Slippery conditions court disaster
Last night’s Celtics-Clippers game almost did not proceed past the opening quarter. Condensation formed on the court, and lead official Joe Crawford halted the contest with the Clippers leading, 14-13.
“It was terrible, it was warm in the building with it still being winter, and the ice was just giving way just a little bit,’’ Rasheed Wallace said after a 95-89 Celtics win. “So, it made it a little slick out there. Had to play cautiously the whole game. You can’t put them brakes on when you want to because you didn’t know if you’re going to slide. You saw a couple of guys slipping out there like Peggy Fleming. It’s part of it, though, when you play in arenas that have ice up under it.’’
Coaches Doc Rivers and Mike Dunleavy met with Crawford while the floor was mopped, then allowed action to resume, a Ray Allen layup giving the Celtics the lead with 2:06 remaining in the quarter.
“The first seven, eight minutes I didn’t really think we were going to finish this game,’’ Rivers said. “I was nervous, though, I really was. We, at that point, were very close. The next guy, if anybody slipped in the next two minutes, the game was over. And Joey was going to make that call. Mike said the same thing - we said almost simultaneously, ‘We can’t afford a guy to get injured on this floor.’ We’re not used to 55 degree days in January. We came out in the second half and it was cooler in the arena, I don’t know if they turned the air [conditioning] on.’’
Rivers said the situation was reminiscent of a Celtics-Hawks game Nov. 28, 1990. The Celtics led, 37-22, in the second quarter when the contest was suspended. The game was resumed Dec. 23, with the Celtics winning, 132-104. Rivers scored 14 points for the Hawks.
“The Celtics just had the court wet on the Hawks’ side, offensively, and got up by 30 and then called the game - which people in Atlanta thought was very unfair, at the time,’’ said Rivers.
But Rivers believes the team is on pace to make a playoff run.
“I like our team, I would be willing to go into the playoffs exactly the way we are right now,’’ Rivers said before last night’s game. “If we can improve, we improve it, and that would be great, too. But if we started the playoffs with the 12 guys, or whatever amount of guys we have, and everybody were healthy, I love our team.’’
Rivers was asked if this was the Celtic team he wanted to see.
“Yeah, it’s coming,’’ he said. “You know, we’re not there but it’s coming. The game the other night [a 98-95 overtime win over Portland] we didn’t play great, we won. [Last] night we didn’t play great the entire game but we played in stretches. So, it’s definitely coming. I’ll be glad when it gets here.’’
Guard Marquis Daniels (thumb surgery) has returned to practice and could be ready to play when the Celtics visit New Orleans Feb. 10. Brian Scalabrine (shoulder) hopes to return to practice tomorrow in preparation for Thursday’s visit to Orlando.
“We’re hoping first game after the All-Star break,’’ Rivers said of Daniels. “There’s a slight chance he may be able to play by the New Orleans game and that would be a huge benefit for him. We want him to come out of the break playing well.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.