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Danny Ainge: 'We are open and listening'

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 31, 2013 06:12 PM

Celtics president of basketball operations went on WEEI's Big Show Thursday afternoon and said his team was not close to making a trade but that he'd been open to discussing any deal that would make the Celtics better.

"We are open and listening, but we don't feel pressure to do anything," said Ainge. "Whether we win every game or whether we struggle, I think it all depends on what opportunities are presented. We want to make some change to help improve our team."

The player who would seem to have the most value on the open market is Paul Pierce. He's a veteran who can help a contending team win now, and only $4 million of his $15.3 million contract for next season is guaranteed. Ainge said he has not received any offers for Pierce, but he said that he would inform his veteran forward of any potential trade discussions.

"Nothing has been talked about with Paul," said Ainge. "Nothing is close to being done. I too would like to see Paul retire as a Celtic.That would be great. We're all attached to Paul. He's been great for the city, the franchise, and he's been a true pro. Having said that, if something came up I would talk to Paul. My job is to do what's in the best interest of our team, regardless of my personal ties or my personal feelings with the players."

Ainge was also adamant that he was not currently in the market to pick up another point guard to replace Rajon Rondo.

"Not right now," he said. "There's a lot of reasons why we're not just jumping out and doing something.There really is nobody that you can find to replace Rondo, either through a trade or free agent acquisition, at this time of year. We like the guys -- Barbosa's been dying for a chance to play, and Jason Terry, and Avery Bradley at the point. I think all those guys are looking for an opportunity."

The Celtics have won their last two games with Rondo, and talk radio was filled Thursday with fans calling in suggesting that the team might be better without its All-Star point guard. Ainge quickly shot down notion.

"He single-handedly carries us every night, and I don't know how people don't see that," said Ainge. "It's silly. He's a great, great player, and he's proven that time and time again. The guy's been MVP of probably four or five series over the last five years. He's been the best player in a series against LeBron James. He's been the best player in a series against Derrick Rose. He's been the best player in three games in a Finals series. The guy has done too many good things. The question is, 'Are the pieces right around him?'"

One criticism of Rondo is that he dominates the ball too much. Another is that he cares too much about his statistics. Ainge called the entire notion of double-doubles and triple-doubles "nonsense" and said he understands the criticism of Rondo's attempt at keeping his streak of consecutive games with double-digit assists alive earlier this season vs. Detroit. But he says most of Rondo's triple-double performances have transcended the stats.

"The rebounds he gets, most guards can't get," said Ainge. "The assists that he gets, a lot of people can't get."

Ainge sounded relatively happy with his current team. He did not sound like a GM looking to make drastic changes for this season.

"I think I've been pretty consistent on this team the last couple of years,"he said. "I said I like the individuals. Obviously I don't like 20-23, which we were when Rondo got hurt. I didn't like any part of that.

"But what I particularly said is I like what these guys are made of, especially our core guys. When it comes down to playoff basketball, I know what they're made of, and I know that they have the gear to take it to another level."

Ainge said he expected the Celtics to make some kind of move, but not necessarily a major one, before the Feb. 21 NBA trade deadline.

Jared Sullinger misses Celtics practice Thursday

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 31, 2013 12:49 PM

The Celtics practiced shorthanded as usual as Jared Sullinger sat out with the back spasms that caused him to leave the 99-81 win Wednesday over the Sacramento Kings just minutes into the game. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Sullinger is "50-50" to play Friday against the Orlando Magic.

The Magic, meanwhile, won't have former Celtic Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who broke his left foot during the Magic's 113-97 loss to the New York Knicks.

Other practice notes:

• Forward Brandon Bass said he was more comfortable with his touches during the win over the Kings, the second Celtics player to mention they embrace this more sharing style of play with Rajon Rondo out for the season.

• Rondo did not attend practice and has not addressed the media since news of his torn right anterior cruciate ligament.

• With Rondo and Sullinger out, the Celtics were down to 10 healthy players for practice. Fab Melo is present with the team but rehabilitating from a quadriceps strain before returning to NBADL Maine.

Live updates: Kings at Celtics

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 30, 2013 07:16 PM

Final: Boston 99, Kings 81
That's all she wrote from the Garden. The Celtics had six scorers in double figures, led by 16 from Paul Pierce. Their largest lead was 28. Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 19. The Celtics improve to 22-23, the Kings fall to 17-30.

Fourth quarter: 2:50, Boston 95, Kings 78
It's not quite Gino time yet, but it's close. Some fans are heading toward the exits. The Murphy's "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" is playing over the speakers. We're about done here.

Fourth quarter: 5:44, Boston 90, Kings 75
The Celtics are basically milking this lead and the clock. Paul Pierce added a nice job shot to keep it fresh. Chris Wilcox added a put-bad layup after a KG miss. The Kings haven't exactly thrown in the towel. They're still pressing the issue, even down 15 late.

Fourth quarter: 9:30, Boston 84, Kings 67
We're still in blowout territory here, and the Celtics are slowly but surely extending their lead with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett back on the floor. Leandro Barbosa was also hit with a Flagrant 1 for a hard foul on Tyreke Evans. It appeared to be an unintentional clothesline on Barbosa's part while Evans was driving to the basket.

Third quarter: 1:46, Boston 77, Kings 54
The Celtics once-enormous lead has started to slim down a little bit with their true second unit -- Collins, Green, Bass, Barbosa and Terry -- into the game. Their defense has also had some lapses, so much so that Doc has called a timeout to rally the troops. What the Celtics need to do is close this quarter out strong to have some momentum entering the fourth.

Third quarter: 5:17, Boston 74, Kings 46
The Celtics track meet continues, with this squad pushing the ball up the court at a break-neck pace, leaving the younger Kings in the dust. The combination of Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee has, so far, been a pretty potent one. They each have 9 points.

Third quarter: 10:17, Boston 64, Kings 38
The Celtics have been extending their 21-point halftime lead with more of what helped them build that lead in the second quarter: transition play. They're moving the ball up the court very well (and very quickly) with the pass, and that has led to open shots. They're also working the ball around a lot on offense, and that has led to open shots.

Halftime: Boston 59, Kings 38
Boston was hot that quarter, hitting 14 straight shots at one point, and they turned a two-point deficit at the start of the quarter into a 21-point lead at halftime. Impressive. The Celtics are shooting 62 percent from the floor (25/40) and Kevin Garnett has a game-high 11 points. Jason Thompson has 10 points to lead Sacramento.

Second quarter: 3:04, Boston 51, Kings 36
The Celtics are shooting the lights out, hitting all 13 of their shots this quarter thus far. They're also on a 29-12 run, most of which has come from turning defensive stops into easy (or easy-ish) transition baskets.

Second quarter: 6:25, Boston 41, Kings 31
A Jason Terry baseline jumper has given the Celtics a double-digit lead, its largest of the night. The Celtics are really running and pushing the ball in transition. And it has been effective, even against a much younger squad in the Kings. We'll see if it keeps working.

Second quarter: 9:45, Boston 30, Kings 26
Six straight points from Jeff Green, and an alley-oop slam from Kevin Garnett (via Leandro Barbosa) has put the Celtics back on top. A strong push from this squad once its starters checked back into the game. Also, some guy wearing a Yankees cap was shown on the Jumbotron and the Garden fans gave him the business, if you catch my drift.

End of first quarter: Kings 24, Boston 22
So much for that hot Celtics start. When the second units checked into the game for both teams, the Kings took charge. Marcus Thornton has seven points to lead the Kings. Kevin Garnett has a game-high 9 points on 4-of-4 shooting.

First quarter: 2:07, Boston 20, Kings 18
Well, the Kings have made a game of this when the second units checked into the game. Also news: Jared Sullinger is getting treated for back spasms. The Celtics say he's likely to return to this game.

First quarter: 6:58, Boston 13, Kings 4
The Celtics have gotten off to a hot start behind Kevin Garnett, who has 9 points. They've been moving the ball up the floor pretty well so far with Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley. Also, Jared Sullinger appears to have tweaked his right leg. He just asked out of the game and went to the locker room. We'll update you as soon as we have something to report.

And were moments from tipoff here at the Garden, where the Kings (17-29) will take on the Celtics (21-23) this Wednesday evening. We'll have live updates throughout the game, so stay tuned to the blog. And be sure to check out tomorrow's Globe for full coverage.

Keyon Dooling won't play for the Celtics this season

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 30, 2013 04:10 PM

Keyon Dooling won't be coming out of retirement to play for the Celtics this season in light of the team losing All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to a season-ending knee injury.

Dooling, a former Celtics guard, announced on his twitter account Wednesday that he won't rejoin the Celtics after considering returning following the news of Rondo's injury.

Doc Rivers said before Tuesday's practice that he had spoken with Dooling, who is the Celtics' coordinator of player development, about getting in shape for a possible return.

Dooling told the Globe on Sunday that he would consider coming out of retirement. He retired this summer despite agreeing to a one-year contract extension with the Celtics.

Jared Sullinger of Celtics not selected for Rising Stars Challenge

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 30, 2013 04:07 PM

Jared Sullinger won't be part of the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend in Houston that features the league's top first- and second-year players. He was left out of the pool of 18 players (nine rookies, nine second-year players) that will make up the two teams. Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal will pick the teams for the Feb. 15 game.

Celtics-Kings preview

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 30, 2013 03:25 PM

Greetings and salutations, faithful Internet traveler, from TD Garden, where the Celtics and Sacramento Kings are scheduled to throw down, basketball style, on Wednesday night.

It should be an interesting affair. The Celtics are adjusting to life post-Rajon Rondo, learning Sunday that the All-Star point guard will be out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee. How will the Celtics adjust? Well, they won without him Sunday against Miami, and we'll see if they'll be able to pull off a trick like that again.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (21-23)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Jared Sullinger
C Kevin Garnett

SACRAMENTO KINGS (17-29)
PG Isaiah Thomas
SG Tyreke Evans
SF John Salmons
PF Jason Thompson
C DeMarcus Cousins

TV/Radio: CSN, WEEI (93.7)

Pregame notes:



  • This is the second of two meetings; the Kings won the first, 118-96, in December in Sacramento.


  • Sacramento has the worst scoring defense in the NBA, allowing 103.2 points a game.


  • Before beating the Wizards on Monday, the Kings had been averaging 21 turnovers in their previous three games.


DeMarcus Cousins on the NBA: It's a business

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 30, 2013 02:10 PM

If you have a Google Alert set up for "DeMarcus Cousins," then your inbox has been flooded this season with news that isn't exactly focused on his on-court performances.

There's the talk about his suspensions; he's been issued three this season alone.

And there also have been the trade rumors, including those tied to the Celtics, whom Cousins and the Sacramento Kings face Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Still, Cousins, speaking Wednesday morning at shootaround, downplayed the trade rumors -- and there have been plenty of them.

"I didn't even know my name was in trade talks," he said. "That's part of the deal [though]. There's always going to be allegations."

Riiiiiiiight...We're all sure you had no idea your name has been involved in trade talks.

Of course, Cousins said he isn't astonished his name has come up in said talks that he was unaware existed.

"I'm not surprised," he said. "I am a pretty decent player."

Indeed. Cousins is averaging 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds this season, including 12 points and 10 rebounds when these teams last met, a 118-96 Kings win in December.

Cousins later went on to say that if there is one thing he's learned about the NBA, it's that it's a business, through and through, which is a culture shift that he says is new to him.

"I'm a loyal guy," Cousins said. "I'm a family-orientated guy. But not so much in this league. You've kind of got to look out for yourself most of the time and always do what's best for you."

What's best for Cousins, who has two years left on his rookie deal, would be a switch to a green uniform, Celtics fans would argue.

But it appears that the only green the mercurial third-year big man might be wearing any time soon will be in Seattle, where the Kings franchise is likely to move.

Why? Because A.) the Kings have given no indication that they're willing to move him and B.) the Celtics don't have much to offer Sacramento in return, especially now with Rajon Rondo injured.

Speaking of the potential move to Seattle, Cousins would only again say that the NBA is a business.

Trade Paul Pierce? The Celtics shouldn't think of it

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 30, 2013 12:06 PM

piercestay.jpg

Paul Pierce is rarely quiet. Pick a practice, any practice, and you can hear the Celtics captain chirping commands above the bounce of balls and squeaking of sneakers. The quips are usually instructive, and when practice ends Pierce is always playing for something, trying to be the first to put a ball in the basket while sitting on the bench or facing the other shot clock.

"Compete level" is a contrived phrase drummed up by those who feel the need to tell others how hard they're working, but for 14 seasons Pierce has played the only way he knows how. He's been remarkably consistent, but since he hasn't always been on winning teams, it's made his legacy somewhat complicated. But sit down and watch a practice or listen in on a huddle during a timeout and there's no question who the leader of the Celtics is.

This matters because Pierce's name has come up in trade rumors following the season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo. Trading Pierce makes sense on paper. He could instantly bring a contending team closer to a championship, and only $4 million of his $15.3 million salary next season is guaranteed, allowing a team to cut him loose without a major hit. That's real value, the kind that might bring back a decent young player, an expiring contract, a draft pick, or some combination of the three. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge would be foolish not to explore the trade market for any of his players, but trading Pierce would be a mistake. Ainge owes it to Pierce, and to Celtics fans, to let Pierce's career play out in Boston.

Rondo's injury was a shock to the system to everyone, but especially to Pierce, who found out the news seconds after a stirring double-overtime victory over the Miami Heat Sunday afternoon. When ESPN's Doris Burke told Pierce of Rondo's torn ACL, the Celtics forward couldn't help but mutter "Oh my god" before delivering a controlled answer about moving forward without his point guard. Rondo's absence likely deprives Pierce of another deep playoff run this spring. He and Kevin Garnett aren't getting any younger, and they know their potential as a team is limited without Rondo. Realistically the Celtics as we've known them are on life support, and the new reality for Pierce is answering questions about his uncertain future.

"I want to retire as a Celtic," Pierce said Tuesday. "That's been my longtime goal. But it's not in my control."

There have been several hypothetical Pierce trades proposed by NBA writers in recent weeks (Grantland's Zach Lowe has the best roundup here.) One proposed deal would send Pierce to the struggling Lakers and Pau Gasol to the Celtics. Another deal that might make sense is a swap of Pierce for the Warriors' Harrison Barnes and Richard Jefferson. That trade would give the Warriors, who are currently in 5th place in the Western Conference, a real shot at a title this season. It would also rid them of Jefferson's contract (he's making $10.1 million this season and has a player option for $11 million next season), and it would give the Celtics an exciting young player in Barnes that is a future building block. The odds of Golden State actually departing with young star Barnes are long, however.

Another potential landing spot for Pierce could be the Clippers, who are all-in this season and could solidify their No. 1 seed with Pierce's help. A Los Angeles homecoming could give the Clippers the push they need to win it all and could bring the Celtics guard Eric Bledsoe, some cap relief in Lamar Odom's expiring deal, and a draft pick. Pierce doesn't have a no-trade clause, but Ainge would be doing the best he could for Pierce by sending him home and to a contender.

Any of the above deals would still feel like a punch in the gut both because of Pierce's past history with the Celtics and his current value to the team. By now you know that Pierce has done enough in his time here to ensure his number being retired into the rafters. If you need a reminder, here's where Pierce ranks among Celtics leaders all-time.

Points: 2d (behind John Havlicek)
Assists: 4th (behind Larry Bird, Havlicek, and Bob Cousy)
Rebounds: 7th
Steals: 1st
3-pointers made: 1st
Blocks: 4th
Free throws: 1st
Games played: 3d

If you're not the nostalgic type, it might be instructive to see how valuable Pierce is to the Celtics right now. He's the team's leader in both scoring and minutes, for one. If you're a whiz kid, try to keep up with these next statistics: The Celtics use Pierce on almost 28 percent of their offensive plays. He attempts 37 percent of their free throws. His estimated wins-above-replacement of 5.8 ranks him 31st in the league, higher than any other Celtic (Garnett ranks 54th). Those numbers should only go up now that Rondo is out and the Celtics plan to run more of their offense through Pierce, their most valuable player.

Ever the leader, Pierce had all the right things to say to the media Tuesday about Rondo's absence.

“You really don’t replace a Rondo,” Pierce said. “It’s hard to replace an All-Star guard. It’s just about understanding what the team needs. It’s something I’ve been doing for years, understanding what the team needs on any given night. I’m anxious to see how this thing works out.”

You can't really replace a Paul Pierce, either. Any thought of doing that should make Celtics fans very nervous indeed.



Doc Rivers says Keyon Dooling return is being considered

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 29, 2013 12:31 PM


Doc Rivers said before Tuesday's practice that he has spoken with Keyon Dooling and informed him to starting getting in shape for a possible return.

Dooling told the Globe on Sunday that he would consider coming out of retirement. He retired this summer despite agreeing to a one-year contract extension with the Celtics.

"He would be the closest for me if we had to go in another direction (at point guard)," Rivers said. "We'd have to find out if he could still do it. He knows our stuff. He's the easiest by far. He's going to (get in shape) anyway."

Rivers said the club has no immediate plans to make a roster move Dooling is being considered.

Meanwhile, the club recalled center Fab Melo from NBADL Maine. Melo has not played a regular season game with the Celtics. He averaged 11.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.6 blocks in 19 games for the Red Claws

Ainge: Rondo should be back by training camp

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 28, 2013 02:21 PM

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Monday he expects Rajon Rondo to be ready for Celtics training camp in October after he was declared out for the season Sunday with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament.

"Rajon will get surgery in 10 to 14 days, when the swelling is right and we anticipate that he'll back and as good as ever in training camp," Ainge said. "(Kendrick Perkins) Perk came back in six months and that's a little bit unusual and Adrian Peterson came back in six months and so did Wes Welker. I guess every body is a little bit different and [with] every injury there's some differences."

Ainge said he has no plans to make immediate trades or major roster changes. The Celtics are currently in the eighth and final playoff spot but are just 5 1/2 games behind third-seeded Chicago after their double-overtime win Sunday over the Miami Heat.

"We'll see what transpires here the next few weeks with this team," Ainge said. "We're waiting. We're waiting to see who's all available and see what our needs are. Right now we have no needs. We got 11 healthy bodies and it's tough to get those 11 guys on the court. We have good healthy players that can't get the time they deserve and they want so we have no need right now. We'll see over the next few weeks what we need."

When asked whether the Celtics can accomplish their lofty preseason season goals without Rondo, he said didn't know.

"We'll wait and see the next few weeks. We have to give it a shot. It's a hand we're dealt."

Meanwhile, according to an NBA source, former Celtic Delonte West, now playing with the Texas Legends of the NBADL, is interested in returning to Boston. West last played for the Celtics during an injury plagued 2010-11 season.

Watch highlights: Celtics lose Rondo, beat Heat at home

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 27, 2013 07:23 PM




Click the video player above for highlights from the Celtics' 100-98 win over the Miami Heat Sunday and reaction to the loss of Rajon Rondo.

Rajon Rondo out for the season with a torn ACL

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 27, 2013 02:38 PM

rondoacl.jpg

The Celtics were dealt a crushing blow Sunday when they learned that their All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo has a torn right ACL and will not play again this season.

The team announced the injury during the their game against Miami. The Celtics said a date for Rondo to undergo surgery has not yet been determined.

Rondo got an MRI on his right knee Sunday after sustaining an injury to it on Friday during the Celtics' double-overtime loss at Atlanta. It was previously thought that his knee might have been hyper-extended, but the MRI appears to have shown otherwise.

"Rondo will be fine," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. "He just will not be fine this year. But he'll be fine."

Rivers said that the team was celebrating its 100-98 double-overtime win against Miami when he came into the locker room to address the team with the news about Rondo.

"Guys were just celebrating, and then it just..." Rivers said of the mood, his voice trailing off.

Rondo, who was selected to start in the All-Star Game for the Eastern Conference, was averaging 13.7 points and 11.1 assists. With him out, the Celtics' chances of hanging onto the No. 8 and final playoff spot in the East look a lot slimmer.

"It sucks," Miami star LeBron James said. "It's terrible. As much as a competitor and as much as I've been a rival with Boston over the years, I never want to see anyone go down, and knowing the competitor that he is and knowing how talented he is, I think it's terrible. Not only for their team but for our league."

It's unclear what move -- if any -- the Celtics would make at this point to possibly add another player, especially a point guard.

Ray Allen receives mixed crowd reaction in his return to Boston

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 27, 2013 01:23 PM

At first, when the Ray Allen tribute video began to play, there were boos.

The boos continued as the tape continued to roll, showing highlights of the guard's time in Boston, including when he helped the Celtics win the title in 2008.

But then fans at the Garden began to stand and applaud, and soon the entire house was on its feet, giving the current Miami Heat guard a standing ovation during his first return to Boston since leaving the Celtics last year.

However, when Allen checked in around the 4:39 mark in the first quarter, there were only boos. And each time he touched the ball, more boos rained down. He buried a couple shots to more boos and few muffled cheers, and missed a couple to some cheers.

So, let's call his return mixed, at best.

Rajon Rondo (knee) out for Miami game

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 27, 2013 01:07 PM

Celtics starting point guard Rajon Rondo (hyper-extended right knee) will not play against Miami, the Celtics announced shortly before tipoff Sunday.

Instead, Rondo will be heading to New England Baptist to get an MRI for an injury the team said he sustained Friday during the Celtics' double-overtime loss at Atlanta.

The All-Star guard was getting treatment, but apparently his injury was not improving.

Courtney Lee started in place of Rondo.

Final: Celtics 100, Heat 98 (double overtime)

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 27, 2013 12:15 PM

Final after double overtime: Boston 100, Miami 98
Shane Battier missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Celtics held on for the win, which snaps their six-game losing streak. Paul Pierce records a triple double with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. LeBron James had a game-high 34 points.

Second overtime: 5.1 seconds left, Boston 100, Miami 98
Jason Terry made a layup with 54.9 seconds left to pull the Celtics to within 1. Dwyane Wade missed a jumper and Paul Pierce canned a mid-range jumper with 30.4 seconds left to give the Celtics a 1-point lead. Pierce made 1 of 2 free throws after being fouled.

Second overtime: 1:02 left, Miami 98, Boston 95
LeBron James drove down the lane and finished a difficult layup while drawing a foul. He made the additional free throw. Celtics timeout.

Second overtime: 2:05 left, Boston 95, Miami 95
Rajon Rondo came out of the tunnel to watch the second overtime near the Celtics' bench, and the Garden gave him a loud cheers when he was shown on the video screen above the court. The Celtics could use him. Chris Bosh made an easy dunk inside to tie the score.

End of the first overtime: Miami 93, Boston 93
Kevin Garnett pulled the Celtics back into this game with a pair of buckets to tie the score. Boston's defense was strong at the very end, as Miami had two shots to win the game, but both were heavily contested, especially Dwyane Wade's jumper as the clock neared zero. We're headed to another overtime.

Overtime: 1:59 left, Miami 93, Boston 89
LeBron James bulled through Jason Terry for an easy layup down the middle of the lane. On the other end, Boston turned it over, and James, who has taken over this game late for Miami, scored again on a put-back beneath the basket. Timeout Celtics. James has a game-high 31 points.

Fourth quarter: 7 seconds left, Boston 87, Miami 87
LeBron James hits a 3 to tie the score with 7 seconds left. Jason Terry misses a shot at the buzzer. We’re going to overtime.

Fourth quarter: 21.2 seconds left, Boston 87, Miami 84
Jason Terry knocks down two free throws. Miami ball.

Fourth quarter: 25.1 seconds left, Boston 85, Miami 84
Kevin Garnett buried a long two-point jumper with 59.9 seconds left to give the Celtics a 4-point lead. Miami came up empty on its next possession, but then Boston turned it over and Ray Allen just knocked down a corner 3. Timeout Boston.

Fourth quarter: 3:00, Miami 80, Boston 79
LeBron James took Jeff Green one-on-one and settled for a fadeaway jumper that fell through the net to put the Heat up by 1. This is likely going to be Miami’s offense for the rest of the game: LeBron-on-five. Timeout Celtics.

Fourth quarter: 5:00, Boston 77, Miami 75
Paul Pierce ducked under a pair of defenders and sank a layup to put the Celtics back up 2. Boston’s defense, coupled with some wide-open misses by the Heat, has helped keep the Celtics in this game late, and they’re clearly feeding off the crowd.

Fourth quarter: 8:24, Boston 73, Miami 72
Jeff Green buried a corner 3-pointer to bring the Celtics to within on, and then, after LeBron James missed a 3, Leandro Barbosa scored on a put-back layup, giving Boston the lead and bringing the Garden to its feet.

Fourth quarter: 9:58, Miami 70, Boston 68
Ray Allen answered a layup by Jason Terry with a layup of his own, and then each team proceeded to enter a dry spell. As we’re winding down here, the physicality is starting to build. Expect a lot of free throws late.

Fourth quarter: 12:00, Miami 68, Boston 64
LeBron James hit a pair of jumpers near the end of the third quarter to give his team a 4-point cushion heading into the fourth. And it was in that third quarter that the Celtics announced a crushing blow: Rajon Rondo is out for the season with a torn ACL. We'll have much more on this as soon as we can.

Third quarter: 6:00, Boston 60, Miami 57
Avery Bradley gave the Celtics a 3-point lead earlier on a layup, but Miami trimmed that lead and eventually the score was tied again. But Bradley just knocked down a nothing-but-net trey from the right corner to put Boston up by 3 again. He has 9 points. The Garden is starting to show some real life.

Third quarter: 8:43, Boston 52, Miami 51
Paul Pierce left the game with what appears to be a right shoulder injury. He was briefly examined by team trainer Ed Lacerte before going back into the game to knock down a pair of free throws and give the Celtics a lead.

Halftime: Miami 45, Boston 45
The Celtics made a strong push at the end of the first half with defense and its bench, especially Leandro Barbosa, who has 7 points. Jared Sullinger has 5 points and 3 rebounds, but he’s playing with a lot of energy and has been a nuisance in the paint for the Heat. Kevin Garnett has 9 points to lead the Celtics. Chris Bosh has a game-high 12 points and LeBron James has 10. James and Dwyane Wade, who had eight points, have struggled, have combined to hit just 7 of their 18 shots. Each team is shooting 46 percent from the floor. It will be interesting to see if the Celtics can play with the same kind of energy that they displayed near the end of the first half or if Miami will impose its will.

Second quarter: 2:46, Miami 40, Boston 38
Jared Sullinger and Rashard Lewis got tangled up underneath the rim after Sullinger scored, and the officials called a technical foul on each player. It’s the first technical foul for Sullinger, a rookie. After the basket, it appeared that Lewis more or less had Sullinger in a weak headlock. Sullinger did not appreciate this.

Second quarter: 4:06, Miami 38, Boston 36
A loose ball foul on LeBron James brought some cheers out of a fairly quiet Garden crowd. A three ball by Leandro Barbosa, a jumper by Green and some stops on defense have helped keep the Celtics in this.

Second quarter: 5:39, Miami 37, Boston 31
The Celtics had cut to two before the Heat stretch their lead, capped by a pair of free throws for Wade, who has eight points on 3 of 7 shooting.

Second quarter: 8:52, Miami 31, Boston 25
Each team has 18 points in the paint, but the Celtics, who have played rather spirited without Rajon Rondo (out with a hyper-extended right knee), have not been able to retake the lead with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the bench. Still, the Celtics are getting some production from its second unit to keep the score close.

First quarter: 3:06, Miami 20, Boston 15
Chris Bosh has 10 points for Miami and has knocked down 5 of his 6 shots. Ray Allen checked in at the 4:39 mark, shortly after the Celtics played a nice tribute video to the former Boston guard. The Garden crowd gave Allen a standing ovation after the video finished playing, but there were plenty of scattered boos.

Pregame: Coming to you from TD Garden, where the Celtics (20-23) play host to the Miami Heat (28-12) and Ray Allen, who makes his first return to the Garden since leaving the Celtics last year. We'll be filing live updates throughout, so stay tuned to the blog for in-depth coverage.

A quick update: Doc River announced before the game that Jared Sullinger will be starting today in place of Brandon Bass. This is Sullinger's fourth overall start and first since Nov. 9.

Game 44 preview: Heat at Celtics

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff January 27, 2013 07:34 AM

The free-falling Celtics have dropped six straight and just blew a 27-point lead to Atlanta. They're quickly losing their grip on the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference -- the last available playoff spot, mind you -- and their coach is short on solutions.

So, what perfect timing for a showdown with the reigning champions and a homecoming rematch of last season's epic Eastern Finals showdown, a series that may seem like yesterday for Miami fans but certainly feels like eons ago for Celtics faithful.

Oh, and Ray Allen is back in town.

STARTING LINEUPS

BOSTON CELTICS (20-23)
PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
PF Kevin Garnett

MIAMI HEAT (28-12)
PG Mario Chalmers
SG Dwyane Wade
SF LeBron James
PF Udonis Haslem
C Chris Bosh

TV/RADIO: 1 p.m. ABC / WEEI (93.7)

Pregame notes:

  • Allen is returning to Boston for the first time since he left the team to sign with the Miami Heat last offseason. The man fondly known as "Jesus Shuttlesworth" joined Boston in 2007, played in two Finals and won one with the team, but he did join a team that has ended the Celtics' season in each of the last two seasons. Expect mixed reactions from the Garden when Allen's name comes over the loudspeaker.
  • This is the second of four meetings between these clubs this season. Led by 29 points from Wade and 26 from James, the Heat took the first game in Miami, 120-107, in the season opener Oct. 30. Allen scored 19 off the bench.

Final: Hawks 123, Celtics 111 (Double overtime)

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 25, 2013 07:41 PM

Final: Hawks 123-111:Yep. It happened. The Celtics blew a 27-point lead in the first half and then a 10-point lead with four minutes left in regulation and ran out of gas in double overtime. The Celtics seemed doomed right now and Miami comes to town on Sunday.

Second overtime, 3:21, Hawks 112-107: You wondered when the Celtics were going to run out of gas and it looks like they have. Josh Smith scores on a putback and a free throw and Al Horford scores on a short jumper following Kevin Garnett fouling out. Celtics ball.

End of first overtime, Tied at 107: Paul Pierce has been struggling all night but Doc calls his number again against Josh Smith and his jumper is partially blocked. Double overtime. Pierce is 3-for-11 shooting with 10 points. He has 4 points since halftime.

Overtime, 23.6, Tied at 107: The Celtics just stepped up their defense and held the Hawks scoreless for two consecutive possessions. They just forced a Devin Harris jumper to beat the shot clock. Rajon Rondo gets the rebound on the floor and calls timeout before he can be tied up. Celtics ball.

Overtime, 2:11, Hawks 105-103: Avery Bradley gives the Celtics a 3-point lead with a 3-pointer but the Celtics allow two consecutive layups and then a Josh Smith free throw.

End of regulation, Tied at 98: Hawks give ball to Josh Smith, who misses contested layup as buzzer sounds. Celtics lucky foul wasn't called. OT.

Fourth quarter, 3.7, Tied at 98: Rondo misses a runner. A jump ball is called and Hawks gain possession.

Fourth quarter, 29.2, Tied at 98: Kevin Garnett missed a banked hook shot off the glass while Devin Harris has the ball fly out of his hands on a drive. Celtics ball.

Fourth quarter, 1:00, Tied at 98: With a chance to build on a 2-point lead, the Celtics opt for 3-pointers by Paul Pierce and Jeff Green. Both miss badly. Al Horford ties the game with two free throws. Celtics ball. Celtics will be out of fouls on next foul. Hawks have foul to give.

Fourth quarter, 2:24, Celtics 98-96: A 10-point lead is now down to 2 because the Celtics refuse to guard Kyle Korver, who just hit his eight 3-pointer of the half as the Hawks refuse to go quietly. Celtics ball. Korver has 27, 24 in the second half.

Fourth quarter, 8:02, Celtics 81-80: The Celtics are just trying to survive as Kyle Korver has scored 15 second-half points, all on 3-pointers. The Hawks are 14-for-25 (56 percent) shooting in the second half while the Celtics are 10-for-24 but with eight turnovers.

End of third quarter, Celtics 73-69: Only these Celtics could blow a 27-point first half lead. The Hawks began the third quarter with a 21-2 run to tie the game but the Celtics offense, after going more than six minutes stuck on 59, scored 14 points in the final 5:03. Now can they stop Atlanta's momentum? The Hawks shot 11-for-19 from the field with four 3-pointers in a 31-point quarter.

Third quarter, 5:03, Celtics 62-59: It appears the Celtics felt like they had this one won. They have been terrible in the second half while the Hawks have canned three 3-pointers and began the half with a 21-2 run. The Celtics were actually leading 48-21, so the run was 38-11 over two quarters. This is typical Celtics.

Halftime, Celtics 57-38: The Hawks ended the half on a 17-9 run to make it more respectable but the Celtics have been sparkling otherwise. They shot 52.5 percent, received 13 points from Jeff Green and 8 points and five rebounds from Kevin Garnett. Jeff Teague has been a one-man show for Atlanta with 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting.

Second quarter, 4:09, Celtics 48-27: The Hawks are on a 6-0 run and the Celtics have made the comeback easier by putting them in the bonus for the final 7:14 of the period. The Celtics have been sparkling, shooting 52.9 percent from the field with just three turnovers. Jeff Green and Courtney Lee have combined for 20 points.

Second quarter, 8:46, Celtics 39-17: The Celtics took a 25-point lead when Jason Terry pulled up for a 3-pointer off the fastbreak. They are still in command but have to watch out for a lull. Jeff Teague leads the Hawks, who are shooting 24.1 percent, with 5 points. Jeff Green already has 10 off the bench in eight minutes.

End of first quarter, Celtics 29-10: The Celtics end the quarter on a 13-0 run as the Hawks look completely disinterested in competing tonight. They are 4-for-23 shooting while the combination of Devin Harris and Jannero Pargo are 0-for-7 off the bench. Josh Smith has four missed free throws and a technical foul.

First quarter, 2:33, Celtics 18-10: The Celtics have been impressive defensively, holding the Hawks to 4-for-20 shooting. But Atlanta has helped by missing all six 3-point attempts. Rajon Rondo is in takeover mode with 8 points on 4-for-4 shooting and Paul Pierce has added 4 points.

First quarter, 6:14, Celtics 14-5: Boston is on a 10-0 run as it is forcing the Atlanta big men into making plays and they are failing miserably. The Hawks are 2-for-10 shooting and haven't scored in three minutes. Rajon Rondo has hit shooting game ready with three jumpers while Kevin Garnett is 2-for-2 with three rebounds.

First quarter, 9:38, Hawks 5-4: The Celtics are trying to get off to a better start here than they did on Jan. 5 when they fell behind 17 points in the first half. Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo each have a bucket for Boston.

Welcome to Philips Arena for Celtics-Hawks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 25, 2013 05:59 PM

ATLANTA -- The Celtics return to Atlanta for the second time in less than three weeks to face a Hawks team looking for revenge following Boston's stirring third-quarter comeback from a 17-point deficit on Jan. 5. The Celtics have lost five consecutive games and every game is becoming monumental and this one is critical given the Miami Heat await the Celtics in Boston on Sunday.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (20-22)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

ATLANTA HAWKS (24-18)
PG Jeff Teague
SG Kyle Korver
SF Josh Smith
PF Al Horford
C Ivan Johnson

Officials: Ken Mauer, Tony Brown, Eric Dalen

TV/Radio: 7:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI

Pregame notes:

• Devin Harris (sprained left ankle) and Zaza Pachulia (sore right Achilles tendon) are game-time decisions for the Hawks.

• Atlanta will be without Lou Williams, who scored 28 points in the previous meeting against the Celtics. He tore his right anterior cruciate ligament during the Jan. 18 game with the Brooklyn Nets. He is out for the season.

• Paul Pierce is in the midst of a major slump, shooting just 40 percent from the field in 10 January games and 31.8 percent from the 3-point line. After averaging 20.8 points in December, the average dipped to 16.4 in January.

• Avery Bradley said his sore ribs are still an issue but they are slowly improving. He missed on game with the injury but has returned to play in the past three.

• After the 89-81 loss to the Celtics, Atlanta coach Larry Drew challenged his team's heart (sound familiar). Since that post-game rant, the Hawks are 4-6 but have won two straight over Minnesota and Charlotte.

• Doc Rivers said Chris Wilcox is able to play but has not yet cracked the rotation. He hasn't played since spraining his right wrist on Dec. 18.

Celtics' scoring woes aren't going away anytime soon

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 25, 2013 08:15 AM

knickslosspp.jpg

With the game on the line late in the fourth quarter vs. the Knicks Thursday night, the Celtics put the ball in the hands of their best offensive player. Celtics coach Doc Rivers drew up a lob for Jeff Green and trusted Paul Pierce to get the play started. But Pierce fumbled a simple handoff with Jason Terry and turned the ball over with 1:06 remaining. With the Celtics down 89-86 with 7.1 seconds left, Pierce had a chance for redemption. Rivers drew up a play for Pierce to run to the corner and then pop out for a 3-pointer, but once again Pierce had the ball stripped, sealing the Celtics' 5th straight loss.

For both the player and the team, the miscues were emblematic of a larger issue.

The Celtics can't score, which is increasingly obvious with each loss they suffer. During this losing streak they've scored 78, 99 (in overtime), 88, 90, and 86 points. Overall this season the Celtics are 27th out of 30 NBA teams in offensive rating, scoring 101.9 points per 100 possessions. By contrast, the Knicks are 3d in the NBA with 110.7 points per 100 possessions.

Rivers was pleased with his team's effort Thursday night while acknowledging that the Celtics struggled to put the ball in the basket.

"This was a hard played game," said Rivers. "This was a playoff type game. Baskets were hard to come by. Guys were flying out at each other. This is the way the playoffs look. And all you hope is you make your open shots, and we didn't."

With all due respect to the coach, it's not just about making open shots. The Celtics came out with the same energy that propelled them to a 102-96 win over the Knicks on Jan. 7, but unlike in that game they couldn't sustain it. Boston attempted 46 shots in the first half Thursday, but the tempo of the game changed in the second half, and the Celtics finished the game with just 76 field goal attempts. That stat explains how the home team held New York to 39 percent shooting for the game and lost.

"If we get good shots and wide open layups and a lot of the shots that are not falling, maybe you can say we are getting tight or something," said Pierce. "But when it’s just poor execution, it’s poor execution. On the turnovers, we’ve got to set screens. We’ve got to do things harder."

Scoring woes aren't anything new for the Celtics. They were 27th in the league in offensive rating last season and 18th the year before. The last time the Celtics had a rating in the league's top half was the 2008-09 season, when they were 6th.

The troubling aspect to all of this is that there's no answer in sight. The Celtics can't rely on Pierce to score as easily as he used to. He's shooting 33 percent during his last five games and has turned the ball over 13 times compared to 18 assists. He's a step slower this season despite being in better shape than last year. Pierce had 19 points in the first half of Thursday night's game but finished with 22. He attempted just three shots from the field in the second half and missed them all.

The Knicks made it more difficult on Pierce in the second half and tried to force him to give the ball up. Teams are going to do that when Pierce gets it going early, but Boston's options beyond their captain are limited. Rajon Rondo had 22 points and turned in a triple-double, but he and Pierce were the only players in double figures. The Celtics got just 22 points off their bench in the game. It's safe to say that Jason Terry has not come as advertised.

Afterward, Rivers praised his team's effort.

"I don't think either team played great, but if I had that effort every night I'd be very happy," he said.

That's a step in the right direction after listless losses to Hornets, Pistons, and Cavaliers. But effort isn't going to bring Pierce's scoring touch back. The talk all season has been that the Celtics need to find another big man. A bigger help, in both the short and long term, might be to find someone who can put the ball in the basket.

Celtics fall to Knicks, 89-86, for 5th straight loss

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 24, 2013 10:47 PM

celticsknicksfinal.jpg

Rajon Rondo turned in a triple-double performance but the Celtics shot the ball poorly in an 89-86 loss to the New York Knicks Thursday night at TD Garden.

Rondo's 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists were not enough to overcome his team's 41 percent shooting from the field. To their credit, the Celtics came out with some of the same kind of energy they displayed in a 102-96 win over the Knicks on Jan. 7. Unlike in that game, however, the Celtics did not shoot 53 percent from the floor. On Thursday night the Celtics shot 38 percent from the field in the first quarter. Paul Pierce was 2 of 7. He had two key turnovers down the stretch that cost the Celtics a chance to pull closer in the game's final minutes.

The Celtics were 0-7 in home games when trailing entering the fourth quarter this season, and Thursday night was no different. Pierce had 19 points in the first half but scored just three points the rest of the way. He shot 6 for 15 in the game and was 1 of 5 from 3-point range.

Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 28 points. Kevin Garnett had 8 points and 12 rebounds. Coming into the night the Knicks had lost 13 straight at TD Garden. The Celtics, who have lost five in a row, are right back at it tomorrow night when they take on the Atlanta Hawks on the road.

1:11 4th quarter, Knicks 89-84: Celtics bring help to Jeff Green, who is guarding Anthony. Knicks swing the ball around and get a wide open 3-pointer from J.R. Smith.

2:58 4th quarter, Knicks 86-82: Great bailout drive by Rondo to get to the line. If he going to provide the scoring the Celtics need?

5:37 4th quarter, Knicks 82-76: Rondo gets his triple double all in one motion, grabbing a rebound and starting the fast break that leads to an easy score on the other end. The Celtics need points, stat.

8:23 4th quarter, Knicks 80-70: Doc Rivers trying to stop the bleeding with a timeout, but the Celtics just can't put the ball in the basket. Paul Pierce has one point after halftime.

10:12 4th quarter, Knicks 75-68: Carmelo Anthony hits a 3-pointer, and the Celtics might be in trouble. Anthony leads all scorers with 24 points.

End 3d quarter, Knicks 72-66: The Knicks closed out the quarter strongly to take a six-point lead. Rajon Rondo is flirting with a triple-double (13 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists). Paul Pierce scored just one point in the third quarter.

3:16 3d quarter, Knicks 65-61: Celtics going with a super small lineup of Terry, Rondo, Lee, Green, and Sullinger.

strong>5:52 3d quarter, Tied at 57: Rajon Rondo, who is playing very well, just cost his team four points by passing up a layup in favor of a too-cute pass. Amar'e Stoudemire got a dunk out of it on the other end.

8:31 3d quarter, Celtics 53-52: We're at the same pace we were to start the game, though shots aren't falling as freely. Celtics pushing the ball, though.

rondoknickshalf.jpgHalftime, Knicks 50, Celtics 48: Paul Pierce has a sneaky 19 points in 17 minutes of play. He got off to a poor shooting start, but he's clearly not done yet. He's been to the line seven times.

Anthony leads the Knicks with 13 points.Garnett has 5 points and 9 rebounds.

2:53 2d quarter, Celtics 40-39: This is getting fun. Kevin Garnett has nine rebounds. He also had a sweet block on Anthony, pinning the ball against the backboard.

5:29 2d quarter, Celtics 33-31: The Celtics aren't shooting any better, but they're back in this game thanks to better defense. Avery Bradley closed out to a 3-point shooter in the corner, than ran down to the block to strip Tyson Chandler of the ball. The kid is everywhere.

8:47 2d quarter, Knicks 29-24: The Knicks are making a run without Anthony in the game. Amar'e Stoudemire has 5 points and 5 rebounds. The Celtics are shooting 33 percent from the field.

End 1st quarter, Celtics 24-20: Big lull for the Celtics in the middle of the quarter, but they got back into it with defense to end the period. The Celtics are giving only late help to Jeff Green on Carmelo Anthony. It worked to perfection on the last play as Sullinger stepped up and altered Anthony's layup attempt, then swatted the ball away as time expired.

2:59 1st quarter, Tied at 16: Things have slowed down considerably for the Celtics with Garnett off the floor. Pierce is out, too, which is a good thing. He's already 2 for 7, continuing his recent shooting woes.

4:47 1st quarter, Celtics 16-13: I like the aggressiveness from the Celtics out of the gate. They've got five assists and no turnovers. Rajon Rondo, who has four of those assists, is making it happen.

10:18 1st quarter, Celtics 4-0: Good start for Paul Pierce, who has a jumper and a layup out of the game. Loud jeers for Carmelo Anthony as he and Kevin Garnett went one-on-one early.

Pregame: Don't expect to see many cereal-related products on television tonight. Word is they're being confiscated at the door. Both teams are warming up in blue "NBA Fit" shirts, which makes it look like the Knicks are warming up against the Knicks.

James White is starting for the Knicks tonight because, according to coach Mike Woodson, the Celtics are "small."

Funny anecdote before the game. Former Celtics and current Knicks center Rasheed Wallace popped into the Celtics locker room, yelled "J GREEN!" to Jeff Green, and then left. Oh, Sheed.

Paul Pierce left off Eastern Conference All-Star team

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 24, 2013 07:22 PM

Paul Pierce will not be joining teammates Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Reserves for the game were announced Thursday night and Pierce was not among them.

Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, Chicago's Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, Indiana's Paul George, Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday, New York's Tyson Chandler, and Miami's Chris Bosh were named to the team.

Pierce misses the All-Star Game for the first time since 2007, when he missed 35 games due to injury. Pierce has made 10 All-Star appearances.

Game 42: Knicks at Celtics preview

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 24, 2013 10:43 AM

celticsknickspre.jpg

The first time these two teams met this season, the Celtics had just begun to play good basketball. A 102-96 win over the Knicks on Jan. 7 was Boston's third victory in a row, evening their record at 17-17. The Celtics would go on to win their next three games, with that stirring victory over the Knicks the postcard for a six-game winning streak.

A little more than two weeks later, the Celtics are in a tailspin. They've lost four straight games and haven't looked while good doing so. Paul Pierce is shooting 32.4 percent from the field in his last five games. He was 3 of 15 against the Cavaliers Tuesday. Thursday night's game represents the official start of the second half of the season for the Celtics, who currently occupy the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

melocover.jpgWe haven't even gotten to the Carmelo Anthony-Kevin Garnett feud yet, but the way the Celtics are playing that's got to be the last thing on their minds. With a second-place team to cover, the New York Daily news is allowed to have a little fun (left) with what may or may not have been said by Garnett to Anthony on Jan. 7. Maybe having the Knicks in town will inspire the Celtics to play better basketball. Maybe tonight's game can be the start of another winning streak.

Here are the details for tonight's game:

Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Records: Celtics (20-21), Knicks (25-14)
Broadcast info:TNT, WEEI/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics: PG: Rajon Rondo SG: Avery Bradley SF: Paul Pierce PF: Brandon Bass C: Kevin Garnett

Knicks: PG: Jason Kidd SG: Iman Shumpert SF: James White PF: Carmelo Anthony C: Tyson Chandler

Story lines:
Offensive play: With the return of Avery Bradley, the Celtics' renewed defensive focus has been a talking point. What's just starting to be discussed is just how bad the Celtics have been on the other end of the court. Boston is 27th out of 30 NBA teams in offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions). Pierce's poor shooting hasn't helped, but he's not the only problem. The Celtics have not gotten the consistent scoring they were hoping for across the board.

Paging Jeff Green: It's hard to envision Pierce's shooting improving much tonight while chasing Carmelo Anthony all over the court. On this night in particular, the offense will have to come from somewhere else. Jeff Green has a big task to stay with Anthony and provide some offense when he's in the game.

Something to prove: Rajon Rondo didn't play in the first meeting between these two teams, which to date is the Celtics' defining victory of the season. Rondo needs to play his best for the Celtics to have a chance tonight.

@GlobeGaryDzen

Watch: Who would you trade?

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 23, 2013 02:23 PM

In the latest episode of Globe 10.0, Kevin Paul Dupont and Chad Finn debate which players the Celtics would possibly trade.

Final: Cavaliers 95, Celtics 90

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 22, 2013 07:12 PM

Final: Cavaliers 95-90: It's gotten worse as the Celtics allowed Kyrie Irving scored 15 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter and the Celtics made just 11 shots in the second half. Pierce, Rondo and Garnett missed a combined 30 shots.

Fourth quarter, 52.0, Cavaliers 90-87: Kyrie Irving is winning this game for Cleveland, scoring on a streaking layup for a 3-point Cleveland lead. The Celtics have been awful offensively in the second half missing 27 of 37 shots.

Fourth quarter, 2:30, Cavaliers 84-83: The Celtics commit their 10th turnover of the half and Kyrie Irving's backhanded layup puts Cleveland ahead despite being 12-for-35 from the field in the second half. The Celtics are 10-for-35 and have missed some easy shots. Paul Pierce is 3-for-14 from the field.

Fourth quarter, 5:59, Celtics 79-76: This game has turned into a battle of attrition with neither team taking advantages of opportunities to take control. The Celtics have committed nine turnovers in the second half while Paul Pierce has missed eight of 11 shots, although he has six assists and six rebounds. Rajon Rondo is two assists from a triple double but it won't matter if the Celtics don't seal this win.

End of third quarter, Celtics 73-70: The Celtics had a 7-point lead and a chance to build on it but didn't score for more than three minutes and were saved by a Courtney Lee 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left to regain the lead. The Celtics are playing much better defense but are breaking down at key times.

Third quarter, 1:38, Celtics 70-66: The Celtics were on the verge of creating some real distance but have come up empty for a couple of possessions while the Cavaliers slowly climb back into the game. Kyrie Irving has 25 points but just 6 since the first quarter. Tristan Thompson has 19 and seven rebounds. The Cavaliers are 5-for-19 shooting in the quarter. Rajon Rondo has 13 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists for the Celtics while Kevin Garnett has 12 points.

Third quarter, 6:30, Celtics 64-58: Avery Bradley has canned back-to-back 3-pointers from the baseline -- a great sign for Bradley -- as the Celtics are beginning to play strong defense. The Cavaliers are 2-for-13 from the field and Kyrie Irving has scored 6 points since the first quarter. He still has 25.

Halftime, Cavaliers 54-53: It was Kyrie Irving in the first quarter and Tristan Thompson in the second. Thompson scored 12 points in the second quarter as the Celtics refuse to defend the pick-and-roll. They are scoring with relative ease but Thompson and Irving have combined for 39 points while Luke Walton has 7 off the bench as Cleveland shot 50 percent. Rajon Rondo has 13 points for the Celtics and Kevin Garnett has 10. Jared Sullinger has nearly a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds.

Second quarter, 7:04, Celtics 39-37: Well what do you know? The Cavaliers take Kyrie Irving out of the game and the Celtics make a run. Jared Sullinger is comfortable back home in Ohio with 8 points in nine minutes. Kevin Garnett has 8 points and Paul Pierce has 7.

End of first quarter, Cavaliers 31-27: The storyline has been Kyrie Irving, who has 19 points on 8-for-109 shooting while his teammates are 5-for-12. Luke Walton of all people came off the bench to score 5 points. The Celtics only shot 41.7 percent in the quarter And Rajon Rondo has 10 points but it doesn't make much difference if he gives up 19.

First quarter, 2:55, Cavaliers 24-19: Are the Celtics playing as if their jobs are on the line? Not really. Kyrie Irving already has 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting, scoring with ease against the spotty defense of Rajon Rondo. No other Cavalier has more than 4 points, but it doesn't matter if the Celtics can't stop Kyrie. Paul Pierce has his shooting game back with 5 points on 2-for-2 shooting. Rondo has 8 points and two assists.

First quarter, 4:47, Cavaliers 20-17: Kyrie Irving is torching Rajon Rondo so far with 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting in seven minutes. The Cavaliers are 8-for-13 shooting while the Celtics are 7-for-12. Kevin Garnett has 6 points for Boston.

First quarter, 9:06, Tied at 7: Paul Pierce opens the game with a 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving cans two free throws and Tristan Thompson follows with a jump hook. Pierce has 5 points and Kevin Garnett just added a hoop.

Welcome to Quicken Loans Arena for Celtics-Cavs

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 22, 2013 06:21 PM

CLEVELAND -- In one of the more important games of the season, the Celtics, after Doc Rivers threatened trades following the 103-88 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, take on the struggling Cavaliers. Don't take Cleveland lightly, it has given the Celtics trouble over the past two years with Kyrie Irving running point guard. The Celtics won the first meeting Boston on Dec. 19 but nearly coughed up a 20-point lead in the process.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (20-20)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Leandro Barbosa
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (10-32)
PG Kyrie Irving
SG Dion Waiters
SF Alonzo Gee
PF Tristian Thompson
C Tyler Zeller

Officials: Tom Washington, Courtney Kirkland, Kevin Scott

TV/Radio: 7 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI

Pregame notes:

• The Cavaliers have five players born in the 1990s -- Irving, Josh Selby, Thompson, Waiters and Zeller.

• Cleveland acquired Selby along with Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and a first-round draft pick for forward Jon Leuer in a salary cap dump for the Memphis Grizzlies. None of the three acquired players are expected to play tonight.

• Paul Pierce is 29-for-73 shooting (39.7 percent) in the past five games but he said he is not concerned about his slump. He scored just 10 points Sunday against the Pistons

• Avery Bradley will start despite sore ribs. He was visibly wincing during the Detroit game but reported no setbacks,

• The Cavaliers went 1-4 on a just-concluded West Coast road trip, pulling out a victory in Portland. Thompson has led the Cavaliers in rebounding in 14 of the past 16 games.

• After having knee surgery, Cleveland forward Anderson Varejao was declared out for the season after doctors discovered a blood clot in his lung. He was the league's leading rebounder when injured on Dec. 18.

Rivers stands by promise of changes if Celtics don't improve

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 22, 2013 12:01 PM

CLEVELAND -- Approximately 36 hours of reflection did nothing to change the mind of Celtics coach Doc Rivers. He is demanding his team improve and play with more consistency or, yes, roster changes could be in store.

The Celtics did not practice Monday in Cleveland, only going through a film session at the team hotel. But Rivers addressed the media Tuesday morning for the first time since threatening trades after the Celtics' 103-88 loss to the Detroit Pistons.

"I think we're a better team than what we're playing and I think we have to (play better)," Rivers said before the team's shootaround at Quicken Loans Arena. "I think we have to improve our play and we do have to improve the way we play and if we don't, then something's not working, either something I'm doing or something. It needed to be said."

Rivers said he wasn't concerned about the players' reaction.

"We need to play better and we don't need to play better for one night," he said. "It's not football where you get a week to readjust and then you get to play well and then you get a whole other week. We need to be a better, consistent basketball team. I've told our guys this 100 times (the solution) is in the locker room but it's not on the floor. We have to get it on the floor and we have to be a consistent team."

The Celtics are 20-20 entering tonight's game with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which could be tabbed the most important contest of the season considering Rivers' comments.

"I think that we're a better team than our record but you are always what you're record is and right now we are a .500 basketball team," he said. "That's what we are. But what I see and my beliefs are we should be a lot better.

"I don't mind the challenge. I'm up for that and I hope our guys are up for being challenged. We haven't been consistently on the right path. We've had stretches but even when we have a stretch, we won six in a row, after the third game I was saying 'we're not playing well again, we're just winning games.' And it caught up to us and now we're back to the way we were playing."

Rivers entered training camp telling reporters how much he liked the revamped roster. During the season, he commented that he liked the roster when they were consistent. When asked if he likes his team now, Rivers said: "It depends on the day. It really does. I like individuals but we're not a team yet."

Rivers tears into team, threatens trades if Celtics don't improve

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 20, 2013 11:23 PM

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Doc Rivers was seething after the Celtics' 103-88 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, threatening trades and roster changes if his .500 team does not improve following a third consecutive loss. The Celtics never led and trailed by as many as 19, losing to Detroit for the second time this season.

"I said we’ve got to find something where every night all 12 guys play the same,” Rivers said. “We did it for three games in a stretch. I told them game four and five in that (six-game winning streak) was garbage, we just won the game.

“So I gotta figure that out. I don’t think the guys are honest with each other. I just don’t think we have committed to being a good basketball team. I think this team wants everything easy. They want the easy way out. They want to win easy. I told them, the only way you’re going to win easy is you’re gonna have to play hard. The harder you play the easier the games become. We’re taking the approach.”

And then Rivers threatened to shakeup his muddling roster.

“I gotta either find the right combination, the right guys or we’re going to get some guys out of here,” he said. “It’s the bottom line, because this group right now, they’re not playing right and it’s in them to play right but right now they haven’t been because I’m not getting to them or they’re not getting to each other. Either we gotta do that or we gotta make changes. I’m saying if we don’t get it right we may (make changes). The six-game winning streak was great. Three of those games we played tremendous basketball. The other three we won the game.”

Final: Pistons 103, Celtics 88

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 20, 2013 07:44 PM

Final: Pistons 103-88 Another awful performance by the Celtics here in the Motor City, Courtney Lee and Kevin Garnett lead Boston with 16 points. They shoot 40 percent with 18 turnovers.

Fourth quarter, 5:37, Pistons 89-77 The Celtics have received a total of 33 points from their starters, that's the problem. Paul Pierce has 6 points in 31 minutes and looks either uninterested or tired. Rajon Rondo has a season-high eight turnovers.

End of third quarter, Pistons 81-71 The Celtics were within 55-54 with the ball and then lost all control of the game. Andre Drummond has been a big factor with 14 points and 6 free throw makes after the Celtics have intentionally fouled him four times. Paul Pierce has 4 points in 25 minutes while Brandon Bass has not scored.

Third quarter, 1:23, Pistons 75-69 The Celtics have played poorly in the period, the starters more specifically and the bench is now in relief. The Celtics are pressing and forcing turnovers but they have to convert. Rajon Rondo is 3-for-13 shooting with eight turnovers, a season high.

Third quarter, 8:24, Pistons 61-54 Celtics play good defense two consecutive possessions, force forced 3-point attempts by the Pistons and they hit both. Doc Rivers is frustrated right now. Celtics were within 1 point with the ball but Avery Bradley, who is laboring with the sore ribs, missed a 3-point attempt. Celtics have to rally yet again.

Halftime: Pistons 52-48 The Celtics actually trailed 36-18 and looked ready to mail it in, but they responded with a 30-12 run to even the game at 48 before Brandon Knight scored the last 4 points of the half for the Pistons. Detroit is shooting 51 percent and has made 5 3-pointers while the Celtics are at 38 percent after scoring 30 points in the second period. Courtney Lee and Jeff Green have 12 points while Kevin Garnett has 11. Knight leads the Pistons with 12.

Second quarter, 1:43, Pistons 47-44 The Celtics' bench has been instrumental in their comeback but they need more defensive stops to make it closer. Courtney Lee and Jeff Green have combined for 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting and three 3-pointers. Kevin Garnett has 9 points but no other Celtic has more than 4. Andre Drummond has 8 for Detroit while four Pistons have 7 points.

Second quarter, 7:00, Pistons 38-28 Just like that the Celtics decide to show up and play with passion, scoring 10 quick points, 6 of those on Courtney Lee 3-pointers. The Celtics have also stepped up their defensive intensity. The Celtics are still shooting just 33 percent.

Second quarter, 9:38, Pistons 36-18 The deficit was once manageable and now it's out of control as the Pistons are on a 9-0 run to begin the period, two of those on Andre Drummond alley-oops. The Celtics are in a stupor are once again are playing horribly in Detroit. They are 6-for-26 shooting so far.

End of first quarter: Pistons 27-18 Jeff Green scores 9 points in the period to keep the Celtics close but they are playing terribly so far. The starters have produced nothing in the first period. Tayshaun Prince has 7 points for Detroit.

First quarter: 2:31, Pistons 21-10 The Celtics are trying to climb back into the game but are shooting 3-for-19 from the field and have no points from Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett. The Pistons are shooting 8 for 17 and have four players with at least 4 points. Coach Doc Rivers commented on Detroit's scoring balance before the game.

First quarter: 8:10, Pistons 9-2 Here we go again. The Celtics are off to another slow start in Detroit but the good news is Avery Bradley is back in the lineup and scored the first basket.

Welcome to the Palace at Auburn Hills (Bradley update)

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 20, 2013 04:34 PM

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Welcome to Auburn Hills for the big game, and if you happened to be watching something else (Patriots) during this time (What are the chances of that, huh?) feel free to follow this game through our blog. As of now, Avery Bradley worked out before the game but Doc Rivers said he was doubtful to play. The Celtics were pounded here 103-83 on Nov. 18 and also lost twice last season to the Pistons.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (21-20)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Leandro Barbosa
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

DETROIT PISTONS (14-25)
PG Brandon Knight
SG Kyle Singler
SF Tayshaun Prince
PF Jason Maxiell
C Greg Monroe

Officials: Monty McCutcheon, Karl Lane, Gary Zielinski

TV/Radio: 7:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI

Pregame notes:

• Chris Wilcox said he is ready to play after dressing the past two games. But coach Doc Rivers said Wilcox has to play his way back into the rotation as he lost his backup center role to Jason Collins.

• Leandro Barbosa said he has not requested a trade and is happy playing with the Celtics, although he would like more playing time.

• Paul Pierce is 27-for-73 shooting (36.9 percent) in the past five games but he said he is not concerned about his slump. But he added that he needs to be more aggressive with the ball and get to the free throw line.

• The Pistons have lost two straight, including a rather drab 102-87 loss to the New York Knicks in London. Will Bynum led Detroit with 22 points in that contest.

• Rookie Andre Drummond has become a solid presence off the bench. He is averaging 8.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 66 percent shooting in six January games. Drummond, 19, is averaging nearly 20 minutes per game.

Bradley questionable for tonight vs. Pistons

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 20, 2013 11:38 AM


BEVERLY HILLS, Mich. -- Celtics guard Avery Bradley made the trip with the club to Detroit and Cleveland after X-rays were negative on his sore ribs. When he returns to the lineup is now the question.

Bradley was expected to participate in the team's shootaround at Detroit Country Day School but he nor Doc Rivers was certain whether he would play. Bradley said he got hit in the ribs by New Orleans center Brook Lopez near the conclusion of the Celtics' 90-78 loss to the Hornets.

"It's very frustrating, I've already missed a lot of games this year," he said. "And to not be able to be there for my team is frustrating."

RIvers said Bradley will have to be aware of injuries but doesn't want him to change his style. Leandro Barbosa got the start on Friday in place of the injured Bradley. He would likely start again if Bradley is unable to play.

Bulls top Celtics, 100-99, on fade-away in OT

Posted by Staff January 18, 2013 07:08 PM

Final, Bulls win, 100-99: Without Rondo, Doc developed a couple plays for KG and Pierce that ended in points. Then down, 98-97, Terry hit a jumper with 12 seconds left. On the Bulls last possession, Marco Belinelli hit a falling jumper with three seconds left to give Chicago the win. Hamilton finished with 20 points, often using post moves to drain fade-away shots. You have to wonder how different this game would have been had Bradley played. The Celtics, losers of two straight, now go to Detroit to face the Pistons Sunday night.

Overtime, 1:16, Bulls lead, 96-93: Rondo fouls out after vying for a rebound. He was knocked to the ground and fell into Noah. Rondo finished with 30 points, a season-high. Courtney Lee time.

End of regulation, 88-88: The Celtics had their chance to wrap up this game late, but Pierce couldn't gain full possession on an inbound pass as Noah put enough of his hands on the ball for the officials to rule a jump-ball. Noah won it and Hinrich hit a mid-range jumper with two seconds left to send it to OT.

Fourth quarter, 0:22, Celtics lead, 86-85: KG showed up late, getting under Noah's skin and earned a trip to the free throw line because of it. This has been Rondo's game though. Boozer made just one of two free throws with 22 seconds left to keep the Celtics in front.

Fourth quarter, 3:15, Bulls lead, 83-81: It's like Rondo flipped a switch from distributor to scorer. And he's on fire. Rondo has gone 11 for 18 with 28 points, a season high. If the Celtics can get some stops down the stretch, they could squeak out a win.

Fourth quarter, 6:53, 74-74: ESPN couldn't have asked for more from this game. The Celtics, who haven't held a lead, have tied it up on an end-to-end rush from Rondo. Deng re-injured his hamstring and his return is questionable, though unlikely judging by the amount of pain he appeared to be in after aggravating it.

Fourth quarter, 10:06, Bulls lead, 70-68: A run 6-0 run from the Celtics and they suddenly look inspired. Terry running the point. KG finally hitting some jumpers. Comeback?

End of third quarter, Bulls lead, 68-62: How much are the Celtics missing Bradley's on-ball defense as Hamilton continues to tear it up? Hamilton with 16 points so far. Garnett, fresh off his All-Star honors, has just 3 points and 3 rebounds in 22 minutes.

Third quarter, 2:42, Bulls lead, 62-58: Rondo is doing everything he can to keep the Celtics in this game. With Boozer leading the Bulls with 17 points and 15 rebounds, Rondo has been countering Chicago's power with speed and finesse, scoring often on transition. Trying to beat Hinrich, Rondo fell to the court, kept dribbling, got up and popped a bank-shot while getting fouled.

Third quarter, 6:54, Bulls lead, 54-52: Barbosa has been giving the Celtics some energy this quarter, but perhaps too much energy. He missed a pair of lay-ups while trying to force shots through solid defense. And Hamilton has been giving him the business on the other end. Barbosa has four fouls.

End of half, Bulls lead, 45-39: Not too much of a surprise, but the Celtics have been getting most of their points from their guards (Rondo with 12, Lee with 7), while the Bulls are bullying them inside (Boozer with 13 points). Rivers has seemed fairly content with just one or two bigs on the floor, though.

Second quarter, 1:50, Bulls lead, 41-37: If it wasn't for Nate Robinson hitting a couple of 3's, the Celtics would be ahead. Robinson has been running the point for Kirk Hinrich for much of the second quarter. Eight of Rondo's 10 points have come in transition.

Second quarter, 6:36, Bulls lead, 34-27: Lee gave the Celtics 7 points and 5 rebounds in 12 minutes off the bench. Barbosa, an energy guy, hasn't seen the floor since the fourth minute. Rivers is opting to give that time to Lee and Jason Terry. Boozer continues to do work inside, this time beating Jared Sullinger, who went the entire first quarter without committing a foul. He already has two in the second.

End of first quarter, Bulls lead, 23-19: Boozer, Noah and Richard Hamilton have 21 of the Bulls' 23 points. Jason Collins came off the bench in the last two minutes to give the Celtics some more size. It'll be interesting to see how long he stays in the game and how big Rivers wants to go here.

First quarter, 4:10, Bulls lead, 17-12: The Bulls seem content with letting the Celtics take those outside jumpers, almost daring them to drive inside against Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. And the Celtics haven't been making those shots of late. Barbosa played just four minutes before coach Doc Rivers went to Courtney Lee.

First quarter, 9:00, Bulls lead, 9-4: The absence of Bradley is fairly noticeable early on, as the Celtics have little on-ball pressure. Carlos Boozer is 3 for 3 from the field with six points.

The Celtics gave Leandro Barbosa his first start since Nov. 15 as Avery Bradley sits out with an injury to his ribs.

Bradley out as Celtics host Bulls

Posted by Staff January 18, 2013 06:30 PM

The Celtics will likely be without guard Avery Bradley as they host the Bulls on Friday night. Coach Doc Rivers said he doesn't think Bradley will play, though he wasn't sure who would start in his place. "A whole host of guys," Rivers said. The Celtics had gone 6-2 since Bradley's return from shoulder surgeries, gaining a boost on the defensive end that resulted in the Celtics allowing just less than 87 points per game.

The Bulls, already missing Derrick Rose, gave Luol Deng the start, despite his recent right hamstring ailment. Deng is leading the team with 17.8 points per game.

UPDATE, 6:52 p.m.: Now it's official. Bradley will not play and guard Leandro Barbosa will take his place. The 30-year-old Barbosa scored 17 points in his only start of the season Nov. 15 against the Nets.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (20-18)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Leandro Barbosa
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

CHICAGO BULLS (22-15)
PG Kirk Hinrich
SG Richard Hamilton
SF Luol Deng
PF Carlos Boozer
C Joakim Noah

Officials: Marc Davis, Sean Corbin, Eli Roe

TV/Radio: 7:00 p.m. ESPN / Comcast SportsNet / WEEI

Pregame notes:

• The Bulls are one of the NBA's best rebounding teams, rakning seventh in rebound rate, hauling in 51.8 percent of missed shots. Noah and Boozer each rank among the league's 12 best rebounders, averaging 10.7 and 9.7 per game, respectively. Cue Jarred Sullinger.

• After the Hornets were sent to the free-throw line 31 times, compared to 16 times for the Celtics, on Wednesday night, Rivers has emphasized the importance of driving the ball more, as opposed to settling for some jump shots that the coach didn't approve of. "We have to drive to finish and get to the basket." Rivers said. "Earlier in the year we were getting to the foul line and we were the same team."

• Rivers said Chris Wilcox (sprained right thumb) will again dress for the game, though he couldn't say if the center would play.

• Rivers had dinner with Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau Thursday night in Boston for Thibodeau's 55th birthday. Rivers said he paid. "I said your team is pretty good without Derrick," Rivers said. "That’s No. 1, but he is their best player. And when you take their best player off the team and they’re still doing what they’re doing, that says a lot about [Thibodeau]. His intensity and his belief that they’re going to win, with a man down, has to spill over to them. And I think they feel that."


Rondo, Garnett earn All-Star nods; Shaq, Barkley disagree

Posted by Staff January 17, 2013 07:20 PM

There weren’t too many surprises when the NBA All-Star rosters were announced on TNT Thursday night for the Eastern Conference. Two Celtics, two Heat, and one Knick.

Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett earned starting nods, joining Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

Rondo, 26, is leading the NBA with 11.2 assists per game as he earned his fourth straight All-Star appearance. He said before Thursday’s practice that was honored to be voted in by the fans because he considers himself an entertainer. Rondo received 924,180 votes.

Garnett, 36, is having another solid year, averaging 14.6 points and 7 rebounds per game. It’s his 15th All-Star team. After earning All-Star status from 2000-2011, Garnett was left off the roster last season. He's tied for second all-time with 15 All-Star appearances.

“I don’t actually know what that means,” coach Doc Rivers said at Thursday’s practice. “I know it’s good. It’s always good when you have players in the All-Star Game. Id’ rather have more rest, personally. But especially for Kevin – Rondo is great – but for Kevin, at this point in his career – I don’t think he made it last year if I’m not mistaken – and now he’s going to make it this year. That tells you a lot about him.”

Speaking on TNT NBA Tip-off, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal said Garnett, who received 553,222 votes, the least among the 10 starters, didn’t deserve the honor this year.

“I love Kevin Garnett, but he’s not having an All-Star year,” Barkley said. “It’s not fair to Tyson Chandler. He should be starting in the All-Star Game.”

Chandler is averaging 12.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per game for the Knicks as the NBA’s sixth-best rebounder this season.

“Tyson Chandler should be starting,” O’Neal said. “[Garnett] is older now. He’s slowing down. Even though he’s averaging 15 [points per game], he doesn’t look like the Kevin Garnett of old. In my mind, he’s not playing like an All-Star.

“It’s a political system. Yao Ming was never better than me, but he was always voted as a starter.”

Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin earned starting nods for the Western Conference.

The All-Star Game is Feb. 17 in Houston.

Avery Bradley sits out practice; Leandro Barbosa asks for trade

Posted by Staff January 17, 2013 03:46 PM

WALTHAM – Avery Bradley wasn’t quite as active in Wednesday’s 90-78 loss to the Hornets as he has been lately, taking just four shots in 21 minutes on the floor.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Bradley may have injured his ribs during the game and would sit out Thursday’s practice. Bradley’s status for Friday’s game against the Bulls is unknown.

“He’s OK, not great,” Rivers said. “He got hit in the ribs or somewhere – I don’t even know where he got hit. We’ll see tomorrow. He’s not going to practice or do anything today, for sure."

The news comes at a bad time after Bradley’s return had sparked the Celtics defense, which has allowed about 87 points per game since his return eight games ago.

Rivers said he had no intentions to change the starting lineup on Friday. But if Bradley can’t go, that could force Courtney Lee or Jason Terry into a starting role. Both have played well of late.

Barbosa could be on the move…

Leandro Barbosa was moving around on the Celtics bench for much of the game on Wednesday. Doc Rivers says Barbosa is always ready to go in, but the coach didn’t call Barbosa’s number until there was 2:41 left in the game and Boston’s fate had already been sealed.

Speaking to Bradesco Esportes FM, an ESPN radio affiliate in Brazil, Barbosa said he has asked Celtics president Danny Ainge for a trade.

Here’s a loose translation from Portuguese to English from FreeTranslation.com:

"I am not going to lie to you, I tried to leave from here several times, but Danny Ainge did not want me to leave,” Barbosa told the radio station. “He has admired my basketball for many years. I tried to obtain a good contract with the Boston Celtics, but that did not happen.”

Barbosa, the 2007 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, has averaged almost 11 minutes per game this season, a career-low for the 30-year-old guard.

An unexpected applause…

When Austin Rivers entered the game for the Hornets on Wednesday, the TD Garden crowd gave him a brief, but welcoming roar. Doc said on Thursday that he was completely surprised.

“It was really neat for the fans giving him that ovation,” the Celtics coach said. “I didn’t expect that. That was actually another strange event from last night. A player who has never played here comes in and they cheer for him. That was cool.”

The 20-year-old Rivers was also booed mightily when he approached the free throw line with 0.4 seconds left in the third quarter.

“I loved that,” Doc said.

Scal wasn’t using his head…

Former Celtic Brian Scalabrine told ESPN.com that he suffered three concussions during the 2008-2009 season, but insisted on playing through them when the Celtics need forwards in a first-round playoff series against the Bulls.

“The only two bigs we had were [Kendrick] Perkins and Big Baby [Glen Davis],” Scalabrine told ESPN. “I was the third rotational big man, and I got a chance to play a ton of minutes in the playoffs. So I said, ‘Hey, the long-term repercussions of this, I’ll deal with later. I’m going to push through and play.”

Scalabrine said he was suffering from many symptoms and couldn’t sleep longer than 3.5 hours.

“I’ve learned a ton about brain health,” he said. “Don’t listen to loud music in your ear all the time because that affects brain health, keeping cell phones away, using headsets.

“Why not have a healthy brain outside of concussions? This is a new way I live my life now.”

Celtics end six-game win streak with 90-78 loss to Hornets

Posted by Staff January 16, 2013 08:14 PM

Final, Hornets win, 90-78: Aminu, Vasquez and Lopez all scored at least 15 minutes and the Hornets defense stymied the Celtics on Wednesday night. The Celtics turned the ball over 15 times. Austin Rivers finished with 8 points, his highest total since Dec. 28. The Celtics host the Bulls on Friday night.

Fourth quarter, 2:35, Hornets lead, 82-71: Every time it looked like the Celtics might pull closer, Vasquez did something to shut them down. The Hornets point guard didn't put on his best performance from behind the arc, but his transition buckets were timely.

Fourth quarter, 7:07, Hornets lead, 74-67: The Celtics need a run here. They're alternating buckets right now and it's not going to be good enough. Doc called a timeout and Sullinger appears ready to enter. Perhaps he can slow down Amino and Robin Lopez.

End of third quarter, Hornets lead, 68-63: With time winding down in the quarter, Garnett, Terry and Courtney Lee moved aside to let Pierce go one-on-one with Rivers. Pierce beat Rivers to his right before getting swarmed, but turned around and drained the fade-away regardless. Pierce then committed a silly foul on Rivers with 0.4 seconds left, bumping the rookie off the dribble and sending him to the line for a pair of free throws. Looks like Rivers has given the Celtics a little extra incentive.

Third quarter, 4:17, Hornets lead, 61-54: With Terry and Sullinger joining Rondo, Pierce and Garnett on the floor, the Celtics were able to slow things down and put together an 11-9 run. Terry has provided a spark, scoring on transition and then draining a 3-pointer to keep the Celtics close. They'll need to find an answer for Amino, who has a game-high 14 points.

Third quarter, 8:47, Hornets lead, 52-43: Three straight turnovers result in points for New Orleans. The Hornets are playing some tight on-ball defense, resulting in a pair of steals as Paul Pierce couldn't shake his defender. Timeout by Doc as the Celtics try to shake off the halftime rust.

End of first half, Hornets lead, 44-43: After the Hornets finished a 12-2 run, Rajon Rondo swung the momentum when he stole a pass, raced the other way and made a spinning, reverse lay-up while taking a foul from Mason. The Hornets are playing some tough defense, though. Even Bradley, who is typically wide open behind the 3-point line, has been getting smothered.

Second quarter, 6:20, Hornets lead, 33-32: Jared Sullinger has been getting some suspect fouls called against him lately, with tonight being no different. He was whistled for his third mid-way through the second when he held his left hand straight in the air to defend a drive from Al-Farouq Aminu. Rivers picked up his second basket on a drive into Kevin Garnett territory. Rivers smartly floated a high jumper over Garnett's long arms. Smart kid.

Second quarter, Celtics lead, 29-22: Hornets guard Brian Roberts has left the game with an apparent left ankle injury. He fell awkwardly after getting fouled on a lay-up attempt and was unable to shoot his free throws.

End of the first quarter, Celtics lead, 25-20: Rivers scored his first field goal in five games on a drive to the hoop where he bumped off Terry and floated in a lay-up. Overall, it was a pretty mellow first quarter, but a strong start from the Celtics. Anthony Davis has been fairly invisible. Bradley has kept Greivis Vasquez quiet.

First quarter, 4:19, Celtics lead, 18-8: Austin Rivers has checked in the game. The TD Garden crowd gave the young fellow a pretty decent roar. Coincidentally, Doc Rivers took defensive-specialist Avery Bradley out of the game and replaced him with offensive-specialist Jason Terry.


First quarter, 6:49, Celtics lead, 11-8:
Roger Mason Jr. got the start at shooting guard with Eric Gordon giving his achy knee a rest. The Celtics hit their first four jumpers and Avery Bradley stole the ball and took it end-to-end to give them an early lead. Keep a watch on the battle inside the paint tonight. The Hornets rarely get to the free throw line, but the Celtics have struggled with foul trouble recently and could change that.

Austin Rivers was not in the Hornets starting lineup, though he should see some playing time against his dad's team. The Celtics are looking for their seventh straight win.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Hornets (AKA Rivers-Rivers)

Posted by Staff January 16, 2013 06:22 PM

Doc Rivers is hoping his son, Austin, might hear his voice on the court, get confused, run the wrong play and turn the ball over.

Austin makes his TD Garden debut with the New Orleans Hornets Wednesday night, and with Eric Gordon out of the lineup - coach Monty Williams doesn't want to test the guard's achy knee in back-to-back nights - Rivers could be in line for increased playing time after averaging less than five minutes on the court over the lat three games.

"I'm going against a team with guys that I know pretty well and my father coaches the other team, and it is what it is," Rivers said before the game. "I'm just going to have fun with it. This is a fun chance, you know? I'm more exited to play against a playoff-caliber team, a hall of fame team.

"I don't think my dad likes it just because it's just different, too much maybe for him, because he has to balance more than I do. I just have to go out there and play my best and help my team win, where as he has to go out there and try to game-plan against me. And then he wants me to be happy for me at the same time. So he kind of has a double-edged sword."

Austin said he thinks his dad is in the best coach in the NBA.

"This is strange, but something I really did not look forward to," Doc said before the game. "The fact that you’re coaching a game that your son is playing in isn’t a real neat moment. It’s not a moment I’m enjoying now. Maybe later."

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (19-17)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (9-27)
PG Greivis Vazquez
SG
SF Al-Farouq Aminu
PF Anthony Davis
C Robin Lopez

Officials: Ken Mauer, Derrick Collins, Kevin Cutler

TV/Radio: 8:00 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI

Pregame notes:

• Williams said Gordon would not start at shooting guard for the Hornets, but he wouldn't say who would get the nod. Austin Rivers hasn't started a game since Jan. 2. Another option could be Roger Mason Jr., who is averaging 43 percent from the 3-point line. Gordon has given his team a nice boost since his return on Dec. 29. The Hornets have gone 6-2 in games he's played in.

• Anthony Davis is averaging 13 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in his first NBA season. "I just like him," Doc Rivers said. "Forget the basketball part. He’s had some great games and some up and down ones too. More up than down. But when I look at him I see something special. Not just his play but how he conducts himself. I just think he has it in him to be great. He’s had flashes obviously. He hasn’t had the dominant rookies year, but it’s there. I see that and I know [the Hornets] see that."

• Rivers said Chris Wilcox (sprained right thumb) will dress for the game, but may not play. "He’s more available than the game the other night," Rivers said. "I still don’t want to use him. We actually needed him the last game because of our foul trouble and I still didn’t use him."

• Kevin Garnett has been getting plenty of time with the second unit, partly because Rivers thinks he's an anchor and offers another guy who can dribble the ball. "Even at center, which sounds kind of crazy," the coach said. Garnett has spent a few possessions playing the point on this homestand.

• The Hornets carry one of the NBA's top transition offenses, and against the Celtics' transition defense that ranks last in the league, it's something to keep an eye on.


It'll be Doc Rivers vs. his son Wednesday night

Posted by Staff January 15, 2013 01:31 PM

WALTHAM – There’s a fine line between father and coach. The line gets finer, if not invisible, when it comes to Doc Rivers’s relationship with his son, Austin.

“Very little [coaching],” Doc said about the advice he gives. “I just tell him to stay aggressive, stay on his game, keep listening and learning. But I’m more of his parent. When he’s doing well, I knock him down. When he’s struggling, I try to boost him up.

“I’m just his parent.”

After being selected out of Duke by the New Orleans Hornets with the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft, Austin Rivers has yet to play an NBA game in front of his father.

But Wednesday night, when the Celtics host the Hornets, Doc will finally see his son in action.

Asked if he were looking forward to it, Doc said, “I’m actually not. I don’t even know what I’m looking forward to. It’s not like he’s playing a ton anyway. You never know. But as far as him and being on the floor, that’s a different feeling I still don’t know how to feel about it.”

In 36 games this season, Austin, a guard, has averaged 6.3 points, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 turnovers in about 25 minutes of playing time. But he has played less than five minutes in each of the last two games. He hasn’t scored a point in four straight.

“He’s just up and down,” Doc said. “You can see, offensively he’s not as aggressive as he should be, as he was. That’s a typical rookie year. You can see he’s playing in thought. It’s almost like our team early in the year. We kept saying we can’t be athletic until we stop thinking so much. That’s where he’s at right now. He started out struggling, then he went on a nice run. Now he’s struggling again. He’s just having a rookie year.”

Austin may have picked a bad time to run into Dad’s team: The Celtics defense is playing as well as it has all year during a six-game winning streak, allowing a little more than 85 points per game.

“That part won’t change,” Doc said. “We still want to defend, there’s no doubt about that. But it is a different dynamic. My wife and some of the kids are coming in and all these people want to come in to the game, I don’t even know how to deal with that. It’s just different.

“We talk every day. He’s still your son. He’s going to be my son during the game, before the game, after the game. None of that is going to change.”

Rondo notches triple-double as Celtics roll to sixth straight

Posted by Staff January 14, 2013 07:29 PM

Final, Celtics win, 100-89: The Celtics have won their sixth straight. The Bobcats had some offensive firepower, but couldn't put together a consistent attack against this Celtics defensive unit that has allowed less than 100 points for the seventh straight game. Rondo finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. He turned the ball over just twice. The Celtics will host Austin Rivers and the Hornets on Wednesday.

Fourth quarter, 2:46, Celtics lead, 92-83: Rondo has a triple-double, his third of the season and 26th of his career. The past three games might sum up Rondo as a player: Even when he's off, he's productive. Then when he's on...

Fourth quarter, 3:36, Celtics lead, 89-81: Rondo is having one of those nights. This time, he leads the Celtics on a 9-0 run, assisting on three baskets and scoring on the other. With 15 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, he's close to a triple-double. Rivers is leaving Rondo in for this one.

Third quarter, 2:13, Celtics lead, 72-64: In his seventh game of the year, Avery Bradley finally looks comfortable at the 3-point line. He was four for 19 (21 percent) from downtown before Monday. He's four for seven in this game, including a huge trey to give the Celtics a 7-point cushion after the Bobcats had went on a run.

Third quarter, 7:48, 58-58: In each of the last three games there's been a stretch where the Celtics have been caught napping. The Bobcats opened the half with a 9-0 run against the Celtics starting unit.

End of first half, Celtics lead, 56-45: Celtics are spreading the ball around with four players at 9 points or more. Jared Sullinger hasn't played much, with three fouls in just five minutes. The starters have done much of the work as they continue to frustrate the young Bobcats, who have collected a flagrant foul and a technical foul thus far.

Second quarter, 5:48, Celtics lead, 42-32: Kevin Garnett was mugged by Gerald Henderson and lost his cool for a second, needing to be held back by his teammates. Henderson was called for a flagrant and Doc Rivers pulled Garnett to the bench once he shot his free throws.

Second quarter, 6:30, Celtics lead, 42-30: Jeff Green has looked more and more comfortable of late and he came out to play tonight. Green has 9 points in nine minutes. He caught the Bobcats napping when he received the ball in the corner of the court and drove to the basket uncontested for a one-handed dunk.

End of first quarter, Celtics lead, 28-18: Rondo with an electric first quarter, scoring 9 points with five assists and six rebounds in 11 minutes. This is the first time in the last two games where the starters put the Celtics out to a big lead, now it's time for the second unit to do its work.

First quarter, 1:28, Celtics lead, 25-15: The Bobcats are among the younger teams in the NBA and they're playing with plenty of speed, but the Celtics are matching it with grit and elegance. They're 11 for 16 from the floor. Defensively, every starter other than Rondo has already blocked a shot. Jason Collins, who hasn't played much lately with a nagging hamstring, has checked in at center.

First quarter, 5:32, Celtics lead, 19-8: Rajon Rondo is responsible for all of the Celtics buckets right now with 7 points and five assists. Before the game he was asked if he would participate in the All-Star Game skills competition and he said he has to first make the All-Star team. Leading the league in assists, that doesn't look like a problem.

The Bobcats won just a single game in the month of December and have just one win thus far in January, but their offense is equally as potent as that of the Celtics, who are looking for their sixth straight win.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Bobcats

Posted by Staff January 14, 2013 06:49 PM

Since starting the season 7-5, the Charlotte Bobcats have lost 22 of their last 24 games. But with three former University of Connecticut players on their roster and the second overall pick in last year's draft, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, it's a team that doesn't lack story lines. For the Celtics, a loss to the struggling Bobcats could immediately nix the sudden momentum they have gained with five straight wins, including four over teams projected to qualify for the postseason. Paul Pierce said he feels like the Celtics could compete with any team right now. With the Bulls in town Friday, taking care of the Bobcats is Step 1.


STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (19-17)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (9-27)
PG Kemba Walker
SG Gerald Henderson
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Hakim Warrick
C Bismack Biyombo

Officials: Tom Washington, Bennie Adams, Scott Twardoski

TV/Radio: 7:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI

Pregame notes:

• Chris Wilcox (right thumb) will dress for Monday's game, but is unlikely to play, coach Doc Rivers said. Wilcox could be ready for game action as soon as Wednesday, but Rivers said he'll continue to be patient.

• Hakim Warrick worked his way into the Bobcats starting lineup Dec. 26 against Miami and has been a strong inside presence since, collecting at least 10 points and seven rebounds in four of his seven starts. Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger should get the brunt of work against the 6-foot-9 Syracuse graduate. The Bobcats are sixth in the NBA with 6.4 blocks per game.

• Rajon Rondo joked before the game that he thought ESPN decided not to air his Sports Center commercial after he got suspended. Rondo said he shot the video almost six months ago. He was also asked about his assist numbers being down this season, though he responded with, "Someone has to make a shot to get an assist." Rondo still leads the NBA with 11.1 assists per game.

• While the Bobcats haven't been winning, Rivers and Pierce reiterated that it was important the Celtics jump out early and don't let them hang around. Charlotte is right above Boston in offensive production this season, with the two teams posting similar 3-point numbers and points per game.

• The Celtics hold a 21-7 all-time record against Charlotte, including an 11-3 mark at home. The Celtics won all three matchups last season.


Game 37 preview: Bobcats at Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 14, 2013 01:44 PM

kembaceltics.jpg

The Celtics are seeking their 6th straight win tonight as they host the Charlotte Bobcats at TD Garden. There's a very good chance the Celtics can keep the good times rolling with the 9-27 Bobcats in town and with two days of rest.

Coach Doc Rivers said Sunday that the Bobcats "play hard as hell", but what else is the Celtics coach supposed to say? This game is there for the taking and should continue Boston's winning streak if they play well.

The Celtics occupy the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, but the field has narrowed quite a bit with Miami and New York slipping. Boston is two games behind fifth-place Atlanta and just 5.5 games behind the first-place Heat with 46 games to play. With the way they're playing, the Celtics have a very real chance to finish the season in the top half of the bracket rather than the bottom.

Don't blink tonight or you might miss the Kemba Walker-Avery Bradley matchup. Here are the details for the game:

Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Celtics (19-17), Bobcats (9-27)
Broadcast info:CSNNE (Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn), WEEI/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics: PG: Rajon Rondo SG: Avery Bradley SF: Paul Pierce PF: Brandon Bass C: Kevin Garnett

Bobcats: PG: Kemba Walker SG: Gerald Henderson SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist PF: Hakim Warrick C: Bismack Biyombo

Story lines:
Unsung heroes: Jared Sullinger is averaging 9.3 rebounds per game in the month of January. He and Avery Bradley have been the obvious reasons for Boston's recent improvements, but don't sleep on Courtney Lee, who is shooting 59 percent from the field in six January games.

Local boy returns: Jeff Adrien, former Brookline High and UConn product, had his contract guaranteed for the rest of the season by the Bobcats last week. An undersized power forward in the mold of Sullinger (loose comparison), Adrien has appeared in 10 games and is averaging 2.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.

Still climbing: The Celtics are now ninth in the league in defensive rating after being in the middle of the pack for much of the season. How high can they go?

@GlobeGaryDzen

Rajon Rondo's big hands the focus of Sportscenter commercial

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 14, 2013 11:29 AM

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo stars in a new commercial for ESPN's Sportscenter in the video above.

Celtics beat Rockets, 103-91, for fifth straight win

Posted by Staff January 11, 2013 07:40 PM

Final, Celtics win, 103-91: Paul Pierce (23 points) and Kevin Garnett (17 points) led the Celtics in scoring, but they again got a strong effort from Green, Lee and Sullinger off the bench. The Celtics showed something new in this game, earning a win against a team that thrives off speed and transition buckets. Doc Rivers called his guys old and slow on the road trip, but there was none of that on Friday night. The Celtics will host the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday.

Fourth quarter, 5:51, Celtics lead, 92-82: The Rockets went on a 12-0 run thanks to a pair of transition buckets as the Celtics had to get their routine laziness out of the way. Pierce hit a jumper, then stole a pass from Harden and raced down the floor for a lay up, and one, to give Boston the momentum back.

Fourth quarter, Celtics lead, 83-74: Garnet has all five of Boston's points this half. Sullinger exited the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but it's worth wondering whether or not Doc Rivers goes back to him if the Rockets pull closer. Brandon Bass is struggling, with three fouls, one turnover and no points.

End of third quarter, Celtics lead, 78-66: A pretty steady game all-around so far for the Celtics, who have won every quarter by at least three points. The second unit continues to make contributions with 50 points compared to 38 from the starters.

Third quarter, 3:48, Celtics lead, 72-58: The Celtics are doing a better job containing Harden, who has just two points in the second half. Jeremy Lin is keeping the Rockets in this game with transition buckets and pesky defense, holding Rondo to eight points while turning the ball over three times.

Third quarter, 9:15, Celtics lead, 64-47: The truth comes out. Pierce steps up to the 3-point line and casually knocks one down. Then another. Then hits a 10-foot jumper.

Halftime, Celtics lead, 53-45: Sullinger rebound, Sullinger bucket. Rinse. Repeat. Sullinger finished the first half two rebounds shy of a double-double, scoring 14 points and hauling in eight rebounds, turning the ball over just once. Green and Lee made solid contributions from the bench. Stat of the half: Bradley is scoreless on three shots and has a negative-12 plus/minus while he's on the floor. Harden has 13 points and is on his way to his 15th straight game with at least 25 points.

Second quarter, 5:07, Celtics lead, 43-33: The fast-paced, transition offense was supposed to be the Rockets' thing, but Lee and Green have been racing up and down the court. Green with a couple monster dunks again tonight. The Rockets have been getting points with quick ball movement though, and the Celtics will have to tighten that up defensively.

Second quarter, 8:29, Celtics lead, 32-25: Green hits a jumper. Sullinger takes a bad pass from Jason Terry and knocks down a fade-away. Terry dives to save a loose ball and Lee puts away a lay-up. Sensing a theme here? Celtics bench: 20. Celtics starters: 12.

End of first quarter, Celtics lead, 24-21: The Rockets took a 17-8 lead. And then Sullinger, Lee and Green entered. Lee and Green hit a pair of 3-pointers. Sullinger is not only rebounding, but setting up the offense with his movement and ball screens.

First quarter, 3:22, Rockets lead, 17-12: Bradley and Paul Pierce go to the bench with two fouls a piece already. Courtney Lee and Jeff Green take their spots. Jared Sullinger already gave the Celtics a jolt off the bench. Rondo has looked rattled thus far.

First quarter, 6:17, Rockets lead, 11-8: The James Harden-Avery Bradley matchup is surely one to watch, but don't lose sight of Jeremy Lin. Rajon Rondo was out-hustled by Line twice down the floor on transition, including one that resulted in an easy bucket for Lin.

The Celtics look to extend their season-high four-game winning streak against Jeremy Lin, James Harden and the NBA's best offense.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Rockets

Posted by Staff January 11, 2013 06:52 PM

The Celtics bench has been active, and it may need to be even more active Friday night as Boston hosts the up-tempo Houston Rockets, who bring the NBA's most explosive offense to TD Garden. The Celtics have their first four-game winning streak of the season as they open up their second of five straight home games. The Rockets are coming off their worst offensive performance in an 88-79 loss to New Orleans.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (18-17)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

HOUSTON ROCKETS (21-15)
PG Jeremy Lin
SG James Harden
SF Chandler Parsons
PF Marcus Morris
C Omer Asik

Officials: Tony Brown, Olandis Poole, Bill Kennedy

TV/Radio: 7:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI

Pregame notes:

• Boston has allowed just 82.8 points per game during their win streak, and Paul Pierce pointed straight toward the return of Avery Bradley as the reason why. Bradley has averaged just 22 minutes per game but could be asked for more as he'll be in charge of restraining James Harden, who has scored at least 25 points in 14 straight games.

• Paul Pierce scored a season-low 7 points last time out in a 87-79 win over the Suns. The last time Pierce scored less than 10 points in a game, it took him six games before he returned to the 25-point mark. Pierce said he's enjoyed the extra rest lately, though, even declining to go back onto the floor when coach Doc Rivers called his name on Wednesday.

• Jason Collins, nursing ankle and hamstring injuries, said he's slowly getting better but has appreciated the rest Rivers has given him. Collins has played nine total minutes the last three games as Jared Sullinger continues to gain playing time.

• Even after Jeremy Lin's poor start to the season, he's averaged 6.3 assists and 3.2 turnovers per game this season, both of which are improvements from his breakout-campaign with the Knicks. Lin told the Houston Chronicle he still isn't happy with the number of turnovers he's given up. The Rockets lead the NBA with 16.2 turnovers per game.

• Former Celtic Kevin McHale makes his second return to Boston as the Rockets' head coach. He played a big role in the creation of Kevin Garnett's signature fade-away jumper. Garnett said the downside of their close relationship was that McHale knew his game too well, which could hurt him against the Rockets. McHale brushed off Garnett's feud with Carmelo Anthony, telling the Houston Chronicle, "If you heard half the stuff we used to say. I chuckle at that."

• Rivers paid a compliment to Chandler Parsons, who has averaged 14 points and six rebounds per game this season, saying he regretted passing on the former Florida star in the 2011 NBA draft.

Rivers says Celtics starters 'have to be better'

Posted by Staff January 10, 2013 02:37 PM

WALTHAM – There was a lighter mood at the Celtics' practice facility Thursday afternoon, with the team on its first four-game winning streak of the season, and with four straight home games ahead.

Feeling goofy, Paul Pierce even launched a halfcourt shot to decide whether or not he would speak to the media. He missed.

“We just can’t get too comfortable,” Pierce said. “We just have to keep being consistent in everything we do, understand why we are winning these games and continue to do that. This is a great stretch for us and we have to take advantage.”

While everyone on the Celtics lauded the performance of the second unit in Wednesday’s 87-79 win over the Suns, not to be forgotten was the fact that the starting lineup played poorly enough to earn their seats on the bench.

“We won the game, but I didn’t necessarily think we played great,” coach Doc Rivers said Thursday. "That’s a good sign. Early in the year, that’s a loss for sure. I thought our bench bailed us out, but our starters have to be better every night, too. Not just the bench. When you put them both together, those are the games you have great games. That’s what we’re still striving for.”

Rivers was forced to play Jason Collins, the only true center that was available off the bench, for a few minutes Wednesday even though he said he is trying to avoid using Collins while he deals with hamstring and ankle ailments.

Chris Wilcox, who has been sidelined with a sprained right thumb, returned to practice Thursday for the first time since suffering the injury in late December.

Wilcox was expected to be out about a month.

"He’s ahead [of schedule]," Rivers said. "I don’t know what that means, because I don’t really know what the schedule was. But it’s funny, [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] told me yesterday that he’s ahead of schedule, and I said, ‘Well, I never knew what the schedule was.’ I guess that’s good news. That’s all I can tell you."

Also in Waltham was center Fab Melo, the first-round pick from Syracuse who has been with the team since sustaining a concussion during his time with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League.

Celtics officials said Melo had not yet been cleared for contact, though, and was not allowed to participate in team activities until he is cleared by the league. It is expected that Melo will return to the D-League when healthy.

On Friday, the Celtics will host the Houston Rockets, who have won seven of their last 10 games and are leading the NBA in scoring with 106 points per game.

“I think a lot of people underrate them,” Pierce said. “The past two weeks I’ve seen them put up 120 points I don’t know how many times. I think the energy James Harden has brought to the team and the city has really helped them. A lot of people think they’re overachieving, but they’re right there with some of the better teams in the Western Conference.”

NOTE: Appearing on WEEI radio Thursday morning, Rivers disputed rumors that Kevin Garnett mentioned Carmelo Anthony’s wife during a verbal exchange against the Knicks Monday. “I know what's been reported did not happen," Rivers said. "I know that as a fact." Both players received a technical foul, and Anthony was suspended one game for seeking out Garnett after the game.


Celtics beat Suns, 87-79, to pick up fourth straight win

Posted by Staff January 9, 2013 07:28 PM

Final: Celtics win, 87-79: Boston won its fourth straight thanks to another fantastic effort from the bench. Doc Rivers got 47 of the team's 87 points off the bench, with Sullinger, Terry and Green each scoring at least 12 in 25-plus minutes. This game was prone to long runs, but sturdy defense and beastly rebounding proved the difference for the home team. The Celtics play their next four games at the TD Garden.

Fourth quarter, 3:21, Celtics lead, 82-73: Sullinger is playing possessed. The rookie has 15 rebounds, smashing his previous career-high of 11, and has clearly gotten into the head of Luis Scola. Scola picked up his fourth foul when he got a little aggressive after Sullinger came down with a defensive board. Celtics should wrap this one up, barring some unforeseen incident, as Larry David would write.

Fourth quarter, 8:45, Celtics lead, 74-66: The fans here just seem to love Jason Terry. Terry drove down on transition, dished to Courtney Lee, then backed up behind the 3-point line. Lee passed it right back, Terry drained the trey and the Garden erupted. Lee then made a nice steal on the defensive end and turned it into two points.

Third quarter, 2:14, Celtics lead 63-60: Rondo finally broke a 17-0 Suns run with a jumper, but it was Sullinger who helped the Celtics regain the lead with a pair of big rebounds and a defensive stop. Sullinger has made his presence felt in 20 minutes of playing time thus far.

Third quarter, 8:31, Celtics lead, 55-52: Celtics looking lazy again, this time caught ball-watching on defense as the Suns passed the ball around with ease before finding Marcin Gortat inside. The Suns are on an 11-0 run.

Halftime, Celtics lead, 53-41: Story of the first half: turnovers. Six different Celtics have collected at least one steal as the Suns have turned the ball over 10 times. The Celtics have just four turnovers. Green has 10 points and a plus-13 point differential when he's been on the floor. Sullinger has 8 points and six rebounds with a plus-17 point differential.

Second quarter, 1:13, Celtics lead 51-41: Rondo and Dudley got into it on an inbound pass, as Rondo set him self up against Dudley's chest before bouncing off to make himself open. Dudley didn't like it, and as Rondo raced down the court with the ball, Dudley gave him a good shove. The officials originally called it a flagrant foul, but took away the flagrant tag after review. Rondo has six assists in the first half.

Second quarter, 4:14, Celtics lead 47-35: The Celtics are on a 14-2 run thanks to some hustle plays by ... ? Bradley and Green, of course. Green is all over the place this quarter as he hasn't come off the court. Rondo with a couple nice assists.

Second quarter, 8:43, Celtics lead, 31-29: Aside from a pair of alley-oops, the Celtics have played about eight straight minutes of solid defense. Jared Sullinger playing his usual game, full of physicality, as he already picked up a pair of fouls. But he's also three for three from the floor.

First quarter complete, Suns lead, 24-23: Jason Terry gave the Celtics a nice spark off the bench, hitting a pair of deep jumpers and faking another before dishing a no-look pass to Brandon Bass, who drained an 18-footer. Solid finish to the first quarter with a 14-9 run, but they'll need to contain Dudley better going forward.

First quarter, 6:46, Suns lead, 14-9: Suns on an 8-0 run. Jared Dudley has scored back-to-back buckets on transition, simply by out-hustling the Celtics back to their defensive end.

First quarter, 10:11, Celtics lead, 6-4: Avery Bradley is bringing the energy, as usual. Bradley sunk an 18-foot jumper to put the Celtics on the board, then leaped over a pair of Suns defenders for an offensive rebound, which he finished with a lay-up.

After serving a one-game suspension, Rajon Rondo is back in the Celtics' starting lineup as they host the skidding Suns.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Suns

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 9, 2013 06:57 PM

The Celtics return home for the first of a five-game homestand tonight against the struggling Suns. The Celtics have won three consecutive games, holding opponents to 37.5 percent shooting and 84 points. Rajon Rondo, who was suspended for the 102-96 win over the New York Knicks on Monday, is back in the lineup as the Celtics try to forge above .500.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (17-17)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

PHOENIX SUNS (12-24)
PG Goran Dragic
SG Jared Dudley
SF P.J. Tucker
PF Luis Scola
C Marcin Gortat

Officials: David Guthrie, Jason Phillips, Josh Tiven

TV/Radio: 7:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI

Pregame notes:

• Rondo maintains that he didn't do anything wrong in bumping official Rodney Mott on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks. He acknowledges that he has a reputation with the league that needs to improve.

• Jason Collins has been limited by a sore hamstring and Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he was going to try to limit his minutes. He did not play Monday against the New York Knicks.

• Avery Bradley is 14-for-37 shooting since his return to the lineup after missing seven months. He is averaging 7.3 points and 1.6 assists.

• The Suns have lost nine of 10 games, only beating Philadelphia at home in that span. They lost 108-99 at Milwaukee on Tuesday.

• Former Celtic Jermaine O'Neal has averaged 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in his past 25 games. O'Neal has played in 28 games, more than he did with the Celtics during the lockout season in 2011-12.

• The Suns will wear their bright orange uniforms with "PHX" on the front.

Carmelo Anthony suspended one game

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 9, 2013 06:50 PM

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was suspended for one game on Wednesday by the NBA for his multiple attempts at confronting Celtics forward Kevin Garnett following Monday night's game at Madison Square Garden.

Game 35 preview: Suns at Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 9, 2013 02:57 PM

sunspre2013.jpg

There's been plenty of excitement around here this week. If you look past the Kevin Garnett-Carmelo Anthony feud and Rajon Rondo's suspension -- and you should -- you'll see a Celtics team that has won three straight games over playoff teams. The way they've won those games has also been inspiring. Avery Bradley has injected a team-wide enthusiasm for defense up and down the roster, and Boston's effort at Madison Square Garden Monday night was nothing less than stirring. Don't look now, but the Celtics are now 10th in the league in defensive rating.

While fireworks aren't expected tonight from a Phoenix Suns team that is on the outside of the playoffs, a regular, mid-week game will give us a chance to continue to evaluate how the Celtics are playing without all the fluff. Tonight's is the first of five consecutive home games for Boston.

Here are the details for Wednesday night's game:

Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Celtics (17-17), Suns (12-24)
Broadcast info:CSNNE (Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn), WEEI/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics: PG: Rajon Rondo SG: Avery Bradley SF: Paul Pierce PF: Brandon Bass C: Kevin Garnett

Suns: PG: Goran Dragic SG: Jared Dudley SF: P.J. Tucker PF: Luis Scola C: Marcin Gortat

Story lines:
A look at Gortat: Suns center Marcin Gortat has been mentioned as someone the Celtics might want to pursue in a trade. He'd slot in perfectly beside Kevin Garnett and add toughness to the team's frontcourt. As it stands now, he and Luis Scola form a formidable frontcourt for Phoenix. Gortat is worth watching closely tonight.

Turn up the offense: We talked about the defense, but the Celtics' win over the Knicks was their first 100-point effort in nine games. The C's rank 22d in the NBA in offensive rating. Can they put it all together?

Perspective: One year ago today, Jeff Green had surgery to repair an aortic aneurism. Green is back and playing well, and given the timeline there's a very real chance that he continues to get better.

@GlobeGaryDzen

Rajon Rondo to appear in SportsCenter promotion

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 9, 2013 09:48 AM
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo's SportsCenter promotional spot may begin airing as soon as Monday.

ESPN revealed the detail within a story about a "This is SportsCenter" video that features Boston College's eagle mascot.

Rajon Rondo speaks about latest suspension

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 8, 2013 01:37 PM

WALTHAM -- While Kevin Garnett did not speak with the media Tuesday to address his latest dust-up with an opposing player (New York's Carmelo Anthony), Rajon Rondo did talk about his one-game suspension for bumping official Rodney Mott during the third quarter of the Celtics' 89-81 win Saturday over the Atlanta Hawks.

Mott did not assess Rondo a technical and the game continued, but Atlanta general manager Danny Ferry apparently alerted officials following the game with a video of the incident, showing Rondo running into Mott after the Celtics guard was called for an offensive foul.

It was Rondo's second suspension this season and fourth in 11 months. He missed the Celtics' 102-96 victory over the New York Knicks Monday.

"The league thought it was a big deal," Rondo said before the Celtics began practice Tuesday. "I don't feel there was a need to have an investigation. I know Rodney, and that particular time with that play, I actually went up to him and I made a joke, he laughed, and in the midst, I did touch him and the league, I guess, reviewed it. The media blew it up, on 'SportsCenter' or whatever, and I served a one-game suspension.

"I thought Josh [Smith] had flopped. I told Rodney, 'His body size and what he weighs [240] and look at me.There's no way I could have made him go into the stands off of contact.' He laughed, threw the ball in, and we got back on defense."

Rondo was also suspended for not cooperating with a league investigation, according to the NBA's press release.

"They did what they had to do, that's the league," Rondo said.

When asked about being what the league considers a "repeat offender" and not cooperating with an investigation, Rondo said sarcastically, "I'm a criminal. I go to court a lot. I'm not on trial or anything. That's how it is when you're dealing with the league and when you get into a little bit of trouble. I'm a repeat offender. I don't know if i have two or three strikes, but it is what it is.

"I'll learn the game, but I'm an emotional player, and in that aspect, I think I had a triple double at the time, we were up 10, and I wasn't -- didn't go over and yell at Rodney. I think even he said that in his statement, but the league put the hammer down and made the decision."

Anthony attempts to confront Garnett on Celtics' bus

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 8, 2013 02:00 AM


NEW YORK -- While Kevin Garnett turned off his inner warrior and returned to his normal mild-mannered off-court personality just minutes after the Celtics' 102-96 win over the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony was left raging, so much so that he tried to confront Garnett twice after the game, including standing feet from the team bus as the Celtics were boarding to leave Madison Square Garden.

According to a video from Comcast SportsNet, Anthony stood as Knicks coach Mike Woodson tried to talk his all-star forward back into the arena and even Celtics coach Doc Rivers had a conversation with Anthony. He did not confront Garnett.

The issues stemmed from the physical Celtics' victory, and because the Knicks were switching so much defensively, Anthony was left to guard Garnett much of the second half. Anthony bumped and then Garnett bumped and trash talk ensued. With 9:03 left in the fourth quarter, both were assessed technical fouls after the two were uttering expletives at each other.

After a timeout moments later, Anthony was seen screaming at Garnett as he walked to the Celtics huddle.

Finally, after the Celtics sealed the win and their players were headed down the tunnel near their bench, Anthony darted past teammate Kurt Thomas, who tried restraining him and ran past two arena security guards down the opposite tunnel. He nearly made the Celtics' locker before being held back by teammates, screaming more at Garnett.

"Heat of the battle," Garnett said in his whisper-quiet voice after the game. "When you’re out there on the floor, everything’s high, everything’s top notch. He’s trying to get his team to go, I’m trying to get my team to go, things are colliding, not to mention that it’s the Knicks and the Celtics. Just what it is man. It’s basketball, all right?”

When asked about whether Anthony confronted the team as they walked into the locker room, Rivers said: "I’m going to let y’all figure that one out,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said when asked about Anthony’s confronting the Celtics at their locker room. “I’m going to stay out of that. If it were the playoffs, I’d tell on him but since it’s not, I’ll keep quiet."

Anthony could face a fine or suspension for his actions. The Knicks and Celtics play again on Jan. 24 at TD Garden.

Final: Celtics 102, Knicks 96

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 7, 2013 07:48 PM

Final: Celtics 102-96: The most impressive victory of the season. They held the Knicks to 13-for-35 shooting in the second half and Carmelo Anthony missed 20 of 26 shots. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 23 points on 10-for-18 shooting while Kevin Garnett added 19.

Fourth quarter, 24.1, Celtics 102-96: Kevin Garnett just sank two free throws and now has 19 points but he has been trash talking with Carmelo Anthony all night. Paul Pierce has 23 points, including a fadeaway jump and a blown kiss to Spike Lee after the ball went into the net. Knicks ball.

Fourth quarter, 1:09, Celtics 98-93: The Celtics are a possession or two from sealing it but it's not over. J.R, Smith has two free throws and the Knicks have hit 14 3-pointers tonight. Smith was bumped in eye butting heads with Avery Bradley and the training staff is trying to stop the bleeding.

Fourth quarter, 2:25, Celtics 96-93: Two great rivals are going at it and the Celtics are hanging in there with great defense and some timely scoring from the bench. Kevin Garnett has 17 points for the Celtics while J.R. Smith has 23 for New York.

Fourth quarter, 5:30, Celtics 90-86: What else would we expect for a Celtics-Knicks game than a thriller. The Celtics led by as many a. s 8, the Knicks came back to tie and now the Celtics have hit the last two shots, including a baseline jumper from Avery Bradley, who has been stellar tonight in his fourth game back. Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 19 points despite foul trouble while the Knicks have hit 13 3-pointers but just 16 2-pointers.

End of third quarter, Celtics 76-72: The Celtics withstood New York's 3-point barrage and kept pounding the ball in the paint, with Jared Sullinger hitting a buzzer-beating layup to give the Celtics a precious lead. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each have 15 points but the bench has been critical with 33 total points, 15 from Jeff Green.

Third quarter, 5:44, Knicks 64-62: The Celtics continue to stay close despite Paul Pierce picking up his fourth foul early in the third quarter. Since the first quarter, the Knicks have been whistled for two personal fouls and the Celtics have been called for 10. Doc Rivers is close to getting a technical foul but his team is playing well in Rajon Rondo's absence.

Halftime, Knicks 56-53: It was fireworks in the second quarter as both teams combined for 66 points. The Knicks hit eight 3-pointers in the second quarter en route to 35 points but the Celtics countered with four of their own. The Knicks only made three 2-point baskets in period, so they constantly put pressure on the Celtics' perimeter defense, but Boston countered by pounding the paint. The Celtics have scored 22 points in the paint so far.

Second quarter,1:08, Knicks 53-48: The Knicks have hit seven 3-pointers in the quarter and J.R. Smith has 14 points off the bench but the Celtics are still hanging close because of Paul Pierce's 15 points in the second quarter.

Second quarter, 8:29, Celtics 29-28: The Celtics are hanging close despite just 2 points from Paul Pierce and they have held the Knicks to 39 percent shooting and 3-for-9 3-point shooting.

End of first quarter, Celtics 22-21: Both teams combine to shoot 13 of 35 but the Celtics attempted 10 free throws, taking advantage of the Knicks' soft interior defense with Tyson Chander on the bench. The Celtics were 6-for-16 shooting with 8 points from Kevin Garnett and the remaining 13 from the bench.

First quarter, 2:42, Knicks 18-15: The Celtics bench has gotten the team back into the game with a 7-0 run after falling behind 10. Jeff Green has gotten to the free throw line four straight times while Jared Sullinger has been effective on the boards. The Celtics are hanging close despite no points from Paul Pierce, who has two fouls.

First quarter, 6:10, Knicks 14-8: New York is on a 7-0 run and Tyson Chandler already has 7 points while J.R. Smith has come off the bench to hit a 3-pointer. Chandler is getting easy buckets as Kevin Garnett roams to help on defense.

First quarter, 7:41, Celtics 8-7: Avery Bradley has missed his first three shots, Kevin Garnett has all 8 points for the Celtics. Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce each have two fouls.

The Celtics will try to go for their third straight win without Rajon Rondo, who was suspended for bumping into an official Saturday against Atlanta.

Welcome to Madison Square Garden for Celtics-Knicks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 7, 2013 06:57 PM

NEW YORK -- The Celtics are riding a two-game winning streak but No. 3 will have to come without Rajon Rondo, who was suspended for the second time this season, this time for bumping official Rodney Mott in the third quarter of the Celtics' 89-81 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Rondo will miss one game and is expected to return Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns. Jason Terry will start at shooting guard and Avery Bradley will move over to point.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (16-17)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jason Terry
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

NEW YORK KNICKS (23-10)
PG Jason Kidd
SG Ronnie Brewer
SF Carmelo Anthony
PF Marcus Camby
C Tyson Chandler

Officials: Tony Brothers, Dick Bavetta, Violet Palmer

TV/Radio: 7:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI

Pregame notes:

• Doc Rivers said the waiving of second-round pick Kris Joseph before his contract was guaranteed was a matter of salary cap issues more than anything else. He said he hopes Joseph can re-sign with the club.

• Knicks guard Iman Shumpert is close to returning from a torn ACL and he may be back by Jan. 21.

• Avery Bradley is 8-for-26 shooting since his return to the lineup after missing seven months. He has scored 16 total points with two assists.

• The Knicks are sixth in the league in scoring, fourth in 3-point percentage and No. 1 in committing the fewest turnovers.

• New York has won two straight games -- San Antonio, Orlando -- after two straight losses -- Sacramento, Portland. Carmelo Anthony has led the team in scoring in 25 of 33 games.

• The Celtics will wear their conventional green road uniforms.

Rondo suspended for one game for making contact with official

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff January 7, 2013 04:33 PM
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo has been suspended one game for making contact with an official during Saturday's game against the Atlanta Hawks and for failure to cooperate with a league investigation.

Rondo will serve the suspension against the Knicks tonight in New York.

The announcement came from league discipline chief Stu Jackson.

With 3:19 remaining in the third quarter of the Celtics’ 89-81 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, Rondo was called for an offensive foul on a drive to the basket. He went up to referee Rodney Mott and bumped into him as the two walked back up the court.

The point guard was suspended by the NBA for two games in November after a fight with Kris Humphries that made its way into the stands in a loss to the Nets at TD Garden.

Rondo was also suspended in a game last May for bumping an official in the Celtics playoff series against the Hawks.

The suspension is Rondo’s fourth in 12 months for on-court incidents.

In Rondo’s absence, the Celtics will likely start Jason Terry alongside Avery Bradley in the backcourt.

In 29 games this season, Rondo has been averaging 13.2 points and 11.3 assists per game.

Game 34 preview: Celtics at Knicks

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 7, 2013 11:26 AM

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The Celtics have played 33 games this season without facing the Knicks, and if you've followed only one of the two teams, you have a lot to catch up on.

The Knicks are first in the Atlantic Division and have been first in the Eastern Conference until recently, when Miami took over the top spot. The Celtics, meanwhile, are currently slotted in the 8th and final playoff spot in the conference. New York's rise and Boston's fall have both been major storylines in the young season.

The last team to win the Atlantic besides the Celtics was the Toronto Raptors, in 2006-07. The Knicks haven't won it in 19 years. So when Carmelo Anthony (above) says the Knicks "don't even think about" the Celtics, you can take it with a grain of salt. The Knicks badly want to win the division, and the Celtics are the team they need to keep down in order to do that.

Here are the details for Monday night's game:

Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Celtics (16-17), Knicks (23-10)
Broadcast info:CSNNE (Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn), WEEI/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics: PG: Rajon Rondo SG: Avery Bradley SF: Paul Pierce PF: Brandon Bass C: Kevin Garnett

Knicks: PG: Jason Kidd SG: Ronnie Brewer SF: Carmelo Anthony PF: Tyson Chandler C: Marcus Camby

Story lines:
Slowing 'Melo: You're not going to stop Carmelo Anthony, but slowing him down is priority No. 1 for Doc Rivers. One of the league's premier scorers, Anthony is averaging 29.3 points per game this season. I'm not sure Paul Pierce can continue to go one-on-one with Anthony without bringing more help than in the past, so defense on a string is the key to slowing Anthony. Off the bench, this is why Jeff Green is here. He needs to be able to match up with the Carmelos and Lebrons of the world.

Knicks sliding?: There's a lot of bravado coming out of New York, but the Knicks are 5-5 in their last 10 games. Is there a chink in their armor? New York's 3-point attempts have gone up by four per game since November, but the team's makes have actually gone down.

Force turnovers: The Celtics have forced 18 turnovers in consecutive games. They've benefited from the renewed commitment to defense by getting into their offense more quickly on the other end. People question the wisdom of pinning a team's improvement on one player, but Avery Bradley has the potential to improve both the offense and the defense.

@GlobeGaryDzen

Celtics waive Joseph, Varnado

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 6, 2013 07:24 PM

NEW YORK -- The Celtics had until 5 p.m. Monday to waive the two players they carried with nonguaranteed contracts, and they let go second-round pick Kris Joseph and recently signed Jarvis Varnado on Sunday night, according to an NBA source.

Joseph had bounced between the Celtics and the Maine Red Claws of the D-League, and was in Maine when the move was made. Joseph averaged 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 10 games for Maine.

Varnado was added when the Celtics lost Chris Wilcox indefinitely with a sprained wrist ligament but he played sparingly. Coach Doc Rivers said he admired Varnado's athletic ability Saturday but also called him "raw."

Joseph could potentially return under a 10-day contract. He is eligible to sign with another club once he clears waivers Monday. The Celtics now have 13 players on their roster, giving them some flexibility in case they decide to make a trade or add a free agent.

Celtics waive Kris Joseph, Jarvis Varnado

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 6, 2013 06:53 PM

The Celtics have waived forwards Kris Joseph and Jarvis Varnado, an NBA source confirmed to the Globe. Both players were waived ahead of the deadline for non-guaranteed contracts to become guaranteed for the rest of the season.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers hinted at Varnado's departure this week, saying he wished he could keep the "springy" forward. The Celtics signed Varnado out of the Developmental League on Dec. 24.

Joseph was Boston's 51st pick in the 2012 draft. The Syracuse product averaged 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 10 games with the Celtics' D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

Final: Celtics 89, Hawks 81

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 5, 2013 06:43 PM

Final: Celtics 89-81: Paul Pierce contributed 26 points while Rajon Rondo collected his second triple double of the season as the Celtics held the Hawks to 25 percent shooting in the second half for an impressive win.

Fourth quarter, 2:00, Celtics 85-79: The Hawks are making it interesting with 5 straight points, including a rare 3-pointer by Josh Smith, who just missed another one that would have made things frantic. Celtics get the rebound and call timeout.

Fourth quarter, 3:10, Celtics 85-74: The Celtics are getting cold from the field but still playing strong defense to keep the lead. The Celtics are 7-for-15 shooting in the quarter. Atlanta is 5-for-23 shooting in the half with 13 turnovers.

Fourth quarter, 8:41, Celtics 79-68: The surge continues as the Celtics refuse to allow the Hawks to rally, matching Atlanta field goal for field goal. The Hawks were 21-for-40 in the first half and 3-for-17 in the second half. Kevin Garnett has 14 points for the Celtics.

End of third quarter, Celtics 71-62: The Celtics outscore the Hawks 33-9 in the third quarter as Paul Pierce goes for 17 points and now has 26. The Celtics made 14 of 25 shots in the period while the Hawks were just two of 14 with seven turnovers.

Third quarter, 2:30, Celtics 63-60: The Celtics are on a stunning 25-7 run, shooting 11-for-21 in the third quarter while the Hawks are 2-for-12 with five turnovers. Paul Pierce, playing with four fouls, has 11 points during the run and it has happened mostly with Kevin Garnett on the bench. Avery Bradley has hit a couple of key shots during the run.

Third quarter, 7:03, Hawks 54-52: Well what do you know? This is what the Celtics look like when they really play with passion. They are now defending, making the extra pass and being aggressive around the basket. Celtics on a 14-1 run. Atlanta is 0-for-5 shooting with three turnovers in second half.

Halftime, Hawks 53-38: The Celtics are playing like they don't even want to be here, getting used on defense by the combination of Lou Williams and Jeff Teague, who are 14-for-20 combined for 34 points and five 3-pointers. The Hawks are shooting 52.5 percent from the field but they shot 60 percent in the first quarter. As for the Celtics, Paul Pierce has 9 points on 2-for-9 shooting, Rajon Rondo has 4 points and 4 assists while Kevin Garnett has 8 points and three turnovers.

Second quarter, 5:08, Hawks 46-31 A terrible response to the Indiana win for the Celtics. The Hawks are doing anything they want offensively while the Celtics are beginning to hit shots but it doesn't make a difference when they allow basket after basket.

End of first quarter, Hawks 31-18: A terrible defensive quarter for the Celtics, who allow the Hawks to shoot 60 percent and allow two easy layups by Jeff Teague to end the quarter and that was after Lou Williams dropped 16 points in 11 minutes. The Celtics are 8-for-22 shooting and a combined 0-for-7 from Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.

First quarter, 2:55, Hawks 23-12: Lou Williams has taken over the game from the start, he has 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting as the Celtics are off to another slow start. They are 5-for-17 shooting, including 0-for-5 from Paul Pierce, The Hawks are 4 of 7 from the 3-point line.

First quarter, 6:00, Hawks 15-10: The Celtics can't stop for 76ers Lou Williams, who already has 11 points and three 3-pointers on 4-for-4 shooting. Kevin Garnett has 4 points for the Celtics and Avery Bradley opened with the game's first basket.

The Celtics take on the Atlanta Hawks in a 7 p.m. start as they try to win consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 8-12.

Welcome to Philips Arena for Celtics-Hawks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff January 5, 2013 06:25 PM

ATLANTA -- The Celtics are in the "ATL", trying to gain a second consecutive win after Friday's impressive 94-75 victory over the Indiana Pacers that snapped a four-game losing streak. The Hawks are a tough club despite losing two starters from last season after that big trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Josh Smith is the player to watch. He is averaging 17 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (15-17)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

ATLANTA HAWKS (20-11)
PG Jeff Teague
SG Lou Williams
SF Kyle Korver
PF Josh Smith
C Al Horford

Officials: Rodney Mott, Eli Roe, Scott Wall

TV/Radio: 7 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI

Pregame notes:

• Chris Wilcox made the trip with the Celtics and was working out running sprints before the game but is still weeks away with a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb.

• The Hawks' point guard Devin Harris (sore left foot) and swingman Anthony Morrow (right hip strain) are doubtful. Center Johan Petro (flu) is questionable.

• Avery Bradley is 5-for-17 shooting since his return to the lineup after missing seven months, He has scored 10 total points with one assist.

• The Celtics are last in the league in offensive rebounds and last in the league in total rebounds. Atlanta is seventh in the league in points allowed.

• The Hawks, one of the league's most surprising teams, have the third-best record in the NBA. They were dealt a tough 85-84 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Friday, despite holding the Pistons to 11 fourth-quarter points.

• The Celtics will wear their home white uniforms while the Hawks will wear red.

Kevin Garnett says flagrant foul wasn't intentional

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 4, 2013 11:51 PM

With 8:24 remaining in the fourth quarter of Friday night's game and the Celtics up, 78-55, Kevin Garnett was ejected for giving a Flagrant-2 foul to Indiana's Tyler Hansbrough. Garnett met Hansborough at the basket and came down on his face and head with his off arm. Officials reviewed the play and ejected Garnett.

"I was firm," said Garnett. "I didn't mean to hit him in the face like that. I was actually trying to swipe the ball. It's a physical game, it's what it was, just part of the game."

Said Hansborough, "I've got nothing to say about it."

Final: Celtics 94, Pacers 75

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 4, 2013 10:29 PM

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The Celtics turned up the defensive intensity in a 94-75 win over the Indiana Pacers Friday night at TD Garden, snapping their four-game losing streak in the process. Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo led Boston with 18 points apiece, while rookie Jared Sullinger grabbed 10 rebounds in 30 minutes before fouling out.

Garnett was ejected with 8:24 remaining for giving a Flagrant 2 foul to Indiana's Tyler Hansbrough. Partly because of the early exit Garnett played just 24 minutes.

Courtney Lee matched his season-high with 13 points. The Celtics are on the road tomorrow night in Atlanta.

2:35 4th quarter, Celtics 90-70: Sullinger has fouled out, but it doesn't matter. It's Gino Time here at TD Garden. Too bad KG isn't on the bench to see it.

5:56 4th quarter, Celtics 84-62: Sullinger just picked up his fifth foul. The game isn't in doubt, but it's getting chippy out here. In a way it's good Garnett got out early with a game in Atlanta tomorrow night.

8:24 4th quarter, Celtics 78-55: Kevin Garnett has been ejected for giving a Flagrant-2 foul to Tyler Hansbrough. Garnett met Hansborough at the basket and came down on his face with his arm. Officials reviewed the play and ejected Garnett.

8:38 4th quarter, Celtics 78-55: Kevin Garnett (18 points, 7 rebounds) has his stamp all over this game. He's battling hard against Indiana's bigs.

End 3d quarter, Celtics 69-51: The next five minutes will be crucial. If the bench can hold the lead, the Celtics will be able to close this game out.

3:49 3d quarter, Celtics 64-44: The combination of Bradley and Rondo really playing well together. Rondo has 18 points and 7 assists on 9-of-13 shooting.

6:51 3d quarter, Celtics 58-41: The game's getting sloppy, but sloppy on both sides is good enough for the Celtics to build on their halftime lead.

sullingerpacers.jpgHalftime, Celtics 47-35: Tremendous first half for the Celtics defensively. Indiana shot 32 percent from the field. The Celtics out-scored the Pacers 32-19 in the second quarter. Rajon Rondo has 12 points and Paul Pierce has 10 to lead Boston.

1:06 2d quarter, Celtics 45-30: Kevin Garnett goes over the first row saving a loose ball. He then ran about 15 seats up the court and used the broadcast table to get back out there. Great hustle, funny re-entry.

5:13 2d quarter, Celtics 36-23: Avery Bradley gets a steal and goes coast to coast for the finish. Now that's a pretty sight. It's a 17-4 run for the Celtics.

5:59 2d quarter, Celtics 31-23: Pierce hits a 3-pointer and gets fouled, completing the four-point play. Sullinger is making things happen with six rebounds. The Celtics are plus-11 with him in the game.

7:52 2d quarter, Celtics 25-20: Nice little run here by the Celtics to build a five-point lead, which feels like 25 points in this game. Paul Pierce finally makes a strong move to the hoop for two. Watching Jared Sullinger battle Tyler Hansbrough might be the guilty pleasure of tonight's game.

End 1st quarter, Pacers 16-15: There's a reason why ESPN opted out of this game. Jason Terry is 1 for 6, but his 3-pointer gave the Celtics a little life. They're right in this thing thanks to a defense that is holding the Pacers to 35 percent shooting.

2:13 1st quarter, Pacers 14-10: The Celtics are now 5 of 19 from the field. Avery Bradley is 0 for 5.

5:41 1st quarter, Pacers 9-6: Ugly offensive basketball here so far. The Celtics are 3 of 11 from the field and the Pacers are 4 of 11. Some obvious fouls not being called on both ends. Lance Stephenson hit a 3-pointer but ugly-d it up by getting a technical foul for taunting the Celtics bench.

7:40 1st quarter, Pacers 6-4: Before the game, Pacers coach Frank Vogel called Paul George the best wing defender in the league. He's making it tough on Paul Pierce. Took a steal the other way for a dunk and is challenging every dribble.

Pregame: Brandon Bass is back in the starting lineup for the Celtics. Jason Collins will come off the bench.

Brandon Bass will start vs. Pacers

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 4, 2013 07:17 PM

Brandon Bass will start in place of Jason Collins Friday night vs. Indiana. Collins had started the last seven games, with the Celtics going 2-5. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he liked playing Bass alongside Kevin Garnett and having Collins be size off the bench."

"We want to stay as big as possible," said Rivers. "What we didn't like with Jason in the lineup is that with he and Kevin on the floor, we get small really quick. This way we keep a big on the floor at all times."

Rivers said he was trying to help Bass get back to his previous form. He's averaged 8.1 points on 44 percent shooting off the bench.

"You don't do it just for the group, you do it for the individual at times," said Rivers. "Brandon's played better when he's played with Kevin, though everyone has."

-- Gerald Green is averaging 7.4 points in 21.4 minutes per game this season. He averaged 8.9 points per game in two seasons in Boston after being the 18th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. Green won the 2007 NBA slam dunk contest before being traded to Minnesota as part of a package for Garnett.

"He was so young," said Rivers. "I don't know if he wasn't listening to me or anyone at that time. He had a lot going on. The dunk contest might have been the worst thing that ever happened to him."

Green has bounced around with various other NBA teams and also played in the Developmental League and in Russia. He's just 26 years old.

"That's a lot at that age," said Rivers. "It'll probably do him well having gone through all that."

Game 32 preview: Pacers at Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 4, 2013 10:50 AM

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There's no mystery concerning the main story line of Friday night's game. The Celtics have lost four straight. They need a win in the worst way, and they need a win just to match last year's 15-17 start, a start they vowed not to get out to this season. It only gets harder for the Celtics with a game in Atlanta Saturday night and one against the first-place Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

The Celtics are looking up at the Pacers, who have risen to fourth place in the Eastern Conference having won 9 of their last 11 games. Indiana is playing without Danny Granger and playing very well. The Celtics, meanwhile, have been outscored by an average of 19.7 points in their last four games.

Here are the details for Friday night's game:

Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Records: Celtics (14-17), Pacers (19-13)
Broadcast info:CSNNE (Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn), WEEI/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics: PG: Rajon Rondo SG: Avery Bradley SF: Paul Pierce PF: Kevin Garnett C: Jason Collins

Pacers: PG: D.J. Augustin SG: Paul George SF: Lance Stephenson PF: David West C: Roy Hibbert

Story lines:
Another big test: It doesn't get any easier for the Celtics frontcourt. Roy Hibbert and David West are two of the more skilled big men in the NBA on the offensive end (though Hibbert's numbers are down a little this season -- he's shooting 40 percent from the field). West will draw his man away from the hoop and is also a tough load down low. It will be interesting to see how Jared Sullinger matches up with West when he's in the game.

Sully's minutes: Speaking of Sullinger, he's got to play more minutes. The rookie played just 19 minutes vs. Memphis Wednesday night after getting into early foul trouble and eventually fouling out. The C's need his toughness on the floor, and he's got to find a way to stay out there.

Defense: The Celtics can't allow Indiana to shoot 61 percent in the first half like the Grizzlies did the other night. Avery Bradley talked after that game about playing defense on a string. Let's see some of it.

@GlobeGaryDzen

Rondo: 'Everybody isn't a sore loser'

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff January 3, 2013 02:32 PM

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WALTHAM -- It wasn't exactly hard to tell. The Celtics dropped their fourth game in a row and their 17th of the season, and Rajon Rondo was wearing the loss all over his face as he sat with a blank stare on a stack of exercise mats waiting for practice to start Thursday afternoon.

This isn't something he's used to. This isn't something he's trying to get used to.

Not counting his rookie season, Rondo could count the number of times he had experienced a three-game losing streak on two hands before this year.

But this is the second time the Celtics have lost at least three-straight games this season with eight losses in their past 10 games. They haven't went on a run longer than the three games they strung together in mid-November against the Bucks, Bulls and Jazz. They haven't won back-to-back games since they beat the Sixers on Dec. 8 and the Mavericks in overtime four days later.

For all the talk about schemes and rotations and trust and execution, Rondo put it as simply as possible.

"The frustrating part is just losing," he said. "I'm a sore loser. It's tough to lose."

Then he put it in broader terms.

"Everybody isn't," he said. "You'll learn that everybody isn't a sore loser. Some teams are OK with losing. Some guys are OK with just getting a check. But everything I do, I compete. So, this four-game losing streak is frustrating."

He stopped short of pointing fingers.

“I can only judge myself,” Rondo said. “That's my New Year's resolution. I don't want to judge anybody this year.”

But his message was clear.

A year ago, the Celtics started the season with a three-game losing streak and suffered two different five game skids, but otherwise never lost more than two in a row.

The 2010-11 Celtics never lost more than two straight games. The 2009-10 Celtics went on four different three-game dives but were able to stop the bleeding there. In 2008-09, right after the Celtics went on a 19-game tear, the Celtics lost seven of their next nine including four straight during one stretch but that was easily the most turbulence they ran into all year.

In 2007-08, when the C's regular season was essentially a yellow brick road, they lost three straight games in February, giving up 100-plus to New York and Golden State then being held to 77 by -- wait for it -- the Phoenix Suns.

None of the players who were at the team's core through those seasons swallow losses well. At different points this season, Kevin Garnett has made it clear that he didn't sign a three-year, $34 million deal over the summer to "go through the motions."

After watching the Warriors light them up Dec. 29, Garnett again said, "we've never been a go-through the motions team, and I don't think we're going to start. I didn't come back (for an 18th season) to go through the motions. I don't think the guys who signed came here to go through the motions."

There's no connection between how much a player sulks and how much he cares about a loss, head coach Doc Rivers said, so he doesn't read into reactions after losses.

"You've still got to learn from losing and learn from winning at the same time," Rivers said. "Clearly there are guys that are more emotional than others. That doesn't mean the other guys don't take it just as poorly."

Still, it's a place the Celtics are used to being in and have no desire to be stuck in.

"You go through adversity every season," Rondo said. "It's nothing to get too down about. It's a long season. I'm staying positive. I haven't lost faith or hope in this team. I still have high expectations. I know we will turn it around."

These aren't last year's Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 3, 2013 12:02 PM

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Tony Allen has never been one to hold his tongue. The former Celtics guard turned Memphis defensive stopper offered a blunt assessment of his old team following Memphis's 93-83 win at TD Garden Wednesday night.

“They’re missing a lot of pieces,” said Allen when asked about how this Celtics team compared to the one he was on in 2007-08. “I don’t think they’ve really got a defensive-minded guy yet. I mean, they’ve got one [Avery Bradley], but I can’t say he’s 100 percent just yet. I don’t think they’ve got the center like Perk [Kendrick Perkins]. It’s kind of hard finding a guy who clogs up the paint, talks trash to you, and can actually back it up. They’re just missing a lot. I don’t know. I don’t see the same team from 2008.”

Allen isn't wrong. The 2007-08 Celtics team that won a championship was first in the NBA in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) and second in points allowed per game at 90.3. They were also a respectable 12th in total rebounding, owing to their 9th-place ranking on the defensive glass.

This year's Celtics, meanwhile, are 13th out of 30 teams in defensive rating. They're 17th in points allowed, giving up 97.9 points per game. They rank 29th in rebounding -- 18th in defensive rebounds and dead last on the offensive glass. They are not, in other words, remotely close to playing at a championship level.

While the comparisons to 2008 are disheartening, far more telling are the comparisons to last year's team that started the season 15-17 and turned things around to make it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. This season's Celtics are 14-17 and can match last year's start with a win Friday night vs. the Pacers. But there's a big reason why this slow start is different than the last one.

Despite their ups and downs, last year's Celtics didn't waver on defense. In fact, they ranked first overall in defensive rating and actually allowed fewer points per game (89.3) than they did during their championship run.

"It's not guarding our guys," Bradley said afterward. "We've all got to be on a string and helping each other out. Once we learn that we'll be fine. That's been our struggle, what we've been working on a lot in practice.

"Every team has its ups and downs. The best teams are the ones who can go through the adversity. I feel like we're going to overcome."

Bradley's return will help, even if it didn't lead to a win Wednesday night, but the Celtics need more. The team ranked last in the NBA in total rebounding last year, so that's something they can deal with and still contend. But defense has been the hallmark of the Celtics since Garnett and Doc Rivers got together. Without it, the C's are a mediocre team at best and in danger of slipping out of the playoffs at worse.

Recent defensive play has been alarming. A Memphis team that ranks in the middle of the pack offensively shot 61 percent in the first half Wednesday night. A Sacramento team that ranks even worse dropped 118 points on the Celtics on Sunday. The Celtics have given up 100 or more points 14 times this season. They are 4-10 in those games.

Can you teach a group of players who aren't doing it to play defense on a string? Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Garnett, and Bradley know how to do it. The team's newcomers are struggling with the concept. When asked last night if the team's new players care enough about defense, Rivers replied, "I don't think they understand it as much... they want it, but they have to find out how to do it"

Before last night's game, Rondo interrupted Courtney Lee during a pregame shooting drill and instructed him to stop going through the motions. Rondo told Lee to release his shot quicker, as if it were in a real game. Lee obliged, appeasing Rondo at least for the moment.

Maybe more instruction is all this team needs. Maybe relative newcomers like Lee, Jason Terry, and Jeff Green will follow Bradley's example and begin to play the kind of help defense that makes teams hesitant to drive the lane or make a cross-court pass, the kind that Allen, Perkins, and the rest of the 2008 Celtics used to play. Maybe -- and this includes the players who have been there before -- they'll stop trying to be perfect and start getting down and dirty. Three years after he left and for all his faults, these Celtics could use a little more Tony Allen in their play.

Grizzlies hand Celtics 4th straight loss, 93-83

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 2, 2013 09:36 PM

ABDafter.jpgGlobe Staff Photo/Jim Davis

The Memphis Grizzlies spoiled Avery Bradley's season debut, handing the Celtics their fourth straight loss, 93-83, Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Bradley finished with four points and one steal in 19 minutes. He sat out most of the fourth quarter, including a stretch where the Celtics cut a 16-point lead down to five before failing to convert on six straight possessions.

The Celtics dug their own grave in the first half when they allowed Memphis to shoot 61 percent from the field. Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 23 points. Paul Pierce had 17 for the Celtics. He and Kevin Garnett combined to make just 11 of 28 shots from the field.

The Celtics are back on the court Friday night when they host the Indiana Pacers.

1:26 4th quarter, Grizzlies 88-78: Sullinger has fouled out, but had he not he would have closed out the game.

2:56 4th quarter, Grizzlies 85-78: Do the Celtics have enough in the tank to make this interesting? What's the lineup? Jason Terry playing very well. Sullinger has five fouls.

4:46 4th quarter, Grizzlies 83-78: Jason Terry getting hot. His corner 3-pointer has the lead down to five.

8:50 4th quarter, Grizzlies 81-69: Celtics are trying to make a run with a backcourt of Rondo and Lee, then Rondo and Terry. Bradley sitting out for the moment.

End 3d quarter, Grizzlies 75-59: Conley has 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Celtics are down to 44 percent shooting.

6:36 3d quarter, Grizzlies 64-49: It gets worse. Mike Conley and Rudy Gay are now 4 of 8 on 3-pointers. The game is getting away from the Celtics.

8:06 3d quarter, Grizzlies 59-47: Defense still not fixed. Tony Allen just came from the weak side and threw home a rebound slam over Jason Collins, who was standing under the hoop but didn't box anyone out.

memphis1st.jpgHalftime, Grizzlies 50-41: The Celtics wasted their last few offensive possessions before halftime. Whether it was KG throwing the ball to Tony Allen or Pierce going 1-on-4 and getting swallowed up, ball movement became an afterthought in the waning moments of the first half. The Celtics are now shooting 47 percent while the Grizzlies are still up at 61 percent. Boston shot 33 percent in the second quarter.

3:27 2d quarter, Grizzlies 44-36: Kevin Garnett is just 1 of 7 from the floor, so he takes a seat in favor of Jared Sullinger, who has three fouls.

7:11 2d quarter, Grizzlies 39-33: A 10-0 run by Memphis is erasing a lot of good vibes. Jared Sullinger picked up three fouls in three minutes. The Celtics still haven't proven they can stop the Grizzlies, which is a problem.

8:36 2d quarter, Grizzlies 34-33: Rivers can now work his starters back into the game to end the half. Glad Rondo played if only so we can see what the rotations are supposed to look like. Starting Jason Collins at center now also seems to make more sense because Brandon Bass looks like a different player in quick bench lineup. Now if only the Celtics can start getting some stops.

End 1st quarter, Celtics 26-25: Two things to notice right away. Avery Bradley's defense on pick-and-rolls is going to be a revelation, even if he's slow getting his feet wet. And the bench, the one that Doc Rivers wanted all along, doesn't look nearly as bad in a supporting role. In fact, a backup backcourt of Courtney Lee and Jason Terry is a nice advantage in some spots.

Both teams shooting above 60 percent from the floor, which is not what either coach wants on defense.

1:51 1st quarter, Grizzlies 23-22: The Celtics did well to bounce back from an early Grizzlies onslaught as Memphis made four of their first six shots. We're getting the good Paul Pierce tonight (12 points thus far).

Pregame: For the first time all season, your starting backcourt features Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley.

Fab Melo has a concussion; Chris Wilcox out indefinitely

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 2, 2013 07:00 PM

Rookie center Fab Melo is here at TD Garden after being called up by the Celtics from the Maine Red Claws of the D-League, but he won't be in uniform. He's here to watch the game and get treatment for a concussion he recently suffered walking into a door frame.

The 7-foot Melo said he got hurt on his team's trip to Sioux Falls, S.D., last week. Melo had 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots in Friday's game and 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks the next night.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday that Melo has some clumsy tendencies.

"What did you have, 'Manny being Manny'?" said Rivers. "In five years, when Fab's playing terrific for us here, we're going to have some 'Fab being Fab' moments. It just took kind of a head start."

In other injury news, center Chris Wilcox is out indefinitely with a right thumb injury. Wilcox said he was hurt when he fell in a game vs. Chicago Dec. 18 but didn't realize how bad the injury was until he tried to palm the ball a few days later.

"I tried to catch myself," said Wilcox. "I thought I just jammed it. I just taped it up. ...When I came here, it was killing me."

A doctor told Wilcox he needs to take some time off to let the injury heal. Wilcox said he won't need surgery, and for now he's wearing a plastic brace on his thumb that prevents him from doing any kind of rehab. Wilcox said he will be reevaluated next Tuesday.

"It's been tough for me," said Wilcox. "But this is minor compared to what's happened to me in the past. Anything other than that is nothing."

Rajon Rondo will play; Avery Bradley will start

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 2, 2013 06:51 PM

Rajon Rondo, who missed last week's game against the Warriors but played the following night vs. Sacramento, will play Wednesday night vs. the Memphis Grizzlies, coach Doc Rivers confirmed. Rondo, who has been dealing with a hip injury, did not practice Tuesday and did some light shooting Wednesday before the game.

Avery Bradley will make his season debut Wednesday night and is in the starting lineup. Rivers says Bradley has no restrictions.

"His legs are fine," said Rivers. "I just think the quicker we get to our regular lineup the better."

Game 31 preview: Grizzlies at Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 2, 2013 11:56 AM

abdreturn.jpg

The Celtics look to recover from their road trip hangover tonight at TD Garden, but it won't be easy with the stingy Memphis Grizzlies in town.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Grizzlies are what the Celtics used to be, and hopefully still can be. Memphis has the best defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) in the league. Opponents average 90 points per game against the Grizzlies, the lowest in the league. The Celtics, on the other hand, are coming off a trip out west in which they allowed 106, 101, and 118 points. On the season Boston's defensive rating is a respectable 13th in the NBA, but we've seen that it can be hit or miss for Doc Rivers and his team on that side of the ball.

The return of Avery Bradley should help in that department tonight, though if Rajon Rondo is absent the net gain might not be positive. Bradley isn't a savior, but ball pressure also isn't something to take for granted. If you're adding a player who is among the best at his position at a specific skill, you're going to improve.

Here are the details for tonight's game:

Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Celtics (14-16), Grizzlies (19-6)
Broadcast info:CSNNE (Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn), NBATV, WEEI/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics: PG: Rajon Rondo SG: Avery Bradley SF: Paul Pierce PF: Kevin Garnett C: Jason Collins

Grizzlies: PG: Mike Conley Jr. SG: Tony Allen SF: Rudy Gay PF: Zach Randolph C: Marc Gasol


Story lines:
Big-time bigs: Not every NBA team has a legitimate low-post presence for a big man. Memphis has two of them. The Celtics really, really do not match up well with the Grizzlies' Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol (think of the trouble the C's had with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum on the Lakers a couple years ago). Expect Jason Collins to start because the C's do not have another option. Foul trouble could be an issue.

AB vs. TA: Avery Bradley's return comes on the night Tony Allen returns to Boston with an opposing team. Allen was the Celtics' former defensive stopper. Bradley's more reliable offensively and less prone to erratic dribbling. Allen's a little bigger and can guard taller players. Bradley's quicker. Should be fun to watch them both.

Stops: The Grizzlies are 22d in the league in points per game at 94.5. The Celtics need to keep them under 100 if they have any shot to win tonight. At 14-16, Rivers is looking for wins, but you can bet he'd be satisfied to start with consistent effort on defense.

@GlobeGaryDzen

Avery Bradley set to return for Celtics; Rajon Rondo uncertain for Wednesday game

Posted by Staff January 1, 2013 02:53 PM

WALTHAM – Plus one, minus one.

During practice Tuesday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the team will be graced with the return of Avery Bradley, who hasn’t played in seven months and is coming off surgery on both his shoulders, for Wednesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

But the Celtics may be without point guard Rajon Rondo, who has been dealing with a bruised hip that caused him to miss the Dec. 29 game against Golden State and hindered him in Sunday’s disappointing loss to Sacramento, when he had just two points.

“When you’re getting beat down the court by a big, it’s frustrating,” Rondo said. “I’m OK. I’ll be fine. It’s not like I need surgery or anything. It’s just a bruise.”

Rondo was wearing slippers and sweatpants as the Celtics took the floor for practice, and while he said he hopes to play Wednesday, Rivers wondered if that’s a good idea.

“I didn’t think he was very aggressive [Sunday],” said Rivers. “When his guy scores 27 and he scores two, that tells you all you need to know. He couldn’t move much.

“We talked after the game and I couldn’t give him an answer, whether he was helping or hurting the team the way he was moving. But you want him on the floor, so it’s a tough call.”

Bradley, who stayed home during the Celtics' four-game road trip, will definitely play Wednesday, though Rivers has yet to decide if that will be in a starting or reserve role.

With the team struggling defensively -- the Celtics allowed 118 points to the Kings, including seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter -- Bradley, who Rivers called a top-five on-ball defender in the NBA, will be needed.

Bradley said he hasn’t felt any pressure, he’s just happy to be back.

“Just like any other day, I’m going to prepare today, go through practice, go over the plays and make sure I know what’s going on,” Bradley said Tuesday. “Tomorrow I’ll go out and play like I can. Prepare like I normally do.

“I’m excited, the team is excited, I’m sure the fans are excited. I’m just going to go out there and play Celtics basketball.”

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