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An NBA Turkey Day Special 11.25.10 at 8:00 am ET
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On this Thanksgiving Day special, we give you the top five NBA players ever to hail from Turkey. Get it? Turkey? Thanksgiving? Turkish players have had a long and storied history in the league, only the exact opposite. It may be a reach, but it’s also pretty awesome when you think about it. You get to say names like Ersan Ilyasova. Without further ado …

5. Chicago Bulls 7-foot rookie center Omer Asik (O-mair A-sheek): Averaging 3.3 points and 0.8 points per game in 12 career appearances.

4. Boston Celtics 7-foot rookie center Semih Erden (Seh-MEE EHRD-ehn): Averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 11 career appearances.

3. Milwaukee Bucks 6-foot-10 third-year forward Ersan Ilyasova (ER-sahn Ill-ee-uh-SOH-vuh): Averaging 8.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 160 career appearances.

2. Utah Jazz 6-foot-11 nine-year veteran center Mehmet Okur (MEM-et Oh-KUHR): Averaging 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds in 604 career appearances.

1. Phoenix Suns 6-foot-10 11-year veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu (HEE-doe TURK-uh-loo): Averaging 12.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 766 career appearances.

 

The fist pump at the end of the Mehmet Okur commerical is amazing. Quick programming note: Irish Coffee will return on Monday morning. In the meantime, don’t forget to consume a few actual irish coffees over the Thanksgiving holiday break. Good times.

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Jermaine O’Neal out indefinitely 11.15.10 at 4:45 pm ET
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Jermaine O'Neal

Jermaine O'Neal

The Celtics don’t know how long Jermaine O’Neal will be out with his knee injury, but it will be measured in weeks, not days. “Two, three weeks would be a guestimate,” Doc Rivers said Monday. “We don’t know exactly. We’re going through a couple of more evaluations.”

O’Neal sought a second opinion in Miami on his injured left knee and didn’t travel with the team to Memphis for the last game on their road trip. Rivers said he hasn’t “heard the word ‘surgery,’” yet, but there’s still no real timetable on O’Neal’s return.

Shaquille O’Neal returned to the Celtics lineup and for now he and Semih Erden are playing 30-32 minutes a night in the post, while Glen Davis takes up the rest of the minutes. It’s not perfect, but the Celtics are hanging on for now with the arrangement.

“Semih and Shaq are playing through whatever they’re playing through,” Rivers said. “Semih’s shoulder and Shaq’s everything, really. It’s a concern but there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re not going to go out and get anyone else. There are not a lot of really good 7-footers walking the earth that are not signed in the NBA, so we just have to make do.”

The Celtics may also be without Marquis Daniels who missed practice and isn’t expected back Tuesday with what Rivers called a family issue. There is some doubt as to whether Daniels will be with the team Wednesday when they play the Wizards.

Read More: Jermaine O'Neal, Semih Erden, Shaquille O'Neal, Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Fast Break: Nowitzki sinks Celtics 11.08.10 at 11:07 pm ET
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Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) pumps his fist after a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Dallas on Monday, Nov. 8, 2010.

Dirk Nowitzki buried a 17-foot jumper with 17 seconds remaining to defeat the Celtics. (AP)

Dirk Nowitzki hit a 17-foot jumper over Glen Davis with 17 seconds remaining, breaking an 87-87 tie and giving the Mavericks an 89-87 victory over the Celtics on Monday night.

Rajon Rondo missed a wide-open 3-pointer to win it, and Kevin Garnett missed a fadeaway jumper to tie it in the final seconds. Paul Pierce scored a team-high 24 points, Garnett added 18 points and 15 rebounds, and Rondo produced 11 points, 15 assists and six rebounds for the C’s, who fell to 6-2.

Nowitzki led the Mavericks (4-2) with 25 points, six rebounds and four assists.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG

1. First-half defense: You’re probably not going to beat anybody — let alone the Mavericks — when you allow an opponent to shoot 55 percent from the field for the first half. Dallas made 21-of-38 field goals in the opening 24 minutes, building a lead as large as 14, en route to a 10-point halftime lead.

Mavericks big men Tyson Chandler and Nowitzki were the biggest benefactors of the C’s porous defense. Chandler finished 5-for-5 in the first half, scoring all 10 of those points within two feet of the basket. Nowitzki scored nine first-half points on 4-of-7 shooting.

2. Shooting: It’s bad enough when you allow 55 percent shooting, but it hurts twice as much when your own field-goal percentage is hovering around 35 percent for much of the night. A second-half streak only raised the Celtics’ field goal percentage to 41 percent for the night.

Ray Allen (4-of-11), Jermaine O’Neal (1-of-6) and Rondo (5-of-15) all struggled from the field.

3. Losing the free-throw battle: Sure, the Celtics shot 100 percent from the free-throw line, but they only had seven attempts. The C’s got just one free-throw attempt combined from Glen Davis, Jermaine O’Neal, Garnett and Rondo.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks shot 20 free throws, making 17 (85 percent). Nowitzki alone matched the entire Celtics roster from the free-throw line, making all seven of his attempts. For the referees’ sake, it’s a good thing Tommy Heinsohn didn’t make the trip.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT

1. The halftime speech must’ve worked: The Celtics were badly outplayed in the first half and lucky to be trailing by just 10 at the break. The few signs of grit the C’s showed in the opening 24 minutes didn’t pay dividends, as their own shots just weren’t falling.

Well, something clicked, as the Celtics went on a 22-9 run to start the second half, taking a three-point lead on a trey from (who else but) Ray Allen just 8:14 into the third quarter.

2. Team rebounding: Jermaine O’Neal may have left the game at halftime because of his ailing left knee, but the Celtics didn’t miss him. Garnett grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds, while Pierce (7 boards), Rondo (6) and Allen (5) also chipped in on the glass.

In all, the Celtics out-rebounded the Mavericks, 41-38.

3. Semih Erden continues to contribute: In Jermaine O’Neal’s absence, Semih Erden played 11 minutes, scoring six points on 2-of-4 shooting from the field and 2-for-2 shooting from the free-throw line.

Erden has yet to miss a free throw this season, entering Monday night’s game a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe. Perhaps that production can offset any struggles Shaquille O’Neal has at the line this season.

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The Three-Pointer: Backup Bigs Boost C’s 11.02.10 at 10:43 pm ET
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Boston Celtics forward Jermaine O'Neal, left, talks with head coach Doc Rivers during their practice at NBA basketball training camp at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. , Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers (right) got a solid effort against the Pistons out of an embattled Jermaine O'Neal. (AP)

With Kendrick Perkins sidelined until at least January with a knee injury and Shaquille O’Neal sitting with his own knee issues, all eyes were on Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden.

And they responded.

Getting his first start of the season, Jermaine O’Neal totaled 12 points in 21 minutes during last night’s 109-86 win over the Detroit Pistons, despite dealing with a few nagging injuries that kept him out of Friday night’s game against the New York Knicks.

From the start, J.O. set an early tone with aggressive defense — blocking two first-quarter shots while also picking up a pair of fouls that kept him from completely getting into a rhythm.

As a result, O’Neal started slow offensively, but kept finding open spots. Eventually, his knack to find the right place was rewarded by Rajon Rondo at the right times — leading to a 5-of-8 shooting night.

In O’Neal’s absence, Erden also blocked a pair of Pistons attempts, picked up three rebounds and ran the floor for a wide-open dunk. The latter was a shining example of the energy the Turk played with throughout his 15 minutes on the floor.

Most importantly, Erden looked as though he belonged on an NBA floor.

The first-half play of Erden could be the best sign for the Celtics future, as he showed that the potential to spell both O’Neals — who, as we know, will need their share of spelling. That leaves Glen Davis to continue giving Kevin Garnett his rest, limiting minutes for all three veteran big men over the course of the 82-game season.

Of course, any excitement over the play of J.O. and Semih last night can be tempered by the fact that they played the Pistons, who by the looks of things should be one of the worst five teams in the league.

It’s important to note, too, that both bigs faded as the game went on. Erden did all of his damage in the first half, and O’Neal grabbed only two rebounds in his time on the floor. It’s no coincidence that Shaq’s absence led to the Celtics getting out-rebounded for the first time all season.

But it was a start — literally, a start in place of Perkins and Shaq. And any time the C’s can win without those two, it’s a good sign. After all, that’s what they’re here for.

WHAT IS RONDO’S CEILING?

In the last 28 seasons, only nine players have led the NBA in assists: John Stockton (9 seasons), Jason Kidd (5 seasons), Steve Nash (4 seasons), Magic Johnson (4 seasons), Chris Paul (2 seasons) Isaiah Thomas (once), Mark Jackson (once), Rod Strickland (once) and Andre Miller (once).

Of those nine players, only Stockton managed to average 12 assists or more. Through the first four games, Rondo has totaled 67 assists, and nobody in the history of the league has done that. He totaled 17 assists last night, and his average only moved from 16.5 to 16.8 per game.

Currently, only one other player in the NBA is averaging more than 10 assists, and that’s Kidd at 11.7. There’s no doubt that Rondo’s departure from the USA team and all the talk about who’s the best point guard in the league -Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose – lit a fire under the Celtics point guard.

And did anybody else notice Rondo’s pull-up, knock-down, 17-foot jumper in the first half? If he ever gets that going, there’s no telling how good he’ll be this season. I’m talking MVP consideration. Even without the scoring — just 10.8 points per game — he’s already the story of this NBA season (unless you count the off-the-court hype of the Miami Heat).

WANTED: DELONTE WEST

The Celtics got little to nothing from their backup guards behind Rondo and Ray Allen. The starting duo combined for 25 points and 20 assists. Von Wafer and Nate Robinson? They combined for a whopping four points in 27 minutes between them.

Marquis Daniels has really been the lone bright spot at guard from the bench. He totaled nine points and four rebounds, but Doc has used him mainly at the 3 in smaller lineups this season.

Simply based on their play, we should’ve known better than to think Danny Ainge might cut Delonte West after his reported scuffle with Wafer late last week. I’m sure Doc is counting the games until West can return to the lineup. He’s now served four games of the 10-game suspension.

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Semih Erden is ready for his closeup 11.01.10 at 4:36 pm ET
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Semih Erden

Semih Erden

WALTHAM — Semih Erden was working in the post against Jermaine O’Neal during practice Monday. Erden started to his left, faked like he was going right and then finished back on the left side. It’s the kind of move he’s been pulling off with regularity since he joined the Celtics, but not the only one.

“He gave me a move in that open scrimmage the other day,” Shaquille O’Neal said. “Real nice move. That just tells me he has the potential to go at me whenever he wants to. With him, he’s going to have to get a rhythm out there with the guys. He’s young and he’s going to get his shot.”

Erden’s shot may be getting closer to becoming a reality because, as expected, the Celtics are about to go into a stretch of games without at least one of the O’Neals.

Shaq made the trip to Detroit and hasn’t been officially ruled out of Tuesday’s game, but after he missed practice for the second straight day with a shin injury, it’s not likely that he’ll play.

Jermaine O’Neal, on the other hand, looks like he will be able to go against the Pistons. That helps, but the Celtics need at least two big men against the Pistons large frontline and that means Erden will finally get a chance to show what he can do in a game situation.

“Yeah I’m ready,” Erden said responding to a question in English without the help of his translator. “I feel good. Every day I learn something. It’s good for me. I’m lucky.”

That tiny interaction is a major step forward for Erden who has the added pressure of not only being a rookie, but a rookie from Turkey who is being asked to assimilate the NBA game as well as a new language.

“He knows how to play,” Doc Rivers said. “He’s just trying to learn how to play our way. The language barrier is a problem, there’s no doubt about that. You just got to keep working on him. He’s going to be a good big in this league and he’s going to be a good big for a long time. What we don’t know is whether he’s a good enough big right now.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Semih Erden, Shaquille O'Neal Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Shaq a likely no-go but ‘big brother’ is ready at 2:28 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal missed his second straight practice on Monday with a right knee bruise suffered late in Friday’s game against the Knicks and likely won’t play on Tuesday in Detroit, according to coach Doc Rivers.

“I doubt if he plays [Tuesday] but we’ll see,” Rivers said following practice, which didn’t include O’Neal. “If he has a chance [to play] he’ll make the trip.”

O’Neal instead spent the time in the swimming pool with fellow injured big man Kendrick Perkins as both worked on therapy for knee injuries. The team did get good news on another O’Neal. Jermaine O’Neal, who suffered swelling in his left knee following the loss to Cleveland last Wednesday, returned to practice on Monday and will make the trip to Detroit.

“[Shaquille's] brother? He had a good practice and he’ll play,” Rivers said with a laugh. “Obviously, it could swell or something but right now, he looked good.”

Rivers said Jermaine O’Neal, who practiced with the first team, will see a lot of time as will rookie Semih Erden.

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Shaq misses practice, status uncertain 10.31.10 at 4:42 pm ET
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Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal

WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal didn’t practice Sunday and his status for the week ahead is uncertain. He banged his fibula in a collision with Amar’e Stoudemire Friday late in the Celtics win over the Knicks and did not return. “I always have a freak injury,” O’Neal said Sunday. “We’ll be all right.”

O’Neal said that he hopes to practice Monday, but he may have to sit out for the next few days. The Celtics play at Detroit Tuesday and host the Bucks on Wednesday. The Celtics did get good news, however, when Jermaine O’Neal returned to practice.

“The O’Neal brothers are both banged up a little bit,” Doc Rivers said. “Jermaine actually practiced most of the practice. He went in and out, but he had a pretty good practice. Our fear, and it’s going to happen one day, [is] where we’re not going to have either one of the O’Neal brothers. That would be a concern for us. Right now, I think we’ll have Jermaine [Tuesday] and I don’t know about Shaq.”

If both can’t play, Rivers indicated that he would probably start Semih Erden, rather than Glen Davis because he prefers to have Davis come off the bench and backup the four and five spots in the rotation.

“He knows how to play,” Rivers said of Erden who has not seen any time yet this season. “He’s just trying to learn how to play our way. The language barrier is a problem, there’s no doubt about that. You just got to keep working on him. He’s going to be a good big in this league and he’s going to be a good big for a long time. What we don’t know is he a good enough big right now.”

As for Davis, who has averaged better than 14 points and five rebounds while playing almost as many minutes as the O’Neals have combined, Rivers explained his rationale: “When you start him, you really take away your options. Then if he gets into foul trouble you take away all his options. It would be either Semih or J.O.  Like I’ve told you guys for two years, when Baby gets outside of his role is when he struggles. When he stays within himself he’s an excellent basketball player.” Read the rest of this entry »

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