Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff February 5, 2010 05:12 PM
Celtics use reserves to stop Nets
Doc Rivers kept Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and spot starter Tony Allen off the floor for the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter.
Instead, he took Glen Davis, Eddie House and Rasheed Wallace off the bench and put them on the floor with Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen with the Celtics trying to come from behind and put away the unexpectedly pesky New Jersey Nets.
Wallace and Davis wiped the glass clean. House, who had been struggling, knocked down 3s and came up with steals, and a bench unit that had been spotty rushed out on a 12-4 run. By the time Garnett and Perkins hit the floor with 2:40 left, the Celtics were up 4 and all they had to do was put on the finishing touches.
Ray Allen knocked down a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer in front of the Nets bench that made it 93-84 with 2:00 left and from there the Celtics slammed the door on the Nets 96-87, handing them their 45th in 49 games this season.
Ray Allen led all scorers with 26 points on 9 of 17 shooting, wiping out the 19-point six-rebound effort from Nets young bigman Brook Lopez. Rajon Rondo notched his 23d double-double this season, scoring 17 points and dishing out 11 assists.
The Celtics got 32 points off the bench, topped by Glen Davis’ 13 points. His 14-foot pullup put the Celtics up88-79 with 5:03 left.
The Nets, on track to possibly be the worst team in league history, had encouraged interim head coach Kiki Vandeweghe with their recent play. After losing 11 straight by an average of 17.8 points, they beat the Clippers Jan. 18 and in their four losses since were all by single-digit.
They refused to lay down for the Celtics. Devin Harris, absent at the start of the season with a groin injury, scored 17 points. The lead changed hands 12 times in the first half. The game was tied another 14 times. The Nets shot 63.3 percent in the firs thalf (19 of 20) and got to the free throw line 19 times.
But Boston put together another strong fourth quarter, outscoring the Nets 24-14 in the final frame to put New Jersey away and seal their first three-game winning streak since December.
Having been on losing teams, though not as drastic as the Nets' situation, Ray Allen talked a little before the game about what it was like and why he feels no sympathy.
I do believe at some point all of us in this locker room have been in that scenario, in that situation. I don’t feel sorry for them. I believe that it’s almost like a rite of passage for most guys coming into the NBA, being part of a team where you have to learn to become a better teammate to grow and understand and learn NBA life. You might be playing a lot of minutes, but you have to learn what it is to be successful in this game.
WELCOME TO THE GARDEN
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what futility looks like. The New Jersey Nets started the season with an 18 game losing streak. They've currently dropped four straight and 15 of their last 16. For all intents and purposes, New Jersey essentially looks like a sparring partner for the Celtics, trying to snap out of a January funk by starting February with three straight wins.
All signs say that Paul Pierce will not play, though that foot sprain he suffered Monday in a win over Washington could recover in time for him to play Sunday against the Magic. There's an off chance that Marquis Daniels could come around by then, too, depending on how practice goes tomorrow.
As for the task the Celtics have at hand, Bob Ryan had the Nets covered this morning, making a point New Jersey probably doesn't want to hear.
If the Nets think this can’t get worse, they’d better do a little homework. What they will discover as this season progresses is that opponents will not, as they may hope, take them lightly. They will discover that opponents will play as if every Nets game is the seventh game of the Finals. The desire to win does not to begin to compare with the fear of losing to a team that loses to everyone else.
No one's a cupcake, but the Celtics have won 11 straight over the Nets. Still, Doc Rivers is cautious about getting his team whole again.
“I’m not playing him unless he feels he’s great,’’ Rivers said. “I don’t want to hear any of this ‘I can get through a game’ - that’s not good enough. So, if he feels good on Sunday, we’ll play him. If he doesn’t, we’ll wait until Wednesday [at New Orleans] and, if not, we’ll wait until after All-Star break. “We’ve got to do this right and I don’t know what is right. If he doesn’t play in the three games and he’s feeling a lot better, I would actually want him to play in the All-Star Game. It allows him to play before we get to the West Coast.’’
Marquis Daniels, Tony Allen, and Glen Davis are all on the floor getting up early shots. Doc talks in a short while.