WALTHAM -- Weeks ago, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge noted that forward Paul Pierce was craning his neck more often than normal, as if Pierce's neck was injured.
Pierce on Thursday talked in-depth about the pain he's feeling and said that pain is probably related to his up-and-down play this season.
"It’s happened a lot more than normally, whether it be in practice or in a game, but it's something I'll deal with after the season," Pierce said.
He added, "I’m about as healthy as I’m probably going to be in the regular season right now."
Pierce is averaging 18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists this season.
WALTHAM -- The Celtics have signed 6-foot-9-inch forward/center D.J. White to a 10-day contract, the team announced Thursday. White will be available to play when the Celtics host the Golden State Warriors on Friday at TD Garden.
"This organization has a rich tradition, countless championships, so it's just an honor to be a part of this organization," White told reporters prior to practice.
White played at Indiana University with new teammate Jordan Crawford and was drafted in the first round by the Detroit Pistons in 2008. He was traded to the Thunder on draft night, and played 42 games in parts of three seasons with Oklahoma City, averaging 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds.
White was traded to Charlotte in the middle of the 2010-11 season, and he played 72 games for the Bobcats, averaging 8.3 points and 4.4 rebounds. This season, White played for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association and averaged 21.6 points and 9.7 rebounds in 32 games.
"Basically just come in, defend and rebound," White said of his role with the Celtics. "That's what I think they're looking for, so I just want to come in and play hard and pick my spots on the offensive end. But I think I want to concentrate on defense and rebounding."
Terrence Williams, whom the Celtics recently signed to a 10-day contract, also played in China this season and wasn't a fan of it, saying, "Now, if you go to China even for a day, you learn how to be a professional. You want to come back so fast."
But White said his experience in China wasn't that bad.
"It was different for me because I was in Shanghai," White said. "He was in who knows where. Shanghai's kind of like New York City, so to speak, but maybe a little bit bigger. So, I didn't have any problem eating. It's just when I traveled, that's when I had a problem. So, I adjusted pretty quickly."
White played with the Celtics' Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox in Oklahoma City and said being around them, along with Crawford, has helped make his transition to Boston easier.
If you were one of the rapt fans who marveled at Warriors guard Stephen Curry's 54-point outburst vs. the Knicks Wednesday night, you were in good company. Celtics coach Doc Rivers told WEEI's Dennis and Callahan show Thursday that he was awed by the performance just like everyone else. Curry made 11 3-pointers. His team visits TD Garden Friday night.
"The way he shot the ball and the shots he got, he's just a great shooter," said Rivers. "He's the best shooter in our league."
Curry hasn't had much success in two previous games in Boston, where he's averaged 11 points and is 8 for 21 from the field, 2 for 8 on 3-pointers. But he's obviously a different player this season after finally overcoming injury and getting comfortable. Asked how he would slow Curry down, Rivers said, "Well, you foul him [laughs]. When a guy gets in a zone like that it's just hard. It's so easy to say deny him, but he's the point guard. He always has the ball in his hands."
One way the Celtics will slow Curry down is with their best on-ball defender, Avery Bradley. Rivers praised his young guard for his defense during Monday night's overtime win over Utah. The coach had an interesting take.
"You think about the Jazz game, and the size advantage they had," said Rivers. "As the game went on, they went less and less to the post. They didn't have enough time. Avery single-handedly took them out of their post game."
A couple of other notes:
-- Rivers said he didn't think Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett were going to be traded before last week's deadline.
"Danny [Ainge], he's working and is going to do the best to make the team better for now and the future. I just didn't feel like, from what I heard, anything was gonna happen."
On his two veterans, Rivers said, "I think they'll be great when the playoffs start. I think they'll be better, because there's more rest. And our key is to get them there fresh."
-- On working new players Jordan Crawford, Terrence Williams, and D.J. White into the lineup, Rivers said, "They're not going to pick up everything. Trying to teach them the things that you really need them to pick up, defensively and offensively, and then trying to integrate the things they do well."
Each time he squares up to take another late, big shot, Paul Pierce puts a little more polish on his star. Pierce made all three shots he took in overtime in Monday night's win over Utah, a reminder of how good he continues to be on the biggest stages despite his advanced age. No matter how much Pierce's light flickers through tough January first quarters or 4-for-12 shooting nights vs. the Bobcats, he's almost always there in the clutch.
There are only a handful of players in sports who have the gene Pierce has, to be unafraid of the moment. Yesterday, another of those players was given a three-year, $27 million contract extension by the New England Patriots. Tom Brady's new deal keeps the Patriots' Super Bowl window open until 2017. But what exactly do Pierce's continued heroics do for the Celtics?
It's clear the Celtics can't easily replace what Pierce and Kevin Garnett give them, just as the Patriots can't replace Brady. And yet there was Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck Tuesday, during an interview with WEEI's "Mut and Lou" show, making it clear that the Celtics tried their hardest to trade both Pierce and Garnett before last week's NBA trade deadline.
"For the last two or three days before the deadline, their names came up more than anybody else," Grousbeck said. "They were the topic of conversation with the calls coming into us, because people thought maybe we weren't going to keep it together this spring."
On why the Celtics didn't pull the trigger, Grousbeck said, "I know what the offers were. You wouldn't have taken them."
That sentiment from upper management should make it clear that the Celtics aren't happy with where they currently stand, but the team's recent inspired play has muddled that up somewhat for fans, who call talk radio stations in droves to handicap their team's chance at a title as if Rajon Rondo were walking through that door tomorrow.
From Pierce's heroics to Avery Bradley's intensity to Jeff Green's emergence, people like watching this team. Grousbeck said he was grinding his teeth during overtime Monday night as the Celtics and Jazz battled back and forth. Personally, I'll never get tired of watching Pierce, all jabs and crooked angles, going to work on an overmatched defender with the game on the line.
It's more fun rooting for a competitive team, which is why 67 percent of more than 1,700 Boston.com readers voted that they were happy the team didn't make a big deal at the deadline.
But there's a big difference between the Patriots extending their window by reupping Brady and the Celtics squeezing a couple of February wins out of Pierce And The Gang. Doc Rivers called Monday's win the best of the season, but should we really be so excited about a win that lifts the Celtics to a 30-27 record? Is seventh place in the Eastern Conference and a potential first-round date with Indiana worth sacrificing the future of the franchise?
Not that the Celtics didn't try. According to the owner, there was a four-team deal on the table that would have significantly shaken things up but it fell through when two of the other teams back out. If you take Grousbeck and Danny Ainge at face value, the Celtics have been trying to build for the future, which should make it all the more disappointing that it hasn't happened.
The natural question is, "Why can't we have both?" Why can't the Celtics make a run in this year's playoffs, see what happens, and build toward the future? It's a valid if hopeful line of thinking. Grousbeck sees value in letting things play out, even if he had hoped to make a deal last week.
"We think we've got a chance this year to do something important, to show these younger players what it means to be a Celtics team fighting hard in the playoffs," said Grousbeck. "With KG and Paul, and Bradley behind them and Jeff Green behind them, I'm excited about this team. I'm not saying we'll win the thing."
That last part is the fundamental difference between where the Celtics and Patriots stand now. Keeping Brady around until he is 40 just so he retired a Patriot wouldn't be such an attractive proposition if the Patriots didn't have a true chance to "win the thing." Not even the most ardent fan can give the Celtics more than a minor chance of hanging banner No. 18 this year without Rondo and Jared Sullinger. The Celtics may be fun to watch, but they're a long shot to beat the Heat, Pacers, Bulls, Knicks, and whoever comes out of the West.
The middle is the worst place for an NBA franchise to be, no closer to a title than a top draft pick. Being a fun team to root for doesn't get the Celtics any closer to the top. Grousbeck said Tuesday that it might be easier to pull off a major move in July. Pierce and Garnett won't be easily replaced, but the Celtics will be better off the sooner that happens.
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck told WEEI's Mut and Merloni Tuesday that his team was very active at last week's NBA trade deadline despite failing to get a blockbuster deal done. Grousbeck said the names of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett came up the most in trade talks.
"For the last two or three days before the deadline, their names came up more than anybody else," Grousbeck said. "They were the topic of conversation with the calls coming into us, because people thought maybe we weren't going to keep it together this spring."
On why the Celtics didn't pull the trigger, Grousbeck said, "I know what the offers were. You wouldn't have taken them."
Grousbeck said several offers were on the table that would have been "significant" shakeups for the Celtics, including a four-team deal that fell through because two of the other teams involved backed out.
"Most of the other guys in this league are not as confident as we are in making trades," Grousbeck said. "We are aggressive in exploring things through. I'm not saying we're always right. But we are more likely to make a trade and stick to it than anybody else in the league. The rest of them are afraid to do anything. They'll say they'll do it and then they won't.
"It takes two teams to trade, and it's very incorrect to accuse us of not looking for things."
Despite not pulling off a major deal, Grousbeck said he was happy with the way the Celtics have played of late. He mentioned Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, and Avery Bradley as players he expected to be with the team in five years. He said that the playoffs will serve an important purpose even if the Celtics aren't in contention.
"We think we've got a chance this year to do something important, to show these younger players what it means to be a Celtics team fighting hard in the playoffs," said Grousbeck. "With KG and Paul, and Bradley behind them and Jeff Green behind them, I'm excited about this team. I'm not saying we'll win the thing. We have won the thing. I know what it feels like. We've been to the Finals another time. This team is tough. I wouldn't wanna play them in the playoffs."
Grousbeck said ownership was heavily involved in any discussions concerning potential trades of Pierce and Garnett. He said the Celtics would retire Pierce's number whether or not he finishes his career with the Celtics. Asked about Garnett, he said that anyone who was integral in bringing banner No. 17 to Boston deserved their number in the rafters as well.
SALT LAKE CITY -- The Celtics return home Tuesday morning having salvaged their five-game road trip with a 110-107 win over the Utah Jazz, beating one of the better home teams in the NBA with a stirring second-half and overtime performance by Paul Pierce, who scored 7 points in overtime.
Boston (30-27) trailed 60-53 with 9:25 left before going on a 17-2 run to take a 70-62 lead. They held that same 8-point lead going into the fourth quarter before the Jazz came back with a 13-2 run to begin the fourth quarter. The Celtics had major issues with swingman Gordon Hayward, who finished with 26 points.
The pivotal point of the game occurred with 8:41 left after Hayward completed Utah's run with a one-handed jam for an 85-82 lead. Celtics coach Doc Rivers tore into his team, accosting his players before they even walked to the bench after the timeout. Afterwards, the Celtics followed with stifling defense on Hayward and that streaking dunk would be his last field goal.
Hayward was 3-for-9 shooting in the second half as Rivers mixed up defenses, trapping the ball and challenging entry passes because of their size disadvantage.
"I thought we junked the game up; I'm a fan of that but we did it, we went zone, started trapping all around the floor and I just thought our trap was so bad, it was good," Rivers said. "We didn't know what we were doing and they didn't know what we were doing and it created confusion and it worked."
For the final 6:01, the two teams traded scores. Pierce drained a fadeaway 18-footer with 36.6 left in regulation for the lead. Alec Burks tied the game with a running layup off a broken plan with 19.9 left. Rivers drew up a new play that was supposed to involve Jason Terry, but he moved to the wrong spot on the floor, forcing Pierce to fire on one those unsuccessful fadeaways at the buzzer.
He made up for his miss in overtime with a 3-pointer to put the Celtics ahead for good, and then two more midrange jumpers, the final one with his shorts hanging below his knees because Demarre Carroll grabbed them in vain trying to stop Pierce.
“This was one of them desperation type games that we needed,” he said. “We felt like we let one go away in Portland. This was sort of like a must-win for us. We wanted to win in regulation. It would have felt better just to get a stop when we needed it. That’s what we have to get better at it. When we get the lead, when we need crucial stops, we have to figure out how to get them.”
The Celtics are now 6-4 in overtime games and are 2 1/2 games behind the sixth-seeded Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference. The repercussions of a 1-4 road trip would have been damaging for a team desperately looking for momentum on the road.
"Whatever that is, it was the best win for me of the year," Rivers said. "Five games, seven nights, five different cities, three time zones. To gut it out, go in overtime and still have enough to win. Paul down the stretch, just carried us. We found something we liked in the pick-and-roll and went with it."
Said center Kevin Garnett, who told Rivers to keep him in the game to begin overtime: "We needed this though. This is probably one of the hardest places to play, as far as on the road, always have been, probably always will be."
Final: Celtics 110-107: Stellar game for the Celtics, who end the road trip 2-3 with gutty win, handing Utah its seventh home loss of season. Paul Pierce finished with 26 points, 7 in overtime while Kevin Garnett finishes with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Overtime, 1.2, Celtics 110-107: Courtney Lee gets fouled and hits both free throws but he should have thrown the ball in the air, which would have ended the game.
Overtime, 4.2, Celtics 108-107: The Celtics don't let the Jazz attempt a 3-pointer, instead using their fouls. Paul Millsap hits both free throws. Celtics ball at halfcourt. Utah has a foul to give.
Overtime, 13.8 Celtics 108-105: The Celtics had a chance to seal the game but committed a shot clock violation that is now being reviewed. It looked like Kevin Garnett released the ball after the clock expired but the ball banked in. The call was upheld. Jazz ball.
Overtime, 1:18, Celtics 104-101: Paul Pierce has come back with 5 straight points after the Jazz took the lead on a Demarre Carroll jumper.
End of regulation, Tied at 97: Paul Pierce dribbles down the last 20 seconds and missed a contested fadeaway. Does that sound familiar? Overtime.
Fourth quarter, 19.9, Tied at 97: On a broken play, Alec Burks streaks to the basket for a contested layup. Celtics ball.
Fourth quarter, 36.6, Celtics 95-93: Paul Pierce just cans one of his stepback jumpers to put the Celtics ahead 2 and now he has 19 points but has missed seven 3-pointers. Jazz ball. Both teams out of fouls.
Fourth quarter, 2:46, Tied at 93: What a game, as the Celtics have been so close to taking a control but can't. They have gone 4:11 without a field goal but have stayed in the game at the free throw line. They just missed three shots on the same possession to extend the lead and then Al Jefferson comes back with a one-handed jumper to tie.
Fourth quarter, 5:45, Tied at 89: This is going down to the wire as the two teams are taking turns making runs. The Celtics responded from a 13-2 run to take an 87-85 lead on Paul Pierce's jumper. Moments later, Gordon Hayward hit two free throws to tie the game. Both teams are out of fouls and Brandon Bass is now at the line for two free throws.
Fourth quarter, 9:52, Celtics 82-81: The Jazz are on a 9-2 run to begin the quarter as the Celtics have become stagnant offensively and are allowing too many second-chance points from the Jazz. Gordon Hayward just hit the Jazz's eighth 3-pointer of the game in 12 tries, and, of course, it was wide open. Hayward, who drew the raves of Doc Rivers before the game, has 20 points off the bench.
End of third quarter, Celtics 80-72: An impressive quarter by the Celtics, who shot 13 of 22 from the field for 32 points, including 9 points from Courtney Lee and two key 3-pointers from Jason Terry. Five Celtics are in double figured, led by Avery Bradley with 18. Marvin Williams and Gordon Hayward have 15 for the Jazz while Paul Millsap has 12 but 4 since the first quarter.
Third quarter, 2:50, Celtics 70-67: The Celtics led by as many as 8 after a 17-2 run (matching Utah's first-half run) but the Jazz have responded with a three-point play from Derrick Favors and now Gordon Hayward just hit two free throws. Avery Bradley has 18 for the Celtics and Paul Pierce has 13.
Third quarter, 6:41, Celtics 63-60: It's been a physical game and the Celtics have taken full advantage by using tough defense to stymie the Jazz while going on a 10-0 run, sparked by two 3-pointers from Avery Bradley and two buckets from Courtney Lee.
Halftime, Jazz 53-48: The Celtics rallied to tie the game at 44 but continue to allow Utah to shoot open 3-pointers. The Jazz are 6-for-9 in the half and hit four in the second quarter. Marvin Williams scored the last 5 points in the half for the Jazz while Kevin Garnett is having one of those "old" nights with 3 points and 1 rebound in 12 minutes. Avery Bradley leads the Celtics with 12 points and Brandon Bass has 10.
Second quarter, 3:59, Jazz 44-41: The Celtics get closer with a 5-0 run, highlighted by a swooping dunk from Jeff Green, who has 6 points in 12 minutes. The key for the Celtics was getting consistent defensive stops. The Jazz have missed their past four shots and the Celtics are pushing the pace to get easier baskets.
Second quarter, 5:46, Jazz 44-36: Just like that the Jazz are up 8 points after an 17-2 run. The Celtics are shooting 3-for-10 in the quarter while the Jazz are led by Gordon Hayward's 13 points, 12 in the quarter.
Second quarter, 8:51, Tied at 34: Jazz are on a 7-0 run after the Celtics went on a 6-1 spurt to begin the quarter. The Celtics are being outrebounded 14-9 but the Jazz have stayed close by shooting uncontested 3-pointers. Gordon Hayward has 5 points off the bench for the Celtics.
End of first quarter, Celtics 28-26: Both teams are 11-for-21 shooting but the Celtics are 4-for-4 from the free throw line compared with 2-for-2 for Utah. The bench has given the Celtics a lift, scoring 7 points in their stint. Avery Bradley has 10 points for Boston while Brandon Bass has 8.
First quarter, 1:50, Jazz 24-22: Both teams got off to scorching offensive starts but the Celtics have cooled a bit as the starters have been replaced by reserves. Avery Bradley leads the Celtics with 10 points while Paull Millsap has 8 for Utah. Brandon Bass has 6 for the Celtics, who are already being outrebounded 9-4.
First quarter, 5:45, Jazz 16-15: Avery Bradley is off to a strong strong with 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting while Paul Millsap has scored 8 for Utah. Kevin Garnett is on the bench with one rebound and one foul. The Celtics are shooting 6-for-9 from the field while the Jazz are 7-for-10. Brandon Bass has to do a better job of defending Millsap.
SALT LAKE CITY -- The Celtics are almost home but they have one more game before this long West Coast excursion is over. The final game could be the toughest on the trip. The Utah Jazz, who are 22-3 at home, are mammoth compared with the Celtics. The Jazz have four big men who will be a problem on the boards, including Paul Millsap and former Celtic Al Jefferson
BOSTON CELTICS (29-27)
PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
UTAH JAZZ (31-25)
PG Earl Watson
SG Randy Foye
SF Marvin Williams
PF Paul Millsap
C Al Jefferson
Officials: Bill Spooner, John Goble, Kevin Scott
TV/radio: 9 p.m. Comcast SportsNet /NBATV/ WEEI 93.7 FM
• DJ White still hasn't been cleared to play and it's uncertain if he will be available for Friday's home game against the Golden State Warriors. The Celtics still have not received clearance from his team in China.
• Coach Doc Rivers said the Celtics likely won't practice for the next two days to give his weary players some rest. The Celtics play one game in the next seven days -- Friday vs. Golden State -- before facing the 76ers on March 5.
• For the Jazz, Mo Williams remains out rehabilitating from right thumb surgery while Raja Bell remains on the roster but hasn't played all season.
• The Jazz are 13-6 against the Celtics at EnergySolutions Arena, formerly the Delta Center.
• Rivers said he has talked with all of his veterans about logging heavy minutes and getting some rest, including Jason Terry, who is shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from the 3-point line in the past four games.
Final: Trail Blazers 92-86: Portland ends the game on a 6-0 run after Wesley Matthews drains his fifth 3-pointer of the game, handing the Celtics a difficult loss. Matthews led the Blazers with 24 while Nicolas Batum added 18 and LaMarcus Aldridge added 16. The Celtics just couldn't execute offensively tonight. Besides Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the Celtics were 18-for-50 shooting.
Fourth quarter, 1:32, Trail Blazers 89-86: Damian Lillard may have just made the play of the game with a streaking layup and free throw after Kevin Garnett tied the game with a layup. The Celtics have awoken but it may be too late. They need a basket desperately. Celtics ball.
Fourth quarter, 2:53, Trail Blazers 86-84: The Celtics are on a 10-4 run to make it close after the Blazers extended the lead to 8. Paul Pierce has played a stellar game with 23 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. The problem is the rest of his teammates are grinding, going 26-for-67 from the field. Doc Rivers called Wesley Matthews a "wild card" before the game and he has played as such, scoring 21 points.
Fourth quarter, 7:30, Trail Blazers 77-73: The Celtics just can't seem to get over the hump. They can't score consecutive baskets when they get stops or they make a turnover to blow a possession. They are in a danger zone right now where a Blazers run could seal the game.
End of third quarter, Trail Blazers 71-67: Blazers end the quarter on a 9-4 run and the Celtics have been totally frustrated tonight offensively, shooting 42 percent and getting a combined 6-for-21 shooting from the bench. Paul Pierce has a team-high 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting but surprisingly Kevin Garnett has struggled from the field despite three days off, going 5-for-12 for 10 points and five rebounds.
Third quarter, 3:04, Trail Blazers 67-63: The Celtics and Blazers were trading baskets but the Blazers have scored the last 5 points and Doc Rivers is angry with the officials yet again. He already has a technical foul and may be asking for another. Paul Pierce has 21 points for the Celtics.
Third quarter, 6:01, Trail Blazers 58-57: Celtics have made a strong push in the second half, led by Paul Pierce, who has 19 points. The Celtics are now shooting 43.6 percent and starting to loosen up offensively after playing tight in the first half.
Halftime, Trail Blazers 49-42: The Trail Blazers seem to get every break in that first half, shooting 51.4 percent and getting every 50-50 ball, including in the final 2.7 seconds when Nicolas Batum scooped up a missed shot and converted a layup to end the half. Wesley Matthews has punished the Celtics with 15 points, including two 3-pointers in the final 58.9 of the half to extend the Portland lead. Paul Pierce has 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting while his teammates are 12-for-39 for 28 points.
Second quarter, 2:35, Trail Blazers 40-32: The Celtics just can't seem to find any cohesion or chemistry offensively and they are shooting below 33 percent because of a series of missed east shots. Jordan Crawford is 0-for-4 shooting and Jeff Green is 2-for-8.
Second quarter, 7:50, Trail Blazers 33-25: It's turning into one of those games for the Celtics after they started off so strongly. They have scored 14 points in the past 12 minutes while Portland has heated up from the field. They are shooting 62 percent from the field and have been to the free throw line nine times. The Celtics are now down to 37 percent shooting.
End of first quarter, Trail Blazers 27-21: The Celtics were actually up 11-4, meaning Portland ended the quarter on a 23-10 run that was more a byproduct of hot shooting and a couple of tough calls that caused Doc Rivers to pick up his fifth technical foul of the season. The Blazers shot 63 percent and reached the free throw line nine times. Rivers was incensed by two separate foul calls on Portland 3-point attempts.
First quarter, 3:16, Trail Blazers 20-19: Portland is now hot from the field, shooting 62 percent as the duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum have combined for 17 points. The Celtics are making mistakes on offense and allowing Aldridge to get settled in the paint on defense.
First quarter, 7:22, Celtics 11-9: Celtics off to another strong start after 5 straight points from Paul Pierce, 4 points from Kevin Garnett and a bucket from Avery Bradley. Pierce just picked up his second foul and has been replaced by Jeff Green. Nicolas Batum has 5 points and JJ Hickson just scored a layup.
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Kevin Garnett is back in the lineup as the Celtics try to notch their second consecutive victory against the Trail Blazers, who have lost seven straight games, including a 111-107 decision to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. The Celtics took Saturday off and welcomed newcomer DJ White, who still isn't eligible to play because of paperwork from his Chinese team.
BOSTON CELTICS (29-26)
PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (25-30)
PG Damian Lillard
SG Wesley Matthews
SF Nicolas Batum
PF LaMarcus Aldridge
C JJ Hickson
Officials: Monty McCutchen, Tony Brown, Eric Dalen
TV/radio: 9 p.m. Comcast SportsNet /WEEI 93.7 FM
• White still hasn't been cleared to play but he was present at shootaround and could play Monday against the Utah Jazz. He will wear uniform #12.
• The Celtics will get three days after after this West Coast road trip before playing the Golden State Warriors on Friday. Coach Doc Rivers said that period will be used to get newcomers Jordan Crawford, Terrence Williams and White some practice time and reps learning the system.
• To make room for newly acquired Eric Maynor, the Trail Blazers waived point guard Ronnie Price. Maynor is active and will wear #6.
• The Celtics lead the overall series with the Trail Blazers 62-39 and 27-23 in Portland. Portland hasn't beaten the Celtics at Rose Garden since Dec. 30, 2008.
• Rivers said Williams is a point guard although he has played shooting guard in his career. Williams getting time at that position should allow Jason Terry to play strictly shooting guard.
Final: Celtics 113-88: A sparkling effort following two tough losses as the Celtics coast and were able to give Kevin Garnett a night of rest. Jeff Green was stellar with 31 points on 11-for-14 shooting with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. And a rejuvenated Chris Wilcox helps out with 14 points and eight rebounds while Avery Bradley and Jason Terry each add 13. Goran Dragic led the Suns with 19 points. Jordan Crawford added 10 points in 17 minutes in his Boston debut.
Fourth quarter, 2:43, Celtics 110-82: The fans are filing out of US Airways Center but there is a vocal crowd of Celtics fans chanting "Let's go Boston" to the chagrin of the Phoenix faithful. Jeff Green has 31 points, his most as a Celtics while Chris Wilcox has 12 points and seven rebounds. Avery Bradley and Jason Terry each have 13 points.
Fourth quarter, 8:12, Celtics 89-74: The Celtics led by as many as 19 but after two uncontested layups by the Suns, Doc Rivers called timeout to settle his players. It's been a solid offensive night for the Celtics, who are shooting 53.7 percent while Phoenix is at 44.9. Goran Dragic leads Phoenix with 15 points while Jeff Green has 24.
End of third quarter, Celtics 81-67: The Celtics end the quarter on a 28-19 run to extend the lead to 14 on a night where Jeff Green can't be stopped. He is scoring on anyone Phoenix coach Lindsey Hunter throws at him. He's got 24 points on 8-for-11 shooting while Avery Bradley is breaking out of a slump with 13 points.
Third quarter, 4:10 Celtics 69-57: Phoenix cut the Celtics' lead to 5 with a 7-0 run to begin the second half but the Celtics are forcing turnovers and scoring off the Suns' questionable defense. The Celtics went on a 12-4 run to extend the lead back to 12 as Jeff Green has been brilliant with 19 points in 25 minutes. No other Celtic is in double figures.
Halftime, Celtics 53-41:It was a strong half for the Kevin Garnett-less Celtics, who shot 47.6 percent and got 15 points from the versatile Jeff Green as they led the entire first 24 minutes. The Celtics jumped out to a 16-3 lead and staved off various Phoenix runs. The Suns are shooting 39.5 percent and are led by 8 points from Goran Dragic.
Second quarter, 5:59, Celtics 43-33: The Celtics are scoring at will against the porous Phoenix defense, making 17 of 31 shots. Chris Wilcox, whom Doc Rivers said has to play better with the departure of Jason Collins, has 8 points and four rebounds. Jeff Green leads the Celtics, wearing white tonight with Phoenix in its throwback black uniforms.
End of first quarter, Celtics 28-20: Celtics led by as many as 13, Suns cut the lead to 5 and the Celtics, behind Jeff Green, made a late-quarter push. Green has 13 points and is playing like the type of player the Celtics need when Kevin Garnett is out. The Celtics shot 57.9 percent in the quarter but committed seven personal fouls. Goran Dragic has 6 for Phoenix.
First quarter, 5:09, Celtics 16-9: The Suns are on a 6-0 run, thanks to 6 points from Markeiff Morris and the Celtics are 1 for their past 4 from the field, although they are still 7 for 11. Courtney Lee has 5 points for the Celtics while Jeff Green is taking advantage of his matchup with the slower Luis Scola with 6 points.
First quarter, 7:50, Celtics 13-2: The Celtics are off to a rousing start despite the absence of Kevin Garnett. The Celtics speed without Garnett is bothering the Suns, who who their first basket at the 8:18 mark. The Celtics are 6-for-7 shooting with one turnover. Phoenix is 1-for-6 with three turnovers.
PHOENIX -- Kevin Garnett missed his first game of the season Friday, sitting out to rest against the Suns here at the U.S. Airways Center.
Doc Rivers said he could tell that the 36-year-old Garnett hasn’t been the same since he played a triple-overtime game against Denver Feb. 10, after which the Celtics played in Charlotte the following night and against Chicago two days later.
“I just think since that game, you can see he’s been tired,” Rivers said.
Rivers said Garnett didn’t disagree when Rivers spoke to him about sitting out.
“He was fine with it, which told me it was the right thing,” Rivers said. “He didn’t put up a fight at all, and that tells you we were probably a game or two too late. We should’ve done it a game earlier.”
Garnett will probably sit at least one or two more times before the playoffs, Rivers said.
Going forward, Rivers acknowledged that over the next 27 games, health and rest will be more of a focus as the Celtics prepare for a potential playoff run.
“Listen, we’re not going to be a one seed,” he said. “We know that. We just want to be a seed. We’ve got a lot of road games. We’ve got to win games. The neat thing is we’re very close to the fifth seed. It’s going to be health now, for sure, for us.”
Entering Friday, the Celtics sat in sevemth place in the Eastern Conference standings, two games behind Atlanta for sixth place and three games behind Chicago for fifth place.
PHOENIX – Thin on their frontline, the Celtics are close to signing 6-foot-9-inch D.J. White, a four-year NBA veteran who most recently played in China.
The Celtics hadn’t officially signed White as of Friday, when they played the Phoenix Suns here, but Doc Rivers said, “We pretty much think it’s a done deal.”
There are paperwork issues to be filled out, just as there were with Terrence Williams, who signed a 10-day contract with the Celtics after playing in China. However, Rivers said he’s been told White’s case will be “easier” than Williams’s.
It’s unclear what deal the Celtics plan to sign White to, but regardless, his presence would help shore up a frontline that is two centers deep: Chris Wilcox and Fab Melo.
The Celtics’ frontline lost a center Thursday when they traded veteran center Jason Collins and guard Leandro Barbosa to Washington for guard Jordan Crawford.
White played at Indiana University with Crawford and then was drafted in the first round by Detroit in 2009. He was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he played 42 games in three seasons, averaging 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds.
White was traded to Charlotte in 2011, and he played 72 games for the Bobcats, averaging 8.2 points and 4.4 rebounds. And in 32 games for the Shanghai Sharks this season, White has averaged 21.6 points and 9.7 rebounds.
PHOENIX -- The Celtics will be shorthanded again tonight, as Doc Rivers decided to rest Kevin Garnett, without much resistance, after he looked tired Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers. That means Garnett will get three full days rest entering Sunday's game at Portland. Jeff Green will start in place of Garnett and will likely have to defend Marcin Gortat along with Brandon Bass.
BOSTON CELTICS (28-26)
PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
PF Jeff Green
PHOENIX SUNS (18-37)
PG Goran Dragic
SG Jared Dudley
SF PJ Tucker
PF Luis Scola
C Marcin Gortat
Officials: Joe Crawford, Curtis Blair, David Guthrie
TV/radio: 9 p.m. Comcast SportsNet /WEEI 93.7 FM
• Jordan Crawford will be active for the Celtics tonight and wear jersey #27. Crawford is expected to play, according to Doc Rivers.
• The Celtics will spend the night in Phoenix and fly to Portland on Saturday afternoon. They will face the Trail Blazers on Sunday and Jazz on Monday.
• Rivers confirmed that the club will sign former Bobcat and Thunder forward DJ White, likely to a 10-day contract. White spent this season in China after a productive season last year in Charlotte.
• Newly acquired Marcus Morris will be active for the Suns. Hamed Haddadi, acquired from Toronto, is inactive.
• Rivers said the Celtics are still in search of a big man to fill the roster. The Celtics lack another center with Jason Collins going to Washington in the Crawford deal.
PHOENIX -- Newly acquired guard Jordan Crawford will make his debut with the Boston Celtics here Friday night against the Phoenix Suns. Crawford will wear No. 27.
"Just to come in, be myself, compete and help this team," said Crawford, who the Celtics received in a trade Thursday with Washington. "They are doing a great job, pulling out a lot of wins with a depleted lineup. Just come in and try to help with whatever they need."
What the Celtics need is a scorer -- and that's Crawford.
The Celtics acquired him by trading the expiring contract of injured guard Barbosa and center Jason Collins. Crawford, 24, averaged 13.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 43 games for Washington this season.
With the return of John Wall and the development of rookie Bradley Beal, Crawford was reluctant to accept a bench role and clashed with Wizards coach Randy Wittman.
Crawford said a change of scenery should help, especially one with a veteran locker room and a winning team. Among those Celtics veterans is Kevin Garnett, whom Crawford had a well publicized run-in with during a pickup game during the lockout.
Garnett reportedly smacked Crawford's head after the guard did a bit too much trash-talking on the court. Crawford downplayed the incident.
"It was never a thing. It was just basketball," said Crawford. "Now we’re on the [same] team, hopefully I can help them."
Added Crawford: "I think, just to see [Garnett's] intensity every game, it should help you get up every game, allow you to bring your best. He’s been doing it for this long, so it’ll be great."
Offense is Crawford's speciality, not defense. He is also a shooter who lacks a conscious, meaning he'll often shoot less than ideal shots.
"Listen, he’s a scorer," Doc Rivers said. "Most scorers don’t have a conscious -- and that’s a good thing. What you try to teach him is the different between a good [shot] and a bad one.
"But you don’t want to take away –- if he’s a great scorer, great scorers make bad shots. So a lot of times you just live with it, unless you think it’s hurting the team."
Defensively, Rivers said he won't try to change Crawford's identity; he'll just insert him into the Celtics system.
Crawford said he was nervous when he found out he'd been traded to Boston.
"Boston Celtics," he said. "That carries a lot of weight."
LOS ANGELES -- With Leandro Barbosa out, the Celtics needed another guard who could score, and they believe they acquired that Thursday by trading for Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford. But Crawford's character does raise red flags, as he clashed with Wizards coach Randy Wittman and fell out of the rotation during his time in Washington.
"The good thing and the bad thing I hear about him is his confidence," Doc Rivers said. "You rarely say that, but it’s tough for him there to buy into a role because he looked at himself as, ‘I’m better than them.’ I’m hoping that we don’t have that issue here. Obviously if we do, then it will be a problem."
The Celtics acquired Crawford by trading the expiring contract of injured guard Barbosa and center Jason Collins. Crawford, 24, averaged 13.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 43 games for Washington this season. Rivers said he doesn't know if Crawford will be with the Celtics when they play the Suns in Phoenix Friday.
"He hasn’t been a great defender, but he’s an athlete," Rivers said. "I always look at an athlete (as) if you’re an athlete, then you can be a defender. That’s one thing I’ve always had no problem with. If you’re not an athlete, that’s an issue. But if you are an athlete, then you can beat people off the dribble and you can hold people from beating you off the dribble."
Rivers lamented the loss of Collins, a little-used veteran center.
"Let me just say this: We lost a very important guy in our locker room in Jason," Rivers said. "You take away that and then you add something else, you just never know with your locker room. That was very difficult for me.
"I protect my locker room. And to let a guy go like that out of your locker room, for me that was hard to do. Really hard. And obviously if Barbosa doesn’t go down, it wouldn’t have happened. But he did go down and we’re had to do something."
Losing a center leaves the Celtics with two true centers in Chris Wilcox and Fab Melo, though Garnett is listed as a center despite that he often plays a power forward position. Rivers said they didn't want to give away a center, but it was the only way that they could ended up getting a guard.
As for how they'll deal with so few centers, Rivers said Garnett will sit a lot more during games.
"Those are the games that will be an issue for us," Rivers said. "We’ll be really small. We may have to add a D-League guy. I would be surprised if Kevin played all three of these games coming up. That puts a lot of pressure on us. It’s what we’re going to have to do."
Rivers said he wasn't sure how they'd add another center, but that they'd try to find one either in the D-League or on the waiver wire when players start getting bought out in the next few days.
There was plenty of speculation around this trade deadline involving Garnett and Paul Pierce, but nothing ultimately happened involving either of them.
"Nothing was really going to happen," Rivers said. "I didn’t think it was. There’s always talk. The difference now between 10 years ago is people know about the talk now. It hasn’t changed, it’s just people know about it now."
Rivers spent the morning playing golf at a course in Bel Air, but he said it was hard to stay focused with everything that was going on.
"It was actually the wrong day to play," he said.
LOS ANGELES -- Jason Collins received a text message from a friend Thursday, asking about a trade. Collins then called his agent and confirmed it: he'd been shipped from the Boston Celtics to the Washington Wizards. A few minutes later, Collins, a center, received a call from Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
Collins was shipped out along with the expiring contract of injured guard Leandro Barbosa in return for Wizards shooting guard Jordan Crawford.
"It's not the first time I've been traded," said Collins, who has now been traded seven times.
Collins is moving from a team likely headed for the playoffs to one that is 15-37. When asked if he'd waive his contract, Collins said that was up to his agent. He added, "For me, I have a responsibility to honor my contract and move forward from there."
As a free agent, Collins signed a 1-year contract worth about $850,000 with the Celtics in July 2012. He played 32 games for the Celtics, averaging 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per game.
Of his time with the Celtics, "I enjoyed every minute of it. Playing with future Hall of Famers, playing for a future Hall of Fame coach, in my opinion, in Doc Rivers – one of the best coaches in the league. I learned a lot even for someone who’s played 12 years in this league. I’m still learning new things every single day. I learned a lot from him. It was an honor to play for one of the greatest organizations in the history of the NBA."
Like the Jordan Crawford move? Wish Danny Ainge had done more? Vote in our survey below.
Here's a deeper look at guard Jordan Crawford, whom the Celtics acquired in exchange for Jason Collins and Leandro Barbosa's expiring contract:
-- Crawford averaged 13.2 points in 26 minutes per game for the Wizards this season. Crawford's scoring average would rank third among active Celtics behind Paul Pierce (18.4) and Kevin Garnett (15.0). Rajon Rondo was averaging 13.7 prior to his injury.
-- Crawford is shooting 41.5 percent from the field and 34.5 percent on 3-pointers this season, both career highs. He is averaging 3.7 assists this season but also 2.3 turnovers.
-- Crawford shot 46 percent in 31 games off the bench this season and 35 percent in 12 games as a starter. He has made almost twice as many unassisted field goals (134) than assisted (77). You can view his shot chart for the season on the left.
-- His Win Shares Per 48 Minutes rating of 0.59 would rank 13th on the Celtics, between Jeff Green and Collins.
-- Some weird sample-size shooting numbers: Crawford is 6 for 6 on step-back jump shots and 19 of 21 on runners.
-- A little insight into the kind of personality the Celtics are getting. Here's a story out of Washington about Crawford pouting on the bench during a recent game:
-- You can follow Jordan Crawford on Twitter (@jcraw55).
LOS ANGELES -- The Celtics have acquired the bench scorer they were looking for, trading the expiring contract of injured guard Leandro Barbosa and center Jason Collins to the Washington Wizards for shooting guard Jordan Crawford, according to NBA sources.
Crawford, 24, averaged 13.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 43 games for Washington this season. But he's known as a streaky shooter and has experienced a major slump, having been benched for Washington's last four games. The 6-foot-4-inch Crawford has two years left on his rookie contract after being selected 27th overall by Atlanta in 2010.
He is a career 40 percent shooter and is 29.9 percent from the 3-point line (34.5 percent this season). The acquisition of Crawford means the Celtics are not only padding their roster for this season but also adding help for the future. Collins averaged 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 32 games, providing depth but not much more.
In Washington, Crawford clashed with coach Randy Wittman and fell out of the rotation, making him expendable.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Tuesday that the team was holding on to Barbosa's contract as a potential trade chip with the NBA trade deadline on Thursday afternoon. Barbosa tore his left anterior cruciate ligament Feb. 11 in Charlotte and will miss the rest of the season.
For some perspective on this year, here are the trade deadline deals the Celtics have made recently:
2012: No trades.
2011: Celtics trade Marquis Daniels to Sacramento; Celtics trade Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland; Celtics trade Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.
2010: Celtics send J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, and Eddie House to the Knicks for Marcus Landry and Nate Robinson.
2009: Celtics trade Patrick O'Bryant to the Raptors.
2008: No trades.
The last big deadline move was clearly the Perkins-for-Green trade. During the summer of 2007, the Celtics sent Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, and Sebastian Telfair to the Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett. They sent Wally Sczcerbiak and Delonte West to Seattle in exchange for Ray Allen and the rights to Glen Davis on draft night in 2007.
Final: Lakers 113-99: A tough night for the Celtics, who just couldn't get defensive stops as the Lakers played like a motivated team after the death of owner Jerry Buss. Dwight Howard led Los Angeles with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Paul Pierce paced the Celtics with 23 but just 3 in the second half. Courtney Lee added 20. The Celtics get a day off before facing Phoenix on Friday.
Fourth quarter, 5:51, Lakers 104-88: Well the Celtics have to regroup after another tough night. This one's on the defense, which just couldn't get consistent stops. Avery Bradley had trouble with both Steve Nash and Steve Blake. The Lakers have just 11 turnovers.
Fourth quarter, 8:52, Lakers 99-80: Frustration is mounting for the Celtics, who just can't stop the Lakers offensively. Los Angeles has 48 points in the pain and 14 second-chance points and are outrebounding the Celtics 41-27. Six players have scored in double figures, led by Dwight Howard's 22. Paul Pierce has 26 for Boston but just 3 since halftime.
End of third quarter, Lakers 90-76: The Celtics make a 7-3 mini run to stay within striking distance but the need to play a remarkable fourth quarter to pull this one out. The Lakers were 11-for-19 shooting in the quarter and six players have scored in double figures. The Celtics are led by Paul Pierce with 26 but just 3 in the third quarter, all on free throws.
Third quarter, 2:50, Lakers 85-67: Just one of those nights for the Celtics where they can't stop the Lakers from doing anything. They are actually playing decent offensively but the Lakers are 10-for-15 shooting in the quarter and five players have scored in double figures. Dwight Howard has 22 points and 10 rebounds. Kobe Bryant has 16 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists. Paul Pierce has 24 for the Celtics but 1 point in the quarter while Courtney Lee has 15 for the Celtics.
Third quarter, 7:53, Lakers 75-57: Los Angeles is playing flawless ball, using crisp ball movement and the resurgence of Dwight Howard to stomp the Celtics to begin the third quarter. The Celtics are 1-for-5 shooting with two turnovers in the quarter. They need instant offense or this could turn into a blowout.
Halftime, Lakers 64-55: The Lakers are hitting some tough shots, such as Kobe Bryant hits a turnaround 15-footer with 4.6 seconds left to cap a stellar offensive half. The Lakers shot 51.1 percent, hit five 3-pointers and committed just four turnovers. The Celtics shot 49 percent and committed just five turnovers. But the Lakers have attempted 18 free throws to Boston's four. Paul Pierce has 23 points, no other Celtic is in double figures.
Second quarter, 2:54, Lakers 55-48: The Celtics are slowly climbing back into the game but they have no answer for Dwight Howard, who has 15 points and seven rebounds. Kobe Bryant has 12 but just 2 in the quarter. Steve Nash has been especially effective offensively with 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including a shake move on Avery Bradley for an open jumper. Paul Pierce has brought his "A" game tonight with 18 points. Kevin Garnett has 8.
Second quarter, 5:44, Lakers 47-39: The Celtics are playing better defense, holding the Lakers to 4-for-12 shooting in the quarter but they are 5-for-15 themselves, missing easy layups. Kevin Garnett just missed two free throws while Jeff Green is back to inconsistent self with six misses in eight attempts. Paul Pierce's shot is going down tonight. He leads all scorers with 15 points.
Second quarter, 8:41, Lakers 41-33: Second quarter, 8:41, Lakers 41-33: Celtics are on a 6-0 run against the Lakers bench as the play is getting frantic. The Celtics are taking care of the ball but they are missing layups. Jeff Green is 2-for-7 shooting while Courtney Lee is getting clean looks and needs to knock down his short jumpers. Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 12 points.
End of first quarter, Lakers 36-27: Doc Rivers despises when opponents score 30 points in a quarter, so what do you think he feels about the Lakers' 36-point barrage. Los Angeles shot 52.2 percent and attempted 12 free throws to the Celtics' two. And one of those Boston free throws was on a defensive 3-second call. So the Celtics have a long road ahead if they plan to rally. Paul Pierce has 10 for the Celtics on 4-for-6 shooting while Kevin Garnett has 6 and Jeff Green 4.
Dwight Howard led Los Angeles with 12 points, exceeding his total from the previous meeting and Kobe Bryant has 10.
First quarter, 3:33, Lakers 25-17: The run is 14-2 for the Lakers, who are feeding off the crowd while the Celtics can't even get into their offense. The Celtics are still shooting 7 of 14 from the field but have four turnovers and have one field goal in the past four minutes.
First quarter, 6:41, Lakers 16-15: The good news for the Celtics is Paul Pierce is off to a hot start with 8 points, including a 3-pointer and a pull-up jumper. Dwight Howard already has 8 for Los Angeles and Kobe Bryant with 5. It's obvious the Lakers are trying to get Howard involved early. Howard already has four rebounds.
LOS ANGELES -- It has already been an emotional night with a pre-game tribute to owner Jerry Buss, who passed away on Monday, Kobe Bryant said some moving words about the owner and the Celtics were soundly booed as they were introduced.
LOS ANGELES -- It's going to be an emotional night here at Staples Center, which will give late Lakers owner Jerry Buss a fitting tribute prior to the matchup with the Celtics. As for Boston, it is dealing with drama of its own generated by trade rumors that have involved Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and even Fab Melo. All three are still Celtics.
BOSTON CELTICS (28-25)
PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (25-29)
PG Steve Nash
SG Kobe Bryant
SF Metta World Peace
PF Earl Clark
C Dwight Howard
Officials: Scott Foster, Mark Ayotte, Gary Zielinski
TV/radio: 10:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet /ESPN/WEEI 93.7 FM
• The Celtics received letter of clearance from the Guangdong Southern Tigers, officially making Terrence Williams a Celtic. Doc Rivers said he has no idea if Williams will play. He will wear jersey #55.
• The Celtics will spend the night in Los Angeles and fly to Phoenix on Thursday evening, meaning the players will spent the trade deadline in LA. The deadline is at 3 p.m. ET.
• With 28 games left, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said his club will have to win 20 games to make the playoffs. But with the eighth-seeded Rockets making making moves, it is uncertain if they will drop in the standings, allowing the Lakers to make a run.
• Kevin Garnett passed former Net and Blazer Buck Williams for 11th all-time in games play with 1,308. Garnett should pass Moses Malone (1,329) for 10th later this season.
• A scout with special interest in this game is Jarron Collins of the Clippers, who is the brother of the Celtics' Jason Collins. He said they still talk at least once a day.
Final: Nuggets 94-90: The Celtics just couldn't execute down the stretch and Kevin Garnett missed a tough bank shot that would have cut the deficit to 2 and the Celtics were forced to foul. Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson were the keys with 26 points a piece. Jeff Green led Boston with 20 points and Avery Bradley had 17 but just 5 after the break.
Fourth quarter, 40.5, Nuggets 94-90: The Celtics have withstood the Nuggets trying to apply that final blow with a 3-pointer and responded with 4 straight points. Kenneth Faried just missed two free throws, giving the Celtics the ball and they need to score quickly. Both teams are out of fouls.
Fourth quarter, 2:35, Nuggets 93-86: The Celtics are just falling short down the stretch, allowing too many second-chance points and not executing on the offensive end. In the last sequence, Kevin Garnett missed two free throws, Courtney Lee rebounded the second miss but the Celtics turned the ball over again. Kenneth Faried then scooped up a rebound on an Andre Miller miss and scored it. The Nuggets have 13 second-chance points. Celtics ball.
Fourth quarter, 4:46, Nuggets 89-84: A tough sequence as Avery Bradley hits a tying 3-pointer and then Danilo Gallinari comes back with a 3-pointer off the dribble and after a Kevin Garnett miss, Ty Lawson, the smallest man on the court, grabs an offensive rebound and scores a putback for a 5-point lead. The Celtics need something from Paul Pierce, who is 2-for-12 shooting and a minus-22.
Fourth quarter, 8:30, Nuggets 80-79: The Celtics are playing with passion to begin the quarter, as the Nuggets are 0-for-5 from the field while the Celtics are 3-for-5 and Jeff Green has the past 5 points, including a 3-pointer to force a Denver timeout. Green has a game high 16 points off the bench while Courtney Lee has 15 for Boston.
End of third quarter, Nuggets 78-70: The Nuggets end the quarter on a 23-10 run as everything seemingly went their way while the Celtics missed shots they hit in the first half. After a 21-point first quarter, the Nuggets have 57 in the past two and the Celtics were 6-for-19 from the field in the quarter. The Celtics need a push from Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who have a combined 18 points.
Third quarter, 2:51, Nuggets 73-67: The game is slowly slipping away because the Celtics have no answer for Ty Lawson or Danilo Gallinari, who have combined for 15 points in the quarter and Gallinari has hit two 3-pointers. The Celtics are 6-for-15 shooting in the quarter and after combining for 24 points in the first half, Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley have 3 in the quarter.
Third quarter, 6:00, Nuggets 62-60: The Celtics are playing well but they are letting the Nuggets stay close at the free throw line. The Nuggets are getting some calls while the Celtics have attempted four free throws all evening. Danilo Gallinari just hit a 3-pointer off a fastbreak for a 2-point Denver lead and the Nuggets are 5-for-12 from the 3-point line.
Halftime, Celtics 50-49: Courtney Lee drains a 17-foot jumper at the buzzer to give the Celtics the lead in a first half they mostly controlled. The Nuggets have played well in spurts but the Celtics are hitting shots consistently and have gotten a combined 24 from Lee and Avery Bradley. Danilo Gallinari leads Denver with 13 points but has received some generous calls on forced shots while Ty Lawson has 12. Denver has also stayed close by hitting four 3-pointers.
Second quarter, 1:30, Celtics 48-45: The Celtics are using strong defense and crisp ball movement to stay ahead. And Paul Pierce only has 3 points but Jeff Green has contributed 6 off the bench as the Celtics are shooting 52.5 percent.
Second quarter, 4:39, Tied at 39: The Celtics have led by as many as 9 points but the Nuggets are on a 12-3 run as they have picked up the pace. Andre Miller has burned the Celtics for 10 points off the bench while Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee have teamed for 22. Brandon Bass has seven rebounds in less than 14 minutes.
First quarter, 2:33, Celtics 20-14: The Celtics are shooting 56.3 percent from the field and appear comfortable in the altitude, especially Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee, who have combined for 10 points. The Nuggets look flat and uninterested, missing 13 of 19 shots. The Celtics have hurt themselves with three turnovers already.
First quarter, 5;00, Celtics 16-11: The Celtics are playing a probably a faster pace than they'd like to but they are 7-for-13 shooting and Avery Bradley is off to a fast start with 6 points. Denver isn't playing much defense so far but Danilo Gallinari is keeping the Nuggets close with 9 points.
DENVER -- It's the first day of the second half and the Celtics begin a rugged five-game road trip that takes them to Denver, Los Angeles, Portland, Phoenix and Utah. All the games are winnable but all the opponents play considerably better at home. The Nuggets will be looking for blood after the Celtics' triple-overtime victory on Feb. 11. The Celtics have added Terrence Williams but won't play tonight because he has not received clearance from his Chinese team.
BOSTON CELTICS (28-24)
PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
DENVER NUGGETS (33-21)
PG Ty Lawson
SG Andre Iguodala
SF Danilo Gallinari
PF Kenneth Faried
C Kosta Koufos
Officials: Mike Callahan, Pat Fraher, JT Orr
TV/radio: 9 p.m. Comcast SportsNet /NBA TV/WEEI 93.7 FM
• The Celtics are waiting for a letter of clearance from the Guangdong Southern Tigers so Williams can play and won't even announce the signing until that happens.
• Practice on Monday at the University of Denver was bizarre with Chris Wilcox having to play small forward at times. But Doc Rivers said what's left of his roster is healthy.
• The Nuggets are on a three-game losing streak after dropping games to the Celtics, Raptors and Nets to end the first half. Denver plays 17 of its final 28 games at Pepsi Center, where it is 22-3.
• Kevin Garnett will pass former Net and Blazer Buck Williams for 11th all-time in games play with 1,308. Garnett should pass Moses Malone (1,329) for 10th later this season.
• The Celtics are fourth in the league in points allowed per game since Jan. 1 with 92.6. They were 17th through the season's first two months.
DENVER -- Terrence Williams joined the Celtics for their morning shootaround here Tuesday, but he's currently awaiting a letter of clearance from his former team in China before he can begin playing with the Celtics.
Until that process is completed, Williams, whom the Celtics signed to a 10-day contract Monday, cannot participate in basketball activities with his new team.
"Sometimes that’s quick, sometimes that’s a long process," said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. "We’re trying to finalize that paperwork. I’m hopeful that it will get done soon."
The Celtics have 13 players on their active roster, one over the league minimum, but three of them have suffered season-ending injuries.
Williams, a 6-foot-6-inch wing player who has played with three NBA teams, will be a vital addition, if only because he will help the team more evenly distribute minutes.
DENVER -- The NBA trade deadline is 3 p.m. Thursday and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge doesn't think the Celtics will have made a deal by then.
"It looks unlikely that anything will be done, other than possibly some players we will add to our roster," Ainge said, adding that he wasn't sure if they'd add them through free agency.
Of course, if the Celtics were on the verge of making a move, Ainge, who spoke to reporters Tuesday in Denver, probably wouldn't go on the record about it -- right now, anyway.
"There’s been a lot of conversation around the league and we’ve certainly been very busy at it, but trades are very challenging to make," Ainge said. "And then on top of it is, we like our guys. I like watching this team play. I like the personalities of our team. We just need to find a way to give them the best chance to win with the resources we have."
Ainge said that compared to previous years, the Celtics have definitely been more active in trade talks this year.
"This year has been much more, just because we’ve had injuries," he said. "We wouldn’t be talking as much if we didn’t have as many injuries.
"We’re looking to give it a run. When trade rumors come out that leads to a lot of (discussion) too. (Rajon) Rondo’s name comes out and Paul (Pierce)’s name comes out. KG (Kevin Garnett)’s name comes out. You have to field a lot of waste-of-time calls from media and other teams.
"Sometimes the teams just try to predict what a team is trying to accomplish: Are the Celtics trying to win a championship this year or are they trying to retool? Because we’re sort of in that middle, could go in either direction place, that leads to a lot of calls as well.
"My first choice is always to try to win now, especially when you have unique players like KG and Paul," Ainge said. "That’s always the best option. But the injuries have at least allowed me to ponder other possibilities. It’s still going to be tough to convince me that’s what we need to do."
Ainge added that if there was some serious trade buzz, then it's "probably cooling down."
"I've gotten answers from a lot of places on a lot of things that aren't going to happen -- unless somebody springs something on you at the last minute, but that doesn't usually happen," he said.
Said Ainge: "I’m not looking to give up any of our players. We have a limited roster right now and I like all our guys. It’s just a matter of, is there a better fit, is there a position need. I don’t really think that there are. It’s just, can we improve our team?
"At the same time, I’m not giving Jared Sullinger away because he’s hurt. That’s a challenge. And I’m not trading Rajon Rondo away for discounted dollars because he’s hurt. We collectively as an organization have decided not to do that."
So soon after Valentine's Day, it seems unfair that the NBA trade deadline has such a firm grip on our emotions. This year is particularly gut-wrenching for Celtics fans. Instead of checking your tweets for the rumor that might bring a key piece back to Boston for a championship run, you're likely shielding your eyes from the potential of a trade that could send Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce out of town and trigger the rebuilding process.
For the first time since Garnett arrived here in 2007, the Celtics are one deal away from drastically altering the basketball landscape in town. That may be a good thing or a bad thing, but it won't be a fast thing. If the Celtics pull off a trade before Thursday's deadline, we're unlikely to fully understand its implications -- or even name a winner or a loser -- for some time.
As much as we're captured by the annual hysteria of deadline week, the hype rarely pans out. Before last year's deadline the Celtics were rumored to be dealing Ray Allen but never pulled the trigger. Instead, the biggest moves the team made were signing Sean Williams and Ryan Hollins. Only once in the Garnett era have the Celtics been active at the deadline, sending Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green in 2011. The year before that Boston acquired Robinson and sent J.R. Giddens, Eddie House, and Bill Walker to the Knicks. In 2009 they sent Patrick O'Bryant to the Toronto Raptors, and in 2008, the year they won the title, they eschewed a big deal and signed P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell to help down the stretch.
The most interesting player out there is probably Josh Smith, who could help the Celtics both now and in the future (if he re-signs in Boston). Lots of teams would love to have Smith, which makes a deal increasingly unlikely. Lots of teams would also love to have Garnett, who can veto any potential move. Samuel Dalembert, J.J. Redick, Timofey Mozgov, and Robin Lopez could all help the Celtics, but none of those players puts them over the top.
What if the Celtics don't make a major deal? What if they roll the dice and see what happens with this recently-inspired unit? From my perspective, whether or not the Celtics are able to pull off a deal Thursday, major changes are coming sooner rather than later. The team is closer to a major shakeup than a title. Putting it off may make fans feel better for the time being, but it isn't going to get the Celtics closer to where they want to be in the long term. It's easy to forget that only six years ago the Celtics were 24-58. Doc Rivers was the coach of that team, which featured promising young talent like Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Al Jefferson, and Tony Allen. Rebuilding is never easy.
There isn't a whole column here, but I'm interested in your thoughts this week. Do you want the Celtics to make a major move Thursday? Will you accept a couple years of bad basketball if it improves the team in the long run? Do you think the Celtics can avoid being bad entirely if they play their cards right? Leave a comment and vote in our survey below.
The Celtics are close to signing former Nets swingman Terrence Williams to a 10-day contract, according to an NBA source.
The deal is nearly done, according to the source, with Williams awaiting clearance from his former team before joining the Celtics in Denver for Tuesday's game.
The former lottery pick, drafted 11th overall by the New Jersey Nets in 2009, was playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in China before leaving the team abruptly last week. He had also played for the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets.
Final: West 143-138: The game lacked real suspense at the end. The Eastern Conference made a couple of runs but Chris Paul with 20 points and 15 assists was brilliant while Kevin Durant led all scorers with 30 points. Carmelo Anthony finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds for the East. Kevin Garnett played just six minutes and finished with three rebounds and one assist. East coach Erik Spoelstra gave his rival forward plenty of rest.
End of third quarter, West 108-104: The game is moving along pretty uneventfully. Kevin Garnett has not played since the first quarter and his night appears done. Kevin Durant leads the Western Conference with 24 points as they are shooting 54.7 percent while Dwyane Wade leads the East with 21. Carmelo Anthony has 17 points and LeBron James has 18. Chris Paul has 11 points and 13 assists. Durant is the early favorite for MVP.
Halftime, West 69-65: Kevin Durant leads all scorers with 19 points and Blake Griffin has 12, all on dunks as the West shot 56.4 percent and scored 48 points in the
[paint, a testament to the lack of defense. Dwyane Wade has 12 for the East while LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have 10 apiece. Kevin Garnett played those six first-quarter minutes with three rebounds and an assist. Chris Bosh has shot three airballs and is 2-for-7 shooting. Not a good night so far.
End of first quarter, West 31-26: It's a pretty typical all-star game with high-flying dunks and spectacular plays, save two airballs by Chris Bosh that drew boos from the Toyota Center crowd. Kevin Durant leads the West with 7 points while Chris Paul has 3 points and four assist. For the East, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony each have 7 and no other East player has more than two.
Kevin Garnett played six first-period minutes with three rebounds and one assists and missing both of his shot attempts.
Finally folks were about to tipoff. Don't expect Kevin Garnett to play a lot of minutes. He mentioned prior to the game that he may play six or seven minutes. All the intros and anthems are done and we'll update the game after every quarter.
HOUSTON – In an expected and in what many players felt was a necessary move, the National Basketball Association Players Association ousted executive director Billy Hunter on Saturday afternoon, as president Derek Fisher made the announcement in a brief press conference at a downtown hotel.
Fisher said he will remain president of the NBPA with San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner as vice president. The move to remove Hunter is yet another chapter in what has become an internal melodrama plagued by infighting in the union.
In April 2012, the executive committee voted 8-0 to ask Fisher for his resignation, the first major sign there was a power struggle and dissension between Fisher and Hunter. Fisher refused to resign and instead called for an investigation into Hunter’s tactics as executive director.
In January, an independent firm investigated several accusations of Hunter and the union and released a scathing review of Hunter’s conduct as executive director. And although no criminal or illegal actions were discovered, the report called for several major changes in the union, accusing Hunter of nepotism, ratifying his lucrative contract extension without full union approval, taking excessive vacation time, investing union money in his son’s fledging bank and also using union funds to purchase gifts for union members.
Hunter quickly fired his family members, reduced the power of his own post and adjusted other union regulations but many players felt the move was desperate and far too late. Celtics forward Paul Pierce, the team’s union representative, told the Globe last month that he wanted Hunter removed.
And the consensus amongst many player representatives around the league was that Hunter’s dealings as executive director called for his removal
Flanked by Denver’s Andre Iguodala, New Orleans’ Roger Mason, Miami’s James Jones and New Jersey’s Jerry Stackhouse, Fisher spoke briefly with the media and said the NBPA fully expects legal action from Hunter.
“Today for the National Basketball Players Association was a day of change,” Fisher said. “We held a meeting of the board of player representatives with many different groups of players represented. We want to make it clear that we are here to serve only the best interests of the player. No threats. No lies. No distractions will stop us from serving our membership. We do not doubt that this process will possibly continue in an ugly way but we want to remind everyone that there are three ongoing government investigations pending and so we’d like to continue to respect that process and continue to handle ourselves accordingly in that regard.
“But going forward, we’ll no longer be divided, misled, misinformed. This is our union and we’re taking it back.”
Hunter sent out a response to his removal and would not rule out legal action to retain his job.
"I have yet to receive any notification, other than published news reports, that the NBPA has terminated my employment," he said. "If accurate, it is indicative of the extremely troubling process followed by the NBPA during the past few weeks. During the days and weeks ahead, my legal team and I will begin carefully reviewing the actions taken and statements made against me in the meeting room in my absence. I look forward to gathering the evidence showing how certain individuals made sure the outcome was pre-ordained."
Hunter claims he was not allowed to attend Saturday's meeting and offer his case to remain executive director.
"After 17 years of representing NBA players during CBA negotiations and defending their rights in other proceedings, not once was there an occasion where one side was denied an opportunity to be heard," he said. "The current interim regime in control of the NBPA has set a terrible precedent for the union. It violates every tenet of fairness upon which the union was founded.
"Now that this has occurred, I will continue to examine all of my options, including whether the fairness that was absent from the NBPA process might be available in a different forum. In addition, given the legitimate legal and governance questions surrounding the eligibility of the members who voted and the adherence, or lack thereof, to the constitution and bylaws, I do not consider today's vote the end, only a different beginning. My legal representatives and I will resume communication with the NBPA to determine how to best move forward in the best interests of all parties."
HOUSTON -- Celtics forward Kevin Garnett is once again at the center of trade rumors, but he said Saturday that under no circumstances will he waive his no-trade clause.
"If it's up to me, I'm going to live and die green," Garnett said.
When told that it is up to him because of his no-trade clause, Garnett responded, "OK, then. So what are we talking about?"
Garnett said Celtics team president of basketball operations has not approached him recently to discuss any potential trades. He said he has not talked to coach Doc Rivers about any impending trades, either.
"Why would I come back and make the provisions to ride with this team to go further, only to set up to go change?" Garnett asked.
A Yahoo! Sports report Friday stated that the Celtics and Clippers have had discussions about a potential trade in which Garnett would be swapped for Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan. That same trade possibility has been reported by The Sporting News.
"I haven't talked to [Celtics president] Danny Ainge in weeks," Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told ESPN.
According to ESPN, Kupchak was asked if the Rondo-for-Howard notion was discussed the last time he spoke with Ainge and Kupchak said no, and that the concept has not been discussed at all this season.
CBSSports.com reported late Friday that the teams have had preliminary talks on a Rondo-for-Howard deal.
Howard, speaking at the NBA All-Star Game, told reporters the Lakers have told him he would not be traded.
The NBA trade deadline is Thursday.
HOUSTON -- After the Celtics beat Chicago Wednesday, Kevin Garnett said this weekend would "definitely" be his 15th and final appearance in the All-Star Game.
On Friday, Garnett spent much of the day clarifying those comments.
"It came out as me saying this was my last, but I’m not an egotistical guy or none of that, and I wasn’t just going to say that, 'Yeah, by the way, I’m going to be an All-star next year," he said. "To be honest, I’m more than grateful to be here. I’m more than humbled."
Garnett did say to the media Wednesday that "Y'all don't know what I know." That phrase seemed to alude to the possibility that the 36-year-old Garnett, who has two years left on his contract with the Celtics, may well retire after this season.
What did that mean?
"Exactly what it meant," Garnett said.
What does he know that the media doesn't know.
"That you don't know," Garnett said with a laugh.
“We don’t know what he knows," Rivers said Friday morning on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan program. "I think that he loves the game too much and is playing too well to walk away… It’s such a grind, especially for him, but I wouldn’t put too much into that.”
All-Star weekend is upon the NBA. It's the unofficial midpoint of the season and Rivers said he's happy the team will get a break.
"We're playing well, so you can make the case that we don't need a break," said Rivers. "But with the body count we have, I couldn't have found a better day or better time to have a break."
The Celtics' extensive injuries have left gaps in the lineup. Rivers said they now have to stop focusing on filling specific positions and look for an all-around player to join the team, while keeping the active players motivated. With Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa all out, it gives other players a chance to step up.
"You got to coach to the guys that are playing, you just have to," said Rivers. "You have to get the guys that are playing to understand that you expect to win still and that there are no changes."
As for trading and picking up new players, Rivers said, "we can't look at one position anymore. That's what we were doing, now we're looking at players. We need players ... If I had my perfect guard for this group right now, it would be a guard who can play multiple positions and that could shoot. We're just looking for the best available player now."
Is Fab Melo that player?
"I don't think he's ready yet. I think he's really working on it, but he's not ready yet," Rivers said.
With the Red Sox in spring training this week, Rivers even touched on his own brief baseball career.
"I probably broke my dad's heart by playing basketball; he was a baseball player. He coached me through Little League ... The one thing I'll say about baseball: the better I got at basketball, the farther I got away from the batter's box. I couldn't hit at all."
Danny Ainge noticed that Paul Pierce seemed to have some kink in his neck. The Celtics forward would turn his head and grimace. He was in pain, but he never admitted to it.
After the Celtics beat Chicago, 71-69, Wednesday at TD Garden, Pierce did admit that he's been playing with a pinched nerve in his neck for a while now.
"It's something that's been bothering me probably for like the last two months," he said. "It's getting better, though. The last couple weeks, it's been better than it has been."
The Celtics have won eight of their last nine games, and Pierce has been stellar during that run, posting two triple doubles while hitting two clutch shots that helped seal wins. For the month of February, he's averaging 18.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 7.5 assists.
Pierce added after the game that the All-Star Break was coming at a perfect time. There's no doubt that he and the rest of the Celtics could use the rest.
Kevin Garnett heads to Houston to make his 15th All-Star appearance this weekend, and he announced Wednesday night after the Celtics' beat the Bulls, 71-69, that it would “definitely” be his last such appearance.
But the 36-year-old has two years left on his contract, it was pointed out.
“Y’all don’t know what I know,” a cryptic Garnett replied.
He added, “I’m not going to act like I’ve got more All-Star games in me. I’m actually going to enjoy this one with friends and family.”
It's hard to read exactly what Garnett meant by his comments. Is he planning to retire at the end of the season? Does he honestly think he won't make another All-Star Game? It isn't clear. Garnett will be available to the media Friday in Houston. We'll update you then.
Jared Sullinger came down funny after a rebound early against Sacramento on Jan. 30. The rookie forward’s back went out. The next morning, he was in excruciating pain and could barely walk.
Doctors didn’t give him an option; they told him he’d have back surgery and miss the rest of the season. And he was OK with that.
“It was a sign of relief, to get it over with, to get everybody out of my face about my back,” Sullinger said in his first public comments since surgery, Wednesday before the Celtics played the Bulls at TD Garden.
Sullinger's back had raised red flags during the draft, and these issues are partly why he fell to the Celtics late in the first round. But Sullinger said doctors told him his back should be “good for the rest of my life.”
Sullinger, who was averaging 6 points and 5.9 rebounds, said he didn’t expect to have surgery now. Instead, maybe in two or three years.
However, when he tweaked it against Sacramento, that timeline went out the window.
For now, Sullinger said he’s spending his time on Twitter and video games. He said he plans to get a chef and a nutritionist to help keep him fit. He said he doesn’t know what his rehabilitation will be like.
“I’m kind of letting my doctors tell me what I can do now,” he said. “We have all the time in the world.”
Sullinger said he expects to be ready by next season. And he said this surgery will make him better down the line.
“Because with the back problems, I had limitations,” he said. “The doctor told me with the two disks being herniated, it was only making my legs weaker. Hopefully, that’s a sign that I might be able to get off the ground more than 2 inches.”
Second quarter, 2:55, Bulls 32-30: It's an ugly game for the Celtics, who are 2-for-15 shooting in the quarter and have dipped to 30.6 percent after a sparkling first quarter. The Bulls are at 45.2 percent but have committed 10 turnovers. The combination of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Avery Bradley are 5-for-19 shooting. The bench is combined 1 of 6.
Second quarter, 5:43, Celtics 30-27: The Bulls are playing tighter defense and the Celtics are 2-for-10 shooting in the quarter and are shooting 35.5 percent, still they lead. The Bulls are 12-for-27 shooting but have eight turnovers. Carlos Boozer has 7 points for Chicago while Marco Bellinelli has 5. Avery Bradley leads the Celtics with 8.
Second quarter, 9:27, Celtics 27-22: Bulls on a 5-0 run after the Celtics took a 10-point lead. The Celtics are going a little too fast and the Bulls are picking up the pace with their fastbreak. Taj Gibson delivered a two-handed stuff off a break, causing Doc Rivers to call timeout. Kevin Garnett returns to the game after a 10-minute rest.
End of first quarter, Celtics 24-15: The Celtics are leading despite shooting 42.9 percent from the field and getting 2 point from Kevin Garnett. Jeff Green is his aggressive self with 6 points in seven minutes while Brandon Bass has 6 points and seven rebounds, Carlos Boozer has 5 points for Chicago.
First quarter, 3:59, Celtics 18-9: The Celtics are on a 12-2 run, playing hard defense and getting a spark from Brandon Bass, who has 6 points and four rebounds. Jeff Green and Jason Collins were the first Celtics off the bench. The Celtics are shooting 47.1 percent (8 of 17) and are outrebounding the Bulls 9-5.
First quarter, 8:09, Bulls 7-6: Both teams look really rusty or tired, having missed 9 of 14 total shots, including two airballs. Carlos Boozer just completed a three-point play while the Celtics have three players with baskets. The Celtics have to avoid foul trouble with such a short bench.
Greetings and salutations, faithful Internet traveler, from TD Garden, where the Celtics and Chicago Bulls are scheduled to throw down, basketball style, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
This is the last game for each team before the All-Star break, and each team could use a breather. The Celtics have lost three players to season-ending injuries in 16 days, and Chicago has had every starter except Richard Hamilton miss time over the last 3 1/2 weeks.
Derrick Rose is out. Kirk Hinrich (elbow) has missed the last six games and he's out, too. Joakim Noah said he'll play with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
For the Celtics, Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, and Leandro Barbosa are all out for the season.
Chicago, of course, is coached by former Celtics assistant and defensive wiz Tom Thibodeau. His team is giving up 91.9 points a game, the third fewest in the league.
Projected Starting Lineups.
Boston Celtics (27-24)
PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
Chicago Bulls (30-21)
PG Nate Robinson
SG Richard Hamilton
SF Luol Deng
PF Carlos Boozer
C Joakim Noah
TV/Radio: CSN, WEEI (93.7)
- The Celtics had won seven straight games before losing to Charlotte Monday.
- Chicago has dropped four of its last six games.
- The Bulls are the only NBA team to boast a better road record (15-9) than home record (15-12).
- Chicago has won eight of its last 10 games against the Celtics.
- The Celtics and Bulls have split their last six games at the Garden.
All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo underwent successful knee surgery Tuesday that was performed by Dr. James Andrews, Celtics team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe Wednesday.
"Dr. Andrews thought the surgery went great, clean, no complications, no other damage," Ainge said.
Rondo was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament Jan. 27 after suffering the injury a few days earlier in a double-overtime loss to Atlanta in late January.
Ainge said Andrews used a patellar tendon graft to help reconstruct Rondo's torn ACL, and that Rondo is optimistic about a full and speedy recovery.
Ainge added that Rondo is especially infatuated with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who tore his left ACL in December of 2011, and had Andrews operate Dec. 30 with a patellar tendon graft, then returned to the field less than 10 months later. Peterson finished this past season just nine yards short of the NFL's single-season rushing record.
"And you know Rondo: He's going to want to come back faster than anybody who's ever returned," Ainge said.
The typical recovery time for professional athletes to recover from ACL surgery can be nine months to a year. However, the Celtics have said that they expect Rondo to be back by training camp, which begins in October -- eight months away.
Ainge added that Leandro Barbosa, who was diagnosed with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament Tuesday, also sustained medial collateral ligament damage and will wait about a month before his surgery to strengthen his left knee.
The Celtics' fears that Leandro Barbosa's knee injury was serious came to fruition as an NBA source said he will miss the rest of the season with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, the same injury sustained by Rajon Rondo.
Barbosa was hurt, like Rondo, in non-contact fashion, twisting the knee awkwardly as he drove to the basket late in the third quarter of the Celtics' 94-91 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. Barbosa immediately passed the ball to Jeff Green and then crumbled to the floor near the photographer's area.
He was carried off the floor by head trainer Ed Lacerte and rookie center Fab Melo without placing any pressure on any leg. He was able to walk out of the arena under his own power but a post-game examination indicated that it was a ligament tear.
A magnetic resonance imaging revealed the tear, meaning the Celtics have lost a third player to season-ending injury in the past 16 days. Rondo was felled with a torn right ACL while rookie Jared Sullinger underwent back surgery.
As for Barbosa, it is uncertain whether he's played his final game as a Celtic. He signed a one-year deal and is a free agent this summer. He averaged 9 points and 2.6 assists in his previous five games.
The Celtics will now be in search of a point guard but it's likely not going to be Delonte West. An NBA source said the Celtics have not reached out to the troubled former Celtic about a return. Also, former Washington Wizards draft pick Shelvin Mack was in Rio Grande Valley with NBADL Maine and was expected to play.
He has been mentioned as a possible replacement.
CHARLOTTE -- The Celtics may have lost Leandro Barbosa for the season on Monday night with a left knee injury sustained late in the third quarter of the Celtics' 94-91 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.
Barbosa grabbed a loose ball, passed it and then tumbled near the photographers area and stayed there as play continued on the other side of the court.
After Jeff Green fouled Brendan Haywood, Celtics players rushed to help Barbosa, who couldn't get up on his own. He was carried off the court by rookie center Fab Melo and head trainer Ed Lacerte without placing pressure on either leg. He will undergo an MRI on Tuesday but Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the injury didn't "look good" while Kevin Garnett said the players were told the injury is season ending.
“We got the news when we came in the locker room,” Garnett said. “It’s tough all the way around. You mesh with these guys and all of a sudden you see a season-ending injury. It’s tough. We’re grinding right now on top of a back-to-back emotional game.
“The blow of Barbosa is kind of the fog or the cloud that’s in the room right now.”
When asked if he was told Barbosa’s season was over, Garnett said, “Pretty much.”
Teammate Courtney Lee wasn’t so sure Barbosa was going to miss the season.
“We’re not sure what he has,” Lee said. “Hopefully he’ll be fine. Hopefully he’ll miss a couple of days and get back at it. We’re hoping it’s not too serious. I hope he’s OK though. He said he’s fine, so hopefully he just twisted something and needs ice and a couple of days of rest.”
He walked out of the Celtics locker room, noticeably limping on his left leg.
It is the third significant injury sustained in the past 16 games. Rajon Rondo tore his left anterior cruciate ligament on Jan. 25 at Atlanta while Jared Sullinger underwent season-ending back surgery on Feb. 1.
Barbosa was flourishing over the past few weeks and his 12-point fourth quarter helped the Celtics defeat the Toronto Raptors on Feb. 6 at Air Canada Centre. He finished with 3 points Monday on 1-for-6 shooting.
Final: Bobcats 94-91: Bobcats end game on a 7-0 run as the Celtics missed several open shots. They were 7-for-20 shooting in the fourth quarter and didn't score for the final 2:14. But the more serious news is the status of Leandro Barbosa, who injured his left knee in the third quarter.
Fourth quarter, 14.3, Bobcats 94-91 The Celtics stopped scoring and Kevin Garnett missed the potential go-ahead jumper, Kemba Walker was fouled and hit two free throws. Celtics ball. Ramon Sessions put the Bobcats ahead with a jumper with 25.7 seconds left.
Fourth quarter, 34.2, Celtics 91-90: The Celtics were up 4 points with the ball but Kevin Garnett missed a jumper and Gerald Henderson came back with a 3-pointer. Another empty possession for the Celtics and now the Bobcats have the ball.
Fourth quarter, 2:46, Celtics 89-85: The game's intensity has picked up dramatically as the Celtics keep staving off Bobcats runs. Charlotte took a 1-point lead on a Gerald Henderson layup before a 3-pointer by Jason Terry -- his third -- and Kevin Garnett's spinning turnaround jumper in the face of Bismack Biyombo for the 4-point lead. Garnett has 14 points and 13 rebounds. Jeff Green leads the Celtics with 18 points.
Fourth quarter, 7:35, Celtics 82-77: After watching their teammate Leandro Barbosa go down, the Celtics have played with more energy and Jason Terry and Jeff Green have hit consecutive 3-pointer while Kevin Garnett followed with a 19-foot jumper and he now has a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
End of third quarter, Bobcats 75-72: The Celtics give up 33 points in the quarter as Byron Mullen continues his career night with 25 points and 14 rebounds while Kemba Walker has 16 points. But that doesn't compare to the potential serious injury sustained by Leandro Barbosa, who took a hard tumble after a missed shot and was carried off the court without placing pressure on either leg.
Third quarter, 5:43, Bobcats 60-59: Charlotte has come with more energy and the Celtics are having trouble with the length of Byron Mullens, who has 10 points and 13 rebounds while Kemba Walker has added 14. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have a combined 16 points while Jeff Green (11 points) just came back into the game.
Halftime, Celtics 48-42: Doc Rivers played Paul Pierce 13 minutes, Kevin Garnett 11 minutes and Jason Terry 11 minutes, so it's a good sign they are up 6 points. The bench has combined for 22 points, including 11 by leading scorer Jeff Green. Byron Mullens leads Charlotte with 13 and Kemba Walker has 10.
Second quarter, 5:23, Celtics 40-36: The bench has played most of the quarter and Jeff Green has delivered 11 points in 11 minutes while Chris Wilcox contributed a thunderous dunk. Kevin Garnett is about to return to the game after a long rest. Byron Mullens has 13 points and Kemba Walker has added 7.
Second quarter, 8:35, Celtics 35-29: Doc Rivers is going with the benchin the second quarter and they have had success, especially Jeff Green, who has 8 points in seven minutes. The Celtics are shooting 52.2 percent while only committed three turnovers so far.
End of first quarter, Celtics 26-24: A pretty clean first quarter for the Celtics, who shot 52.6 percent and got 6 points in six minutes from Kevin Garnett and 4 points in eight minutes from Paul Pierce. Byron Mullens scored the first 10 points for Charlotte and finished the quarter with 11. Ramon Session has 4 points off the bench.
First quarter, 5:50, Bobcats 16-14: The Celtics are slipping on defense, having allowed Byron Mullens to score 10 points while the Bobcats has scored two layups in a row. They are shooting 58.3 percent (7 of 12) from the field. The Celtics are 5 of 9 and Kevin Garnett has 6 points and has drawn two fouls on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
First quarter, 8:50, Celtics 8-7: The Celtics are off to a solid offensive start but they need to do something about Byron Mullens, who has all 7 of Charlotte's points, including a dunk putback, layup and 3-pointer. He is showing all facets of his game.
CHARLOTTE -- Well it's the day after. The day after the Celtics won their seventh consecutive game with a triple-overtime win over the Denver Nuggets, snapping their nine-game winning streak. Tonight's matchup with the 11-39 Bobcats counts just as much and Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he will play all of his players, despite the heavy minutes logged by Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.
BOSTON CELTICS (24-23)
PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (11-39)
PG Kemba Walker
SG Gerald Henderson
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Byron Mullens
C Bismack Biyombo
Officials: Rodney Mott, Marat Kogut, Scott Wall
TV/radio: 7 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI 93.7 FM
• The triple-overtime win over the Nuggets was the fourth time the Celtics played at least two overtimes, tying the franchise record set in the 1950-51 season.
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Celtics are the first time in NBA history to win six or more consecutive games, losing six in a row and then win at least six in a row.
• Paul Pierce played 54 minutes Sunday against Denver, tying a career high and became the oldest NBA player to ever record at least 20 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. Larry Bird was three weeks younger than Pierce when he recorded his triple double in 1992.
• Since returning from a left ankle sprain, Charlotte forward Byron Mullens is averaging 15.7 points per game, including 20 points against the Los Angeles Lakers.
• The Celtics are fifth in the league in points allowed per game since Jan. 1 with 93.8 They were 17th through the season's first two months.
Overreactions run rampant in sports. As I write this, the Celtics are better without Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce should have been an All-Star, no question about it. Given Pierce's play during Boston's seven-game win streak, all with Rondo on the sideline, it would be hard to argue against either point.
Debates about the post-Rondo Celtics and the Pierce's efficacy are the kind that pop up often in today's 24-hour news cycle. There's a compulsion to weigh in on the issues with a kind of authority and permanence. I'm guilty of it myself. It's less fun, practical, whatever, to admit that these debates badly miss the point.
The truth is it doesn't much matter that Pierce missed the All-Star team this year. He is an All-Star, solidified by 10 plus-years of All-Star level play. In that same vein, it doesn't much matter that the Celtics are playing better right now without Rondo. If you were playing Game 1 of a seven-game playoff series with the New York Knicks or Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls tonight, you'd want Rondo on your team. The Celtics' 11-4 record in playoff series in five seasons with Rondo, and these numbers I brought up last week to show that the Celtics have been consistently better with Rondo on the court, hammer that point home.
This season has been particularly crazy for coach Doc Rivers and his team. The Celtics have strung together a six-game winning streak (with Rondo), six-game losing streak (with Rondo), and seven-game winning streak (without Rondo) since Jan. 4. That inconsistency makes it difficult to forecast with any certainty how the team will play next week or next month, never mind in May. Still, I'm very interested in how things shake out long-term. The Celtics have climbed into 7th place in the Eastern Conference with their recent streak, and they're now a game closer to 3d-place Indiana than they are from 9th-place Philadelphia.
With the long-term in mind, here's how I rank the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference in terms of the challenge they pose to the Celtics. Please note that these evaluations are opinions and are likely to change as soon as the Celtics lose one game, which is probably tonight.
1. Miami Heat (actual standings: 1st)
Offensive rating (points per 100 possessions): 2d
Defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions): 13th
Could the Celtics beat them in a playoff series?: No
Summary: The Heat are the best team in the conference until someone knocks them off. The Celtics came very close to that last year, but they've since fallen back in the pack and there isn't a formidable challenger in sight. The second-place Knicks are trying to be that team.
2. Chicago Bulls (actual standings: 4th)
Offensive rating: 20th
Defensive rating: 4th
Could the Celtics beat them in a playoff series?: No
Summary: The Bulls are one of two teams I don't give the Celtics a chance of beating in the playoffs, providing Derrick Rose is reasonably healthy. They're an awful matchup for the Celtics. Joakim Noah gives Kevin Garnett fits, and Luol Deng does a great job on Paul Pierce. Coach Tom Thibodeau knows all of Boston's sets. This matchup has nightmare written all over it, and you have to think Chicago is going to get better on offense when it gets the former MVP back on the floor.
3. New York Knicks (actual standings: 2d)
Offensive rating: 3d
Defensive rating: 15th
Could the Celtics beat them in a playoff series?: Possibly
Summary: This is the playoff series Celtics fans should dream of if only because it would be so much fun. The Knicks have more talent, but the Knicks as currently constituted haven't gone anywhere. Getting Iman Shumpert back should help them get tougher.
4. Indiana Pacers (actual standings: 3d)
Offensive rating: 24th
Defensive rating: 1st
Could the Celtics beat them in a playoff series?: Possibly
Summary: The Pacers are really good, and no one talks about them. Paul George is really good, and no one talks about him. Danny Granger is set to return this week. Indiana has put it all together, and they play great defense. This team will be scary for years to come. Where the Celtics have the edge is obviously experience, and a playoff series between these two teams would be a dogfight.
5. Boston Celtics (actual standings: 7th)
Offensive rating: 26th
Defensive rating: 7th
Summary: The Celtics may or may not climb up to 5th place in the standings, but I've got them as the fifth-best team in the conference, with a chance to beat all but Chicago and Miami in a playoff series. I'm not convinced the scoring can keep up at this pace, though the defense since Avery Bradley's return has been dominant. With a healthy Rondo and Jared Sullinger, I'd have them behind only Miami.
6. Atlanta Hawks (actual standings: 6th)
Offensive rating: 18th
Defensive rating: 10th
Could the Celtics beat them in a playoff series?: Yes
Summary: We've seen this movie before. Joe Johnson is gone, but the Celtics have had Atlanta's number for years. Al Horford is a tough matchup, and a playoff series would be explosive, but the Celtics could beat the Hawks in a hard-fought series.
7. Brooklyn Nets (actual standings: 5th)
Offensive rating: 9th
Defensive rating: 17th
Could the Celtics beat them in a playoff series?: Yes
Summary: Brook Lopez has been criminally underrated this season, but the superteam that has been assembled for the Nets' inaugural season has not lived up to expectations. Kris Humphries has not worked out, nor has Gerald Wallace, who is averaging half as many points as he did last season on 43-percent shooting. There's enough talent here, but the Celtics are a better team.
8. Milwaukee Bucks (actual standings: 8th)
Offensive rating: 23d
Defensive rating: 9th
Summary: If the standings hold, the Bucks will face the Heat in the first round in what would be the most lopsided series on either side of the playoffs. The backcourt of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings is exciting but limited. Ersan Ilyasova has not repeated his spectacular production from last season.
Final: Celtics 118-114: Jason Terry is the hero with a steal from Andre Miller and then makes a layup at the buzzer for the final margin. Paul Pierce finishes with 27 points. 14 rebounds and 14 assists while Kevin Garnett added 20 points and 18 rebounds and Terry finishes with a season-high 26. Ty Lawson finishes with 29 points but none in the third overtime. Danilo Gallinari had 18 and 10 rebounds while Andre Miller pitched in with 15 off the bench. Seventh straight win for Celtics. Nuggets win streak stopped at nine.
Third overtime, 2:19, Celtics 113-110: Celtics score first 4 points of OT and Denver counters with next 3. Kevin Garnett comes back with his third basket of the third OT and Denver calls timeout. Nuggets ball.
Second overtime, 5.2, Tied at 107: Paul Pierce works the clock down but hits a stepback 3-pointer for the tie. And as usual tonight, it is being reviewed. It stands. Crazy game.
Second overtime, 18.9, Nuggets 107-104: Kevin Garnett ties the game with a jumper and Paul Pierce draws shooting foul but only hits one of two with 32.5 left, Ty Lawson, who is unstoppable tonight, comes back with 18-footer. Celtics ball.
Second overtime, 1:01, Nuggets 103-101: Jeff Green hits a runner and then makes a steal and tries to go for tying score but loses ball. Celtics awarded ball but officials are reviewing once again. Celtics ball officially.
Second overtime, 2:30, Nuggets 103-99: The iron has been unkind to the Celtics, who are 16-for-53 shooting since halftime. Open shots are going in and out while Denver continues to push the pace. The Nuggets have 22 fastbreak points.
End of first overtime, Tied at 99: Ty Lawson tries a 25-footer at buzzer that clangs off rim. Celtics get stop to force second overtime. Great time so far.
Overtime, 23.8. Tied at 99 Jeff Green hits a corner 3-ball to tie it, Denver ball. Each team has 2 timeouts.
Overtime, 1:30. Nuggets 99-96 The Celtics suddenly can't but a shot, evidenced by missing three on the same possession. Andre Miller just hit a 18-footer to give Denver its biggest lead of the game. Kevin Garnett is 5-for-18 shooting tonight. Celtics ball.
End of regulation, Tied at 92 Jason Terry misses a 30 footer at buzzer and we're headed to overtime.
Fourth quarter, 0.8, Tied at 92 Officials award Denver ball after review and Ty Lawson hits hurried runner with 0.8 left. Celtics ball.
Fourth quarter, 3.6, Celtics 92-90 Wow, well Jeff Green hits a go-ahead jumper with 47.9 left and Kenneth Faried gets fouled by Paul Pierce and misses first of two FTs and intentionally misses second, Celtics awarded ball but it's being reviewed.
Fourth quarter, 1:27, Tied at 90 The Nuggets took their first lead of the game on a Ty Lawson jump shot with 1:43 left but Jason Terry sank a technical free throw to tie it again. The Celtics gained possession but Paul Pierce fumbled the ball out of bounds. After review, Celtics ball off JaVale McGee.
Fourth quarter, 2:34, Celtics 89-87 The Nuggets are on a 7-2 run to get close again, sparked by Andre Miller, whose 11 points and three assists are deceiving. He has been more important than that shows. Jason Terry has 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting while Avery Bradley has 13 but the Celtics need to get some easy shots. Depending too much on the perimeter.
Fourth quarter, 5:58, Celtics 87-80 Boston on a 9-2 run with baskets from four players, including a corner 3-pointer from Avery Bradley. Kevin Garnett just hit a midrange jumper from the baseline to force Denver into a timeout. The Celtics are now 3-for-10 shooting in the quarter.
Fourth quarter, 9:53, Tied at 78 The Celtics fell asleep and can't make a basket while Andre Miller has sparked Denver's 8-0 run to begin the quarter with a gorgeous ball fake and layup. He has 9 points. The Celtics have stopped running and Doc RIvers may be forced to go back to Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley, who are on the bench.
End of third quarter, Celtics 78-70 The Celtics are winning this game from the 3-point line, hitting nine of 17 so far and Paul Pierce and Jason Terry each have four. This is one of Terry's better games of the season as he is hitting the open shot and spreading the floor. The Nuggets are led by Ty Lawson, who has 19 points while Corey Brewer is the only other Nugget in double figures with 11.
Third quarter, 5:10, Celtics 69-58: The Celtics have used 10 points in a row by Paul Pierce to extend the lead to 11. Pierce has 21 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists while Kevin Garnett has 8 points and nine rebounds. Ty Lawson is leading the Nuggets with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Avery Bradley has helped out with 10 points and four assists while Jason Terry just hit a jumper off the fastbreak for his 12th point.
Halftime, Celtics 50-46: Nuggets end the half on a 10-4 run and are back int he game after the Celtics led by as many as 11. The Celtics committed eight turnovers in the quarter, most of them of the sloppy variety. Jason Terry leads the Celtics with 10 points and Paul Pierce has 9. Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried each have 8 for Denver.
Second quarter, 2:46, Celtics 46-36: The Celtics have caused 10 Denver turnovers and are making good court decisions in building a 10-point lead. Paul Pierce has 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 17 minutes. Denver is shooting 41 percent and is 2-for-10 from 3-point line.
Second quarter, 5:36, Celtics 40-33 : Second quarter, 5:36, Celtics 40-33 : Kevin Garnett just ended a 6-0 Denver run with a layup and was fouled by Danilo Gallinari. Garnett has missed some open jumpers but already has six rebounds. Jason Terry has sparked the Celtics with 10 points, exceeding his season average. Corey Brewer leads Denver with 7 points and two steals
Second quarter, 8:59, Celtics 33-27 : The Nuggets are showing some life after their starters were unproductive. Andre Miller came off the bench for a 3-pointer while Corey Brewer has scored 5 points in the quarter. The Celtics are making some silly mistakes and poor decisions on the fast break. Jason Terry has 7 points in seven minutes.
End of First quarter, Celtics 29-19 : The Celtics shoot 52.4 percent, convert three 3-pointers and get points from eight players as they look to maintain a comfortable lead over the Nuggets. Denver sliced the deficit to 3 after the Celtics scored the first 12 points of the game, but Boston ended the quarter on a 15-8 run. Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley have 6 for the Celtics while Ty Lawson has 6 for Denver.
First quarter, 5:46, Celtics 14-11 : The Celtics actually scored the first 12 points of the game while Denver had five early turnovers. But the Nuggets have warmed up in the cold weather and scored 9 straight points to cut deep into the lead. Ty Lawson has 4 points for the Nuggets. The Celtics are led by Paul Pierce with 6 points and Avery Bradley with four. The Celtics are playing at a fast pace, let's see how it affects their depth.
First quarter, 9:20, Celtics 5-0: Paul Pierce opens the game with a 3-pointer and Kevin Garnett adds a jumper. Denver has missed its first four shots with two turnovers. The Celtics are 2-for-6 shooting.
Greetings and salutations, faithful Internet traveler, from TD Garden, where the Celtics and the Denver Nuggets are scheduled to throw down, basketball style, at 6 p.m. Sunday.
These are the two hottest teams in the NBA. The Nuggets (33-18) have won a league-best nine straight games, the Celtics (26-23) have won a season-high-tying six straight.
Denver, which has won 15 of 17, is also coming on off a back-to-back; the Nuggets played in Cleveland Saturday night and arrived early Sunday morning in Boston. A Nuggets official messaged me when the team arrived, and that was around 1:30 a.m.
Because of Milwaukee's loss Saturday night against Detroit, the Celtics have moved up one spot to 7th in the Eastern Conference standings; as of this post, the C's are one game back of Atlanta, which plays at Dallas Monday, for the 6th spot.
And yes, Sunday's game is taking place as scheduled, despite the historic blizzard that just smashed this burg.
A reminder: There is still no street parking in the city of Boston. Limited subway service begins in the city at 2 p.m. The Red and Orange lines will make all stops. The Green Line will run from Lechmere to Kenmore, and the Blue Line from Orient Heights to Government Center.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS.
PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
PG Ty Lawson
SG Andre Iguodala
SF Danilo Gallinari
PF Kenneth Faried
C Kosta Koufos
TV/Radio: CSN, WEEI (93.7)
- Denver is the third-highest scoring team in the NBA (104.7 points per game) and they have six players averaging double figures: Danilo Gallinari (17.1), Ty Lawson (15.1), Andre Iguodala (13.5), Kenneth Faried (12.3), Corey Brewer (11.3), and JaVale McGee (10.1).
- During Denver's winning streak, they're averaging 114.6 points a game.
- Boston's defense ranks ninth in the NBA in points allowed (96 points a game).
- Denver is 31-1 in games in which it scores 100 or more points. It also ranks first in the NBA in fast-break points (19.4).
- Six of Denver's nine straight wins came against teams that currently have a winning record.
- Denver has lost 18 of its last 21 games in Boston.
- This is the first of two meetings; the rematch is Feb. 19 in Denver.
He's up, he's down, he's back up again.
Hours before they face the Denver Nuggets at TD Garden Sunday, the Celtics recalled rookie center Fab Melo from their NBDL team, the Maine Red Claws.
Melo played one game with Maine during his most recent assignment, and he had 6 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist in about 23 minutes against the Bakersfield Jam Friday.
Melo is averaging 11.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.45 blocks in 27.4 minutes per game in his 20 contests with Maine this season.
The former Syracuse player has played in two games for the Celtics this season, earning a total of 2 points, a steal and a block in eight minutes of action.
Sunday night's game between the Celtics and Denver Nuggets will go on as scheduled at 6 p.m. at TD Garden. There is no still street parking in the city of Boston. Limited subway service begins in the city at 2 p.m. The Red and Orange lines will make all stops. The Green Line will run from Lechmere to Kenmore, and the Blue Line from Orient Heights to Government Center.
Melo, a rookie center from Syracuse, is returning to the Red Claws after a stint with the Celtics where he appeared in two games. During those games, Melo played eight minutes and recorded two points, a steal and a block. His two points were his first as an NBA player, and they came Thursday during the Celtics' 116-95 rout of the Lakers at the Garden.
Melo, one of the Celtics' two first-round draft picks from 2012, averaged 11.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.6 blocks in 19 games for the Red Claws.
Coming into Thursday night's Celtics-Lakers game at TD Garden, the natural question to ask was which of the two great franchises was in better shape. Both teams had underachieved and suffered major injuries. Both teams came into the game hot, the Lakers having won 7 of 8 and the Celtics five straight. At the end of the night, with a decisive 116-95 win, the Celtics proved they're in a better place right now than their reeling rivals.
But the question of if you'd rather be the Celtics or Lakers takes a back seat when looking toward the future. Going forward, the question should be whether or not the Celtics would rather be who they are at this moment or a team that has already started rebuilding. The Pacers, Warriors, Cavaliers, and Pistons all have young talent and are at varying stages of developing it. Each offers a potential blueprint if the Celtics decide to make major changes before the Feb. 21 NBA trade deadline.
Before examining that potential future, let's look at where the Celtics are now. They've won six straight games since a season-ending injury to All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo. They also recently lost standout rookie Jared Sullinger for the year to a back injury. Recent performance aside, the injuries are assumed to take the Celtics out of serious contention for the NBA title this season. That mirrors the situation of the Lakers, who lost Pau Gasol for most of the rest of this season and have been dealing with injuries to center Dwight Howard.
"It seems like [the Celtics] have a renewed type of energy, a desperation like we're in," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said before the game.
While the Lakers coach doesn't see either team as a serious contender, it would be unfair to totally dismiss Boston's latest run. The Celtics have played inspired basketball without Rondo, with no game more inspiring than Thursday night's. With Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, and Jeff Green wreaking havoc on defense and booking it up the court for dunks, Paul Pierce displaying masterful shot-making, and Kevin Garnett waxing poetic after scoring his 25,000th NBA point, the on-court product was sensational. The Celtics held a 21-point lead late in the third quarter and it seemed like every fan in TD Garden chanted "de-fense," urging the home team to keep it going. It was as fun an atmosphere as there has been in six years in that building.
"I don't know what Danny [Ainge] and upper management has up their sleeves as far as making this team better," said Garnett. "We as players can only control us. Right now we're in a rhythm. We're moving the ball well. It sounds like a broken record, but we are."
Said Pierce, "I don't know if it's sending a message, but we're going to be a team that's going to compete every night. ... We're fine with flying under the radar."
Flying under the radar is unlikely to sway Ainge to keep things the status quo. The Celtics locker room has been a happy place of late, but the team has been winning. If the Celtics suffer a three or four-game losing streak, they would once again be faced with the serious question of who they want to be.
Neither Boston or Los Angeles is an easy place in which to rebuild. The drama and expectations surrounding both teams magnify every decision. The Lakers had more embedded media covering D'Antoni's press conference Thursday night than the Celtics had covering Doc Rivers, who was coaching the home team. Celtics fans endured 18 straight losses during the 2006-07 season just six years ago. Is the fan base really ready to go through that again?
Teams like Indiana and Golden State provide one kind of model going forward. Both are solid playoff teams at the moment, but neither has gotten anywhere significant with a youth movement. It's one thing to assemble young talent and make the playoffs. It's another to get that team over the hump. Neither team has a proven player anywhere near the caliber of a Garnett or Pierce. Both could be a Garnett or Pierce away from serious contention. As a Celtics fan, would you trade places with those teams right now? Are they closer to their next title than Boston is?
What about Cleveland and Detroit? Both are decidedly not playoff teams, but they each have a core of young talent. Detroit has two big men in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond who could be inside forces for the next 10 seasons. Guard Brandon Knight still has a chance to live up to his draft status. Meanwhile in Cleveland, Kyrie Irving could be the best guard in the NBA in two or three years. He and rookie Dion Waiters could form a lethal backcourt, with rookie big man Tyler Zeller growing up alongside the relentless Anderson Varejao.
What those teams have in common is a collection of pieces that haven't come together yet. They may never. The Celtics have pieces, too. A healthy Rondo and Sullinger would join Bradley and Green next season as a young core. Lee, Terry, and Bass could fill the roles they do now. Fab Melo is a wild card for the future. The question is whether or not Ainge wants to let Garnett and Pierce, who are carrying the team now, retire as Celtics in a couple seasons or bring back more pieces in a trade. Each could bring a draft pick or young talent in return. Any deal risks making the team worse now for a gamble in the long term.
Garnett said Thursday if it were up to him he'd spend the rest of his career in Boston and retire a Celtic. He has a no-trade clause, so it very well could be his choice. Both he and Pierce clearly have a preference to stay and produce a few more of those magical nights at the Garden, though it's doubtful either wants to be part of a rebuilding process. Pierce has one more season left on his contract, Garnett two. Whether they like it or not, the Celtics will need to rebuild sooner rather than later. We should know within the next couple of weeks just how soon that process is going to start.
Kevin Garnett ended his postgame press conference Thursday night with an unprompted message to reporters that he'd like to stay in Boston.
"I just want to say that I love my situation here," said Garnett. "I don't know what all your sources are, or whoever's making up this [expletive] articles about me getting traded to Denver and all these other places.
"But I bleed green, and I will continue to do that. And if it's up to me I'm going to retire a Celtic."
Garnett scored his 25,000th NBA point in the second quarter of Thursday night's game. He said his daughter was in attendance ("Thank you for snow days"), a rare occasion, and he thanked every coach and teammate who had helped him along the way. While in a reflective mood, Garnett went back to a familiar metaphor -- cooking -- to explain why the Celtics might be playing better in the absence of Rajon Rondo.
"Rondo does so many different great things for this team," said Garnett. "You can kind of get lackadaisical. It's very similar to when you have someone cooking for you, and you're expecting that every day. But as soon as you start to feed yourself, all of a sudden you start making these gourmet dishes. You start having more people to the house. And you never know you really possessed that. It's kind of like that."
Two historic rivals looked to turn back the clock Thursday night at TD Garden, but only one team kept pace as the Celtics ran away to a 116-95 win.
Already leading 58-44 at halftime, the Celtics dropped a 37-point third quarter on the visiting Los Angeles Lakers to blow the game wide open. Paul Pierce, Boston's leading scorer in the game, scored 12 of his 24 points in the period as the Celtics extended their lead to 26 points heading into the final frame. Pierce briefly dueled with Kobe Bryant, who scored 27 for the visitors, but the game was too lopsided to bring back memories of the NBA Finals series these teams played in 2008 and 2010.
With a turnaround jump shot with 8:09 remaining in the 2d quarter, Kevin Garnett reached 25,000 points for his career. He's 16th on the NBA's scoring list, behind Jerry West (25,192). Garnett's path to 25,000 was delayed a bit Thursday when he picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter defending Lakers center Dwight Howard. With the milestone Garnett became the only player in NBA history with 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks, and 1,500 steals.
The Lakers made just 17 of 45 shots (38 percent) in the first half as the Celtics built their lead. Inept Lakers offense was countered by an adept Celtics attack. The Celtics made 51 percent of their shots from the field and had 13 assists to just two turnovers. Only foul trouble -- the Celtics committed 16 -- and eight offensive rebounds for the Lakers showed as blemishes for the home team.
Howard was a gametime decision but did start, and early on it looked as if he'd be a handful, drawing fouls on Garnett, Jason Collins, and Chris Wilcox. But Howard didn't look himself, finishing with 9 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 turnovers before fouling out.
Former glory was the story of the evening, but coming into the night both teams had been playing very well. The Lakers had won seven of eight, while the Celtics extended their win streak to six games with the victory.
2:12 4th quarter, Celtics 109-86:Now we get the real Gino.
3:18 4th quarter, Celtics 107-84: Fab Melo has checked into the game. Might as well be Gino checking in.
5:07 4th quarter, Celtics 105-80: Dwight Howard has fouled out of the game with 9 points and 9 rebounds. He made 1 of 6 free throws.
9:46 4th quarter, Celtics 99-71: Almost to 100. Imagine Pierce is done for the night. Garnett can't be far behind.
End 3d quarter, Celtics 95-69: The Celtics haven't played this well in..I can't remember when. Avery Bradley is everywhere with his defense. Pierce is unconscious from the field. What a show.
3:35 3d quarter, Celtics 79-63: Pierce is taking over. He's got 19 points, seven in this quarter.
5:52 3d quarter, Celtics 70-57: Garnett has 15 points and 5 rebounds. Pierce has 12 points and 6 rebounds. It will be interesting to see if Jeff Green can come in and be as effective he was in the first half.
9:06 3d quarter, Celtics 60-48: Bryant is making some impossible shots with Lee draped all over him. Good defense by Courtney.
On the defensive end there's a lot of good. The Lakers are shooting 38 percent, though they've got seven offensive rebounds and have gotten lots of extra chances. There's also the issue of foul trouble. Collins and Wilcox have three fouls. Pierce, Garnett, and Bass each have two.
2:01 2d quarter, Celtics 55-40: The Celtics have turned the ball over only once. Now if only they could fix their fouling problem.
3:02 2d quarter, Celtics 51-40: Jeff Green is being aggressive taking the ball to the basket, and it's working. He's got 11 points. This is some of his best basketball of the season.
5:41 2d quarter, Celtics 43-34: Garnett's got his 25,000 points. Fitting that he did it with a turnaround jumper, with 8:09 remaining in the quarter, over Earl Clark.
Jared Sullinger is in the building watching the game.
10:26 2d quarter, Celtics 33-25:KG is back in the game and making his presence known. He's got two quick baskets.
Avery Bradley walked back to the locker room with team doctor Brian McKeon between quarters. Bradley just walked back to the bench.
End 1st quarter, Celtics 27-24: Paul Pierce is Boston's clear MVP so far. He's got 10 points and 4 rebounds. Chris Wilcox gave the Celtics some good energy off the bench with two offensive rebounds. He was wide open in the middle on one play and couldn't handle a hot pass, a reminder that his thumb is still not quite right.
Kobe Bryant has 8 points and 6 rebounds for the Lakers.
2:08 1st quarter, Celtics 23-20: So much for fouls not catching up to the Celtics. Jason Collins now has three. Chris Wilcox in the game, he's got two.
5:20 1st quarter, Celtics 14-11: Paul Pierce is being a jack-of-all-trades again this evening. He's got 6 points, 1 assist, and 1 rebound. He found Jason Collins on a nifty drive to the hoop that drew Howard and left Collins wide open. The Lakers have not attempted a free throw since putting the Celtics over the limit.
9:25 1st quarter, Celtics 4-2: Dwight Howard draws two quick fouls on Kevin Garnett and another on his sub, Jason Collins. The Celtics have five total fouls and are over the limit already.
10:17 1st quarter, Celtics 4-2: Courtney Lee starts the game on Kobe Bryant, while Avery Bradley covers Steve Nash.
Pregame: It's official: Dwight Howard is starting at center for the Lakers tonight.... The Celtics honored Doc Rivers on the plane home from Toronto Wednesday night by presenting him with the game ball. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett stood up and said a few words. ...There's more media embedded with the Lakers here at TD Garden than covering the Celtics. What a circus. ... It's Steve Nash's 39th birthday today.
With a turnaround jump shot with 8:09 remaining in the second quarter of Thursday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Celtics forward Kevin Garnett reached 25,000 points for his career. Garnett entered the game with 24,994. He's 16th on the NBA's scoring list and closing in on Jerry West (25,192).
Garnett's path to 25,000 was delayed a bit Thursday when he picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter defending Lakers center Dwight Howard.
Dwight Howard's Adonis-like body was on display late Thursday morning at TD Garden. With a fitted top around his hulking body, Howard attempted free throws and did a light workout as the Lakers prepared to face the Celtics tonight.
Howard is a game-time decision, unsure if the torn labrum in his right shoulder will cooperate enough for him to play. With Pau Gasol expected to miss at least a month with a torn plantar fascia, the Lakers are desperate to get Howard back and Kobe Bryant intimated that this week by mentioning that the club can't wait for Howard to fully heal.
The Lakers center made it clear that he is tuning out all opinions about his willingness to play in pain, and said he will return when the shoulder is able to withstand the rigors of the NBA.
"He's not a doctor; I'm not a doctor; that's his opinion," Howard said about Bryant's comments. "Well, it's torn. I don't know people who play with torn labrum. Yeah, I want to play. Why wouldn't I want to play? But at the same time, this is my career, this is my future, this is my life. I can't leave that up to anybody else. Nobody else is going to take care of me.
"So if people are pissed off that I don't play or I do play or whatever it may be, so what? This is my career. If go down, then what? Everybody's life is going to go on. So I don't want to have to have another summer where I'm rehabbing and trying to get healthy again. I want to come back and have another great year."
Howard had offseason back surgery and played most of last season with a herniated disk.
"Last year I wanted to prove and show people that I could play through injuries and the back is something serious and I don't want that to happen," he said. "The way I play, the post is not an easy position. You're pushing guys 260 [pounds], 270 and you have to use a lot of force to do that. If I play tonight, we'll see how it feels later on. If I don't, we just have to move forward."
Howard said he has no intention to discuss his injury with Bryant, the Lakers' unquestioned leader and future Hall of Famer.
"Have I talked to Kobe?" he said. "Why do I have to explain [my injury] to Kobe? Is he a doctor? So I should explain that to all my teammates then, right? That's [Kobe's] opinion."
Boston.com Celtics writer Gary Dzen took your questions on Celtics-Lakers, the NBA trade deadline, Rajon Rondo, and more. Click above to see a replay.
This isn't the Celtics-Lakers matchup anyone was expecting coming into the season. There was talk of Los Angeles vying for the title of best team ever when the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the offseason, but those plans obviously haven't panned out. The Lakers are on their third coach (Bernie Bickerstaff was 4-1 in a temporary role). Howard is hurt, and now so is Pau Gasol. Los Angeles is 10th in the Western Conference.
On the other side, the Celtics lost All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo and All-Hustle rookie forward Jared Sullinger in the same week. Kevin Garnett's name has been floated in a trade rumor. The whole system as we've known it since 2007 appears to be on the verge of breaking down. And yet the Celtics have won five straight games, the Lakers three straight and seven of eight. What in the name of Ricky Davis is going on here?
This isn't the marquee matchup that TNT envisioned at the start of the season, but it's no less interesting. The two most dominant franchises in the history of professional basketball are both at a crossroads. You aren't a basketball fan if you're not interested in what happens next.
Here are the details for tonight's game:
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Records: Celtics (25-23), Lakers (23-26)
Broadcast info:TNT, WEEI/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)
Celtics: PG: Avery Bradley SG: Courtney Lee SF: Paul Pierce PF: Brandon Bass C: Kevin Garnett
Lakers: PG: Steve Nash SG: Kobe Bryant SF: Metta World Peace PF: Antawn Jamison C: Earl Clark
*Dwight Howard is questionable tonight as he continues to deal with back and shoulder injuries. He has missed the last three games.
Kobe being ... Rondo?: In winning 7 of 8 games Kobe Bryant has averaged almost a triple-double of 17.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 9.3 assists. He's logged 37 minutes per game, which is remarkable considering he's in his 16th NBA season. Bryant seems to revel in playing at TD Garden, where the Lakers have won four straight regular season meetings. It's too bad old friend Ray Allen isn't around tonight.
Post position: Tonight's game may be the only one of the season where the Celtics have an advantage in size down low. The Lakers probably have to use power forward Earl Clark at center. Garnett usually struggles vs. the height of the Lakers (he's 10 of 36 in his last two home games against Los Angeles), but he could see clearer shots at the basket tonight.
View from Los Angeles: My friends over at LakersNation.com write that the keys to a Lakers victory are Bryant continuing to be selfless and the Lakers containing the Celtics bench. That last point is a great one. Despite injuries, the Celtics still have a formidable bench and need to take advantage of the Lakers' relative weakness there.
Final: Celtics 99-95 The Celtics outscore the Raptors 30-16 in the fourth quarter, hit 9 of 11 free throws and commit only two turnovers to win their fifth straight game without Rajon Rondo. Kevin Garnett scored 11 of his season-high 27 in the final quarter to seal the victory. The Raptors were 7-for-22 shooting in the final period and the combination of Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were a combined 2 of 13 from the field.
Fourth quarter, 9.8, Celtics 99-93 The Celtics force a Rudy Gay miss and chase down the rebound. Courtney Lee hits both free throws. Raptors ball.
Fourth quarter, 17.6, Celtics 97-93 Rudy Gay makes a tip-in shot and the Celtics nearly gave them the ball back after a terrible Paul Pierce shot, but DeMar DeRozan bobbled a pass out of bounds. Jeff Green hits one free throw when fouled on the inbounds pass. Raptors ball.
Fourth quarter, 46.6, Celtics 96-91 Kevin Garnett just scored his 27th point and the Celtics have a two-possession lead in a stirring comeback after trailing by 10 to begin the quarter. Leandro Barbosa has 14 for the Celtics while Paul Pierce has 12 but has played stellar defense on Rudy Gay in the fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter, 3:12, Celtics 90-87 Paul Pierce is 2-for-10 from the field but he has drawn two offensive foul calls on Rudy Gay in the past three possessions. The Celtics are on a 21-8 run in the quarter and the Raptors are 4-for-13 shooting in the quarter with four turnovers. Kevin Garnett has missed a couple of shots (7 to be exact) but he has been stellar with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Leandro Barbosa with 12 off the bench.
Fourth quarter, 5:50, Celtics 86-85 This is turning into a thriller as the Celtics keep pushing the pace and scoring on Toronto's defense. Leandro Barbosa has 10 of his 12 points in the quarter.
Fourth quarter, 9:50, Raptors 79-76 Celtics show life with a 7-0 run to begin the quarter. They are giving the Raptors only one shot on offense while they are pushing the pace and creating easy baskets. Jason Terry just scored on a pull-up 12-footer to force a Toronto timeout.
End of third quarter, Raptors 79-69 Toronto ends the quarter with a 25-10 run, causing turnovers with pressure defense. The Celtics were 6-for-17 shooting in the quarter with five turnovers. Rudy Gay has 23 points on 7-for-15 shooting while three other Raptors have 13.
Third quarter, 4:02, Raptors 69-65 Toronto is on a 15-6 run and the Raptors are simply out-hustling the Celtics, getting to loose balls, grabbing offensive rebounds while Kyle Lowry has scored 8 points in the quarter, including a 28-footer to even the game at 65.
Third quarter, 6:31, Celtics 61-60 The Celtics are losing control here as the Raptors keep chipping away and Kevin Garnett just picked up his fourth foul. Toronto has scored 11 second-chance points to Boston's 2 while the Celtics have attempted just six shots in 5:29 because of turnovers.
Halftime, Celtics 50-45 The Celtics survived a foul-prone first half and their starters stepped up to outscore Toronto 30-22 in the second quarter. Kevin Garnett has his "A" game going tonight with 14 points and six rebounds, taking advantage of his matchup with Aaron Gray. Paul Pierce has 10 and Courtney Lee added 11. Andrea Bargnani, back after missing two months with a torn elbow ligament, had 11 for the Raptors while Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan have 10. The Raptors shot just 40 percent in the second period.
Second quarter, 2:31, Celtics 42-39: Doc Rivers grew tired of the officiating and picked up a technical foul from Brett Barnaky. Rivers kept arguing until guard Avery Bradley told him to cool it. The Celtics are shooting 53.1 percent and have a combined 23 points from Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee but are allowing the Raptors to attempt far too many free throws. DeMar DeRozan is about to step to the line for the fifth and sixth time tonight.
Second quarter, 8:52, Raptors 32-31: The Celtics are getting into foul trouble, having three players with two fouls. The Raptors have been whistled for just five fouls and have attempted 13 free throws to the Celtics' 5. Courtney Lee has 11 points for Boston. Andrea Bargnani has 7 off the bench for Toronto.
End of first quarter, Raptors 23-20: Courtney Lee has been the story for the Celtics, he is 4-for-5 while Kevin Garnett is 3-for-3 in six minutes. The rest of the Celtics are 3-for-11 shooting. The Raptors are 7-for-15 from the field but have attempted 10 free throws to Boston's zero. Rudy Gay leads Toronto with 8 points.
First quarter, 2:57, Raptors 17-14: The Raptors are on a 9-2 run as they continue to push the ball and get free throws or fastbreak points while the Celtics have grown cold from the field with Kevin Garnett on the bench. Garnett is 3-for-3 from the field while the rest of the Celtics are 4-for-11. Rudy Gay already has 6 points and DeMar DeRozan has 4.
First quarter, 7:20, Celtics 10-6: Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass have teamed for the Celtics' 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting for the team. The Raptors are 2-for-6 from the field and newcomer Rudy Gay has 4 points.
By Baxter Holmes
Lakers forward Pau Gasol will not play against the Celtics Thursday at TD Garden after an MRI Wednesday revealed that he has a partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot.
Gasol is out indefinitely with that injury, which he suffered Tuesday when the Lakers played Brooklyn. He will fly back to Los Angeles Thursday to be examined by team doctors.
Gasol is averaging 13.4 points and 8 rebounds for the 23-26 Lakers, who have won six of their last seven games.
The Lakers have already been without Dwight Howard, who hasn't played the last six games because of a shoulder injury, and Jordan Hill, who is out for the season with a hip injury, so Gasol's absence seriously thins out what was already a thin front line.
TORONTO -- The Celtics will try to win their fifth straight game without Rajon Rondo, in a place where they have had trouble. The Raptors always seem to play hard at home against the Celtics, and now they have reinforcements in Rudy Gay, who was acquired last week in a three-team trade from the Memphis Grizzlies. Jose Calderon was sent to Detroit and Ed Davis was shipped to Memphis. Kyle Lowry is the Toronto point guard, and his speed has given the Celtics fits in the past.
BOSTON CELTICS (24-23)
PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
TORONTO RAPTORS (17-31)
PG Kyle Lowry
SG DeMar DeRozan
SF Rudy Gay
PF Amir Johnson
C Aaron Gray
Officials: Bennie Adams, Brent Barnaky, Pat Fraher
TV/radio: 7 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI 93.7 FM
• Andrea Bargnani, who has not played since Dec. 10 because of a torn elbow ligament, was declared healthy enough to play after participating in shootaround Wednesday morning. The Raptors reportedly are looking to trade Bargnani, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2006.
• Rudy Gay has averaged 24.5 points in two games with the Raptors, including a 29-point effort Sunday against the Miami Heat. He also said he has talked with close friend Rajon Rondo and said he is convinced the Boston point guard will return from his torn right ACL to All-Star form.
• Linas Kleiza is out with a sore right knee while Landry Fields is a game-time decision with back spasms.
• In the four games Rondo has missed, Paul Pierce is averaging 17.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 6.2 assists. He has converted five of his last 10 3-point attempts.
• Former Celtic Mickael Pietrus hasn't played in three weeks because of coach's decisions and knee soreness. He said he played all of last season for Boston with a swollen knee. He underwent another procedure on his right knee in the offseason and wanted to come back to Boston, but the Celtics weren't interested.
• The Celtics are third in the league in points allowed per game since Jan. 1 with 92.4. They were 17th through the season's first two months.
TORONTO -- The Celtics go for their fifth straight win against the new-look Raptors in Toronto, a place the Celtics have struggled in the past few years. And Toronto now features former All-Star Rudy Gay, acquired in a three-team trade from the Memphis Grizzlies. The Raptors sent Ed Davis to Memphis and Jose Calderon to Detroit.
Here are some notes from this morning's shootaround:
• Toronto center Andrea Bargnani, who may be showcased for trade, is a game-time decision after participating in shootaround for the Raptors. Bargnani hasn't played since Dec. 10 because of a torn elbow ligament.
• Mickael Pietrus said he played all of last season with an ailing right knee and wanted to return to the Celtics. Piertus has fallen out of the Toronto rotation and hasn't played since Jan. 9.
• The Celtics' lineup will stay the same and they arrive in Toronto with no further injuries. Doc Rivers said the Celtics have to play the same consistent way on the road than they did at home. They are 7-14 away from TD Garden.h
• Raptors swingman Rudy Gay said he has talked with Rajon Rondo and said there's no question he'll return to all-star form.
Usually don't post these promotional items, but this one is pretty cool. Fans who enter the Mass Lottery 2013 Boston Celtics Sweepstakes have a chance to win a game of horse vs. Paul Pierce. You can enter the contest here.
If you're lucky enough to win, a little advice: avoid the elbow jumper with the game clock winding down. He's pretty good at that.
Kendrick Perkins now has something else in common with best friend Rajon Rondo: They have both torn an anterior cruciate ligament.
Perkins, the Oklahoma City center and former Celtic, said Tuesday that he has spoken with Rondo and is helping him through a difficult period after the Boston point guard tore his right ACL Jan. 24 against the Atlanta Hawks.
Perkins tore his left ACL while being pulled down by the Lakers' Andrew Bynum as they chased a rebound during Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals. On Jan. 25, 2011, Perkins returned to action, seven months and 10 days after his injury.
"When you hear stuff like that, especially with a close friend, it's always disturbing," said Perkins. "So I just wanted to call and make sure that he was all right as far as mentally and just getting ready. Because it takes a focus to go through that process of surgery and the recovery of it.
"So I just wanted to give him some advice on his health and second opinions and how to go about his rehab and just let him know that I'm here for him."
Rondo was selected as an All-Star starter but told Perkins he won't be attending All-Star Weekend.
"So I'm going to go down there [to Rondo's home in Kentucky] for a day or two and just go hang out with him," said Perkins. "Because he probably might have the surgery before then. So just go down there and give him a little comfort.
"We talk every day, so it wasn't nothing unusual. But when I heard about it, we played that night and then I called him right after the game."
Perkins went through the rigorous rehabilitation process to return to the court and has continued his productive career. He said he wants to get Rondo prepared for his long road to recovery.
"Mentally, he has a hard time with just sitting out and probably not being able to walk for a minute and not being able to run," Perkins said. "And just the whole rehab part of it. Mentally, he struggles with things like that.
"That's the biggest thing he was concerned about. I don't think he never really had that type of surgery where it affected him and [forced] him to have to go to rehab to get back to where he needed to be."
Perkins said he has advice for Rondo, who is expected to return for Celtics training camp in October.
"Same thing I told [Oklahoma City teammate] Eric Maynor: Whatever you put into it is what you get out of it," he said. "Like I always say, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
"If you're worrying about when your return's going to be, you can't worry about that. You just got to keep progressing and getting better each day."
Let's put to rest the notion that the Celtics are a better team without Rajon Rondo. That theory, encapsulated here and here and strengthened by the lunatic fringe on sports talk radio, might never have formed in any market other than Boston. It shouldn't have merit here, either.
The Big Proof offered by Rondo's detractors that the team performs better without him seems to hinge on Boston's recent four-game winning streak and the perception that the Celtics point guard is a big meanie. I'm paraphrasing, of course, but the bulk of the anti-Rondo argument points to Boston's last four games and deep-seated beliefs about Rondo that have more to do with public perception than performance. (The local vitriol toward Rondo is particularly vexing considering the adoring swoons he receives from young fans before each game at TD Garden and the consistent top-10 ranking of Rondo's jersey in sales.)
Your personal opinions of Rondo aside, here are the reasons why the Celtics are not better without their All-Star point guard.
-- There's a lesson in sample size here. So soon after Nate Silver's statistical brilliance during the election, it's amazing how careless most of us can still be with numbers. If someone successfully tested a new cancer drug on four rats, you wouldn't deem the medicine fit for the market. And yet Rondo misses four games and all of a sudden everyone is the attorney general.
In the four games without Rondo, the Celtics have scored 101 points per game while giving up 92. They've averaged 25 assists, compared with 23 in games with Rondo. Must be a trend, right?
The truth is, the numbers aren't much different with or without Rondo this season. With Rondo on the floor, the Celtics have an effective field goal percentage of .494. Without Rondo, it's .495. With Rondo, the team's assist percentage is 64.5 percent; it's 60.5 percent without him. With Rondo, they commit 1.4 percent fewer turnovers. They have an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 100.9 with Rondo, compared with 104.2 without him. Those numbers are too close and vary too much to draw broad conclusions.
Extended back over the last four seasons, however, Rondo's value becomes obvious. Here are Boston's offensive ratings, with and without Rondo:
Four full seasons of scoring numbers fly in the face of any theory that the Celtics are better on offense without Rondo because they're swinging the ball around loosey-goosey without it sticking in Rondo's hands.
-- Rondo's playoff value is underrated. Detractors talk about Rondo stepping up in big games as if it's a bad thing. The truth is, Rondo has shined on the biggest stage like no other Celtic.
"He single-handedly carries us every night, and I don't know how people don't see that," said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge last week. "It's silly. He's a great, great player, and he's proven that time and time again. The guy's been MVP of probably four or five series over the last five years. He's been the best player in a series against LeBron James. He's been the best player in a series against Derrick Rose. He's been the best player in three games in a Finals series.
"The guy has done too many good things. The question is, 'Are the pieces right around him?' "
The numbers back Ainge. Everyone remembers Kevin Garnett's resurgence during last year's playoffs, but it was Rondo who led the team with 2.6 win-shares (Garnett was second with 2.3, Pierce third with 1.7).
-- It hasn't really helped other players. I love the energy a backcourt of Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee provides, but you have a harder time selling me on the Leandro Barbosa-Jason Terry backcourt that inevitably plays big minutes in Rondo's absence. All four of those shooting guards are good complements to Rondo, but they're all shooting guards, and the Celtics aren't at their best with every combination.
There's a myth out there that Terry has somehow been freed up in the absence of Rondo. John Karalis at RedsArmy.com dispels that by examining every shot Terry has taken in the last three games. Karalis put the work in and found that Terry isn't getting better or more shots, he's just making more shots. All that has increased are Terry's minutes (more on that in a moment).
-- The Celtics were already playing better before Rondo went down. Before a game vs. Memphis Jan. 2, the Celtics were coming off performances in which they allowed 106, 101, and 118 points. Bradley returned that night, and since then the Celtics have gone from 13th in the NBA in defensive rating to seventh. The difference has been drastic: Boston gave up 97.8 points per game in December and 92.2 points per game in January.
Rondo's detractors also point to the emergence of Lee and Jeff Green, but both players were coming on well before Rondo went down. Green has averaged 11.1 points on 51 percent shooting since Jan. 7. Lee is shooting 46 percent from the field, 38 percent on 3-points, since December. He made just 22 percent of his 3-pointers in his first 16 games.
-- It won't last. On increased minutes for Terry, Lee, and others, there's some truth to the notion that Rondo's absence could be inspiring for some players. Increased minutes should make guys happy (Barbosa's Twitter feed has been positively bubbly since Rondo went down). Rondo can be intense. Before a game against the Grizzlies in early January, he took Lee aside and pushed him to run through a shooting drill with more intensity. Perhaps Rondo's absence has given guys like Lee and Terry confidence and the ability to be themselves. If that's the case, it's not something that's likely to carry over into prolonged success.
-- The vagaries of a four-game winning streak. Did I mention four games is a small sample size? The Celtics could easily be 2-2 in Rondo's absence if Paul Pierce doesn't make a step-back 3-pointer vs. the Clippers. The Celtics blew a 19-point lead in that game (a game in which Chris Paul didn't play), which should be Exhibit A as to what can go wrong when Rondo isn't on the floor to lead the offense late. The Miami game went to double overtime. The Kings and Magic are bad teams. Let's see how this thing plays out before we send Rondo packing.
The Celtics aren't better without Rondo. What some people might mean to say but don't is that the Celtics would be made better with another All-Star in Rondo's place. That if you traded Rondo for, say, Stephen Curry or Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving or Paul George, you'd be a better team. That's fine. That's a debate, and it would be difficult to prove that one side or another is right in that kind of argument. But this notion that the Celtics are better, right now, is absurd.
By Baxter Holmes
Trade rumors are swirling, as per usual this time of year, with the NBA trade deadline a couple of weeks away (Feb. 21). And in the current media landscape -- driven by text messages, Twitter, and other bite-size forms of rapidly moving information -- these rumors tend to run a little more rampant than usual.
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, has been involved in those rumors, specifically with The Sporting News reporting that, according to sources, the Clippers are interested in Garnett in a deal that could include Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe.
On Tuesday, Garnett addressed those rumors -- and he started out by indicating that under Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, any change would not be surprising.
"Danny made it very, very obvious, since day one when he brought Ray (Allen) and myself here to align with Paul (Pierce), that he's going to do whatever's best for the organization," Garnett said. "He's always made that apparent, so I've always understood that.
"I bleed green, I'll die green," Garnett continued. "That's what it is. But it is a business. When it crosses that path, I'll deal with it. Trades are apart of this league. Every year you're going to hear things. If I were y'all (the media), I wouldn't read too much into it."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made it a point to note how many trade rumors that make the rounds in said current media landscape aren't based on any shred of truth. Rivers pointed out that any trade rumors were coming from the media, not from the Celtics organization.
"Sometimes some of the stuff that happens is just silly," Rivers said. "It really is. When I wake up in the morning and I hear a trade rumor that I haven’t heard in my office, that’s silly. And that’s what happens."
Rivers added that trade rumors aren't new; they're just often coming from people who, as he said, "sit behind a computer."
"The problem is now that you guys have to actually report it, which you shouldn’t do, but you do and it becomes an issue," Rivers said.
As for how he deals with players when trade rumors are floating around, Rivers said he doesn't actually have to do anything.
"Fortunately for our guys, a lot of them are veterans," Rivers said. "They’ve been through the drill. They know how it is. They know now that if you suggest, 'Hey, what about if someone did this?' it becomes factual.
"I think what’s changed in my time ... is it used to be factual. Now, someone can say something, they can create the news and they can report on the news that they created. And I think that is pretty silly.
"Nowadays, you can't believe half the things you read or hear, and it's sad."
So, what does Rivers want to happen with this roster?
"I like our roster," he said.
"That's your answer," he said.
Ainge has said that Boston will fill its two remaining roster spots before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
One tweet by a Sporting News reporter has set off a lot of talk about the Celtics potentially trading Kevin Garnett to the Clippers. The tweet, below, says that the Celtics and Clippers discussed a deal Sunday that would send guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Caron Butler to Boston as part of a deal.
ESPN shot down the report that the teams had spoken about a deal. So did the Los Angeles Times. Sean Powell of SportsonEarth.com says Garnett will only accept a trade if Paul Pierce is also traded. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, who usually breaks these kinds of trade stories, has not backed up the original report.
All of this suggests that the Celtics are not trading Garnett to the Clippers anytime soon. But that doesn't mean a trade won't happen, either. Fans have a tendency to believe trade rumors are an all-or-nothing venture. "I heard KG is going to the Clippers." "Someone shot it down, that can never happen now." And so it goes.
More pertinent is to look at what people involved are saying and doing. We've yet to hear from Garnett on the rumor, but with the Celtics playing Wednesday night we may soon. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has in no way shot down the notion that a trade could be coming.
"My job is to do what's in the best interest of our team, regardless of my personal ties or my personal feelings with the players," Ainge said last week. Asked specifically about trading Pierce, Ainge said he couldn't rule it out. He's likely to say something similar when asked about Garnett. Whether or not Ainge makes a move will depend on the offers on the table and the performance of his team before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
Garnett is the other key player here. He has a no-trade clause. He contemplated retirement at the end of last season. If he doesn't want to leave, he's not going anywhere. Both Garnett and Pierce can help a contending team, which means the rumors aren't likely to go away anytime soon.
Paul Pierce scored 22 points, grabbed five rebounds, and dished out four assists as the Celtics beat the Clippers for the fourth straight win.
Final: Boston 106, Clippers 104
Well, the Celtics have won four straight, improving their record to above .500 (24-23), but they nearly gave this one away. After a late run by the Clippers, Paul Pierce hit a filthy, cold-blooded step-back 3-pointer with 2.5 left to sick the dagger in this game. The shot gave Pierce a game-high 22 points. Jamal Crawford hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make the final margin what it is. Still, it's worth remembering that the Celtics led this one by 19.
Fourth quarter: 3:44, Boston 100, Clippers 96
The Clippers are on a 13-2 run and have nearly come back from being down by as many as 19 points in this game. The Celtics haven't scored in a long while and could use a bucket to stop the bleeding. This game is also getting much more chippy.
Fourth quarter: 5:27, Boston 100, Clippers 94
The Clippers have used an 11-2 run to cut Boston's lead down. The Garden crowd is definitely getting a little anxious. All the momentum is with the Clippers, who are relying on their starters, namely Eric Bledsoe (20 points) and Blake Griffin (20 points.) Boston has been lacking a go-to guy in these final moments. Kevin Garnett is back into the game with 5 fouls. We'll see how this finishes up.
Fourth quarter: 9:12, Boston 98, Clippers 86
A hectic sequence, but the Clippers are coming on strong, finally. Eric Bledsoe has a season-high 20 points to lead them, followed by 18 from Caron Butler and 16 from Blake Griffin. Kevin Garnett picked up his fifth foul and then was hit with a technical for jawing with Matt Barnes. Can the Celtics hang on? Or will this be another debacle like their loss in Atlanta?
End of the third quarter: Boston 92, Clippers 77
So, Jeff Green buried a corner trey to put Celtics up 17. But then Jamal Crawford banked in a trey from the top of the key. Well, to match that difficult shot, Leandro Barbosa hit a trey from the right wing that bounced around the rim a few times, then bounced out and hit the backboard before falling in. You don't see a shot like that even in a game of H-O-R-S-E. Barbosa added a hanging jumper in the lane as the buzzer sounded. He’s got 14 points. The Celtics have done it from beyond the arc, hitting 10 of their 14 3-pointers. Another important category is bench scoring, where the Celtics are outscoring the Clippers, 50-13.
Third quarter: 1:35, Boston 84, Celtics 70
The game has slowed down as the foul calls have picked up. No real sense of flow for either team. The Celtics have been getting more production from their second unit. Heck, Jason Collins has 7 points, besting his previous high of 4. Paul Pierce has 18 to lead the C's, and the C's other two double-digit scorers are off the bench, as Jason Terry and Jason Green each have 11 points. The Cel
Third quarter: 4:32, Boston 74, Clippers 58
An unusual sequence, as Eric Bledsoe barreled through a Jason Collins pick as Paul Pierce buried a 3-pointer. Collins knocked down the ensuing free throw to cap the rarely-seen four-point play. The Celtics followed that up with a transition layup by Leandro Barbosa, who has 8 points. Barbosa's layup put the Celtics lead back to 19 and brought the Garden to its feet.
Third quarter: 6:17, Boston 68, Clippers 53
Three players already have four fouls: Kevin Garnett, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers are in the bonus, but they're also not a great free-throw shooting team. (We're looking at you, Jordan.) Offense has been stagnant for both teams, but the officials are starting to call this one pretty tight.
Third quarter: 8:48, Boston 64, Clippers 48
The Clippers had a hot start to the third quarter, with a dunk from Blake Griffin and a 3-pointer from Caron Butler. Meanwhile, Avery Bradley missed an easy two-handed slam for the Celtics. An omen? Not quite. Brandon Bass followed that up with a midrange jumper and Paul Pierce just snuck in for an offensive rebound that he turned into a 3-pointer.
Halftime: Boston 59, Clippers 40
The Clippers scored just 10 points that quarter. At halftime, they have 16 made baskets and 15 turnovers. Could they play worse? Sure. They did lose by 25 on Friday. And remember: This Clippers team is without Chris Paul. That said, the Celtics are playing great basketball. They're sharing the ball, as 10 Celtics have scored, and six of them have six points. Bench scoring: Celtics 32, Clippers 5. Plus, the Celtics defense has really locked down. We'll see if they can keep it up in the second half.
Second quarter: 1:25, Boston 53, Clippers 40
Great ball movement by the Celtics led to an easy one-handed slam by Kevin Garnett down low. He has 6 points. The Clippers answered with a dunk on the other end by DeAndre Jordan, who has four dunks. He has 9 points. Clippers have 16 baskets and 14 turnovers.
Second quarter: 3:14, Boston 51, Clippers 36
Jason Terry just canned a 3-pointer in transition to give the Celtics their biggest lead of the day. The Clippers are 3-of-13 from the floor this quarter with 8 turnovers. Not good at all for Lob City's chances. The Celtics are continuing to get a balanced effort, with 28 bench points; the Clippers have just 5 bench points.
Second quarter: 6:28, Boston 45, Clippers 32
The Celtics defense has been fantastic this quarter, holding the Clippers to just 2 points so far. The Clippers also have 12 turnovers, which have resulted in 17 Boston points. A couple rough fouls so far, but they've been called on the Clippers. Ten Celtics have scored, and eight of them have at least 4 points.
Second quarter: 8:41, Boston 37, Clippers 30
The Clippers have yet to score this quarter. You can credit the Celtics defense for that -- and also some sloppy offense by the Clippers, who could clearly use Chris Paul. The Clippers have 10 turnovers, the Celtics have two. Boston has also received 17 points from its bench, while the Clippers have only 3 points from their reserves.
End of the first quarter: Boston 33, Clippers 30
A high-scoring first quarter. Boston is shooting 59 percent and the Clippers are shooting 60 percent. The Celtics have been trying to run and gun again. Whoever rebounds it has kicked it to an outlet man to start the break. Overall, their ball movement has been crisp, and it's why they're leading the Clippers right now. The Celtics bench has also contributed; four reserves have scored, and two have 4 points. Blake Griffin has 8 points, as does DeAndre Jordan, to lead the Clippers.
First quarter: 3:52, Boston 25, Clippers 23
The clearly-more-athletic Clippers have five dunks, three from DeAndre Jordan. But the Celtics have been patient on offense, chipping away methodically for buckets. This has been a pretty physical game, but the officials aren't calling it as tight as they did early.
First quarter: 5:56, Boston 17, Clippers 17
Another alley-oop slam by the Clippers, this time DeAndre Jordan, who has 5 points. Caron Butler has been an issue for the Celtics; he has 8 points and has hit 3 of his 5 shots. All of the Celtics starters have scored. Will be interesting to see what happens when these teams go to their second units.
First quarter: 8:00, Clippers 14, Boston 1
The folks from Lob City posted three early dunks to take a 11-6 lead, but the Celtics answered back with a corner 3-pointer from Courtney Lee and, later, a baseline jumper from Kevin Garnett. The refs are calling this one close so far.
And were moments from tipoff here at the Garden, where the Clippers (34-14) will take on the Celtics (23-23) this Sunday afternoon. We'll have live updates throughout the game, so stay tuned to the blog. And be sure to check out tomorrow's Globe for full coverage.
The Celtics have won three consecutive games, all without Rajon Rondo, and the latter two without Jared Sullinger; both of those guys are out with season-ending injuries. Boston's bench has come up big lately, with 39, 50 and 43 points, respectively, in those three wins.
But, as I wrote in Sunday's Globe, this is also a big test for the Celtics' new small-ball scheme. We'll see how they fare against the Clippers, who, even without Chris Paul (knee), will offer the Celtics their stiffest test yet since Rondo and Sullinger went down.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS.
BOSTON CELTICS (23-23)
PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (34-14)
PG Eric Bledsoe
SG Willie Green
SF Caron Butler
PF Blake Griffin
C DeAndre Jordan
TV/Radio: CSN, WEEI (93.7)
- This is the second of two meetings; the Clippers won at home, 106-77, on Dec. 27.
- This is the third of an eight-game road trip for the Clippers, who suffered their worst loss of the season, a 98-73 defeat, on Friday in Toronto.
- The Clippers are plenty banged up: Chris Paul is expected to miss his seventh straight game with a bruised right kneecap; Jamal Crawford is questionable after suffering a broken nose against the Raptors; Griffin is suffering a sore left ankle; and Chauncey Billups is out with tendonitis in his left knee.
- The Clippers went into the weekend leading the league in steals and opponents' turnovers.
The Celtics are hoping to move up the list of teams that interests former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden after the two parties met Saturday afternoon in Boston.
Oden, a former prodigy who was supposed to change the Portland Trail Blazers franchise, has had microfracture surgeries on both knees and decided to take this season off to get those knees healthy as he attempts another return.
Oden has played a total of 82 games since entering the NBA in 2007 and has not been completely healthy since missing his entire rookie season with his first microfracture surgery. He last played on Dec. 5, 2009 with Portland, sustaining another serious knee injury that cost him two seasons.
The Blazers cut ties with Oden in March 2012 and he has been rehabilitating for the past season, targeting a 2013-14 return.
The Celtics have an interesting tie to Oden. They finished the 2006-07 season with the league's worst record and were planning to take Oden if they received the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft Lottery. Boston received the fifth pick and drafted Jeff Green to include in a deal with the Seattle SuperSonics for Ray Allen.
If the Celtics had received the top two picks, they would have likely stuck with their rebuilding plan and taken Oden or Kevin Durant, and the Big Three Era may have never occurred. While some member of the Celtics' organization said they would have taken Durant, now one of the league's top superstars, with the top pick, coach Doc Rivers maintains they would selected Oden, then a franchise-caliber center drawing comparisons to David Robinson.
Oden has played well during his brief stints on the court but now may be relegated to a part-time player because of his health. He has undergone three microfracture surgeries and another surgery for a fractured left knee cap.
Celtics forward Paul Pierce, the team's union representative, called for the removal of NBPA executive director Billy Hunter after Hunter was placed on a leave of absence Friday by the union and president Derek Fisher.
Union representatives are expected to convene at All-Star Weekend in Houston to determine Hunter’s fate. Pierce, who spearheaded union decertification during the previous lockout, said Hunter’s tenure should come to an end.
An independent investigation into union practices discovered several misdoings but nothing illegal. Hunter was found to have hired his family members, invested union money into a fledgling bank that employed his son, agreed to a contract extension without the vote of the entire union membership and purchased gifts for executive committee members using union money.
Hunter responded to the report this week by firing his family members and implementing new restrictions against nepotism and other restrictions of his power, but Pierce said the gesture was too late.
“I think with the way things been going with the association, with all the accusations, I think it’s finally time for some change,” he told the Globe after the Celtics’ 97-84 win over the Orlando Magic. “A lot of the players been unhappy with what’s going on and so I think it’s time.
“Yeah I definitely think it’s time (for new leadership), too much controversy going on right now. Players (need to) rally around each other and find some new leadership to lead us into the next generation.”
Final: Boston 97, Magic 84
The short-handed Celtics win their third straight -- all without Rajon Rondo -- to improve to .500 (23-23) after learning earlier in the day that rookie forward Jared Sullinger (back surgery) is lost for the season. The Celtics had five players score in double figures, led by 17 from Jeff Green off the bench. Paul Pierce posted his third straight double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds -- and Pierce also had 7 assists. Orlando (14-32) has lost eight straight games and 19 of 21 since Dec. 19. The Magic had four players score in double figures, and Nikola Vucevic had a double double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Fourth quarter: 2:38, Boston 92, Magic 77
We're almost done here. Just a few more ticks of the clock to go. Quite a few Celtics fans are leaving the Garden early to beat traffic. They're missing the season debut of Fab Melo.
Fourth quarter: 5:05, Boston 86, Magic 67
...And Fab Melo still hasn't checked into the game, which tells you pretty much all you need to know. He's a raw talent and the Celtics aren't in any rush to use him. But the unit they've been using lately -- Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry -- has been awfully effective. Celtics have five in double figures, led by 15 off the bench for Green, who has thrown down several nasty dunks tonight.
Fourth quarter: 8:20, Boston 82, Magic 63
The Magic have been jacking up awful shots for much of the night, and it's now starting to catch up to them. They're shooting 33 percent from the floor. Boston, on the other hand, is shooting 52 percent, and the Celtics are running and gunning for easy transition baskets. The Celtics also have three players off the bench in double figures, led by 13 from Jeff Green. This oen appears over.
End of the third quarter: Boston 72, Magic 59
The Celtics closed the quarter on a 15-5 run to make the margin what it is. They're really pushing the tempo -- much like we saw against the Kings -- and Leandro Barbosa has been out in front. He has 8 points. Paul Pierce has a double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds...and he also has 7 assists. If he nabs another triple double, it would be his second in three games. J.J. Redick has 15 points to lead the Magic.
Third quarter: 1:54, Boston 66, Magic 56
Leandro Barbosa added a layup in traffic, and Jason Terry followed that up with a transition layup to give the Celtics back their double-digit lead. The Magic have started to fold on offense, with sloppy possessions ending up in turnovers. Plus, Jameer Nelson left the game with a left forearm contusion and he will not return.
Third quarter: 3:47, Boston 62, Magic 54
Brandon Bass grabbed a rebound that he shouldn’t have been able to grab, then pump-faked a few times in traffic beneath the basket before throwing down a two-handed slam. That’s your play of the night so far for the Celtics. Boston followed that up with a short jumper by Paul Pierce, and then a thunderous one-handed driving slam by Jeff Green, who has 9 points off the bench, including two dunks.
Third quarter: 5:54, Boston 55, Magic 49
Avery Bradley has a pair of buckets to help give Boston a bit of breathing room. We're seeing the Celtics expend a tad more energy now that they're lead has shrunken to single digits. They're mostly staying with the ir starting unit, except for Garnett, who's catching a breather on the bench.
Third quarter: 8:07, Boston 51, Magic 43
The Celtics had some ugly possessions to start the third quarter, and as a result the Magic started chipping away at their lead. Courtney Lee was flattened by a screen set by Nikola Vucevic, and Lee went down pretty hard, but he ultimately stayed in the game.
Halftime: Boston 46, Magic 35
The Celtics take a double-digit lead into the locker room, but they've really only played well in spurts. They sleep-walked into this game and still look half asleep, as they could be beating the Magic by 20 if not more. Kevin Garnett has 10 points and 5 rebounds to lead the Celtics. Paule Pierce has 5 points and 8 rebounds. The Celtics are shooting 49 percent (20 for 41) from the floor. Nikola Vucevic has 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Magic, who are shooting 33 percent (15 for 46) from the floor.
Second quarter: 1:29, Boston 45, Magic 33
Jeff Green posted consecutive buckets in transition -- a two-handed slam, a nifty up-and-under layup -- that forced Orlando to take a timeout. The Celtics are just now getting back to that transition style that they had against Sacramento. We'll see if it keeps up.
Second quarter: 3:07, Boston 41, Magic 30
Nikola Vucevic has been impressive for Orlando, posting a double double (11 points, 10 rebounds) in the first 18 minutes of this game. But the Celtics continue to stay out in front by double digits. KG is 5 of 7 from the floor and has 10 points and 5 rebounds. The Celtics have 15 bench points and are shooting an even 50 percent from the floor (18 for 36).
Second quarter: 6:11, Boston 35, Magic 24
The Magic are putting up a lot of bricks: 1 of 11 from 3-point range, 10 of 34 from the floor overall. They're trying to play small ball -- and it isn't working. The Celtics, meanwhile, are starting to pick up some steam. They're shooting 47 percent (15 of 32) and KG has hit 3 of his 5 shots.
Second quarter: 8:15, Boston 29, Magic 22
The Celtics went with some pieces of their second unit -- Jeff Green, Chris Wilcos, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Terry -- and they held down the fort while the starters caught a blow. The Magic look like a pretty terrible team without Glen Davis and Aaron Afflalo. Kevin Garnett just checked back into the game and sank one of his midrange jumpers.
End of first quarter: Boston 25, Magic 18
It took the Celtics until nearly the end fo the first quarter, but they finally started to exert a little energy. J.J. Redick and Courtney Lee exchanged 3-pointers. And then Jason Terry got into the act with a trey of his own. Terry added another bucket to give him a team-high 7 points off the bench. The Celtics ended the quarter on a 10-2 run. Nikola Vucevic has 7 points to lead the Magic.
First quarter: 5:53, Magic 11, Boston 7
The Celtics are playing some U-G-L-Y basketball. They've got a pair of turnovers, are 3 of 12 from the floor and still look like they're asleep/in mourning for Jared Sullinger.
First quarter: 7:19, Boston 7, Magic 6
The Celtics missed their first six shots before Brandon Bass sunk a mid-range jumper. That said, they're still 3 of 11 from the floor. Not the hot start they were hoping for. The Magic are without Gled Davis (broken left foot) and Aaron Afflalo (strained left calf).
And were moments from tipoff here at the Garden, where the Magic (14-31) will take on the Celtics (22-23) this Friday evening. We'll have live updates throughout the game, so stay tuned to the blog. And be sure to check out tomorrow's Globe for full coverage.
The Celtics say they saw this coming, that Jared Sullinger was going to need back surgery sooner or later. But when he reported having spasms earlier this week, specialists gave the team really only one option Friday: operate now.
It meant that Sullinger wouldn't play again this season, but the benefit, the Celtics were told, was that Sullinger's ailing back would likely be fixed permanently.
"The decision to do surgery with Jared was simply for the long-term benefit of his career," Danny Ainge, the Celtics' President of Basketball Operations, said before the Celtics tipped off against the Orlando Magic at the Garden.
Sullinger underwent surgery Friday and is expected to be out until 2013-14 training camp. The rookie forward out of Ohio State played in 45 games for the Celtics, averaging 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game.
Sullinger is the second Celtic -- and the second key Celtic -- to be lost in the last six days to a season-ending injury. Rajon Rondo's season ended Sunday after it was revealed that he has torn ligaments in his right knee.
"Those were two key guys who were a big part of what we're trying to accomplish, but the season continues," said forward Jeff Green. "Guys have just got to step up."
But Ainge said he hasn't lost the faith in the Celtics, despite losing Sullinger and Rondo.
"We're not ready to cave in yet," he said. "It's going to take more than that."
Ainge added, "I think that we're going to have to win in a different way without Jared and without Rajon, but we'll see. We'll see what we have."
One option is rookie center Fab Melo, who is active for the Celtics game Friday against Orlando, but neither Ainge nor Doc Rivers made it seem as though Melo would play much.
With Sullinger, back issues were the red flags raised leading up to last year's draft, and they were what ultimately made him fall to the Celtics late in the first round.
It is these very issues, Rivers said, that led to Sullinger needing surgery.
"We knew this could happen," Rivers said. "We knew a month before the draft that this could happen and at some point probably would happen. We were hoping it would be a summer thing rather than in the middle of the season, but it happened now.
"He was playing great. I think the good news is we know he can play, and we know he’ll be a very good player, and in the long run this will make him healthier."
Rivers said this surgery does not make them re-think drafting Sullinger.
"No, I think we're very happy to have drafted him," Rivers said.
Rivers said the Celtics would "definitely be a "small-ball team" from now on. He said they would start big, with Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett, but then, after that, "we just have to put our five best players on the floor. We're going to have to be creative."
The Celtics will also have to rebound more as a unit, and Rivers said that he's especially going to lean on Green. "When he's in, he's going to have to rebound," Rivers said.
It bodes well for the Celtics, Rivers said, that there aren't many "big" teams in the NBA.
Rivers did suggest that Sullinger could take classes at Ohio State to finish up his degree while he's going through rehab.
"Like I said before, Jared is an old soul," Rivers said. "It’s not like he needs a summer league or anything. He’ll be ready by summer league, but I don’t envision him playing in summer league. He doesn’t need summer league."
Greetings and salutations, faithful Internet traveler, from TD Garden, where the Celtics and Orlando Magic are scheduled to throw down, basketball style, on Friday night.
But first, some bad news, Celtics fans: Rookie forward Jared Sullinger is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his injured back. The news leaked out earlier Friday afternoon, and the team confirmed his injury a couple hours before tipoff, adding that the surgery was successful and that Sullinger is expected to be back in time for 2013-14 training camp.
The Celtics have now lost two players in six days. First it was Rajon Rondo (torn ligaments in his right knee) on Sunday, now Sullinger, who was averaging 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game. He played in 45 games for the Celtics and was a blossoming big man, but he didn't play Wednesday because of back spasms.
But this isn't the first time Sullinger's back has been an issue. In fact, the red flags about his back is largely why he fell to the Celtics at the 21st pick in the first round of the 2012 draft.
However, this does give an opportunity to Fab Melo, who is active for the first time during the regular season tonight. He has yet to play for the Celtics this season. That could change against the Magic.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS.
BOSTON CELTICS (22-23)
PG Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Chris Wilcox
C Kevin Garnett
ORLANDO MAGIC (14-31)
PG Jameer Nelson
SG J.J. Redick
SG E'Twaun Moore
PF Gustavo Ayon
C Nikola Vucevic
TV/Radio: CSN, WEEI (93.7)
- The Celtics have won two consecutive games without Rondo.
- The Magic have lost 18 of 20 games since Dec. 19 and are trying to avoid their eighth straight loss.
- Orlando starting forward and former Celtic Glen "Big Baby" Davis is out with a broken left foot, an injury he suffered Wednesday in a loss to New York.
- The Magic could also be without their leading scorer, Aaron Afflalo, who has missed two straight games with a strained left calf.
The Celtics said on their web site that Sullinger had successful lumbar disc surgery Friday at New England Baptist Hospital. They also said they expect him to be ready to return at next season's training camp.
Sullinger left Wednesday's game vs. the Kings in the first quarter because of back spasms. He appeared in 45 games this season and averaged 6.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 19.8 minutes.
Sullinger's draft stock fell because of concerns over his back when he came out of Ohio State in June, and the Celtics selected him with the 21st pick. The 6-9, 260-pound Sullinger played two seasons at Ohio State.
At the NBA Draft combine, doctors discovered a herniated disc in his back, but Celtics president Danny Ainge said the team felt "comfortable" drafting him.
“We were concerned and we did our research on him and we felt comfortable. But there are some issues there. Our medical staff thinks short term and long term there may be some maintenance issues with the back," Ainge said in June.
“[Coach] Doc Rivers played with a herniated disc for 13 years. So, he may need surgery at some point and may not. All I know is what the MRI results were at the end of the combine in Chicago.”
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the news.
WALTHAM -- Center Fab Melo will be placed on the active list and available tonight for the Celtics matchup with the Orlando Magic.
Melo was recalled from NBADL Maine to rehabilitate a quadriceps injury but the club has decided to keep him on the active roster for the first time this season. Melo, one of the team's two first-round picks, has not played in an NBA game this season.
"That's the thing I've been working hard for, been looking forward to this time," he said after working out with assistant coach Jay Larranaga following shootaround. "I'm very excited and I want to be there and help the team."
Melo averaged 11.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.6 blocks in 19 games for the Red Claws.
Meanwhile, rookie Jared Sullinger was not present at Celtics' shootaround because of back spasms and it is uncertain whether he will play against Orlando. Sullinger, who has played in the first 45 games, left the win over Sacramento with 7:52 left in the first quarter because of back issues.