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Final: Knicks 108, Celtics 89

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 31, 2013 07:41 PM

Final: Knicks 108-89: The Celtics never led after the first quarter and trailed by double digits the entire second half. A disappointing game for the Celtics considering the had a full day off. Jeff Green led Boston with 27 points and Paul Pierce added 24 and 15 rebounds.

Fourth quarter, 2:22, Knicks 101-85: It's garbage time now as the Celtics are headed to their second loss to the Knicks in five days. The first half was the story. The Celtics yielded 65 points and 11 3-pointers, enough for the knockout punch. Jeff Green has 27 points for the Celtics and Paul Pierce 24. But the Celtics never could regain control after giving up a 21-17 lead.

Fourth quarter, 7:29, Knicks 94-73: This one's about done folks, the Celtics have scored just 25 points in the first 16:31 of the second half, going 6 of 22 from the field. The Knicks have slowed down on their 3-point prowess but now they are living at the free throw line, having attempted 25 for the game.

End of third quarter, Knicks 86-69: The Celtics hold the Knicks to 21 points in the third after 37 in the second but now they decide to go cold from the field. They were 3-for-10 shooting from the 3-point line in the quarter and 5 of 16 overall. Paul Pierce has 24 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists.

Third quarter, 49.9, Knicks 85-69: The Celtics' defense has drastically improved in the quarter but they are just 5-for-15 shooting in the quarter. Jeff Green has 25 points but he's going to need major help if the Celtics hope to make one last run.

Third quarter, 5:00, Knicks 78-64: The Celtics were close to cutting it to single digits but Brandon Bass missed a jump hook and Raymond Felton has just responded with a floater and foul, Avery Bradley's fifth. Jeff Green has 23 points for the Celtics.

Halftime, Knicks 65-48: Yeah it was that bad. Raymond Felton hits a 55-footer at the buzzer to end the first half, New York's 11th 3-pointer. They are either hitting 3's or living at the line and the Celtics have no response. The Knicks were 11-for-21 shooting on 3-pointer and 10-for-25 on 2-pointers. The Celtics shot 49 percent have nearly a triple-double at halftime from Paul Pierce and trail by 17.

Second quarter, 2:38, Knicks 55-42: The Knicks are cold from the field but they keep getting to the free throw line, drawing the ire of coach Doc Rivers. The Knicks have attempted nine free throws in the period and Rivers picked up a technical foul for arguing Avery Bradley's third foul call on J.R. Smith.

Second quarter, 7:06, Knicks 44-34: The Knicks are now at 57 percent shooting and have drained eight 3-pointers. Chris Copeland, taking advantage of a mismatch against Shavlik Randolph, has 8 points in five minutes while J.R. Smith is also heating up. Jeff Green leads the Celtics with 10 points.

End of fIrst quarter, Knicks 28-23: New York ends the quarter on an 11-2 run as J.R. Smith hits a stepback jumper in the final second of the quarter. The Knicks shot 52 percent in the period and hit five 3-pointers. The 3-point shooting can't continue to occur if the Celtics plan on coming back. Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley and Jason Terry are a combined 1-for-9 shooting.

FIrst quarter, 2:34, Celtics 21-19: The Celtics are definitely playing with more energy than the last time. They are shooting 44 percent after Paul Pierce just missed everything on a 3-pointer but they are playing decent defense as Doc Rivers mixes zone and man. J.R. Smith has 1 point in four minutes.

FIrst quarter, 6:30, Knicks 16-11: A really bad sign for the Celtics is that the Knicks already have four 3-pointers and J.R. Smith has yet to enter the game. The Knicks are getting anything they want on the perimeter. The Celtics are offensively off to an erratic start with three turnovers already.

Welcome to Madison Square Garden for Celtics-Knicks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 31, 2013 05:42 PM

NEW YORK -- The Celtics get another shot at the Knicks tonight in the final meeting of the season between the two teams. The Knicks won both meetings in Boston and the Celtics won the previous meeting in New York. Courtney Lee participated in shootaround and will play. The Knicks will not have Tyson Chandler, who has missed the past 10 games with a neck injury.


STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (38-34)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jeff Green
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Chris Wilcox

NEW YORK KNICKS (45-26)
PG Raymond Felton
SG Pablo Prigioni
SF Iman Shumpert
PF Carmelo Anthony
C Kenyon Martin

Officials: Tom Washington, Mark Ayotte, John Goble

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Kevin Garnett participated in shootaround and Doc Rivers said he is "feeling a lot better." The Celtics are targeting a return early next week for the center.

• J.R. Smith has 129 points (32.2 average) in his past four games, including 37 points against Charlotte, 35 against Memphis and 32 against the Celtics. He has led the Knicks in scoring 16 times this season.

• The Celtics will head to Minnesota tonight and play the Timberwolves on Monday before returning home to play the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

• Despite Shavlik Randolph grabbing a career-high tying 13 rebounds on Friday, Rivers said he's going to stick with Chris Wilcox as his backup center. Randolph has been sparkling in rebounds-per-minute.

• The Knicks were without Chandler, Kurt Thomas (right foot stress reaction), Amar'e Stoudemire (right knee debridement) and Rasheed Wallace (fractured foot).

KG participates in shootaround, 'feeling a lot better' according to Rivers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 31, 2013 11:18 AM

NEW YORK -- The Celtics will not have Kevin Garnett tonight against the New York Knicks as they expected. The center is, however, closer to returning to the court after missing the past four games with ankle inflammation.

Garnett was expected to participate in the team's shootaround Sunday morning at Madison Square Garden, which is an encouraging sign considering the team wanted to shut him down for two weeks.

"He's gonna do a little bit; he's feeling a lot better," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "It's nice having him around. I always like him around."

Other notes:

• Courtney Lee made it through Friday's 118-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks without any setback and will play tonight.

• Despite the production of Shavlik Randolph (13 rebounds on Friday), Rivers said he will stick with Chris Wilcox and Brandon Bass at backup center but Randolph will also get his chances.

Final: Celtics 118, Hawks 107

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 29, 2013 07:43 PM

Final: Celtics 118-107: A good win for the Celtics. They shot 54.2 percent and got a triple double from Paul Pierce, his third of the season. He finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Jeff Green led the Celtics with 27 points. Mike Scott led Atlanta with 19 points. Josh Smith and Jeff Teague did not play in the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter, 1:10, Celtics 116-105: The Celtics on a 7-2 run to seal this one as they will get a key victory to secure seventh place in the East and gain a game on sixth-place Atlanta. Paul Pierce has 20 points.

Fourth quarter, 5:31, Celtics 105-94: Celtics are on a 5-0 run, as Jason Terry canned a critical 3-pointer after the Celtics recovered a major scramble for the ball. Terry has 22 points, 15 on 3-pointers. The Hawks are going with their bench down the stretch. Jeff Teague and Josh Smith remain on the bench.

Fourth quarter, 8:21, Celtics 98-87: It's not over yet, as the Celtics are a couple of play away from making this comfortable but they need to get some defensive stops. Shelvin Mack, who was once playing for the Celtics' D-League entry in Maine, has 11 points and five assists in 19 minutes. Jeff Green has 22 points for Boston while Paul Pierce has 16 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds.

End of third quarter, Celtics 92-80: The Celtics score the final 4 points of the quarter to extend the lead but they will need more quality minutes to seal this one. Jeff Green leads the Celtics with 22 points while Paul Pierce is three rebounds from a triple double. Josh Smith has 18 for Atlanta.

Third quarter, 2:10, Celtics 85-76: The Celtics have been on the verge of breaking this open but the Hawks have scored the past 8 of the past 11 points and are hanging in. Jeff Green leads the Celtics with 18 points as the club is shooting 51.7 percent. Josh Smith has 16 points on 22 shots for Atlanta. Shavlik Randolph has 7 points and nine rebounds in 14 minutes.

Third quarter, 5:36, Celtics 76-65 The Celtics are not playing cohesive but they are mustering just enough to maintain a lead. Jason Terry has 16 points off the bench but has not played in the second half while Paul Pierce has 14. Josh Smith has 16 points but on a whopping 21 shots.

Halftime, Celtics 66-56: The Celtics have seized the lead by way of the 3-point shot They hit a whopping six in the second quarter as they scored 34 points in the period. Jason Terry sparked the run with 14 points in the period while Paul Pierce added 13 in the half. Josh Smith has 16 points on 7-for-17 shooting for Atlanta.

Second quarter, 1:40, Celtics 61-50: The Celtics are on a 27-10 run as Jason Terry has 14 points in the quarter, 12 of those on 3-pointers as the Celtics are shooting 56.1 percent for the game. Shavlik Randolph has been a spark with 4 points and five rebounds off the bench. Josh Smith and Jeff Teague have combined for 26 points but on 24 shots.

Second quarter, 7:28, Celtics 42-40: Celtics on an 8-0 run after falling behind by 6 points. Jason Terry has sparked the surge with two 3-pointers and he has 8 points off the bench. Josh Smith leads all scorers with 11 points on 12 shot attempts. Eight Celtics have already scored.

End of first quarter, Celtics 32-30: It was a defense-optional quarter as both team combined to make 26 field goals while Josh Smith has taken 12 of Atlanta's 27 shots and has 11 points. Paul Pierce scored 8 points in nine minutes. Jeff Teague has 8 points for the Hawks.

First quarter, 2:46, Celtics 25-19: The energy the Celtics are playing with is spreading to Avery Bradley, who has been in a major slump the past month. He has 6 points and two assists while Paul Pierce has 8 points as the Celtics have converted 10 of their first 18 shots. Josh Smith has 7 points but has already taken 10 shots.

First quarter, 8:20, Hawks 9-7: It's a lively crowd tonight considering the Hawks are in town and the Celtics are playing with energy early, which is a good sign. But they are going to have to do something about Josh Smith, who already has 5 points.

Ainge, Riley exchange words about LeBron James' comments

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 29, 2013 07:09 PM

Nothing like a heated exchange from executives of two rival teams to spruce up a potential playoff showdown.

After Danny Ainge told WEEI radio Thursday that LeBron James should be "embarrassed" for complaining about officiating, Miami Heat president Pat Riley, an old adversary of the Celtics, released a statement to the Miami media saying Ainge should "shut the (expletive) up and manage his own team."

Through a team spokesman, he added, "He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him."

When told by the Globe of Riley's comments, Ainge laughed, completely unaware that his statements about James would spark such controversy.

"What did I say?" he asked. "I would say we're both right. LeBron should stop complaining. I complained as a player and I should manage my own team. We're both right."

When asked if complained to officials as a player, Ainge said: "Oh heavens yes. It's not a secret. Pat Riley's right. I should manage my own team and I complained a lot as a (player) and I'm right, LeBron should be embarrassed by how he complains about the calls he gets. We're both right."

Welcome to TD Garden for Hawks-Celtics

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 29, 2013 06:49 PM

The Celtics play another key game in their quest to hold on to their seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a chance to move up to sixth. They enter tonight's game two games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks and 2 1/2 behind the Hawks, who are in sixth. The Hawks are 1-2 against the Celtics this season and lost an overtime decision here on Mar. 8, 107-102, when they botched a chance to win in regulation after bad pass by Josh Smith.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (37-34)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
PF Jeff Green

ATLANTA HAWKS (40-32)
PG Jeff Teague
SG Kyle Korver
SF Tayshaun Prince
PF Ivan Johnson
C Anthony Tolliver

Officials: Monty McCutchen, Eric Lewis, Derek Richardson

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Courtney Lee is expected to play tonight after missing the past two games with a sprained left ankle. Lee will come off the bench but his presence will be a boost to the Celtics' defense.

• Al Horford will miss tonight's game with a stomach illness. With the Hawks also without Zaza Pachulia, Anthony Tolliver will get the nod at center. He is averaging just 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds.

• The Celtics will take Saturday off in preparation for their matchup Sunday with the New York Knicks. Kevin Garnett is not expected to return until perhaps next weekend.

• The highlight of the pregame session was a war of words between Heat president Pat Riley and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge over Ainge's comments regarding LeBron James complaining about officials. Ainge called his complains embarrassing and Riley released a statement using harsh words to tell Ainge to be quiet and "manage his own team." Ainge agreed but still said James should be embarrassed about his complaints.

Final: Boston 93, Cleveland 92

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 27, 2013 07:21 PM

CLEVELAND — Jeff Green did it three weeks ago in Indiana, and he did it again Wednesday night.

The forward made another buzzer-beating basket that helped the Celtics steal a 93-92 win against the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.

With 2.1 seconds left and the Celtics trailing by 1, Avery Bradley inbounded the ball to a cutting Green, who drove through the lane, soared, and converted a layup just before the buzzer blared, helping the team end a five-game losing streak.

Green finished with 21 points and seven rebounds, and the Celtics came back with a furious finish late in the fourth quarter after trailing for most of the second half.

The Celtics closed the game on a 21-6 run after trailing by as many as 14 points in the second half. Brandon Bass scored a season-high 22 points and Paul Pierce had 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists.

Wayne Ellington had 16 to lead six Cavaliers in double figures. Cleveland lost its sixth straight game.

End of third quarter; Cleveland 73, Boston 67:A terrible quarter for the Celtics, who trailed by as many as 12 in the frame before chipping away at that lead. There have been plenty of poor plays on both sides -- each team has 14 turnovers -- but this seems to be another case where the Celtics are playing down to their competition. Granted, the Celtics are short-handed, but they should be winning this game. Brandon Bass has a game-high 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Paul Pierce has 13 and Jeff Green has 12. Wayne Ellington has 16 points, nine of which he scored in the third quarter.

Third quarter, 5:24, Cleveland 64-54: The Cavs opened the second half on a 17-4 run, a spurt that Doc Rivers tried to stop twice with timeouts, though neither worked at all. His squad is getting run over on the defensive end and they can't hang on to the ball on offense. Tristan Thompson drove baseline and dunked on Jeff Green, who didn't try to stop him. The Celtics turned it over on the ensuing play and that led to a fast-break slam dunk by Alonzo Gee.

Halftime: Boston 46-45The Celtics led by as many as 12 in the first half, but carelessness with the ball and head-scratching defensive lapses. The Celtics had 10 turnovers that Cleveland turned into 10 points. Paul Pierce has had a pretty complete game thus far: 11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 turnovers, 5 assists, 2 blocks. Tyler Zeller nearly has a double double, with 9 points and 8 rebounds.

Second quarter, 3:48, Boston 36-34:Cleveland has used an 11-1 run to charge back, and the Celtics have let them by completely falling asleep on defense. Chris Wilcox barely drew iron on a pair of free throws. CJ Miles has two 3-pointers off the bench for the Cavaliers.

Second quarter, 7:36, Boston 35-23:The Celtics have started to open up some breathing room. Pierce has 11 and has hit 4 of his 7 shots. Shavlik Randolph has also provided a boost by taking a charge and grabbing two rebounds in limited minutes. His defense has been impressive, as has the Celtics defense overall. Cleveland is shooting 29 percent (9 for 31) from the floor.

End of the first quarter, Boston 24-18:Even though the Celtics are without several players, it still feels like they should be beating Cleveland by a lot more. The Cavaliers look awful -- kind of like a 22-47 team. Jeff Green looks like he may have one of those "good" nights. He has a team-high 9 points. The Cavaliers are shooting 7-of-22 from the floor. Tyler Zeller has 7 points to lead them.

First quarter, 4:11, Boston 17-11:The Celtics trailed 6-2 to start the game but have responded behind Paul Pierce, who has 6 points on 2-of-3 shooting. Brandon Bass and Jeff Green each have 4 points. Tyler Zeller has 5 points and 4 rebounds to lead the Cavaliers. The Celtics used a 13-4 run to take a 17-9 lead with 4:50 left.

Welcome to Quicken Loans Arena for Celtics-Cavaliers

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 27, 2013 04:29 PM

CLEVELAND – It's a battle of teams playing without key players while riding low on five-game losing streaks. Sounds enthralling, yes? Of course it does.

Celtics guard Courtney Lee (sprained left ankle) will miss his third consecutive game, and Kevin Garnett (inflammation in his left ankle) is also out; neither Garnett nor Lee even made the trip to this Rust Belt city, where the Celtics will be playing the second of a back-to-back following Tuesday's 15-point home loss to the New York Knicks.

For Cleveland, which last played Friday and was smashed by 38 points in Houston, All-Everything guard Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and Dion Waiters (knee) are also out.

This is the third of four meetings between these teams; each team has won once.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (36-34)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
PF Jeff Green

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (22-47)
PG Shaun Livingston
SG Wayne Ellington
SF Alonzo Gee
PF Tristan Thompson
C Tyler Zeller

Officials: Bill Kennedy, Brian Forte, JT Orr

TV, radio: 7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

• Turnovers are going to be a telling statistic. The Celtics are committing 16.8 turnovers per game during their losing streak, nearly two more per game than they average overall this season. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers rank 8th in the NBA in opponent turnovers per game at 15.5 and 8th in points off turnovers (17.5). And when these teams played Jan. 22, Cleveland forced 20 turnovers and turned them into 18 points.

• Another key factor tonight: energy. The Cavaliers are coming off four days rest while the Celtics played last night and had a road back-to-back two days before that.

• And the final key factor that we're going to discuss here is that area around the rim commonly called "the paint." Garnett used to call that patch of hardwood his home, but since he's been out, Celtics opponents have invaded it and set up shop. The Knicks scored 50 points in the paint there Tuesday and out-scored the Celtics in second-chance points, 29 to 6. If Boston gets crushed in those categories, they'll lose again tonight.

Painful memories creep up for Celtics with ugly loss to Knicks

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 27, 2013 10:10 AM

riverseyes.jpg

I saw a tweet from a Celtics fan Wednesday morning that, paraphrased out at more than 140 characters, read, "Wasted too much money to sit at tonight's game. Saw Terrence Williams, Jordan Crawford, Shavlik Randolph. Swore I could have been at a Maine Red Claws game."

With all due respect to that salty franchise up Interstate 95, imitating the Celtics' minor league team is less than ideal. Tuesday night's 100-85 loss to the Knicks, Boston's fifth straight defeat, was as bad a showing the Celtics have made at TD Garden in years. The Celtics committed 20 turnovers and allowed 15 offensive rebounds. Starting point guard Avery Bradley did not record an assist.

Playing without Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger, and Leandro Barbosa, the Celtics never had a chance, and that's despite Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire being absent for New York. The game felt like it was being held in another city, a roster of newbies and fill-ins playing for a listless crowd that couldn't wait to file out to Canal St. for a nightcap.

The game was so unwatchable that it brought back memories of the most repugnant Celtics basketball in recent memory. As a reporter in my second season on the job I covered the 2006-07 Celtics team that lost 18 consecutive games. The streak was surprising in total, but the results of each individual "L" were not. After the first loss in the streak, an 87-79 defeat in Orlando on Jan. 7, 2007, Celtics guard Tony Allen said, "We as a team, we understand that we dug ourselves in. In the first half we were flat. We have to go look at film, take constructive criticism, see what you can do to correct it."

It was more of the same for the next month. Looking through the old notebook, Celtics coach Doc Rivers used words like "rhythm" and "effort" and "flat" to describe his team over the next 17 losses. So it was a little eerie when Rivers dropped this quote during Tuesday's press conference.

"I thought we were flat," said Rivers. "We didn’t play with a lot of energy, and I always say that’s something I’ve got to do or get them to do right."

What Rivers didn't say, and what he couldn't say during that 18-game losing streak, is that the Celtics didn't put enough talent on the floor to win Tuesday night. The Celtics started Bradley, Crawford, Brandon Bass, Paul Pierce, and Jeff Green against the Knicks. Terrence Williams played nearly 23 minutes. Randolph played almost as much as Chris Wilcox, who is the only backup big man on the team that's been here longer than three weeks. Those aren't the Red Claws, but it's not a playoff team, either.

For the first game of that '07 losing streak the Celtics started Delonte West, Tony Allen, Wally Szczerbiak, Ryan Gomes, and Al Jefferson. Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and Gerald Green came off the bench. They got Pierce back from injury 16 games later and broke the streak shortly after, but the similarities between the lineups are hard to ignore. Those 2006-'07 Celtics had a couple of players who would carve out very good NBA careers and more, which is what Bradley should do despite his dud Tuesday night. So should Green, despite his hollow double-double vs. the Knicks. But potential doesn't win basketball games. It doesn't make sitting through them any more palatable.

The question is whether or not Tuesday night's game was a glimpse of the future or an anomaly. There will come a time very soon when Garnett and Pierce will be gone or playing at nowhere near the level we're used to. Tuesday's game might go in the win column for the camp that was happy to see the PP and KG stick around at the trade deadline (see what they would be without them?), but is the franchise better off than it was in 2006-'07? Would you rather have a young core of Rondo, Bradley, Sullinger, Jeff Green, and Lee or one comprised of Allen, Rondo, Jefferson, Perkins, Gomes, and Gerald Green? Either way, it's clear the Celtics aren't fun to watch without two or more superstars pulling more than their share of the weight.

Asked about missing Garnett for two more weeks (would you be surprised if it's longer?), Rivers said, "Guys, I think you’ve been around me long enough. Kevin’s not playing. I don’t worry about it. I really don’t. And I don’t with our guys. We didn’t play well tonight. I’m not going to go back and say, ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve got two more weeks of this.'"

Rivers doesn't have to say he's worried, nor should he say that a serious lack of talent is going to be the true difference between winning and losing games over the next several weeks. That should be painfully clear. What's not clear – heck what's not even on the radar yet – is just how the Celtics get out of this.

Knicks players and even some beat reporters walked around with chips on their shoulders following the win, spouting a "how-would-you-like-to-face-us-in-the-playoffs-now?" mantra that is deserved, considering how Celtics fans have been saying for weeks that their team should beat anyone but Miami in a playoff series.

Maybe Garnett will get right and right the ship, making a playoff series with New York much more even. Either way, what's evident from Tuesday night is that the Celtics are awfully close to that line that separates being competitive and dreadful, from being a team of plucky underdogs to one at a serious disadvantage. Winning streaks without your star players are fun, but a glimpse into the not-so-distant past suggests the losing streaks aren't nearly as entertaining.

Final: Knicks 100, Celtics 85

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 26, 2013 09:55 PM

knicksmarchfinal.jpg

J.R. Smith scored 32 points and Carmelo Anthony added 29 as the Knicks rolled over the depleted Celtics 100-85 Tuesday night at TD Garden.

The Celtics clearly missed Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee, but the Knicks were not without their own injury issues. Tyson Chandler was out for New York, as is Amar'e Stoudemire, and resulting Knicks lineups included Kenyon Martin at center or no center at all. The Celtics matched with Brandon Bass or Jeff Green getting cracks in the middle. The Celtics allowed 15 offensive rebounds and forced just 8 Knicks turnovers. On their own end Boston committed 20 turnovers. Celtics starting point guard Avery Bradley did not have an assist.

Jeff Green led the Celtics with 19 points and 10 rebounds, but Green made just 6 of 14 shots. It was an off night for Paul Pierce, who finished with 16 points, 6 assists, and 6 turnovers. The Celtics have now lost five straight and face the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road Wednesday night.

5:19 4th quarter, Knicks 93-76: Not sure why Paul Pierce is still in the game here. Avery Bradley having one of the worst games of his career with 4 points, 0 assists, 0 steals, and 1 turnover.

8:48 4th quarter, Knicks 88-73: Fans haven't started leaving yet, but they're not exactly on their feet chanting "de-fense", either. Pierce coming back to try to get it closer.

End 3d quarter, Knicks 81-69: Smith hits what must have been a 30-footer to end the quarter, to oohs and ahhs from the crowd. He's got 28 points.

3:44 3d quarter, Knicks 74-62: Jason Kidd nails a 3-pointer. Remember when he couldn't shoot? Maybe when Rajon Rondo hits his late 30's he'll become a dead-eye shooter.

6:50 3d quarter, Knicks 67-60: Green has 9 points and 2 rebounds in 5 minutes as the Celtics have cut the lead to seven.

9:42 3d quarter, Knicks 63-52: Jeff Green hits a long 3-pointer. Not part of the offensive game plan but the Celtics will take the points.

crawfordknickshalf.jpgHalftime, Knicks 58-44: The Knicks committed just two turnovers in the first half en en route to a 14-point lead at the break. Jordan Crawford is the only Celtic in double-figures with 11 points. The Celtics have nine turnovers. The Knicks have figured out how to get the shots they want.

2:55 2d quarter, Knicks 49-39: The Celtics' lack of starting-caliber talent is being exposed right now. They're playing hard but can't finish on offense, and New York is starting to get the shots they want.

5:40 2d quarter, Knicks 44-35: The Knicks have 22 points off the bench. Smith and Anthony have 34 of the 44 New York points on an efficient 13-for-24 shooting.

7:14 2d quarter, Knicks 38-35: Paul Pierce has one field goal attempt so far, which seems low.

8:45 2d quarter, Knicks 33-31: Crawford takes his first awful shot of the night. Rivers said before the game that Smith was a member of the "All-Scare Team" because he scares both coaches. That shot clearly scared Rivers, enough to take Crawford out.

Smith now has 15 points. The Celtics are shooting 52 percent and have 10 assists on 13 field goals but still trail. The Knicks lead in free throws, 9-2.

End 1st quarter, Knicks 28-24: After a slow start by both teams, this game has turned into a shootout. Crawford is leading the way with 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting. J.R. Smith has 10 points for the Knicks, while Carmelo Anthony leads all scorers with 11. When the quarter ended Anthony and Jeff Green were playing center for their teams respectively.

2:47 1st quarter, Celtics 18-17: Crawford stays in the game after the sub, Bradley sits down. Doc Rivers said before the game he likes Crawford's passing ability. Saw it on a nifty assist before the timeout. He's got 5 points and 1 assist.

3:50 1st quarter, Celtics 14-12: The Celtics have yet to make a sub, but Chris Wilcox and Jason Terry are coming in at the next whistle. Lots of guard play in this game.

6:03 1st quarter, Knicks 9-8: Jordan Crawford is on the board, but Jeff Green and Avery Bradley have yet to score. Green's been invisible.

9:49 1st quarter, 0-0: No score. I miss KG.

Pregame: Jordan Crawford will start tonight for the Celtics in place of Courtney Lee, Doc Rivers said before the game. Rivers asked Jason Terry to start but Terry said he preferred to come off the bench.

Game 70: Knicks at Celtics preview

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 26, 2013 05:01 PM

kniclksmarchpre.jpg

Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee are out Tuesday night as the Celtics take on the New York Knicks at TD Garden. Lee just went through warmups but said he wasn't playing as he walked off the court. The shooting guard looked fine putting up jump shots, but he had trouble trailing an assistant off of screens before the game. The Celtics are already playing without Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, and Leandro Barbosa.

This is the third meeting between the Knicks and Celtics this season and the teams are going in opposite directions. The Celtics have lost four straight while the Knicks have won four in a row. The Knicks are half a game behind Indiana for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Celtics are in seventh place. The chance of these two teams meeting in the first round of the playoffs remains very real.

Here are the details for tonight's game:

Tip-off: 7 p.m.
Records: Celtics (36-33), Knicks (42-26)
Broadcast info:TNT, WEEI/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics: PG: Avery Bradley SG: Jason Terry SF: Paul Pierce PF: Jeff Green C: Brandon Bass

Knicks: PG: Raymond Felton SG: Pablo Prigioni SF: Iman Shumpert PF: Carmelo Anthony C: Kenyon Martin

*Tyson Chandler is questionable tonight with a sore neck

Story lines:
Celtics' attrition: You can make too much of injuries, but in the case of the Celtics they're starting to add up. The Celtics are now playing without a point guard or a center. Sullinger, who was so key in Boston's 102-96 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 7, is another big loss. It's unsurprising that the Celtics have failed to keep up their winning ways after the loss of Rondo.

Fireworks: Without Garnett, the emotional aspect of this game might be muted a bit. Can the Celtics get up for the Knicks tonight?

Home record: Boston is 24-10 at home this season, 12-23 on the road. They're lucky to be playing in the confines of TD Garden tonight. Any playoff series in which the Celtics must play four road games, however, could be trouble.

@GlobeGaryDzen

Ainge: Garnett has 'ankle inflammation,' could miss 2 weeks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 25, 2013 12:26 PM

WALTHAM -- While the news on Courtney Lee's sprained left ankle were positive for the Celtics (he could play Tuesday against the New York Knicks), the news regarding Kevin Garnett's left ankle injury was not as encouraging.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said during Monday's practice at Sports Authority Training Center that Garnett doesn't have an ankle sprain but "ankle inflammation" and he could miss two weeks. Ainge said he definitely won't play Tuesday against the New York Knicks or Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Take a couple of Advil and give it some rest," Ainge said. "Could he play tomorrow? Yeah but we're not playing him tomorrow. The time frame, I don't know but it's not an ankle sprain but there's inflammation in the ankle, sort of like an ankle sprain in unpredictability. So I think that it's not longer than three weeks or it could be a week. I'll guess two weeks just because we want to make sure he's really ready. We need to get him fresh anyway."

Before Ainge spoke, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he he wouldn't rule out Garnett missing an extended period of time. Garnett apparently injured the foot in Wednesday's 87-86 loss to the New Orleans Hornets but played the next two games, losses to the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies.

Rivers said he was not concerned about this being a season-ending injury for Garnett, but added: "But can he miss four or five games? Yeah that's probably possible. I don't know that but to me (season ending) is not a concern. He hurt his foot in that Dallas game. (It's not serious) unless something crazy happens in the MRI that I can tell you the first look, they didn't see that. At the end of the day, he may miss some games.

"We're going to err on the right side, whatever they decide. If they give me an option of you can play him every third game or give him two weeks rest, I can tell you right now I am going to say two weeks rest, if it's my decision."

Final: Grizzlies 110, Celtics 106

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 23, 2013 08:09 PM

Fourth quarter, 12.1, Grizzlies 108-104:Jeff Green and Zach Randolph exchange two free throws. Celtics are now out of timeouts. Celtics ball.

Fourth quarter, 18.5, Grizzlies 106-102: Jordan Crawford and Jerryd Bayless exchange free throws. Celtics ball.

Fourth quarter, 23.3, Grizzlies 104-100: The reserves went on a 21-4 run and Rivers has put Paul Pierce back in for perhaps a miracle.

Fourth quarter, 5:14, Grizzlies 100-84: It's garbage time here in Memphis but the Celtics are trying to play out the string with effort after a frustrating night. Paul Pierce's night is done with 26 points. The Celtics really missed Courtney Lee's defense potentially against Jerryd Bayless.

Fourth quarter, 9:18, Grizzlies 90-75: It's just not Boston's night, The Celtics have been sloppy with the ball, missed key shots and Memphis has hit most of its difficult shots. Meanwhile, Jerryd Bayless has 28 points in 31 minutes.

End of third quarter, Grizzlies 85-73: The Celtics were very close to being buried but they still have some life. The Grizzlies cooled off a little from the field but the Celtics need to take care of the ball and score consecutive baskets. Jerryd Bayless and Darrell Arthur have combined for 41 points.

Third quarter, 4:00, Grizzlies 77-64: Memphis on a 9-2 run after the Celtics had cut the deficit to 6. The Grizzlies have cooled off from the field but now they are throwing the ball in the paint to Zach Randolph. Jerryd Bayless leads all scorers with 23 points.

Halftime, Grizzlies 61-51: The Grizzlies scored 33 points in the second quarter on 12-for-19 shooting and that's after they missed their final three shots. Jerryd Bayless has been the key with 20 points in 17 minutes and because of matchups, Lionel Hollins has been able to keep Avery Bradley from defending him. The Celtics are shooting nearly 49 percent but it means little with defensive stops. Memphis has 17 assists on 24 made baskets.

Second quarter, 1:58, Grizzlies 62-47: The Memphis run is 33-16 in the quarter as they are 12-for-16 shooting in the period and Jerryd Bayless has 20 points in 15 minutes. The Celtics are just not playing any defense and are getting pushed around under the boards. Paul Pierce has 13 points but hasn't scored since early in the quarter.

Second quarter, 5:52, Grizzlies 47-40: The Celtics are quickly losing control of this game. After missing four of their first five shots, the Grizzlies are now 18 for their past 29 shooting and Jerryd Barless has a game-high 16 points. The Grizzlies are pushing the pace and the Celtics refuse to get back on defense. They desperately need a run before this gets out of hand.

Second quarter, 8:57, Grizzlies 38-36: Jerryd Bayless is going at Jordan Crawford and he's winning the war so far. He just drained a 3-pointer for his 11th point in eight minutes as the Grizzlies are now shooting 53.6 percent. He and Crawford are talking trash at each other but it's apparent Crawford can't stop him.

End of first quarter, Celtics 31-29: Well at least the Celtics didn't give up a 30-point quarter, but they did allow the Grizzles to hit 11 of their final 18 shots of the quarter, including the final 8 of the period by reserve Jerryd Bayless, who torched the defense of Jordan Crawford. Paul Pierce is having one of those nights already with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting.

First quarter, 4:47, Celtics 18-14: Memphis has decided to show up and it is on a 12-6 run to get back into the game after trailing by 10. Tony Allen has shown his range a bit with a jumper but he also airballed a previous shot. Paul Pierce already has 6 points on 3-for-3 shooting while Jeff Green has 5 for Boston.

First quarter, 9:20, Celtics 10-2: A 10-0 run from the Celtics who are plauing with more energy despite the absence of Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee. All five starters have scored and let's see if being in the lineup gives Jason Terry a boost. The Grizzlies are 1-for-5 shooting.

Garnett, Lee out tonight vs. Grizzles with sprained ankles

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 23, 2013 06:48 PM

MEMPHIS -- The Celtics may never get completely healthy for the playoffs with their post-Rajon Rondo roster. Just as Courtney Lee was declared out for Saturday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies with a sprained left ankle, Kevin Garnett was also a scratch with a sore foot.

Garnett was walking gingerly in his street clothes after Friday's 104-94 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, although he did not leave the game with any injury. The Celtics are being extra careful with Garnett and are expected to give him an examination when the club returns to Boston early Sunday morning.

Without Garnett, the Celtics will go extra small against one of the bigger teams in the league. Jason Terry is expected to start at shooting guard and Jeff Green at forward. Brandon Bass will have to defend Marc Gasol.

Welcome to FedEx Forum for Celtics-Grizzlies

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 23, 2013 03:28 PM

MEMPHIS -- The Celtics end their three-game road trip in one of the tougher venues in the league to play. The Grizzlies will be an angry bunch tonight as they dropped a road game at New Orleans (sound familiar?). The Grizzlies are 27-8 at home, are huge inside with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and the defense of former Celtic Tony Allen. On the injury front, Courtney Lee and Kevin Garnett will not play because of sprained left ankles.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (36-32)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jason Terry
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
PF Jeff Green

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (46-22)
PG Mike Conley
SG Tony Allen
SF Tayshaun Prince
PF Zach Randolph
C Marc Gasol

Officials: Bill Spooner, Marat Kogut, Zach Zarba

TV, radio: 8 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Courtney Lee sprained his left ankle landing on the back of an opponent's foot during the pivotal play of the game, when O.J. Mayo drained a wide-open 3-pointer. Lee walked off the floor to the locker room and said he would try to play tonight.

• The Grizzlies acquired Tayshaun Prince and Ed Davis in the three-team Rudy Gay deal, Prince has played 23 games with the Grizzlies, averaging 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds, shooting 42.8 percent.

• The Celtics have lost three consecutive game, their longest streak since losing Rajon Rondo to injury. The schedule doesn't get any easier with the New York Knicks on Tuesday, a tricky game at Cleveland on Wednesday and home against Atlanta on Friday. Davis is averaging 14.3 minutes per game off the bench, averaging 4.9 points.

• An interesting free agent to watch this summer if Tony Allen, who is in the final year of the three-year deal he signed with Memphis.

• In their past two games, the Celtics have been outrebounded a combined 93-66 and are 9-for-31 shooting from the 3-point line.

Final: Mavericks 104, Celtics 94

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 22, 2013 08:38 PM

Final: Mavericks 104-94: The Celtics get a close as 5 but give up too many offensive rebounds and make too many mistakes on offense. Their third loss in a row. Brandan Wright with a season-high 23 points for Dallas.

Fourth quarter, 1:51, Mavericks 97-92: Celtics have scored last 4 points and need another defensive stop. They haven't been within two possessions in about a month. Mavericks ball.

Fourth quarter, 2:44, Mavericks 94-86: The Celtics are playing hard, they just aren't playing well. Kevin Garnett just committed a key shooting foul on Dirk Nowitzki trying to make a steal and now the Maverick has two free throws. Garnett has 16 points and 11 rebounds. Dirk has 20 and 7.

Fourth quarter, 4:30, Mavericks 93-83: It just isn't the Celtics night. They are making Vince Carter look like an all-star again and making Brandan Wright look like an all-star for the first time. Do the Celtics have anything left?

Fourth quarter, 7:44, Mavericks 87-77: The Celtics once again rallied behind 7 straight points from Jordan Crawford but have allowed consecutive baskets to Darren Collison and the lead's back up to 10. Do the Celtics have one more run left? They definitely have done nothing to show they deserve to win this game. Dirk Nowitzki leads all scorers with 20 points.

End of third quarter, Mavericks 79-68: Amazingly, for as poorly as they have played, the Celtics are within striking distance with a couple of baskets. They have been their own worst enemy tonight, shooting 39 percent with 11 turnovers. Brandon Bass has 16 points and Kevin Garnett has 14. Brandan Wright has hurt the Celtics with 16 points, mostly on layups.

Third quarter, 2:00, Mavericks 75-63: The Celtics just can't seem to get out of their own way tonight. Each time they are close to making this competitive, they miss a layup or commit a turnover and the Mavericks respond with a big basket. The Celtics are shooting 37.9 percent..

Third quarter, 5:54, Mavericks 68-59: It's bizarre here. The Celtics are both close to coming back and being blown out. They have spent the entire evening making mistakes but are still a couple of shots from rallying. The question is whether they are capable of such a feat. Brandon Bass has 12 points for Boston.

Halftime, Mavericks 55-44: The Celtics are just making mistake after mistake, allowing the Mavericks to run on an 8-1 run to end the quarter for their biggest lead of the game. The Celtics have missed at least seven layups, including one by Brandon Bass, who missed two and was called for offensive goaltending on the third attempt. The Celtics are shooting 37 percent and have committed nine turnovers. Vince Carter has come off the bench to score 12 points, most on crazy layups and fouls.

Second quarter, 2:39, Mavericks 45-39: The Celtics defense has increase their intensity but continue to breakdown on pick-and-roll. Brandan Wright just scored again because Chris Wilcox left him all alone to cover Darren Collison. Wright has a game-high 12 points while Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass each have 8 for Boston.

Second quarter, 8:03, Mavericks 35-27: A frustrating night for the Celtics, who have missed at least five layups. They are shooting 38 percent and keep fouling the Mavericks on shot attempts. The Mavericks are beginning to miss shots but the Celtics can't capitalize. Jason Terry has 4 points in his return while Jordan Crawford is scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting.

End of first quarter, Mavericks 30-19: The Celtics didn't score for more than three minutes before Jeff Green streaked to the basket for a layup with two seconds left. The Celtics are playing sloppy ball and consistently slipping on defense. The Mavericks have already hit three 3-pointers and are outrebounding the Celtics 13-6. Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 5 points.

First quarter, 2:59, Mavericks 24-19: The Celtics have made a plethora of mistakes so far, especially defensively, where they can't defend the pick-and-roll with Brandan Wright, who already has 6 points. Vince Carter has just come off the bench to add 5 and the Celtics are being outrebounded 11-5.

First quarter, 8:16, Mavericks 9-2: The Celtics have already missed two layups and Mike James have scored 5 straight points and Boston already looks flat. Jason Terry has yet to enter the game and there was no video tribute prior to game.

Welcome to American Airlines Center for Celtics Mavericks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 22, 2013 02:49 PM

DALLAS -- The Celtics will try to bounce back from their disheartening defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Hornets with a difficult game against the Mavericks, who still have hopes of grabbing that final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It will be an emotional night for Celtics guard Jason Terry, who played eight seasons with the Mavericks and helped them to the 2011 NBA title with a win over the Miami Heat.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (36-31)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

DALLAS MAVERICKS (32-36)
PG Mike James
SG O.J. Mayo
SF Shawn Marion
PF Dirk Nowitzki
C Chris Kaman

Officials: Ed Malloy, Bennie Adams, Leroy Richardson

TV, radio: 8:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Shawn Marion has missed the past eight games with a strained left calf but said he is ready to go tonight against the Celtics.

• Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Kevin Garnett will play tonight after playing nearly 30 minutes in the loss to New Orleans. He missed the previous two games with the flu and a strained left adductor.

• Rivers said he team doesn't have a long memory and he is not thinking about the difficulty of the upcoming schedule, which includes games at Memphis on Saturday and the New York Knicks at home Tuesday.

• Jason Terry told the media this morning that he was still bothered by not being re-signed by the Mavericks and believed Dallas could have made another title run with a couple of more pieces.

• Paul Pierce said Dirk Nowitzki could probably play until he's 40 because of his length and style of play. The two were in the same draft in 1998.

Celtics shootaround report: Terry returns to Dallas

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 22, 2013 01:24 PM

DALLAS – While the Celtics were trying to recover from Wednesday's disheartening loss to the New Orleans Hornets and preparing for the Dallas Mavericks, guard Jason Terry was surrounded by local media to discuss his first game in Dallas since leaving the Mavericks for the Celtics this summer.

Terry spent eight productive seasons in Dallas, leading the club to two NBA Finals appearances and one championship. He has looked at this date for months and was finally able to speak fully on his first game here as a Celtic.

"It was fun (facing the Mavericks) in Boston but here it's obviously a lot more special," he said. "This is cool man, seeing all of you (media). We spent a lot of time together. I'm just happy to be back. I definitely took my sedatives (so I can calm down). I'm mild mannered but I'm definitely going to take a flight on the runway."

When asked about what he expected from the fans, Terry said: "A lot of cheers. Mainly because I got about 100 tickets so my cheering section will be in the building. It's all positive. We're in a good place. We're fighting for playoff position and so again we're focused on getting the win but it will be good to come back home."

Terry said being allowed to leave Dallas still causes some unpleasant feelings.

"I shed tears when I had to leave so I don't think I have any more left," he said. "It's tough (to see Dallas struggling) because I'm still a Mavs fan at heart but again when you break up the team, that's what happens. You'd like to get a chance to fight for what you earned and we didn't get that opportunity, but it's over now and we're past the disappointment and you have to move on."

Terry said the Mavericks could have been contenders again if they retained the core of the team.

"No question about it, we probably would have added a couple of more pieces, but it didn't happen, so you can't cry about it now," he said. "I gotta do something (special tonight), I was 0-fer the last game. No points, I had a lot of turnovers, so best believe I'll be aggressive tonight. The first shot going up is definitely going to be a 3 (pointer)."

Also, Doc Rivers said Kevin Garnett is a go tonight and he doesn't expect any after-effects from Wednesday's 1-point loss to the Hornets.

Celtics sign Randolph for remainder of season

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 21, 2013 08:52 PM

DALLAS -- As Doc Rivers said Wednesday, the Celtics wanted roster continuity and signed center Shavlik Randolph for the remainder of the season after his 10-day contract expired Thursday. Randolph has been a solid addition to the Celtics bench, playing well in limited time.

In three games, he is averaging 3.3 points and 4.3 rebounds, including 6 points and eight rebounds on March 16 against the Charlotte Bobcats. Randolph has played with four teams after leaving Duke following his junior season in 2005.

Final: Hornets 87, Celtics 86

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 20, 2013 08:11 PM

Final: Hornets 87-86:A disastrous loss for the Celtics, who go get outscored 7-0 in the final 1:32 and allow Anthony Davis to tip-in the game winner with 0.3 seconds left off an Eric Gordon miss. A terrible loss for the Celtics, who led by 13 early in the third quarter and 5 with 1:40 left.

Fourth quarter, 15.6, Celtics 86-85: Paul Pierce is short on one of his leaners and the Hornets grab the rebound. New Orleans ball.

Fourth quarter, 35.5, Celtics 86-85: Paul Pierce fouls Ryan Anderson on a 3-point attempt and he hits two of the three free throws. Celtics ball. Pierce has 28 points.

Fourth quarter, 40,6, Celtics 86-83: Celtics had two chances to make it a two-possession game but couldn't and now the Hornets have the ball with 14 seconds on the shot clock. The Celtics are out of fouls.

Fourth quarter, 2:34, Celtics 84-81: Paul Pierce has scored 9 straight points and the Celtics are on a 15-3 run to take the lead again after trailing by 9. Pierce now has 28 points in just over 30 minutes after the Hornets were close to sealing the game. Hornets ball.

Fourth quarter, 5:24, Hornets 78-73: The Celtics have scored consecutive baskets (shocker) and are trying to rally after watching an early 13-points second-half lead waste away to a 9-point deficit just moments ago. The Celtics are 8-for-29 shooting in the second half for 18 points and they have attempted one free throw after the break following 12 in the first.

Fourth quarter, 8:36, Hornets 72-69: The Hornets took their first lead since the first quarter after Ryan Roberts scored the first 5 points of the fourth quarter. The Celtics are 6-for-23 shooting in the second half and are visibly frustrated. Let's see if they can gather themselves.

End of third quarter, Tied at 67: The Celtics scored 55 points in the first half and 12 in the third quarter, and that's a problem. They were 5-for-18 shooting in the quarter and committed eight fouls in the period after seven in the first half.

Third quarter, 2:47, Celtics 65-62: After a 15-5 run and with Eric Gordon about to attempt two free throws, the Celtics are in trouble. They look confused offensively, scoring two field goals in the past six minutes. The Hornets just keep chipping away and are using rebounding to stay close. Gordon has 6 points during the run.

Third quarter, 7:52, Celtics 60-54: The theme tonight is Celtics build nice lead, Hornets rally. New Orleans is on a 7-0 run to cut a 13-point deficit to 6 and the Celtics look disheveled on offense and confused on defense. They need to get back to offensive basics with Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green.

Halftime, Celtics 55-45: A solid 24 minutes of work for the Celtics, who shot 60 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line. The tandem of Jeff Green and Kevin Garnett are dominating the paint and perimeter, combining for 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting while Paul Pierce added 12 points. Greivis Vasquez leads the Hornets with 10 but he's being harassed defensively by Avery Bradley.

Second quarter, 5:10, Celtics 46-36: Boston responds with a 7-0 run and is shooting 68 percent from the field. But the Celtics have to continue to avoid turnovers and defensive lapses. Kevin Garnett just scored his 12th point in his return after a two-game absence.

Second quarter, 7:19, Celtics 37-35: The Celtics are flirting with 70 percent shooting and are moving the ball well but they have to get more consistent stops and avoid the turnovers. Jeff Green has 13 points while Kevin Garnett has 8 for the Celtics. The Hornets have been sparked by their bench with Ryan Anderson and Ryan Roberts combining for 14 points.

End of first quarter, Celtics 31-22: Jeff Green scores 11 points in the period and the Celtics score at will as the Hornets look like a team playing out the string. Jordan Crawford canned a jumper at the buzzer as the Celtics shot 70 percent.

First quarter, 5:37, Celtics 15-7: Jeff Green has picked up where he left off with his 43-point game on Monday. He has scored 5 quick points as the Celtics appear to be taking the Hornets seriously and want to make an early statement. Kevin Garnett missed his first two shots but then made his next two and exited the game for his first break with 4 points.

First quarter, 10:27, Hornets 3-2: Brandon Bass opened the scoring with a jumper and Anthony Davis countered with one of his own. Kevin Garnett has already missed his first two shots.

Welcome to New Orleans Arena for Celtics-Hornets

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 20, 2013 06:43 PM

NEW ORLEANS -- After a difficult home loss to the Miami Heat, the Celtics start a three-game road trip with a tricky game against the Hornets, who won the first meeting in Boston. This time, there will be no father-son reunion as Austin Rivers is out with a broken hand and the Hornets have been struggling of late. Still, this is a tricky game that the Celtics need to win. The good news for the Celtics is Kevin Garnett is back after missing the past two games with a strained adductor muscle.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (35-30)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

NEW ORLEANS HORNETS (22-46)
PG Greivis Vasquez
SG Eric Gordon
SF Al-Farouq Aminu
PF Anthony Davis
C Robin Lopez

Officials: Joey Crawford, Sean Corbin, Kevin Scott

TV, radio: 8 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Anthony Davis is battling a stomach flu and is questionable for tonight. He has posted double-doubles in his past two games.

• Rivers took his father Doc out to dinner and paid the bill for the first time according to Doc. Hornets coach Monty Williams said Rivers was playing his best ball of the season when he was injured.

• Kevin Garnett said he was close to playing Monday against the Miami Heat and shaved his usual beard, looking rather clean shaven.

• Jason Terry called being dunked on by LeBron James on Monday a "basketball play" and said he enjoyed making the technical free throw.

• The Celtics will have DJ White and Shavlik Randolph for the rest of the season as Doc Rivers said he wants to maintain continuity and wanted to avoid any more roster changes.

LeBron gloats, Terry remains silent two days after 'The Dunk'

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 20, 2013 01:20 PM

NEW ORLEANS – Jason Terry realizes that he was the latest victim of a vicious dunk that spread across YouTube and reaction littered Twitter. Two days after being dunked on by LeBron James during the Heat's 105-103 win over the Celtics, James continued to chide Terry while Terry had little response.

Terry was approached about the dunk before the Celtics' shootaround. In the second quarter, James soared over Terry for a dunk and James them stood over Terry, glared and was called for a technical foul. The two have a feud going back to the 2011 NBA Finals when Terry's Dallas Mavericks defeated James' Heat in six games.

"I'm not even commenting. No comment. Zero. I have none. A basketball play," Terry said. "My reaction was when the fans were cheering and I went up and knocked down the technical. That's a great reaction. Wasn't the first, won't be the last."

James said he has watched video of the dunk and offered harsh words for the victim.

"It was one of my better ones," James told reporters in Miami. "And the fact that it happened to J.T. made it even that much sweeter. Because I think we all know what J.T. talks, and he talks too much sometimes and I'm glad it happened to him."

Garnett's a go vs. Hornets tonight, and other Celtics shootaround notes

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 20, 2013 12:44 PM
NEW ORLEANS -- The Celtics returned to the court Wednesday for the first time since losing that tight game to the Miami Heat on Monday, and they received a welcome addition with a nearly clean-shaven Kevin Garnett, who will play tonight against the New Orleans Hornets.

Garnett missed the past two games with a strained left adductor (thigh) muscle and also flu-like symptoms but he returned this morning for a shootaround refreshed and ready to go.

"Feeling better, feeling a lot better, thank you," he said. "I thought we played hard (in my absence). I thought we competed. You could see some of the small mistakes kind of cost us at the end (against Miami) but for the most part, I thought played together and played very, very hard. Those are good signs."

When asked if he was close to playing against the Heat, Garnett said, "I was. Any time I don't play it's always a tough call. It was very tough not to be able to contribute."

Meanwhile, the club officially signed forward DJ White for the remainder of the season and the Celtics said in a release that it is a multiyear deal. Also, coach Doc Rivers said that he wants to keep team continuity and wants to sign Shavlik Randolph, whose second 10-day contract expires Thursday.

White, signed from the Chinese Basketball Association as relief for a thin frontcourt, expressed relief about knowing he's staying in Boston.

"It's a good feeling; I just went through two 10-day contracts and finally it's official that I'll be here the rest of the year. You can kind of relax in a sense," he said. "I'll know where I'll be for the next couple of months."

Said Rivers about the roster: "We don't need to make any more changes. They know what we're doing. We don't need to bring in another. We brought in three guys (in the last month). That's a lot for a team that's in the thick of a playoff run. That's enough change as far as I'm concerned. I think we're done with the change stuff."

Danny Ainge: 'Unfair' to expect Jeff Green to be next Paul Pierce

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 19, 2013 04:38 PM

A day after Jeff Green scored a career-high 43 points in a 105-103 loss to the Miami Heat, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge defended Green's consistency and development during an appearance on the "Felger and Massarotti" show on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

"I don't expect Jeff to have games like that every night, obviously," said Ainge. "Jeff has been playing very good basketball over the last 25 games.

"Obviously, 43 points and 7 rebounds and 4 blocked shots are unique performances and out of the ordinary, but you see what Jeff is capable of doing."

Over his last 23 games, Green's averages per 36 minutes are 17.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks, with 50 percent field goal shooting, 39.7 percent 3-point shooting, and 84.2 percent free throw shooting. In light of Green's breakout game Monday night, Ainge was asked to defend subpar outings like the 2-for-11, 8-point performance Green put up in Oklahoma City March 10.

"That's like taking away from a pitcher that throws a no-hitter," said Ainge. "Obviously he's not going to be able to throw a no-hitter every time, and then the next outing he goes out and gives up six runs and you say, 'Which guy is he?'

"That's sports, that's the nature of the game. Jeff Green is not a LeBron James, not Kevin Durant, not Larry Bird. He's a really good player for us, and a very important player for us. And I think he's getting better for us every time.

"We don't expect Jeff to go out there and get 30, or even 25, every night."

Asked if he expected Green to "be the next Paul Pierce", Ainge said, "I don't think it's fair to expect from Jeff what we got from Paul, because Paul is arguably the best offensive player we've ever had in their amazing history. So I think it's unfair to put the expectations of being Paul Pierce on him.

"But as an heir apparent, as our starting small forward at some point when Paul no longer plays, I think that's a fair expectation."

The Celtics seem to have Miami's number, even if the Heat won Monday's game. Is a seven-game series win over the Heat possible with a healthy Kevin Garnett?

"Sure," said Ainge. "I think anything can happen. Listen, everybody knows the Heat is the best team right now. They have the most room for error. We have to play top-notch, we have to get a lot of good performances out of a lot of people. That's what makes the NBA playoffs so much fun."

Celtics can build around Jeff Green and Avery Bradley

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 19, 2013 09:01 AM

jeffgreendoc.jpg

It's difficult to write a Jeff Green story without mentioning Kendrick Perkins, so let's get that out of the way first. Green's 43-point performance vs. Miami Monday night was no more an anomaly than a trend. It wasn't an affirmation of the deal that sent Perkins to Oklahoma City. Danny Ainge was not sitting in his second-row courtside seat last night seeking validation and thinking, "Phew, I was right."

Ainge long ago made the decision that the Celtics needed to get younger and faster, committing to live through Green's highs and lows. The tradeoff was losing Perkins, an eminently root-able big man who wouldn't look out of place behind the wheel of a mixer at Boston Sand and Gravel. Perkins was integral in Boston's championship run in 2008, but he's shooting 46 percent from the floor this season despite possessing an arsenal of hook shots and layups that don't extend much beyond five feet. His 5.5 rebounds per game average is his lowest since the 2006-07 season. The league is trending toward smaller lineups, and Perkins is starting to get left behind.

If you're still pining for the next tough-as-nails, hard-nosed Boston basketball player, you can stop looking in Oklahoma City. The Celtics have a few of them right on the roster, starting with shooting guard Avery Bradley, who should make the All-Defensive team sooner rather than later. Teams loathe playing against him. He tried to gut it out through two separated shoulders last season. He's made himself into a very good NBA player at the age of 22.

Asked before Monday night's game if Bradley was a pest, Heat guard Dwyane Wade said, "No. He's a really good, really complete defensive basketball player." Asked if he hated the Celtics, Wade replied simply and affirmatively, "Yes."

That the Celtics are still hated speaks to their ability to form a defensive identity without Perkins, or really any dominant center. Since Bradley's return the Celtics have climbed to fourth in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 102.1 points per 100 possessions. They were first in the league in that category last season, second the season before, and fifth the year before that in their final season with Perkins. Kevin Garnett is obviously a big force in that, but so are Green, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. Since Perkins' departure, defense has not been an issue.

It's the offense that's been the problem, which is where Green comes in. It's taken him some time to adjust to Boston. When he arrived he saw his minutes drastically reduced, then saw his life flash before his eyes when he needed surgery to repair an aortic aneurism. We've seen maddening glimpses of Green, but he had yet to put it all together until Monday night, when he was positively brilliant. Green not only found his range, he also got to the basket time and again for layups. That's a sustainable strategy for a 6-foot-9-inch player who's quicker than every power forward he faces and taller than the small forwards he matches up with. Green carried the Celtics Monday night, matching the combined point total of LeBron James and Wade through three quarters.

"He was aggressive," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward. "He was making tough plays, and he was putting a lot of pressure on our defense. Give him credit. The guy's been through a lot."

Celtics fans like to put Green through the ringer, but they're soon going to be faced with Green and Bradley as the team's core. We got a glimpse of the future Monday night with Garnett out due to illness. The Celtics still played tough defense, holding Miami under 50 percent shooting. They could have used Garnett on some missed defensive rotations and for some easy 20-footers, but you can still see the system working without him. Add Jared Sullinger to the mix and the Celtics have a young, entertaining nucleus for years to come.

Where does that leave Rajon Rondo? The Celtics clearly missed him Monday night. As much of a whiz Bradley is on defense, he struggles against ball pressure. Miami denied even basic passes outside the 3-point arc and confounded the Celtics into 20 turnovers. That pressure wouldn't phase Rondo, and it would take pressure off of Bradley to do it all.

It's almost good that we see the Celtics working without Rondo, not just because we get to see a little of what Rondo isn't (the Celtics do need to push the ball more) but because we get to see what else the other Celtics are. It turns out Bradley and Lee and Terry all excel at two-way basketball. It turns out Green can score when given the opportunity. The Celtics can make it a game against anybody without their best players, a sign that the nucleus here – even without Rondo and Garnett and Sullinger – is stronger than the ones in Charlotte and Detroit and Phoenix.

In the Celtics locker room after the game, Green didn't act surprised by his performance. While he may not have expected that exact output on that stage, Green knows what kind of ability he has. Like most NBA players, he doesn't lack for confidence.

"The next game is going to be a lot different than this game, so I just have got to figure out another way," said Green.

That's the challenge of being an elite NBA player. They're not all going to be this pretty. Someday soon, Green's going to win a game shooting 2-for-9 from the field but taking and making the last big shot. It's a process, but at least now we have a glimpse of what the end result might look like.

Celtics fall to Heat, 105-103; Miami wins 23d straight game

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 18, 2013 10:49 PM

greenheatfinal1.jpg

Jeff Green poured in a career-high 43 points and the Celtics held a lead as large as 17, but Boston was unable to close the deal in a 105-103 loss to the Miami Heat Monday night. The win is Miami's 23d straight, which puts them alone in 2d place for the NBA's longest win streaks of all-time. Only the 1971-72 Lakers won more consecutive games with 33.

Green was the story for most of the night. He had 26 points by halftime 38 after three quarters. He finished 14 of 21 from the field and 10 of 13 from the line. For most of the night he out-paced James, but the Heat superstar came on in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 of his 37 points. With the game tied at 103, James ran the clock down and hit a clutch jumper with 10.5 seconds left.

Paul Pierce was Boston's 2d-leading scorer with 17 points. The Celtics played without Kevin Garnett, who sat out with flu-like symptoms.

Final: Heat 105, Celtics 103

1.9 4th quarter, Heat 105-103: Celtics get two cracks at it. Green gets blocked on a runner. After a long review of the call the ball stays with the Celtics. Pierce's 3-pointer was off the mark and the Heat are going to win this game.

10.5 seconds 4th quarter, Heat 105-103: Miami ran the clock down and James sticks a dagger. He's got 37 points. Celtics will have a chance to tie or win the game.

1:26 4th quarter, Celtics 103-101: Avery Bradley with the monster 3-pointer to give the Celtics the lead here. Going to be Miami ball here though after a review of the out-of-bounds call.

2:40 4th quarter, Heat 101-100: What a game. Miami has come all the way back, again, to take the lead. Green is back in the game, but was he held out too long? Pierce has to be a scoring option for the Celtics here as well.

5:14 4th quarter, Celtics 99-92: The Jordan Crawford experiment has obviously run its course. Rivers sensed it and tried to sub in Bradley, but a couple of minutes passed before the sub could be made. Celtics clinging to a seven-point lead.

How long can Rivers keep Green out?

9:06 4th quarter, Celtics 93-83: That's just the start to the 4th quarter the Celtics wanted. Green's up to 43 points now. Hard to imagine him coming out despite playing 35 minutes so far. Jordan Crawford is giving the Celtics valuable minutes here.

End 3d quarter, Celtics 82-78: Green's 38 points not only tie a career-high, he's outscored James and Wade combined through three quarters.

5:00 3d quarter, Celtics 73-65: Celtics seizing momentum back again as Green goes over 30 points on the layup. Celtics fans chanting "Jeff Green", which is most definitely a first.

6:47 3d quarter, Celtics 64-63: Offensive foul called on LeBron, his first of the game.

10:18 3d quarter, Tied at 59: It didn't take the Heat long to come all the way back. Too easy so far, which is why Doc Rivers just called a timeout.

greenfirsthalf.jpgHalftime, Celtics 59-53: Miami closed the gap before halftime thanks to 12 of 19 shooting in the second quarter. The Heat also got to the line 14 times in the second quarter after getting their once in the first. Jeff Green has 26-first half points. His season-high is 31.

2:50 2d quarter, Celtics 55-42: Things getting chippy between these two teams. If only KG were here.

4:30 2d quarter, Celtics 52-38: This game is getting crazy. James with maybe the dunk of the year over Jason Terry but gets called for a technical. Avery Bradley with a chase-down block on Norris Cole that leads to a 3-pointer by Pierce on the other end. Two enormous momentum plays.

6:09 2d quarter, Celtics 45-34: Green is getting a much-needed break. The Celtics need to make sure they keep their defense in check. Miami is 6 for 9 in the quarter.

9:09 2d quarter, Celtics 41-24: Jeff Green has 22 points in just under 15 minutes. Miami can't stop him. To his credit Green is taking the ball to the basket in addition to making 3-pointers. An unbelievable display from Green.

End 1st quarter, Celtics 31-19: The Celtics closed the 1st quarter on a 17-0 run and have taken a 31-19 lead on the Heat after one. Jeff Green has been the story with 14 points. The Celtics are shooting 65 percent and holding Miami to 36 percent.

2:17 1st quarter, Celtics 25-19: Jeff Green already has 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Piece just hit his first 3-pointer. The crowd is certainly going to help tonight. They're booing Ray Allen each time he touches the ball.

3:38 1st quarter, Heat 19-18: The Celtics have yet to make a sub.

5:55 1st quarter, Heat 16-11: The Heat are starting to get their way on offense, with James in particular (7 points) finding his shots. Brandon Bass has done a surprisingly good job switching onto James on a couple of players.

Another development: Dwyane Wade has two fouls.

7:55 1st quarter, Heat 12-9: Miami is pressing Avery Bradley and forcing turnovers. It's amazing more teams don't do this. It's just possible, maybe, that the Celtics miss having a point guard sometimes.

10:28 1st quarter, Celtics 6-0: Great start for the Celtics here. Heat have only attempted two shots and missed both. Celtics a cool 3 for 4.

Pregame: No Kevin Garnett tonight, but a packed house already inside TD Garden. Miami's 22-game win streak is on the line.

Kevin Garnett out vs. Heat

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 18, 2013 06:52 PM

Kevin Garnett is out for the Celtics Monday night vs. the Miami Heat. Garnett is dealing with a groin injury, but the larger reason for his absence is an illness, according to Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

"He's got a terrible flu or whatever," said Rivers. "We thought the combination was too much to play. Right when I looked at him I said, 'You're not playing.' He wanted to play."

Jeff Green will get the start in Garnett's absence, leaving the Celtics without a true center in the starting lineup. Rivers said he wasn't going to alter his preparation too much without Garnett.

"It doesn't change," said Rivers. "It's the same game plan. We're smaller, obviously. We have to try to rebound. Neither team's a great rebounding team, but someone's going to have to get a rebound. I'm hoping it's us."

Rivers said he'll send his guards to the defensive glass to help. He said he expects Garnett to be on the plane to New Orleans Tuesday. The Celtics play the Hornets Wednesday night.

Here are tonight's starting lineups:

Celtics
Avery Bradley, G
Courtney Lee, G
Paul Pierce, F
Jeff Green, F
Brandon Bass, F/C

Heat
Mario Chalmers, G
Dwyane Wade, G
LeBron James, F
Chris Bosh, F
Udonis Haslem, C

Some other notes:

  • Rivers said a decision has not yet been made on renewing the 10-day contracts of Shavlik Randolph and D.J. White.
  • Tonight is the five-year anniversary of the Celtics snapping the Houston Rockets' 22-game winning streak. Ray Allen did not play in that game. Leon Powe scored 21 points off the bench.
  • Wade was asked before the game if he hated the Celtics and responded emphatically and quickly, "Yes." Asked if he thought Bradley was a "pest" on defense, Wade replied, "He's not a pest. He's a really good defensive player."

Five reasons the Celtics can beat the Heat

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 18, 2013 12:11 PM

You wouldn't know it by listening to either local talk radio station, but there's a big NBA basketball game tonight at TD Garden. The Miami Heat -- maybe you've heard of them -- are riding a 22-game win streak, tied for 2d-longest in NBA history. Only the Lakers have won more games consecutively, winning 33 straight during the 1971-72 season.

Kevin Garnett is questionable tonight after missing this morning's shootaround, but the guess is he plays. With these stakes he's going to do everything he can to get on the court.

If KG plays, here are five reasons why the Celtics have a good shot to win.

1. Avery Bradley defends Dwyane Wade well. Bradley's defensive highlight reel may start with the clip above of him blocking Wade, but the main cog of the Celtics' perimeter defense is as consistent as he is spectacular. He does an especially good job on Wade. The Celtics as a team do the same, as Wade's 21.3 points and 43 percent shooting are his worst averages against any team. The Celtics are now 4th in the NBA in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions). They'll stay in the game because of their work on that side of the ball.

2. The Celtics have something to play for. Miami has a 22-game win streak on the line. ESPN has been camped out on the 9th level of TD Garden since this morning. The Celtics are just 2 1/2 games behind the Knicks for Atlantic Division lead. They don't like anything about tonight's opponent. The Celtics aren't anything if not prideful.

3. The Celtics are at home. Miami hasn't played well in Boston, losing 10 straight regular season road games here. Bosh, James, and Wade have never beaten the Celtics in Boston during the regular season. The Celtics are 11-0 at home since losing Rondo.

4. The teams match up well. Miami is not a big team. Unlike an Indiana, they're not going to throw two big men at you who can score on the low block. The Celtics have been playing small as well, using Jeff Green at power forward and even Paul Pierce at the four at times. You don't want to get into a track meet with the Miami Heat, but the Celtics have players who can run. Pierce has historically matched up well with James one-on-one, at least well enough for the Celtics to stay home on James and not let others beat them.

5. It's one game. This is not a seven-game series. The Celtics might not be able to get up to the level needed to beat Miami four times in seven games, but they've proven they can play at that level on any given night. They'll need a complete team effort to do it.

Kevin Garnett misses shoot around, considered game-time decision vs. Miami

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 18, 2013 11:04 AM

WALTHAM – Kevin Garnett (left adductor strain) did not participate in the Celtics' shootaround here Monday morning and he is considered a game-time decision for this evening's game against Miami at TD Garden.

Garnett missed the Celtics last game Saturday against Charlotte and then sat out practice Sunday with the injury, which is located in the thigh area.

Celtics coach Doc Rives said Sunday that Garnett is "50/50 at best" to play against Miami, which enters the game on a 22-game winning streak.

Rivers stressed Sunday that he doesn't believe the injury is that serious and he said it ranked as a "1" on a scale of 1 to 10.

"I don’t think it’s that serious," Rivers said Sunday, "but it’s just a point in the year where you’re just not going to play him if he’s not feeling great."

Center Chris Wilcox suffered a similar injury last season, missed the final game before the All-Star break, and returned six days later.

The 36-year-old Garnett is averaging 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds this season.

Doc Rivers said Garnett is '50/50 at best' to play against Miami

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 17, 2013 12:16 PM

WALTHAM -- Celtics center Kevin Garnett (left adductor strain) did not practice Sunday here and coach Doc Rivers said Garnett is "50/50 at best" to play Monday against Miami.

Garnett was a late scratch Saturday before the Celtics' 105-88 win against Charlotte with the injury, which is located in the thigh area. Rivers stressed Sunday that he doesn't believe the injury is that serious and he said it ranked as a "1" on a scale of 1 to 10.

"Even if he misses a couple games, it’ not an injury that’s a big deal. I’m not that concerned about it," Rivers said. "I don’t think it’s that serious, but it’s just a point in the year where you’re just not going to play him if he’s not feeling great."

Center Chris Wilcox suffered a similar injury last season, missed the final game before the All-Star break, and returned six days later.

The 36-year-old Garnett is averaging 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds this season.

Final: Celtics 105, Bobcats 88

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 16, 2013 07:51 PM

Final: Celtics 105-88: A 16-4 third-quarter run seals matters for the Celtics, who have now won two consecutive games after losing two in a row. Jason Terry led all Celtics with 15 points and Paul Pierce added 14 points in just 23 minutes. Jannero Pargo led Charlotte with 18 points in 21 minutes.

Fourth quarter, 2:56, Celtics 101-86: It wasn't that things got suspenseful but the Celtics were playing terribly in holding a 26-point lead so Doc Rivers inserted Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass to restore order. And it has somewhat worked. Jannero Pargo has 16 points in 18 minutes off the bench and 11 in the quarter.

Fourth quarter, 5:45, Celtics 97-79: The Bobcats are on an 8-2 run during what is supposed to be garbage time so Doc Rivers called a timeout. Jannero Pargo, who was on the Celtics' radar, has 11 points in 15 minutes off the bench for Charlotte.

Fourth quarter, 7:32, Celtics 95-71 Shavlik Randolph is having his best game as a Celtic with 6 points and seven rebounds in 10 minutes. The Celtics are winning the rebounding war 38-27 and six players have scored in double figures.

End of third quarter, Celtics 83-66: Celtics outscore Bobcats 33-23 in the quarter with 11-for-17 shooting. All five starters have scored in double figures led by Paul Pierce's 14. Courtney Lee scored 7 of his 12 points in the third quarter.

Third quarter, 2:45, Celtics 75-57: The Celtics have made things comfortable with a 16-4 run, sparked by Courtney Lee, who has 7 points in the quarter and 12 for the game. Paul Pierce just canned his second 3-pointer as the Celtics are now shooting 53.7 percent. The Bobcats are led by Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker with 14.

Third quarter, 6:10, Celtics 65-53: The Celtics are on a 6-0 run as they have used defensive rebounding to start fastbreaks. Courtney Lee just hit a running jump shot and now has 7 points. Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley lead the Kevin Garnett-less Celtics with 11 while Jeff Green has 10. Kemba Walker has 14 for Charlotte.

Third quarter, 8:52, Celtics 57-49: The Celtics are fighting hard to put some space between them and the Bobcats and they have scored the last two baskets, prompting a timeout from Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap. Kemba Walker has been hard to stop so far with 12 points while Gerald Henderson has 10. Ten Celtics have scored, led by Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley with 9 points.

Halftime, Celtics 50-43: It was a grind for the Celtics, who are shooting 48.8 percent but the Bobcats have turned their eight turnovers into 13 points. Paul Pierce warmed up near the end of the half and leads the Celtics with 8 points while Kemba Walker has 10 for the Bobcats.

Second quarter, 1:55, Celtics 46-41: The game has been a struggle as the Bobcats have proven to be formidable opponents, with 10 players having already scored. They are shooting 47.1 percent and have 10 assists on 16 made baskets. The Celtics are shooting an even 50 percent and Paul Pierce is trying to get going after a very slow start.

Second quarter, 5:06, Celtics 40-36: The Celtics have led by as many as 9 points but they can't stop Charlotte runs, and the Bobcats have scored the last 5 points and are going to the line for two free throws. The Celtics have eight turnovers that have led to 13 Bobcats points. Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker each have 8 points for the Bobcats. Avery Bradley has 7 for the Celtics but it's been a while since he scored.

Second quarter, 8:39, Celtics 33-28: Celtics trying to create some distance but it hasn't been easy. The Celtics are killing themselves with missed free throws and turnovers (7), which has resulted in 9 Charlotte points. Avery Bradley has 7 points for the Celtics, who have had eight players who have scored. Gerald Henderson leads the Bobcats with 8 points.

End of first quarter, Tied at 24: The Celtics get outscored 11-2 to end the quarter and are in a dogfight. Some teams just give the Celtics trouble and Charlotte is one of them. The Bobcats shot 52.6 percent in the first quarter and got 6 points in four minutes from Ben Gordon.

First quarter, 2:45, Celtics 22-18: The Bobcats are on a 5-0 run, causing Doc Rivers to call a timeout. The Bobcats are 7-for-13 shooting and have hit two 3-pointers. Gerald Henderson is on his way to another big game, already scoring 8 points.

First quarter, 4:09, Celtics 20-13: Without Kevin Garnett, the Celtics are still playing with energy and are playing well offensively. The Celtics are still having trouble with Gerald Henderson, who has 6 points. Paul Pierce just picked up his second foul and is headed to the bench. Brandon Bass has hit three jumpers, good for 6 points for the Celtics.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Bobcats

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 16, 2013 07:13 PM

All seemed well for the Celtics after they snapped a two-game losing streak with a win Wednesday over the Toronto Raptors but Doc Rivers delivered the news that center Kevin Garnett would miss Saturday's game with a strained adductor (thigh) muscle and it's uncertain if he will play Monday against Miami. Jeff Green will start in Garnett's place, leaving the Celtics extra small in the paint.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (35-29)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
PF Jeff Green

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (14-51)
PG Kemba Walker
SG Gerald Henderson
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Josh McRoberts
C Bismack Biyombo

Officials: Bennett Salvatore, Bennie Adams, Eric Dalen.

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• With Garnett out, Jeff Green will make his third start of the season and third in the past month, having started Feb. 22 at Phoenix and Mar. 12 against the Bobcats. Green is averaging 14.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in March.

• Two of Charlotte's 14 wins have come against the Celtics and the Bobcats are 9-22 lifetime against Boston and have won three times at TD Garden.

• Gerald Henderson, the son of the former Celtic, scored a career-high 35 points in the previous meeting in Charlotte.

• Doc Rivers said he was concerned with Charlotte's size as Brandon Bass will have to defend Bismack Biyombo and Green will face off against Josh McRoberts.

Garnett out tonight with strained adductor muscle

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 16, 2013 06:53 PM


Kevin Garnett was a late scratch for Saturday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats with what the team described as a left adductor strain. The adductor muscle is located in the thigh area. Jeff Green will start in his place.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Garnett was not moving well in Friday's practice and told the center to stay home and get some rest. It is uncertain if Garnett will play in Monday's showdown against the Miami Heat, who have won 21 consecutive games entering Sunday.

Garnett missed one previous game this season, on Feb. 22 against Phoenix, but that was because of rest.

"He just wasn't moving well today in practice or today so we're sitting him," Rivers said. "He's just not feeling great."

When asked if it could be a long-term injury, Rivers said: "I don't think so."

Chris Wilcox suffered a strained right adductor muscle last season, missed the final game before the All-Star Break but returned six days later.

Paul Pierce on Miami: 'I hope they lose every game the rest of the season'

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 15, 2013 02:59 PM

WALTHAM -- Miami has won 20 straight games, but Paul Pierce said he doesn’t care.

“I hope they lose every game the rest of the season,” he said Friday before practice here.

The Celtics especially hope the Heat lose when these teams play Monday at TD Garden.

Miami has two games between now and Monday (at Milwaukee and at Toronto), and if it wins both it will have won 22 straight, tying the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.

The Celtics snapped Houston’s 22-game winning streak that season on March 18, five years ago to the day for this Celtics-Heat matchup that could have similar stakes.

The NBA’s longest winning streak was by the 1971-72 Lakers, who won 33 in a row.

Pierce did admit that it’s hard to escape the noise around the streak and that it was impressive. His coach also chimed in with similar sentiments.

“"It’s impressive, it’s really impressive," Doc Rivers said. "The year after we won it, I think we won [19] in a row, right before Kevin went down [with a season-ending knee injury], and it’s hard to do -- for a lot of reasons.

“But it’s harder to do for a defending champ, because every night is the other team’s biggest game. And the fact that they are doing it under those circumstances, is pretty impressive."

Knicks losing ground in Atlantic Division, Celtics say they don't care

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 15, 2013 02:42 PM

WALTHAM -- The New York Knicks have lost three straight and ground in the Atlantic Division, which they led the Celtics by 3 ½ games entering Friday.

The Celtics have won the division five straight seasons, but winning it this season doesn’t seem to be much of a priority.

“I’m sure if we hung Atlantic Division banners up here, we’d be looking at lot more closely at them, but right now we’re just floating under the radar, trying to win as many games as possible and play well going into the playoffs,” Paul Pierce said.

“I don’t even know how many games we’re back for the Atlantic Division. We don’t even get a T-shirt for that.”

Said Doc Rivers: “We would like to win the division, but I would rather win a world championship, if I had my choices.

“That’s the key, you want to be healthy and be right and give yourself the best opportunity to win in the playoffs. And if not winning the division tells you that you’re going to be better in the playoffs, I mean -- where are those division banners? I don’t see one up there.”

The Celtics are also behind Brooklyn in the Atlantic. The Nets trailed the Knicks by 1 game entering Friday.

FInal: Celtics 112, Raptors 88

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 13, 2013 07:46 PM

Final: Celtics 112-88: An easy victory after things got tense in the second half as Toronto cut the deficit to 60-56. Jeff Green sparked a 21-6 run that decided the game. He finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Jason Terry added 12 points and seven assists while Paul added 15 points

Fourth quarter, 5:28, Celtics 96-72: Celtics easing into a victory as they will snap a two-game losing streak as five players have scored in double figures, including Jeff Green with 16 and Jordan Crawford with 12.

Fourth quarter, 8:54, Celtics 87-64: This game turned from suspenseful to clunker in mere minutes. The Celtics are about to clear the bench and go into a two-day break with a solid victory. Jordan Crawford has 10 points in 14 minutes while Paul Pierce has 15 in 25 minutes in his return. DeMar DeRozan has 17 for Toronto, which has dipped to 39 percent shooting.

End of third quarter, Celtics 81-62: A 20-6 run in the last 6:04 of the quarter may have sealed this one. Boy Doc Rivers certainly would like to give Kevin Garnett the rest of the night off. He's only played 19 minutes. Meanwhile former Celtic Sebastian Telfair was ejected for arguing with officials. He's played just 15 minutes.

Third quarter, 1:10, Celtics 76-62: The Celtics are trying to create some distance with a late run, including Jason Terry's second 3-pointer as the Celtics are shooting 50 percent and have 15 points from Paul Pierce and 7 points and four rebounds from Chris Wilcox.

Third quarter, 5:33, Celtics 62-56: The Celtics scored the first 4 points of the quarter to go up 13 but then allowed a 9-0 Raptors run and now the two teams are trading baskets. The Celtics have managed to induce the Raptors to reaching the foul limit and Paul Pierce just converted two free throws after the timeout. Jeff Green leads the Celtics with 12 points while Paul Pierce has 11 and Kevin Garnett 10. DeMar DeRozan has 13 for Toronto while Rudy Gay has 11.

Pierce just passed Charles Barkley for 20th on the all-time scoring list.

Halftime, Celtics 49-40: The Celtics end the quarter on a 8-2 run as Jeff Green is taking over with the dribble drive, leading all scorers with 12 points, including 4 in the final run. The Celtics were 11-for-19 shooting in the quarter while Green scored all of his point. The Raptors were 6-for-17 in the quarter and did not score a field goal for the final 2:54.

Second quarter, 1:45, Celtics 41-38: Celtics are playing flat again as Toronto continues to hang around. The Celtics have eight turnovers while Avery Bradley has yet to score. Jeff Green leads the Celtics with 8 points. Rudy Gay has 9 for Toronto.

Second quarter, 6:20, Celtics 37-30: The Celtics seemed to have fed off Kevin Garnett passing Jerry West for 15th on the all-time scoring list. They are on a 16-6 run and Garnett just threw down a one-handed hammer dunk off a pick-and-roll as they are beginning to find offensive cohesion. Garnett and Courtney Lee each have 6 points.

Second quarter, 8:58, Celtics 26-24: The Celtics are playing as if they are still hung over from Tuesday's loss at Charlotte. They are shooting 43.5 percent with seven turnovers, good for 8 Toronto points. The Raptors have committed six turnovers but the Celtics have yet to score off those miscues. Rudy Gay and Amir Johnson have combined for 13 points for Toronto. Brandon Bass has 5 points for the Celtics, Kevin Garnett just passed Jerry West for 15th all time on the scoring list with his second-quarter bucket.

End of first quarter, Raptors 22-21: Celtics get outscored 10-3 to end the quarter as they scored 3 points in the final 3-plus minutes of the quarter. The Celtics also have six turnovers while Avery Bradley is 0-for-3 shooting. Jason Terry is beating beaten consistently on defense and picked up a technical for knocking the ball into the stands after not getting a foul call late in period.

First quarter, 5:23, Celtics 14-9: A strange game so far with both teams turning the ball over so there is no real flow. Brandon Bass scored the first 5 points for the Celtics while Courtney Lee has 4. The Raptors are 4-for-10 shooting.

First quarter, 7:00, Celtics 12-9: The Celtics are getting to the free throw line -- four attempts already -- and are going to the baskets but the Raptors are scoring from the perimeter. Rudy Gay has 4 points for the Raptors.

Welcome to TD Garden for Raptors-Celtics

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 13, 2013 06:59 PM

The Celtics are coming off likely their worst loss of the season -- a 26-point defeat at the hands of the Charlotte Bobcats. Coming off a back-to-back, don't expect Wednesday's matchup with the upstart Raptors to be any easier. Toronto has been playing solid ball of late, leading the Lakers and Warriors in the fourth quarter on their most recent road trip before losing late. Paul Pierce will return to the lineup for the Celtics as they attempt to capitalize on a two-game home stretch against the Raptors and Bobcats before the blazing Miami Heat come to Boston on Monday.


STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (34-29)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

TORONTO RAPTORS (25-39)
PG Kyle Lowry
SG DeMar DeRozan
SF Rudy Gay
PF Amir Johnson
C Jonas Valanciunas

Officials: Michael Smith, Ken Mauer, Marat Kogut.

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• After testing his back before the game, Gay said he was OK to play. Gay is averaging 19.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 16 games with Toronto. Gay has missed two games with back issues since joining the Raptors.

• With Pierce back in the lineup, the Celtics went back to their normal starting lineup. The club will take Thursday off (customary after a back-to-back) and return to practice Friday in preparation for a rare Saturday night home game against the Charlotte Bobcats.

• Doc Rivers opened his pregame media session with a "Say it ain't so, Wes" in reference to Wes Welker leaving the Patriots and signing a two-year deal with the Denver Broncos.

• The Raptors are 21-20 in their last 41 games and 9-9 since acquiring Gay.

• Former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani will miss the rest of the season with a sprained right elbow. Bargnani played in just 35 games this season and was on the trade block for most of the first half of the season.

Final: Charlotte 100, Boston 74

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 12, 2013 07:13 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The first time the Celtics gave one of their veteran leaders the night off this season, they blew out a terrible team on the road.

When they tried that tactic Tuesday against the worst team in the NBA, the Celtics were the ones who looked terrible, and they were the ones who were blown out.

With Paul Pierce sitting out to rest, the remaining Celtics embarrassed themselves against by far the worst team in the NBA, the Charlotte Bobcats, who snapped their own 10-game losing streak by crushing Boston, 100-74, at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Entering the game, the Bobcats had lost 45 of their last 51 games and had lost their last 10 games by an average of 21.5 points.

Yet, this was the same Charlotte team that snapped a losing streak and ended a Celtics winning streak when the Bobcats beat Boston, 94-91, here on Feb. 11.

The Celtics trailed by three at halftime and then fell on their faces in the second half, when Charlotte used a 12-3 run out of the locker room to take a double-digit lead.

The Bobcats never looked back, leading by as much as 20 in front of a sparse crowd mostly occupied by Celtics fans. Doc Rivers effectively waved the white flag by inserting both D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph into the game in the fourth quarter.

Gerald Henderson punished the Celtics with a career-high 35 points and Ben Gordon added 17 off the bench.

In all, it sure wasn’t the performance that the Celtics received when Garnett sat out against Phoenix on Feb. 22. Jeff Green started in Garnett’s place, scored a season-high 31 points and the Celtics won by 25, their largest margin of victory this season.

Fourth quarter, 5:26, Bobcats 89-68: That is not a typo. Your computer does not have some virus. That is, in fact, the score of this NBA game. The Charlotte Bobcats are steamrolling the Celtics and have led by as much as 24. This one is over. If it shows anything, it's that the Celtics probably shouldn't rest Paul Pierce anymore.

Third quarter, 2:17, Bobcats 73-60: So, the Bobcats have pretty much just been toying with the Celtics. Charlotte has led by as much as 13 and the Celtics haven't shown any signs of coming back. Gerald Henderson has scored 31 points; his career-high is 32.

Third quarter, 7:36, Bobcats 61-49: The Bobcats are on a 12-3 run to open the second half and the Celtics are looking pretty terrible. Gerald Henderson scored 19 points in the first half and he has five more early in the second. The Celtics have missed six of their first seven shots to open the second half.

Third quarter, 9:30, Bobcats 56-46: Charlotte opened the second half on a 7-0 run. Kevin Garnett is really struggling. After shooting 5-of-19 against Oklahoma City, he's 1-of-7 with 3 points against the Bobcats. Maybe Doc Rivers gave the wrong player the night off?

Halftime: Bobcats 49, Celtics 46 Gerald Henderson averages 13.4 points. Gerald Henderson scored 21 points in the first half, including hitting a shot to beat the buzzer. The Celtics are shooting well (52 percent, 19 for 36) and are receiving balanced scoring (10 players have scored), but their defense, especially on Henderson, is garbage. Also key is free throws; Charlotte has made 14 of 17, Boston has made 5 of 8. Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford each have 9 points to lead the Celtics.

Second quarter, 2:44, tied at 39: Just a quick note to point out the free-throw disparity. Bobcats have made 12 of 15 from the charity stripe while the Celtics have made 3 of 6. This is looking a lot like the Celtics game in Oklahoma City, when the Thunder, as Doc Rivers said, "crushed" the Celtics at the free-throw line.

Second quarter, 3:51, Bobcats 37-35:Not a banner day for the Celtics, who, even without Paul Pierce, are losing to a team that has lost 10 straight games by an average margin of 21.5 points. Not a lot of effort or energy from them at all. Nine Celtics have scored, so there is balance, but their defense has been subpar to say the least.

Second quarter, 6:26, Bobcats 30-28: Doc Rivers is giving Shavlik Randolph and the other new players some serious run here early. Kevin Garnett had a nice rest before checking back in. The Celtics' leading scorer is Jordan Crawford, who has hit all three of his shots and has 7 points. Charlotte's Gerald Henderson has a game-high 13 points.

End of the first quarter: Celtics 20-19: Yeah, this isn't going to be one for the record books. There's a sparse crowd here, with the majority of the customers wearing green, and they've all been watching a pretty ugly, slow-paced game thus far. Near the end of the quarter, Shavlik Randolph, who played up the road at Duke, made his Celtics debut. On the floor with him was D.J. White, Jeff Green and Jason Terry, a lineup the Celtics could only roll out there against the Bobcats.

First quarter, 3:54, Celtics 14-13:The Celtics are on a 14-5 run and four players have scored. They've hit 6 of their 12 shots, most of which have come against the Bobcats' matchup zone defense.

First quarter, 8:40, Bobcats 8-2: The Celtics missed their first four shots and had three turnovers while the Bobcats jumped out to a 8-0 lead. No, really. The Bobcats, a team that has lost 45 of its last 51 games, led the Celtics 8-0. Jeff Green hit a jumper to help the Celtics avoid being shutout.

Paul Pierce (rest) misses first game of the season against Charlotte

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 12, 2013 07:10 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Paul Pierce missed his first game of the season here Tuesday when the Celtics captain sat out against the Charlotte Bobcats to rest. Forward Jeff Green started in Pierce’s place, making his second start of the season.

Coach Doc Rivers said he made his decision based on the team's travel schedule, particularly because of the flight from Boston to Oklahoma City Saturday and then the game at noon (Central Standard Time) Sunday against the Thunder.

Sunday was also the day clocks moved an hour forward.

Coupled with their long flight and the time change, Rivers wasn’t thrilled with the early start against Oklahoma City, a game that was nationally televised.

“That wasn’t the brightest decision our league has ever had,” Rivers said.

Rivers said that taking all those factors into account, he knew he would sit one of the “three elderly gentlemen on our team” no matter who won Sunday’s game, a reference to Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry, all of whom are 35 or older.

Pierce, who is averaging 18.7 points, 4.6 assists, and 6.4 rebounds, was fine with the decision, Rivers said.

“I don’t get a lot of kickback right now when I sit one of them,” Rivers said, jokingly. “It used to be you had to fight those guys. I don’t know what’s going on. They don’t fight back anymore when I say I’m going to sit them.”

Welcome to Time Warner Cable Arena for Bobcats-Celtics

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 12, 2013 12:56 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- How bad are the (really bad) Charlotte Bobcats? Oh, they've only lost 10 straight games by an average margin of 21.5 points. Oh, they've only had an 18-game losing streak this season. Oh, they've only lost 45 of their last 51 games since winning 7 of their first 12 to open the season.

I could go on and on, but despite how terribly terrible the Bobcats are, they still defeated the Celtics when these teams last played here, 94-91. Granted, the Celtics were playing on the second night of a back-to-back and had just played a triple-overtime game, but still ....

The Celtics also lost Leandro Barbosa to a season-ending knee injury in that game.

Paul Pierce won't play against the Bobcats. He's sitting out his first game of the season simply to rest, Doc Rivers said. Jeff Green will start in his place.

The Celtics are on the front end of a back-to-back and play Toronto Wednesday at TD Garden.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (34-28)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (13-50)
PG Kemba Walker
SG Gerald Henderson
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Josh McRoberts
C Bismack Biyombo

Officials: Ed Malloy, Brent Barnaky, David Guthrie

TV, radio: 7 p.m, Comcast Sportsnet, WEEI (93.7FM)

Pregame notes:

• Jeff Green has averaged 14.3 points in the last 19 games after averaging 9.6 his first 43. Boston's record during those first 43 games: 23-20. Its record in the last 19: 14-5.

• Byron Mullens torched the Celtics in the last meeting by posting 25 points and 18 rebounds. He has had a sore knee and is listed as day-to-day but is expected to play.

• Paul Pierce is 10 points from passing Charles Barkley for 20th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 23,758.

And here are some more notes from the Celtics morning shootaround.

Celtics shootaround report from Charlotte

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 12, 2013 12:24 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Celtics end a two-game road trip here Tuesday night, as they face the 13-50 Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Bobcats beat the Celtics, 94-91, when these teams played here on Feb. 11. That game, though, was the second of a back-to-back for the Celtics and followed their triple-overtime win vs. Denver.

The Celtics return to Boston on Wednesday, when they will face face the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden.

Here are a few notes from Tuesday morning's shootaround:

• Terrence Williams played 38 total minutes in his first two games as a member of the Boston Celtics. Since then, the guard/forward has played 21 total minutes in the past 7 games, including not playing at all in close wins at Utah and at Indiana. Coach Doc Rivers said there's not much Williams can to do break into the lineup right now because other players in front of him are playing so well. "I don't know why we would change our rotation to just push somebody else in," Rivers said. Williams had a team-first response when asked about his playing time. "We've won 5 of 6," he said. "I don't worry about minutes."

• Rivers said this is normally the time of the season when he shortens the rotation to about eight players, but that he hasn't done it because it's more important to get a little bit more rest for the 35-and-up group of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. "With this group, we won’t shorten it up anytime soon," Rivers said.

• Rivers said he's all for playing some of the newer additions, such as Williams, Jordan Crawford, D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph, even though the team is in a tight playoff race in terms of the seedings and those players are still adjusting to the Celtics system. Rivers said he does want to start playing another "big" such as White or Randolph. "Not because I want to see him play, I just think we should do it," Rivers said, "because we need the rest with the other guys."

Final: Thunder 91, Celtics 79

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 10, 2013 12:20 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Thunder opened the fourth quarter with an 11-2 run and never looked back, handing the Celtics a 91-79 loss while snapping Boston’s five-game winning streak. Paul Pierce carried the Celtics as best he could, with 20 points. Kevin Garnett had 10 points and 11 rebounds, but struggled from the floor, shooting 5 of 19 Kevin Durant scored 23 points and Russell Westbrook added 15. The Celtics shot 51.8 percent (19 for 37) in the first half, but 25 percent (10 for 40) in the second.

Fourth quarter, 3:13, Thunder 87-73: The Celtics cannot buy a bucket. They made 19 of their 37 shots in the first half but have made 8 of 36 in the second. Barring a barrage of long-distance shots, this one is over.

Fourth quarter, 6:41, Thunder 79-70: The Thunder opened the quarter with an 11-2 run that gave them some breathing room. The Celtics have played well defensively, but Kevin Garnett has come up short on offense, missing 13 of 18 from the floor. He still has 10 points and 11 rebounds.

End of the third quarter: Thunder 68-65 See below note about how it's impressive that the Celtics are in this, and add in the fact that they're rebounding and hustle in the paint has been key. The Celtics are out-rebounding the Thunder, 33-25, and have grabbed 6 offensive rebounds while the Thunder have grabbed one. Paul Pierce has four fouls, but the Celtics will need him down the stretch.

Third quarter, 2:42, Thunder 68-60: That the Celtics are still in this game despite 19 turnovers and being outscored by 16 points at the free-throw line is pretty impressive. Paul Pierce is carrying Boston with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, but he's the only Celtic in double figures. Boston's bench has been terrible, combining to shoot 4 of 15. Kevin Durant has 21 points and has hit all 11 of his free throws.

Third quarter, 8:04, Thunder 57-51: Some nice back-and-forth action here. Serge Ibaka hit a corner 3-pointer to open the second half for the Thunder and Paul Pierce buried one from long distance on the Celtics ensuing possession. Ibaka was later tagged for a technical foul from the bench for verbal taunting, an official said. Kevin Durant had a nice driving dunk on Brandon Bass. The Celtics are playing a bit more physical and with more urgency here early.

Halftime: Thunder 50-45:While Kevin Durant was sinking a pair of free throws, the 18th and 19th attempts so far for the Celtics, Doc Rivers walked to the scorer's table, smiled and said, “I don’t think that foul strategy is working too well.” The Thunder have made 19 of 21 from the free-throw line while the Celtics have made just 4-of-7. Paul Pierce has a team-high 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, Avery Bradley has 9 points and Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee each have 8. Kevin Durant has a game-high 16 points. The Celtics have a better field goal percentage (51 percent to 40 percent) than the Thunder, but, again, the free throws.

Second quarter, 2:42, Thunder 46-37:And in the free throws category, the Thunder have made 15 of 17 while the Celtics have made 3 of 5. In the turnovers category, the Thunder have 4, which have resulted in 3 Celtics points, while the Celtics have 12, which have resulted in 13 Thunder points. I know I'm throwing a lot of numbers at you there, but those are the key stats that tell the difference in this game.

Second quarter, 5:18, Thunder 40-33: Paul Pierce is going into takeover-mode. He's calling for the ball on every possession and has scored three straight buckets for the Celtics. He has 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Still, the Thunder have more firepower and have been converting without too much struggle. Kevin Durant has a game-high 14 points.

Second quarter, 7:13, Thunder 37-29: Paul Pierce hit a 3-pointer to stop a 10-0 Thunder run and end a Celtics scoring drought. Kevin Durant crossed up Kevin Garnett something fierce before burying a mid-range jumper, as if we needed any further proof that Durant is elite. When Pierce made his triple, the Celtics had excellent ball movement for the first time in a while. Can they keep it up?

Second quarter, 8:47, Thunder 35-26: A Derek Fisher 3-pointer from the left corner capped an 8-0 Thunder run. The Celtics called timeout to regroup. Oklahoma City is starting to run and gun, especially with Durant back in the game. The Celtics have been struggling on offense, missing three straight shots.

Second quarter, 9:43, Thunder 30-26: Kevin Garnett made a couple of shots down low to keep the Celtics in it. He has 8 points. Derek Fisher hit an impressive bank shot while being fouled. Kevin Durant just checked back into the game.

End of the first quarter, Thunder 23-22: Despite having 9 turnovers, the Celtics have kept it close with key stops. The Thunder are shooting just 7 for 21 and struggled to find offense after Kevin Durant checked out of the game when he picked up his second foul. Jeff Green has four points off the bench for the Celtics and Jordan Crawford hit his first jumper after checking in. The Celtics have made 9 of their 18 shots.

First quarter, 2:49, Thunder 21-18: The Celtics have six turnovers, way too many against a speedy team like the Thunder. Kevin Durant had a game-high 10 points, but he exited the game after picking up his second foul. Paul Pierce has scored four straight. Jason Terry checked into the game and was booed, a sign these fans haven't forgotten that he played with their rival, Dallas. Jeff Green, making his first return to Oklahoma City since he was traded to Boston in 2011, entered the game to cheers.

First quarter, 6:11, Thunder 14-8: Doc Rivers calls a timeout to stop the bleeding after a 10-0 run by the Thunder. Kevin Durant is starting to heat up. He has 6 points and has made his last two shots. The Celtics have as many field goals as turnovers: four. And the Thunder have scored six points off those turnovers.

First quarter, 8:24, Celtics 8-6: The Celtics made their first four shots, two by Garnett, to jump out on top. Kevin Durant, being guarded by Paul Pierce, missed his first two shots. We're in the early going, so the teams are just feeling each other out.

Welcome to Chesapeake Energy Arena for Thunder-Celtics

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 10, 2013 10:47 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Now, this will quite a test for these post-Rondo Celtics, who have gone 14-4 since their fearless floor general was down for the season, the third best record in the league over that span.

Sure, there was the double-overtime win against Miami, but some could argue the Celtics won that game on emotion. Sure, there was the loss against the Lakers, but many could argue the Lakers won that game on emotion. And, yes, there were spirited wins against Philadelphia, Indiana and Atlanta, but none of those teams are quite like the Thunder, a powerhouse squad with young and talented athletes to spare, unlike Boston.

Still, the Celtics have won five straight and have risen to sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings. They have momentum and are playing together.

But this game could one where these Celtics are brought back down to Earth with a humbling loss against a superior opponent or one where they prove in their most emphatic way yet that they are, even without Rajon Rondo, not to be taken lightly.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (34-27)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (46-16)
PG Russell Westbrook
SG Thabo Sefolosha
SF Kevin Durant
PF Serge Ibaka
C Kendrick Perkins

Officials: Monty McCutchen, Jason Phillips, Scott Wall

TV, radio: 1 p.m., ABC, Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM)

Pregame notes:

• Celtics forward Jeff Green will make his first appearance in Oklahoma City since the Thunder traded him to the Celtics in 2011 in a deal that sent Perkins to OKC.

• D.J. White signed his second 10-day contract this morning. Shavlik Randolph, who is with the Celtics, is expected to sign another 10-day contract soon; his expires at midnight. Doc Rivers said he has told Danny Ainge that he wants to keep both of them around.

• Rivers on defending Kevin Durant: "You pray. You do. I'm serious."

• The most interesting matchup of the day, for me, is Bradley vs. Westbrook.

Final: Celtics 107, Hawks 102 (OT)

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 8, 2013 08:17 PM

Final: Celtics 107-102: Celtics survive, despite blowing a 12-point fourth-quarter lead. Paul Pierce finishes with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists while Jason Terry adds 17 and Kevin Garnett 17 and eight rebounds. Josh Smith scores 32 for Atlanta and Jeff Teague 26 but they don't score a field goal for the final 2:14.

First overtime, 9.9, Celtics 107-102: After a Hawks turnover, Jason Terry gets fouled on a jumper and hits two free throws. Atlanta ball.

First overtime, 35.0, Celtics 105-102: The Celtics were able to get some key stops after Atlanta scored a 3-pointer at the 2:14 mark and Jason Terry has just put the Celtics ahead 3 points on his third 3-ball of the evening. The Celtics are 10 of 20 beyond the arc.

First overtime, 2:33, Celtics 99-98 The Celtics have scored the last 5 points, including a Jeff Green 3-pointer that hit the rim four times before dropping through. Atlanta ball.

End of regulation, Tied at 94: Josh Smith misses a jumper that hits nothing but backboard. Overtime. The Celtics wasted many chances to seal this in regulation.

Fourth quarter, 2.2, Tied at 94: Kevin Garnett missed an 18-footer and the Hawks grab the rebound. Atlanta ball.

Fourth quarter, 31.7, Tied at 94: The Celtics have managed to blow the lead as Kyle Korver hit a tying 3-pointer. And the Hawks are getting anything they want in the paint, scoring nearly half of their points. Paul Pierce just missed a jumper. Atlanta ball with 17 shot clock.

Fourth quarter, 2:54, Celtics 90-87: The theme here has been established. The Celtics can't put the Hawks away. After leading by 12 just a few minutes ago, the Celtics have allowed the Hawks to chip away. Jeff Teague has been a force for Atlanta with 24 points and eight assists while Josh Smith has stuck to take the ball into the paint and has tallied 26.

Fourth quarter, 5:38, Celtics 86-79: Once again, the Celtics looked primed to blow the game open, leading by 12 after a Kevin Garnett layup but the Hawks have responded with 5 in a row, prompting a timeout from Doc Rivers. Paul Pierce has 18 points and Kevin Garnett 17 for Boston while Jordan Crawford has added 9 points in 15 minutes. Jeff Teague has 21 for Atlanta.

End of third quarter, Celtics 72-68: Celtics have led for the past quarter plus but it just seems as if they can't get a grasp on the game. The Hawks are playing well enough to stay close with Josh Smith leading all scorer with 20 points along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists while Jeff Teague has 18. Paul Pierce has 18 for the Celtics while Kevin Garnett has 15 but the Celtics have to pick up the pace and secure the ball.

Third quarter, 2:04, Celtics 67-62: The Celtics and Hawks are setting the game back 50 years with how badly they are playing right now. Neither team has scored since the 4:22 mark and the Hawks have missed five shots in that span. The Celtics are still shooting 51.1 percent but need more efficiency.

Third quarter, 6:15, Celtics 63-56: The Celtics are trying to take control but it seems each time they are on the verge of breaking it open, here comes the defensive lapses or turnovers. Paul Pierce has 15 points on 3-for-5 from the 3-point line while Kevin Garnett has 13 points and five rebounds. Al Horford has been solid with 15 points and six rebounds for Atlanta.

Halftime, Celtics 52-47: A 7-2 run at the end of the quarter broke a 45-45 tie as Jason Terry cans a 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds left to add to the lead. Paul Pierce has 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting but just missed two free throws while Terry has 10 off the bench. The Celtics have committed nine turnovers, which has been an issue. Jeff Teague has 12 points and Al Horford has 11 for the Hawks.

Second quarter, 2:28, Celtics 45-44: Boston actually led 41-31 about four minutes ago but they have broken down defensively and are out of fouls, sending the Hawks to the line. Josh Smith has 9 points, 4 during the Hawks 13-4 run while Jeff Teague leads Atlanta with 12 points. Paul Pierce has 11 points and Kevin Garnett has 9 but the Celtics should have a bigger lead give they are shooting 58.1 percent.

Second quarter, 8:06, Celtics 35-31: The Celtics are playing at a frantic pace but they have to start getting consistent defensive stops to create some space. So far the Hawks are hanging close because of 18 combined points from Jeff Teague and Devin Harris. Kevin Garnett has 7 points and three rebounds for the Celtics while the bench has already scored 13 points.

End of first quarter, Celtics 28-26: The Celtics are shooting 57.9 percent and have three 3-pointers but their defense has been putrid so far in allowing interior points and 3-pointers. The Hawks are 4-for-8 from the 3-point line and sharpshooter Kyle Korver has yet to attempt one. Paul Pierce has 11 points while four Celtics have 4 points. Jeff Teague has 8 for Atlanta.

First quarter, 2:43, Celtics 22-19: Defense has been optional so far as the Celtics are shooting 62.5 percent while the Hawks are at 47.1 with three 3-pointers and two layups. Paul Pierce is seems like he is primed for a big game with 7 points in nine minutes while Kevin Garnett has 5. Al Horford has 6 for the Hawks while Josh Smith and Jeff Teague have 5.

First quarter, 7:03, Celtics 12-11: The two teams have already combined for five 3-pointers, including one by Kevin Garnett, who was 0-for-11 from the 3-point line before hitting a trey on Wednesday at Indiana. Meanwhile, the Hawks have already hit three, including one from Josh Smith, who has 5 points.

Welcome to TD Garden for Hawks-Celtics

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 8, 2013 07:22 PM

The Celtics take on the Hawks in a big game in terms of Eastern Conference standings. After winning 13 of 17 games, the Celtics have climbed to the seventh seed in the East and one game back of the fifth-seeded Hawks. The question for the Celtics is if they would rather rise to fourth or fifth and potentially face the Miami Heat in the second round. At this point, however, they are concerned with stringing together wins and getting a key win before heading to Oklahoma City and Charlotte for a challenging two-game road trip.


STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (33-27)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

ATLANTA HAWKS (34-26)
PG Jeff Teague
SG Devin Harris
SF DeShawn Stevenson
PF Josh Smith
C Al Horford

Officials: Tom Washington, Karl Lane, Leon Wood

TV, radio: 8 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, ESPN, WEEI (93.7 FM)

Pregame notes:

• Doc Rivers said while he likes D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph, he hasn't thought about whether they have done enough to come back on a second 10-day contract. The Celtics have until Sunday to make a decision on White and Monday on Randolph. White played four minutes Wednesday against Indiana with two rebounds and two blocked shots.

• For the Hawks, center Zaza Pachulia (sore Achilles tendon) and Ivan Johnson (dislocated middle finger) are out. Lou Williams is out also after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament on Jan. 18. Like Rajon Rondo, Williams had his surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews.

• Kyle Korver, who hit eight 3-pointers in the second half and both overtimes of the previous meeting with the Celtics on Jan. 25, leads the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage (46.1) and third in the league with 127.

• Atlanta coach Larry Drew said the Celtics are "tougher to defend" without Rondo because of the increased ball movement. The Celtics are 13-4 since Rondo went down woth a right knee injury.

Watch: Washburn on Bradley's defense, Pierce's legacy

Posted by Robert Burgess March 7, 2013 06:36 PM

The Celtics have won four straight and as they prepare for the Hawks and Thunder, CineSport's Noah Coslov and Globe's Gary Washburn discuss Avery Bradley's defense and Paul Pierce's place in history.




Ask Gary Celtics Mailbag: Reasons for optimism

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 7, 2013 10:51 AM




Have a
question?

100x150asknickmugshot.jpg Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Gary.
Kevin Garnett's pass to Jeff Green for the winning bucket at the end of Wednesday night's thrilling victory over the Pacers was as emblematic of the team's identity as any play the Celtics have had this season. This group is as fun to watch as it is resilient. I had a friend tell me this morning last night's was his favorite Celtics win in recent memory.

These Celtics are a joy. They're also something of a mystery, enmeshed in a four-team log jam in the middle of the Eastern Conference with 22 games left to play. Many fans are understandably rooting for this group through green-tinted glasses, and I don't blame them. It's a lot of fun watching this scrappy veteran group play.

With the interest high, it's a good time to break out our weekly edition of the mailbag.

The Celtics are obviously in a difficult position, stuck between making a playoff run and preparing for the future. It seems a lot of people around town think that the Celtics cannot get quality FA's to sign here. I think, if you are a scorer and have a chance to come play with a pass-first PG like Rondo, it must be appealing. Do you think FA's are still going to hit the ignore button when Danny Ainge calls?
Ian, Charlestown

Good question, Ian. I'll give you a two-part answer. The Celtics already have $69,954,194 committed to players for next season. In 2014-15 that number is $52,050,000, and that's with Paul Pierce off the books. They're not going to be able to afford a big-name free agent this offseason unless they make some serious roster adjustments first.

To answer your real question, I do think there's appeal in playing here, playing with Rondo and for Doc. Does that mean a Dwight Howard is going to want to play here? Depends on his situation. But people often confuse being able to attract the top 2 or 3 free agents and attracting free agents in general. The Celtics lured Jason Terry here and signed Jeff Green and Brandon Bass last offseason.

Rivers is a coach every player wants to play for, and there's a winning culture here. It's not as dire as some in the media would make you believe. Rondo is very popular around the league, and guys see the chance to play with him as a chance to pad their stats and win at the same time.

How the heck did Avery Bradley last until the 19th pick in the 2010 draft? Shouldn't his defensive skills alone have made him a top-10 pick?
RondoHondo, Brockton

Ainge deserves all the credit in the world for his Bradley pick (if you think I'm a team apologist, just wait until the next question). Bradley is the real deal, and he's only getting better. Imagine him next season, farther removed from shoulder surgery and with another year under his belt, at just 23-years-old. He could be scary good.

Bradley fell for a variety of reasons. He was just 19-years-old at the time of the draft and was coming off his freshman season at Texas, where he averaged 11.6 points on 41 percent shooting. Scouting reports questioned his ability to share the ball, and at 6-feet-3 inches he was an undersized shooting guard. Even after the Celtics drafted Bradley he had some fairly unimpressive stretches during his time in Maine. Give the Celtics credit for developing him, and give Bradley credit for working his tail off and learning the NBA game. He's gifted but also studies a lot of film to play the kind of defense he does.

Gary, I understand drafting players in any sport is always a crap shoot, but I heard Chandler Parsons had one of the best pre-draft workouts the Celtics ever saw. Then the Celtics go ahead and draft a very skinny JaJuan Johnson, who never got off the bench. Who in the organization made that decision and on what basis was Johnson considered a better prospect? Also, who saw what in J.R. Giddens (how many players from New Mexico-other than Danny Granger ever made it in the NBA?) over DeAndre Jordan? Why draft Fab Melo (who doesn't look like he can play for at least 2 more years in the NBA) over better forwards or Festus Ezeli? I know these are tough questions. Thanks, Dan
Kodiak, Alaska

Drafting is, as you pointed out, a lot about luck. The Celtics are one of about half the NBA who uses advanced metrics very seriously in their analysis of players. Ainge is also a great judge of talent by sight, as evidenced by his picks of Bradley, Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis, Jared Sullinger, etc. But you're right, Dan, that he's missed on a bunch of players as well.

The Melo and Johnson picks strike me more as drafting a raw product (read size) and hoping he turns into something. There were more NBA-ready big men in last year's draft, but Ainge saw potential that Melo would be a better player than any of them three or four years down the road. He still may be right, though I don't think the team is happy with his development so far. As for Parsons, not sure anyone saw he'd develop into the player he's become. He was a role player at Florida who deserved his draft placement at the time. Not giving Ainge a free pass, though. The Giddens pick stands out as a pick he missed on, though it was at No. 30.

FULL ENTRY

Final: Celtics 83, Pacers 81

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 6, 2013 07:13 PM

Final: Celtics 83-81: The Celtics end the game on an 11-0 run, holding the Pacers scoreless for the final 4:36 as Jeff Green scores a layup with 0.5 left for the victory as the Celtics continue to climb up the Eastern standings. More to come.

Fourth quarter, 23.2 Tied at 81: It;s either win or overtime for the Celtics, who have held the Pacers scoreless for more than four minutes and just rebounded a miss by Roy Hibbert and called timeout. Celtics ball.

Fourth quarter, 3:00, Pacers 81-76: George Hill scored 8 points in 61 seconds as the Pacers extended their lead to 9 and the Celtics again are trying to rally.

Fourth quarter, 6:38, Pacers 70-69: Celtics on an 11-2 run as Kevin Garnett continues to defy Father Time and emerge as the Celtics best player. Paul Pierce has 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting and remains on the bench.

Fourth quarter, 8:52, Pacers 70-65: The game has become more intense and the Celtics defense has responded with consecutive stops. But they need to stop fouling, they have 18 personals for the game compared with 12 for Indiana. Kevin Garnett leads Boston with 16 points in just 22 minutes while Paul Pierce has 10 on 3-for-11 shooting. The Pacers have four players in double figures, led by Paul George with 13.

End of third quarter, Pacers 68-58: Ian Mahinmi just hit a fadeaway jumper with 2.9 left off a loose ball to end the quarter, so that should tell you the type of fortunate Indiana has enjoyed tonight. The Pacers are working overtime defensively, with nine steals while the Celtics are shooting just 37.5 percent and 33.3 from the 3-point line. The Celtics need a serious run to begin the final quarter.

Third quarter, 46.9, Pacers 66-58: The Celtics are trying to make a run but they have to be more consistent offensively and stop the Pacers from getting steals. Indiana has nine steals, five of those by Lance Stephenson.

Third quarter, 5:36, Pacers 63-49: It's not that the Pacers are playing all that well, it's that the Celtics are just playing poorly, unable to hit shots consistently and allowing players such as Lance Stephenson, who has been stellar on both sides with 10 points and four steals.

Halftime, Pacers 49-42: The Celtics were trailing by 4 with the ball in the final 40 seconds but committed two turnovers that led to 5 Indiana points. Paul Pierce ended the half with a layup as the Celtics are shooting just 18-for-44 from the field. The Celtics are getting testy with the officiating as they have been whistled for 12 personal fouls compared with Indiana's five. Nine Celtics scored in the first half and DJ White collected two blocks in his Boston debut.

Second quarter, 42.4, Pacers 44-40: Jeff Green has helped the Celtics crawl back into the game with 7 points off the bench but they are still shooting 40 percent. Avery Bradley has begun to knock down the shots and is now 3-for-8 shooting after hitting 10 of his first 12 shots Tuesday. Roy Hibbert already has a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Second quarter, 8:17, Pacers 30-24: The Celtics can't catch the Pacers because they are missing the same shots they made Tuesday night. They are shooting 34.5 percent and 1 of 4 from the 3-point line. The bench is trying to give them a lift but they are struggling offensively too.

End of first quarter, Pacers 27-19: Indiana ends the quarter on a 7-0 run after forcing three Boston turnovers that led to points. The Celtics are also missing shots that they made last night in Philadelphia. They are 8-for-23 shooting in the period and that's 5-for-18 without Kevin Garnett, who should re-enter the game to begin the second period.

First quarter, 3:00, Pacers 20-19: Roy Hibbert has been a major problem with 12 of the Indiana points and seven rebounds but he just picked up his second foul and has been replaced by Ian Mahinmi. The Celtics are shooting 44.4 percent from the field (8-for-18) and Kevin Garnett dropped 7 points in 4:05 before leaving for his customary rest.

First quarter, 7:30, Celtics 11-10: There are going to be some issues guarding Roy Hibbert, who already has 6 points, 4 of those on offensive rebound putbacks. Kevin Garnett is out of the game after a solid five minutes where he scored 7 points, including a rare 3-pointer.

Welcome to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for Celtics-Pacers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 6, 2013 05:50 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Celtics play the second of a back-to-back set with the rugged Pacers, who are seeded second in the Eastern Conference. With the Celtics at seventh entering Wednesday, this could be a potential playoff preview and the two clubs have played once already, when the Celtics smothered Indiana 94-75 on Jan. 4. But much has changed since then with the Celtics playing without Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger.

The two teams will meet again on April 16 in Boston.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (32-27)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

INDIANA PACERS (38-22)
PG George Hill
SG Lance Stephenson
SF Paul George
PF David West
C Roy Hibbert

Officials: Rodney Mott, Brian Forte, Mark Lindsay

TV, radio: 7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WEEI (93.7 FM)

Pregame notes:

• Courtney Lee was poked in the right eye late in the third quarter making a jump shot against the Philadelphia 76ers and did not return. But he said he is available tonight after his vision cleared following the Celtics win.

• Despite not sealing the game until the final minutes, the Celtics were able to limit Kevin Garnett's minutes in Tuesday's win but he may play lighter minutes tonight. The Celtics play Friday against Atlanta, Sunday afternoon against Oklahoma City and again Tuesday at Charlotte.

• Indiana coach Frank Vogel said the Celtics are different offensively without Rondo but not defensively, where they have risen to ninth in the league in points allowed.

• All-Star Forward Paul George recorded his team-leading 20th double-double Sunday against Chicago and is second on the team in scoring at 17.6 points per game.

• Former All-Star Danny Granger had an MRI on his ailing left knee that revealed no further damage but he will miss at least the next week with what Vogel called "above-average soreness." Granger missed the first 55 games with patellar tendonosis.

Final: Celtics 109, 76ers 101

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 5, 2013 07:22 PM

Final: Celtics 109-101: Celtics improve to 12-4 since Rajon Rondo's injury with a gritty win in a difficult place to play. Avery Bradley leads Boston with 22 points and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce each score 18. Jordan Crawford helps out with 12 off the bench. The Indiana Pacers await the Celtics tomorrow.

Fourth quarter, 38.3, Celtics 103-96: The 76ers have scored the last 5 points and now the Celtics are just trying to hang on as Philadelphia plays the foul game.

Fourth quarter, 2:25, Celtics 99-89: The Celtics haven't been good offensively at all in the fourth quarter but they have forced enough bad shots and defensive stops to hang on here. The 76ers are 5-for-19 shooting in the final period as Dorell Wright just missed two wide-open jumpers that would have made it interesting.

Fourth quarter, 4:43, Celtics 97-85: The Celtics are surviving here as the 76ers had the ball trailing by 8 points but missed a layup and Paul Pierce came back with a dagger 3-pointer for a 11-point advantage just moments ago. Pierce is 4-for-4 from the 2-point line but 2-for-6 on 2-pointers as he is four assists from a triple double. Jordan Crawford has helped out with 10 points in 15 minutes with 3 rebounds and 3 assists as the Celtics try to close this one out.

Fourth quarter, 10:42, Celtics 86-74: A 3-pointer and quirky 2-point runner by Jordan Crawford has sparked a 7-0 run and moved the lead back to 12. Crawford has 7 points for the Celtics.

End of third quarter, Celtics 79-74: A terrible final 73 seconds of the quarter as the 76ers roll off 8 straight points off four Celtics turnovers and now the game has become interesting again after the Celtics led by 13 just a few moments ago. The Celtics now have 17 turnovers, good for 20 Philadelphia points as the undermanned 76ers continue to play hard. Avery Bradley has 22 points for the Celtics.

Third quarter, 4:04, Celtics 71-60: Avery Bradley has 20 points while Paul Pierce is four assists from a triple double as the Celtics continue to fight off 76ers rallies and try to make it an easier night than usual at this House of Horrors. Pierce has 15 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists while Kevin Garnett has 14 points in 19 minutes. The 76ers are playing sloppy ball but are scraping their way back into the game. Thaddeus Young has 13 points.

Third quarter, 9:50, Celtics 59-48: It's turned into an Avery Bradley shooting clinic as he continues to drain every perimeter jumper he can take. He is 8-for-9 shooting with 18 points as the Celtics are trying to create some distance. Kevin Garnett has 12 for Boston.

Halftime, Celtics 53-46: It seems like the Celtics should be up more because they have outplayed Philadelphia thoroughly through 24 minutes but they had defensive lapses, such as when Chris Wilcox missed an alley-oop dunk and then allow Spencer Hawes to run the floor for the layup. The Celtics are shooting 48 percent and are 5-for-9 from the 3-point line but the 76ers are killing the Celtics with 12 second-half points. Thaddeus Young has 10 for Philadelphia.

Second quarter, 6:01, Celtics 36-34: The Celtics have led by as many as 7 points but the 76ers keep hanging around, thanks to 8 points apiece from Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday and some solid play from Royal Ivey. The Celtics are moving the ball well but have missed 18 of 33 shots and are 10-for-27 if you take away a 5-for-6 night from Kevin Garnett.

End of first quarter, Celtics 26-23: Boston actually led by 7 before allowing the 76ers to score the last two baskets of the quarter. It's one of those Jeff Green nights. He already has 7 points while Chris Wilcox has 4 points and four rebounds. Jrue Holiday already has 8 points for Philadelphia, which is 11-for-23 shooting.

First quarter, 3:08, Celtics 20-19: Boston is on a 7-0 run after the 76ers scored 6 straight. The Celtics are pushing the ball for easy baskets with Kevin Garnett on the bench and Avery Bradley running the offense. Both teams are shooting 9-for-18 from the field.

First quarter, 8:07, Tied at 11: Defense is optional so far as both sides are off to 5-for-7 shooting starts, hitting open jumpers. Kevin Garnett already has 6 points from Jrue Holiday has 4 and Evan Turner canned a 3-pointer for Philadelphia. He has averaged 21 points against the Celtics this season.

Welcome to Wells Fargo Center for Celtics-76ers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 5, 2013 05:23 PM

PHILADELPHIA -- The Celtics begin a difficult stretch tonight against the 76ers, a team they can't possibly look past. Philadelphia has beaten the Celtics twice this season, including once at TD Garden.

The Celtics have struggled with Philadelphia for the past few years, but these 76ers have been one of the league's most disappointing squads. They have lost eight of nine games and are seven games back of Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the East, with 24 to play.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (31-27)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (23-35)
PG Jrue Holiday
SG Royal Ivey
SF Evan Turner
PF Thaddeus Young
C Spencer Hawes

Officials: Derrick Stafford, Matt Boland, John Goble

TV, radio: 7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, TNT, WEEI (93.7 FM)

Pregame notes:

• Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he is concerned about his team being rusty after three days off and one game in eight days, but he expects they will work that off in the early going.

• With the Celtics playing six games in the next nine days, Rivers said, the rotation will be expanded, but don't expect him to go too deep. Newcomers D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph have yet to play.

• The 76ers will be without Andrew Bynum (bone bruises, both knees) and Jason Richardson (left knee surgery). Sharpshooter Nick Young is also out with a left ankle sprain.

• In three games against the Celtics this season, Evan Turner is averaging 21.3 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists while shooting 62.5 percent on 3-pointers. Jrue Holiday is averaging 8.7 assists.

• Rivers said he will monitor Paul Pierce's minutes but he has no intentions of giving the veteran a game off any time soon. Pierce has played in all 58 games this season.

Celtics shootaround report

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 5, 2013 12:11 PM


PHILADELPHIA -- The Celtics begin a treacherous stretch of games tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers, who have beaten the Celtics twice already this season, despite experiencing roster upheaval because of the absence of Andrew Bynum.

The Celtics will play five games in eight nights beginning tonight and continuing Wednesday in Indiana, Friday at home against the Atlanta Hawks, Sunday at the Oklahoma City Thunder and finally Tuesday at the Charlotte Bobcats.

With one game in the past seven days, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said rust may be an issue.

"If it was there, I wouldn't be shocked," he said before the team's shootaround at Wells Fargo Arena. "Hopefully we can play through it early enough to get the win. We've taken a lot of days off for this group because they need it."


*The Sixers snapped a seven-game losing streak by beating the Warriors on Saturday but lost at Washington on Sunday. They are seven games back of the Bucks with 24 to play.

*Rivers said Paul Pierce is not likely to get rest any time soon but the coach said he is monitoring Pierce's minutes.

Final: Celtics 94-86

Posted by Amalie Benjamin March 1, 2013 07:38 PM

End of game, Celtics 94-86: That's all from the Garden, where the Celtics knocked off Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Big efforts from Jeff Green and Paul Pierce on the offensive end and Avery Bradley on the defensive end. Good win for the team.

Fourth quarter, 2:54, Celtics 89-76: The C's just took a 13-point lead, their biggest since the first quarter.

Fourth quarter, 6:03, Celtics 83-73: Still just four points for Curry in the second half. Impressive work by the Celtics.

Fourth quarter, 10:29, Celtics 75-66: Jeff Green doesn't seem to be doing too badly, even with the bruised left elbow he suffered in the third quarter. The lead is back up to nine points for the C's.

End of the third quarter, Celtics 69-62: The C's head into the final quarter up by seven points. They're holding the Warriors to 35 percent from the field, so a pretty darn good defensive effort from them to this point.

Third quarter, :49, Celtics 69-60: That's a 9-0 run for the Celtics. And it just got really, really loud in the Garden. (Blame the noise meter.)

Third quarter, 2:22, Celtics 62-60: This has become quite the game. The Celtics once led by 13, but the Warriors have been up by only two points. Still, it's a tight one at this point. Curry has 18 points, meaning the Celtics have kept him to just two so far in the third quarter.

Third quarter, 8:01, Warriors 54-53: Courtney Lee passed to no one, leading to the fourth turnover of the third quarter already. That's the major reason that the Celtics are down to Golden State to start the second half. They've scored only on a three by Paul Pierce that gave him 21 points.

Third quarter, 9:08, Warriors 52-50 : That didn't take long. The Celtics have yet to score in the quarter, while the Warriors have taken the lead. It's 6-0 so far after halftime.

Halftime, Celtics 50-46: Stephen Curry has 16 points. And yet, the Celtics have managed to keep their lead -- barely. What was once a 13-point advantage is now just four points. The Celtics have held the Warriors to just 39 percent from the field, which has helped them keep even that slim margin. Pierce leads all scorers at the half with 18 points.

Second quarter, 3:48, Celtics 39-36: And it's now a three-point lead. Barnes went in alone for the dunk to get the Warriors to 36. The Celtics followed that up with Chris Wilcox missing two-of-two free throws. Not a good stretch for the home team.

Second quarter, 6:08, Celtics 37-32: The Celtics have run into a stretch of trouble shooting the ball. They've been outscored 7-1 in the last three minutes after missing a bunch of shots. The Celtics are down to 42.9 percent shooting for the game. Of course, the Warriors are at 38.7.

Second quarter, 9:14, Celtics 36-25: Kevin Garnett just got his first points of the evening, and it's an and-one. That puts the Celtics back up by 11. Garnett, though he didn't have any points, had five rebounds already in the game.

End of the first quarter, Celtics 31-20: Paul Pierce converted a three-point play with 23.4 seconds to go in the first quarter, putting the Celtics up by 13 points. The Warriors got two back, but still probably not what was expected at the start of this one. Pierce now has 13 points, and got a nice round of applause when he was taken out for the final few seconds of the quarter.

First quarter, 2:09, Celtics 24-15: The Celtics have built up a nine-point lead on the Warriors, shooting 61.1 percent so far to 46.7 for the Warriors. Paul Pierce has eight of those points already. And 16 of the Celtics' points have come in the paint so far.

First quarter, 4:54, Celtics 15-13: The Celtics are doing a pretty good job defensively, especially on Curry, who has just one point so far. The Warriors have three turnovers.

First quarter, 8:32, Celtics 7-6: Courtney Lee just gave the Celtics the lead after the ball was stolen from Stephen Curry. Drew a big reaction from the crowd. Curry, for the record, has yet to score.

New faces settling in with Celtics

Posted by Amalie Benjamin March 1, 2013 06:58 PM

It was a busy pregame for the Celtics with a number of new(ish) faces. Terrence Williams, D.J. White, and Shavlik Randolph all drew a crowd.

As for tonight's game against the Warriors, the Celtics will have their hands full with Stephen Curry, who had a 54-point effort against the Knicks on Wednesday. Here's more on the matchup between Curry and the Celtics' Avery Bradley.

But back to Williams, who is set to stick around after signing a two-year deal earlier today.

"I like the way he's played, minus one game," coach Doc Rivers said. "Now that he's going to be here, we have a chance to hopefully turn him into a player that we think he could be."

Williams has played in three games and proven he can play point guard, something the team needs with Rajon Rondo out.

"I saw him this summer," Rivers said. "He came in and worked out with us for a week, pickup games, and just watching him the way he played, you really felt even in those situations that he's more point than [2-guard]. I don't think he's ever going to be a great scorer in our league, but he can be a great playmaker.

"It would be nice if we found a superstar, but there's very few of those in the entire league. So we just look for a solid player."

There was a lot of talk about China in the locker room, with all three of the new Celtics players having played this season in the Chinese Basketball Association.

"They did a good job scouting," White said of the Celtics.

White seems like he's looking forward to playing with Williams and Randolph instead of against them. Because in China that didn't exactly go well for him.

"My team wasn't the best team, so I got beat by both of those guys. Twice," White said.

Celtics agree to two-year deal with Terrence Williams

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 1, 2013 03:35 PM

Team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was coy this morning when asked about Terrence Williams' contract, telling the Globe "we're still negotiating" with a wry smile.

The Celtics were indeed negotiating with Williams' representatives on a deal not only for the remainder of this season but a conditional deal for 2013-14, according to an NBA source. Williams has played three games for the Celtics entering tonight's game against the Golden State Warriors but has impressed with his ability to play point guard.

The club had until tonight to sign Williams to another 10-day contract but chose to lock up the former lottery pick to an extended deal. Williams has blended in well with his teammates and Doc Rivers told reporters Thursday that Williams is a natural point guard, a position the Celtics need desperate help at after the season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo.

Williams played in China this season after spending training camp with the Detroit Pistons. He played with the New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings but picked up a reputation of being difficult to coach before being waived by the Pistons in training camp.

Williams is the first of three players signed from the Chinese Basketball Association along with D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph.

Celtics sign Shavlik Randolph to 10-day contract

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 1, 2013 11:17 AM

The Celtics have plucked their third player from the Chinese Basketball Association, agreeing to a 10-day contract with former Duke center Shavlik Randolph, who is eligible to play immediately.

Randolph has already received his clearance from Foshan Long Lions before he signed with the Celtics, giving the club a much-needed big man. Randolph has not played in the NBA since 2009-10 and has played just 95 games since declaring for the 2005 draft following his junior season at Duke.

In 28 games for the Long Lions, he averaged 32 points and 14.5 rebounds.

"To be able to say I played for the Boston Celtics, whether it's 10 days, one day, however long it's something that I will carry for the rest of my life," he told the Globe following the team's shootaround. "It's a very pleasant surprise to come back to. I'm very honored and privileged for this opportunity."

Randolph played 79 games with the Philadelphia 76ers from the 2005-06 to 2007-08, played 10 games with Portland in 2008-09, and then spent three-game stints with the Miami Heat and the Trail Blazers again before playing last preseason with the Washington Wizards. He then signed with Foshan after being waived.

"I don't think my game's changed, I just think I've played a lot more," he said. "My five years in the NBA, I didn't play that much. I was a spot-minute guy. In the last year and half, since I was last with Miami, I've just played a lot, obviously it's overseas but I've just played and that's the best way to get better."

Said president of basketball operations Danny Ainge: "We just think Shavlik knows how to play, plays hard, has experience and yet is still fresh enough and young enough. I've always liked the way Shavlik has played."

During shootaround, Celtics center Kevin Garnett was working with Randolph, walking him through the new offensive and defensive sets.

"I can see how this team has been so successful for so long," Randolph said. "The veterans, guys like Kevin, will take time out of a shootaround or practice to walk me through things that I don't understand. It's just been great for me, helping me to learn. I've only been here for one day. I just want to try to learn from the guys that have been here and try to watch and just soak in as much as I can. I don't know when I'll play, I know these next few days will be a good opportunity to get a feel for how things are done around here."

Ask Gary Celtics Mailbag: What to expect down the stretch

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 1, 2013 07:11 AM

Have a
question?

100x150asknickmugshot.jpg Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Gary.
The 'bag is back. To kick things off and get you used to the routine, we're posting a short version this week. The plan is to publish a new edition of the mailbag every Thursday from now until the summer, then publish one periodically until the season picks up again.

I've had the good fortune of being a part of Boston.com's Celtics team since 2005 and have had a lot of great conversations with fans in that time. It's the back-and-forth that makes it fun. We're free-form here, so don't hesitate to drop a question in the box any time. You can also chat with me on Twitter or shoot me a scathing e-mail. Looking forward to it.

I am wondering why the Celtics have such a fundamental issue rebounding. I understand that we are smaller than most teams, but it simply appears that our guys don't box out when push comes to shove. Isn't this something that could easily be addressed? I think we would be a much more competitive team if we could grab a couple more offensive boards a game and a number more on the defensive end.
Ted, West New York, N.J.

It's a good question, Ted. Let's list the main reasons:

-- They don't have much height on the roster relative to other teams.
-- Doc Rivers preaches getting back on defense rather than attacking the glass.
-- Despite being in position, the Celtics don't get as many rebounds as they should.

That last one is the most concerning. The Celtics rank 18th in the league at defensive rebounding percentage (73.3 percent), a measure of the percentage of rebounds players hold onto vs. the rebounds available to them. Last season they were 20th. That's more concerning than a lack of offensive rebounding, because at least you can attribute the offensive boards to philosophy. Without a true center on the roster, the Celtics aren't likely to be a rebounding force compared with teams like Memphis or Chicago. However, there's room for improvement if they rebound as a team. From Courtney Lee to Paul Pierce to Brandon Bass to Chris Wilcox, each Celtic needs to make crashing the boards a priority. Rebounding is also an underrated area in which the Celtics miss Rajon Rondo.

At this point of the season and with our mediocre record (30-27) I think it would have been best if the Celtics started to rebuild and looked toward the upcoming draft. Some names I'm looking at are C.J. McCollum, Trey Burke, and Willie Cauley-Stein. Who do you think the Celtics could pick in the draft that could help our team in the future?
Dakota, Attleboro

People who know a lot more about these things than I do have the Celtics taking McCollum with the No. 17 pick in this year's draft. The other two players you mentioned are projected a little higher, but it's way too early for exactness considering we don't yet know which college players will be in the draft. You mention two guards and a center. Strategy-wise it seems to make sense for the Celtics to draft big considering a backcourt of Rondo, Bradley, Lee, and Jason Terry looks fairly deep going forward. They're going to need a replacement for Garnett at some point. In what is considered a weak draft, perhaps the Celtics can use one of their veterans as trade bait to bring back another player and also move up and take someone like Cauley-Stein, if that's the direction they choose to go in.

Do we a GPS tracker on D.J. White's papers? Also, why sign Terrence Williams over Dionte Christmas?
Riano, Canovanas, Puerto Rico

I know you submitted this question yesterday, but the papers came in Thursday, and White is with the Celtics and expected to be available Friday night. It's doubtful he plays so soon, but at least the Celtics were able to put him through a practice.

Based on Brandon Bass' performance so far, did the Celtics make a mistake in signing him to a long-term deal? I've been disappointed with his play so far. Is he tradeable with that contract? Thanks.
Gene, Quincy

Yeesh that's a tough question. I just spent about 30 minutes here in the office watching highlight clips of Rondo's passing, and Bass was getting a ton of layups and dunks. Rondo clearly made Bass better, and I don't think Bass got enough credit for his play during last year's postseason. He was the starting power forward on a team that made it to Game 7 of the conference finals, and no one talked about him. He guarded LeBron. He deserves some credit.

All of that being said, he has struggled this season, down to 7.7 points from 12.5. A cynic would say he's got his contract now and isn't playing as hard. That might be part of it. Cumulatively, the loss of Rondo hurts, and Jared Sullinger took some of Bass's minutes. Bass is one of those guys who clearly plays better as a starter. He's making $6.75 million next season and has another year on his deal after that, which isn't necessarily prohibitive. There are worse contracts out there for less productive players.

How much of a contribution can we realistically expect from Terrence Williams and Jordan Crawford? Will they really make that much of a difference come playoff time?
Chaz, New York, N.Y.

Crawford is the kind of player who can win you a game out of nowhere in the playoffs with 12 points in a quarter. He's also the kind of player who might drive you crazy in the meantime. I like Williams and the energy with which he plays. I envision a shortened shortened playoff rotation to be something like this: Bradley, Lee, Terry, Pierce, Garnett, Bass, Green, Wilcox. Both Crawford and Williams are only likely to see spot time.

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