|Just what Doc ordered: Son Austin Rivers launches the winning 3-pointer for Duke. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)|
They're now in lone-Star state
Only Pierce gets nod for Orlando
For the past four years, the Big Three have taken a trip to the All-Star Game together, and for the past two, Rajon Rondo has joined them.
But this year, Paul Pierce will board the plane to Orlando alone.
Pierce was the lone Celtic announced yesterday as a reserve for the Eastern Conference team, perhaps signifying a changing of the guard in the NBA.
Kevin Garnett had been voted into the last 14 All-Star Games, playing in 13. Ray Allen has participated in 10 All-Star Games, three as a Celtic.
“Not at all,’’ Garnett said when asked if he was disappointed. “The All-Star Game is for the privileged. I haven’t even looked at the list [of All-Stars], but the first-timers, I’m always proud for them to get the opportunity to go and experience the All-Star festivities. Lord knows I’ve had enough. So I get to actually take me a vacation and see what that’s like and actually rest these bones a little bit. I’ll be watching at home.’’
Rondo may have had the best chance to make it this season, but he missed nearly one-third of the season (eight games) with a sprained right wrist. And with the shortened season, that may have cost him.
Asked about the roster selection for the Feb. 26 game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, “I think it’s too soon. I was sitting on my couch when I heard they were announcing the starters [two weeks ago]. I was floored.
“I honestly didn’t know they started the voting. I’m serious. I think they should have at least waited another week.’’
Said Pierce, who will be making his 10th All-Star appearance: “I’m always thankful for every opportunity. The coaches voted me in and it’s a tremendous honor.’’
That was Rivers celebrating as if he had won the lottery Wednesday night when his son Austin Rivers drained a buzzer-beating 3-point shot to give Duke an 85-84 victory over archrival North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Rivers, who attended the game, was caught on camera jumping up and down and hugging daughter Callie after Austin, a highly touted freshman, dribbled the clock down and launched a 24-footer over North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller.
Austin was the talk of the sports world yesterday, appearing on nationally syndicated radio shows. Doc could not have been more proud.
“Just as a fan, it’s the best,’’ he said. “I was just nervous. I’m a parent. I don’t care what you do, just do it well. I was pretty sure after the five-second mark, he was shooting it.’’
The Celtics competed with the Heat to acquire Troy Murphy last February, but coming off inactivity and ankle surgery, he contributed little to the effort in Boston. He averaged 2.6 points in 17 games and missed nine of his 10 3-point attempts.
But this season Murphy is undergoing a resurgence with the Lakers, producing in stretches as a reserve. He acknowledged that he was never healthy with the Celtics.
“Just to be healthy, regardless, is the biggest thing,’’ said Murphy, who had 2 points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes in the Lakers’ 88-87 overtime win last night. “It took me most of this summer just to get healthy.
“It was more of a hip thing for me, and the thing was I wasn’t in shape. You can run sprints all day and you can’t get into that basketball shape. I wasn’t ready for games.’’
Murphy said he learned something from the Boston experience.
“It was the first time I had been on a team that really had that kind of [championship] potential,’’ he said. “Just to see the way KG comes to practice, the way Ray Allen shoots threes, Pierce, the way he prepares. Just the way they prepare. I think it was a valuable experience.’’
Avery Bradley missed the game with a sore right shoulder, and his pressure defense was missed against the Lakers’ guards. He’s questionable for tonight’s game in Toronto . . . The Celtics activated Marquis Daniels (coming off a sprained right ankle) and placed Sasha Pavlovic on the inactive list as his troublesome right wrist flared up . . . Guard Steve Blake returned to the Lakers’ lineup after missing 13 games with fractured cartilage near his ribs. Coach Mike Brown said that, with little practice time, Blake will have to play himself into shape. He contributed 5 points in 32 minutes last night . . . Allen said he won’t participate in the 3-point Shootout in Orlando . . . Bradley, in his second year, and rookie E’Twaun Moore were not on the Rising Stars rosters for All-Star Weekend . . . Rivers said he ran into Rasheed Wallace at the Duke-UNC game. Wallace has been contemplating a comeback.