Allen, Rondo early surge | Bench struggles | Kings run | Rondo’s tech | Celtics regain control
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The weather back in Boston all but assured the Celtics weren’t going to have an easy trip back from their four-game West Coast swing. The Sacramento Knigs didn’t make things any easier.
On the last leg of their weeklong trip, the Celtics had to fight off a Kings team determined to knock off its third straight high-quality opponent. Coming off a win over the Lakers on Sunday, the Celtics were determined not to spoil an otherwise solid stretch on the road.
After falling behind by as much as 10 points in the first half, the Celtics got 22 points from Ray Allen and a 17-point 10 assist night from Rajon Rondo, sealing a 95-90 win over the Kings at ARCO Arena.
The Celtics swept the season series and stretched their overall winning streak against the Kings to eight games.
Allen and Rondo sparked an early first-quarter surge for the Celtics combining for 7 of the team’s first 10 field goals, but the second unit struggled to start the second quarter and the Kings capitalized, going on a 14-4 run and catching fire from there.
The starters had to break out the extinguishers, pulling out every possible stop to regain control of a game that had lost its wits.
After a slow start where he missed four of his first five shots, Kevin Garnett (12 points, seven rebounds) splashed onto the hardwood for loose balls, giving the Celtics extra possessions. Paul Pierce came alive in the second half, finishing with 15 points.
But the Celtics defense woke up, and choked the life out of the Kings, forcing 25 turnovers and cashing them in for 23 points and holding them to 43.7 shooting.
The Celtics return to the Garden Friday for a matuchp with the Dallas Mavericks. Initially, the plan was to fly out of Sacramento last night, but after the Kings made winning tough, the weather made flying even tougher.
Fourth quarter, 8:21, Celtics 78-77: So DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t have much of a prayer for rookie of the year. They’re already carving Blake Griffin’s name on that trophy. But Cousins is skilled. He can dribble, he can pass, he can rebound, he can shoot from long range. The Kings are going to him heavy in the fourth. He’s drawing double teams from the Celtics defense, which almost never happens.
End of third quarter, Celtics 74-71: The Celtics ended the quarter on a 7-0 run, regaining control of a game that had lost all its wits. The Celtics shot 60 percent in the quarter with the starters restoring order. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined for 14 of the Celtics 29 third quarter points and the Celtics held the Kings to 31.9 percent shooting.
Third quarter, 1:49, Kings 71-69It’s officially a kitchen sink game. After beaming the ball right at DeMarcus Cousins for a turnover under the Celtics basket, Kevin Garnett pinned him to that line and forced a loose ball the Rondo gobbled up for a steal. Rondo, then, flung the ball back for a Ray Allen 3-pointer. But Cousins is tough for a rookie. He came down, crashing into Kendrick Perkins as he banked a layup of the glass. Then, the ball swung his way along the 3-point line opposite the Celtics bench, he stared it down and drained it, nets only, and the Kings are making the Celtics last night on the West Coast a rough one.
Third quarter, 5:44, Kings 61-58: Cousins is trying his absolute best not to blow up on a referee. He was in a tough spot, forced to heave a last-second shot up at the bend of the 3-point line with Kevin Garnett smothering him. He got a bump from Garnett as he went up, but didn’t get the bail out call he wanted. The Celtics got th eball and Rajon Rondo drilled an 18-footer to pull within 3. Go figure.
End of second quarter, Kings 54-45: The Celtics’ second unit let the Kings go on a run, before they knew it, they needed fire extinguishers. The Kings shots 66.7 percent in the quarter (12 of 18). Donte Greene came off the bench and dropped 13 on 5 of 8 shooting. As Greene and Pierce stood next to each other, one overzealous Kings fan shouted at Pierce, “He’s killing you, Pierce!” Pierce and Garnett are having off nights, combining to shoot 5 of 13. Garnett is 2 of 6. The game is noticeably sloppy — 21 combined turnovers — and the Kings are benefiting more than the Celtics turning 11 turnovers into 13 points.
Second quarter, 5:55, Kings 34-31: Pooh Jeter came out of the timeout and drilled a corner-pocket 3-pointer that gave the Kings their first lead since early in the first quarter. Donte Greene and Omri Casspi followed up with a couple of big baskets. The Kings have started the quarter on a 14-4 run on the Celtics’ second unit, and its’ ugly. The sight of Shaq being whistled for three-second violations had Omri Casspi jumping for joy. Doc Rivers just sent the Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett back in.
Second quarter, 8:03, Celtics 29-28: The Kings took advantage of the Celtics awful start to the quarter (1 for their first 8 start) to pull within one. Nate Robinson has the only Celtics’ field goal of the quarter, a baseline layup. Otherwise, the Kings have dominated the quarter. Pooh Jeter just took a charge on Nate Robinson, and you can feel them gaining momentum.
Second quarter, 9:30, Celtics 27-22: The second unit’s having a hard time scoring. Both Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis have had shots swatted. Marquis Daniels had to heave up a shot as the clock expired and came up empty. The quarter’s nearly three minutes old and the Celtics haven’t scored a field goal.
End of first quarter, Celtics 27-20: Ray Allen hasn’t taken a 3-ball yet and he’s got a game-high 10 points. Hegot his last bucket of the quarter slicing through the lane for a layup that’s probably going to end up on someone’s instruction tape somewhere.He and Rajon Rondo (9 points) combined for 7 of the Celtics first 10 made baskets.
First quarter, 2:22, Celtics 21-15: Twelve combined turnovers so far. The Celtics’ five cough-ups have cost them 7 points. But they’re cashing in on the Kings’ giveaways, too. Rajon Rondo just scored a fast break layup off a steal, giving him seven points so far.
First quarter 5:29, Celtics 13-11: Everything’s moving speed-of-light quick. One glance, Tyreke Evans is crashing into Shaquille O’Neal, the next Rajon Rondo’s smacking the floor hard under his own basket. Evans has 6 points so far. Rondo has three dimes.
First quarter, 9:31, Celtics 10-5: Get prepared for a shootout. The Celtics have knocked down their first four shots. Paul Pierce is goofing around with Omri Casspi, he came down, bumped into him a little, grinning as he said, “Hey, how ya doin’!” THen he knocked down a midrange baseline J.
Pregame: With the Celtics set to wrap up their four-game road trip tonight in Sacramento, things seemed fairly subdued at Arco Arena until the intros rolled around. The Celtics got a typical road welcome, but the Kings broke out the pyro, the screaming hype man, the repelling firefighters and the house music.
The arena’s smoked out at this point. Meanwhile, there’s basketball pending.