|Fast break: Thunder snap Celtics home run||11.19.10 at 9:55 pm ET|
The Celtics came out flat Friday night and it cost them against the Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook scored 31 points and dished out six assists as the Thunder became the first visiting team in six tries to beat the Celtics on the parquet this season, 89-84.
It was an ugly finish as neither team converted a field goal in the last nine minutes, 20 seconds.
Durant sprained his ankle on Wednesday night and did not play.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG:
Lack of energy. Whether it was a understandable letdown from not having to gear up for Durant or losing Kevin Garnett for most of the first quarter after taking an elbow in the back of the head, the Celtics looked lethargic out of the gate. Though he played the first three minutes and hit his only field goal attempt, It showed practically from the onset of the game as the Celtics were getting beaten to loose balls and not rotating on defense, allowing the Thunder to find the open man.
No rebounding presence. The Celtics were beaten on the glass, 20-11, in the first half. Shaquille O’Neal collected four rebounds in the first half, but that led the team. Garnett – perhaps due to his early inactivity – couldn’t get going on the boards. With the lack of rebounding came foul trouble. Rondo picked up his fifth personal foul with just over six minutes left in the fourth while Shaq picked up two quick fouls to begin the second half. In all, the Celtics were whistled for 11 fouls in the third and the Thunder just five. Oklahoma City capitalized at the stripe, hitting 13-of-16 in the quarter to extend their lead to 77-69 heading into the final quarter.
Ray Allen had an off night: The Celtics couldn’t seem to get their sharp-shooter into a rhythm for any extended stretch. With the Thunder up, 71-63, Paul Pierce woke up the crowd with a bucket and Allen followed with a mid-range jumper from the free throw line-extended and the crowd sense a rally. But he remained in single-figures in the scoring column as the Thunder threw all types of defensive switches at the Celtics all night. Allen finished with eight points.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT:
Tis just as good to give than receive: The Celtics had 17 assists at halftime on 21 baskets and finished with 20 on 33 buckets in the game. Like with the Patriots and Tom Brady, as long as Rajon Rondo is the quarterback of the offense, the Celtics should be in good shape. Rondo was held to seven assists.
Shaq playing big in the paint. This is exactly what the Celtics got him for when they signed him for a ’730-day contract’ in the summer. He played 16 of the 24 minutes in the first half. He also threw his considerable weight around, like when he nearly body-slammed Russell Westbrook to the court on a drive down what appeared to be an open lane. Shaq was whistled for a flagrant against Westbrook with 4:30 left in the fourth quarter and Westbrook hit a key free throw to extend the lead to five. Again, that’s exactly what they wanted from Shaq – a mean presence in the middle that the Celtics desperately wanted for this season.
As a result, the Celtics again dominated the paint, 44-16.
Winning the turnover battle: It’s ironic that the one thing that seemed to be the Achilles’ heel of the Celtics in their 9-2 start was the one thing they corrected on Friday night. They committed 15 turnovers while the Thunder committed 20 – leading to 20 Boston points.
|Jermaine O’Neal, Rajon Rondo and Tiger Woods||11.01.10 at 4:46 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Jermaine O’Neal admitted following practice on Monday that he’s been a disappointment so far, in part because of injuries that have affected his conditioning.
“It’s been challenging,” O’Neal said of his slew of injuries. “Obviously, the hamstring, the back a little bit, the wrist, now the knee so it’s been extremely disappointing for me so far. But obviously, trials and tribulations will make you stronger and you have to take that as you never can be successful if you don’t fail. So far, I haven’t been able do things out there that I want to do out there.”
The 31-year-old O’Neal, who practiced with the first team and will play on Tuesday in Detroit, was signed in early July to a two-year, $12 million deal. He played in the first two games, scoring just three points, before swelling in his left knee sidelined him for the game against the Knicks last Friday.
“I know the people that are happy about me aren’t happy quite yet with what they’ve seen but I can guarantee that before the year is over with, they’ll be really happy with my play and it’s just about finding ways of getting yourself going.”
Rajon Rondo, the Eastern Conference player of the Week for Week 1 after dishing 50 assists in three games, dressed up as Tiger Woods to win the team’s award for best Halloween costume on Sunday. “We did a little vote on it Rondo won for being Tiger Woods,” captain Paul Pierce said. As for the video of Shaquille O’Neal as Shaqeeta, his drag costume for Halloween that is making the rounds on the internet and local TV, “No, I haven’t seen it,” Pierce added. “I’ll have to check it out.”
|Shaq a likely no-go but ‘big brother’ is ready||at 2:28 pm ET|
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.
|Shaq’s debut as a statue in Harvard Square||10.21.10 at 3:03 pm ET|
On Thursday afternoon, Shaq announced on his twitter account that he would be showing up in Harvard Square to be a statue so that people could take pictures with him. WEEI.com had a few people on the scene to snap a few photos and shoot some video. The video will be available soon, but here are a few quick pictures (can you find Shaq in the first one?):
|Ortiz ‘fine’ with Shaq as ‘Bigger Papi’||08.22.10 at 5:30 pm ET|
David Ortiz knows nicknames.
So what does the Red Sox slugger think of sharing his own with another star athlete in Boston?
Among the suggestions for newly-signed Celtic Shaquille O’Neal is “Bigger Papi,” a spin-off of Ortiz’s moniker. Big Papi wouldn’t mind.
“He’s a big dude,” Ortiz said of the 7-1, 325 pound center. “It’s not a big deal. It’s fine.”
O’Neal’s new nickname has been a topic of debate since the big man signed with the Celtics this summer. His past aliases include Big Diesel, Shaq Fu, The Big Aristotle, and Shaqtus when he played for the Suns.
Boston-themed nicknames up for debate range from the Big Shamrock and Green Monster to the Big Leprechaun and Jolly Green Giant.
After 18 years in the NBA, Ortiz thinks O’Neal’s name speaks for itself.
“I think he’s got a good name,“ Ortiz said. “I don’t think he needs to change it. [I’d call him] ‘Big Shaq’ so people know who they’re talking about.”
Ortiz, an avid Celtics fan, has never met O’Neal but plans to do so this season. He believes O’Neal will make a big impact for the Celtics … no matter what his nickname is.
“I think it’s going to be a good addition to the team,” Ortiz assessed. “I’m pretty sure the 15, 20 minutes that he plays are going to be good.”
|Video: Shaq’s introduction to Boston||08.10.10 at 2:23 pm ET|
Sporting a bow tie and a gray pinstripe suit, Shaquille O’Neal sat beside Celtics coach Doc Rivers for his introductory press conference on Wednesday. As forward and new teammate Kevin Garnett and Luke Harangody overlooked the event from a higher level at the Celtics’ practice facility, the center fielded questions and held up his No. 36 jersey as he became the first player in franchise history to wear the number. Check out some video highlights from the press conference below:
|Shaq: Celtics are a ‘damn good’ team||10.27.09 at 2:01 pm ET|
CLEVELAND – Shaquille O’Neal acknowledged on Tuesday morning that the Cavaliers will have their hands full with the Celtics, not just tonight but all season.
“A lot of teams made a lot of moves,” O’Neal said. “They’re the former champs and really didn’t have a chance to defend their crown because Mr. Garnett was hurt during the postseason. We know they’re going to be ready. We know a lot of other teams will be ready. It’s not going to be easy for us but we accept all challenges.”
O’Neal may have been quite formal but all pleasantries will likely end tonight as Garnett and the Celtics feel they have something to prove to the Cavaliers and the rest of the Eastern Conference.
O’Neal is just looking to fit in and begin meshing with another star by the name of LeBron.
“Very excited but you learn not to get too excited,” O’Neal said. “It’s a long season. I’ve been around every situation imaginable. We know what we have to do. We know we’re going up against a damn good opponent. We just have to try to keep our poise and play hard and hopefully, we can get started on the right foot.”
O’Neal has been a lightning rod in his most recent stops around the league, stops included Miami and most-recently Phoenix.
“Difference here is I’ve been inserted into a really good team,” O’Neal said. “So, my role is going to be a little different and I accept that. I’m not really coming here to stir things up, just come in here and be the piece they were missing. The whole world realizes they were just one piece away and hopefully, I’m that piece.”