlanta game, it was a six-point [lead] when they came in and it was 27 points when they left. You don’t hear that a lot from a bench.”
“We just took the game for granted.”
|Ray Allen warms up before Sunday’s game||at 11:52 am ET|
Heat sharpshooter Ray Allen warms up before Sunday’s game with the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Sunday marks Allen’s return to Boston for the first time since signing as a free-agent with the world champion Heat last summer.
Allen admitted that he doesn’t expect the reception in the Garden to be very warm when he takes the parquet for the first time since signing with Miami.
Allen had 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 31 minutes against the Celtics in the season opener on Oct. 30 in Miami. That was the game most-famously remembered for the cold shoulder Kevin Garnett gave Allen when Allen checked in for the first time in the first quarter.
|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.”
|Irish Coffee: What Avery Bradley does for the Celtics||12.19.12 at 1:22 pm ET|
Well, he was last season. The Celtics finished 20-9 in Bradley’s 29 starts last year, including a 14-5 record once he took Ray Allen‘s starting job on March 25, and they were essentially a .500 team (19-18) when he wasn’t in the starting lineup. Funny how the C’s have started 12-12 without him this season.
But Bradley does more than impact their record. When he took the floor with Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics outscored their opponents 113-94 per 100 possessions. That’s seven points better on offense and defense than the Rondo-Allen-Pierce-Bass-Garnett lineup (106-101 per 100 possessions).
That’s also far better than Rondo, Pierce, Bass and Garnett with Jason Terry (108-99) or Courtney Lee (106-115) this season. The Celtics shot better (50.6 eFG%), forced opponents to shoot worse (39.5 eFG%), got to the line more often (+28 FTA) and rebounded better (47.0 REB%) with Bradley than with Allen, Terry or Lee.
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