44. Jackasses Win: The View from Boston



I'd like to explore a throwaway line that I used as the lead in my previous Blazer game summary. Forgive me for going all AK on ya by quoting myself, but here's the line again:

"Portland has had a terrific problem blowing away the bottom-feeders of the NBA this season — the one single fact which may ultimately doom the team's playoff hopes."

Whattaya say..... Agree? Disagree???

I was feeling it when I wrote it, for sure. There have unquestionably been several "bad losses" this year to second division teams. The main five pebbles stuck in my craw being defeats during visits to Golden State (Nov. 20), New York (Dec. 7), Milwaukee (2OT, Dec. 20), and Washington (Jan. 18), as well as a home loss to Philly. That's 5 bad beats out of 17 games, or just shy of 30% of the FAILs. That strikes me at being high — but is it really?

There is no doubt that the Blazers, if they are truly a strong contender to make the NBA Finals, should beat those five teams on any given night. However, as I was lying in bed pondering the universe this morning a gnawing question began to grip me: Are these five losses any worse, any different than what the Blazers experienced during a comparable stretch of LAST season — a year in which the team finished with 54 wins en route to home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs?

Was I actually full of crap (errrrrr, that is to say: more full of crap than usual) when I asserted that this year's Blazers were getting punked by pukes? I really didn't have a clue...

I decided to take a look at Portland's results in the first 43 games of the 2008/09 NBA campaign and compare them to the outcomes of the team's first 43 games from the current season to test the veracity of my anecdotal and alcohol-induced observation that This Year's Model has a disturbing inability to put away bad teams.

Using the results published on I broke down the two season schedules into wins and losses, home and away. I instantly observed that — conveniently — Portland has won 26 games and lost 17 contests at the 43 game mark both this season and last. That should make things rather more simple to figure out whether they're taking comparatively more bad beats now versus then. 

Let's take a look and see how things measure up...


Blazer Losses.

The first thing I noticed is that Portland has both played and lost 2 more home games this year than last.

@ Boston Celtics @ Atlanta Hawks
@ Charlotte Bobcats @ Cleveland Cavaliers
@ Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors
@ Golden State Warriors @ Houston Rockets
@ Los Angeles Lakers @ Los Angeles Clippers
@ Los Angeles Lakers @ Milwaukee Bucks
@ New Orleans Hornets @ New York Knicks
@ Philadelphia 76ers @ Orlando Magic
@ Phoenix Suns @ Utah Jazz
@ Phoenix Suns @ Washington Wizards
@ Utah Jazz Atlanta Hawks
@ Utah Jazz Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers Denver Nuggets
Dallas Mavericks Memphis Grizzlies
Los Angeles Clippers Memphis Grizzlies
New Orleans Hornets Miami Heat
Orlando Magic Philadelphia 76ers

Most of the losses last year seem to have been to upper echelon teams. Only 3 of last season's first 17 failures jump off the screen as "bad" losses — at Charlotte, at Golden State, and home against the Clippers. So if you accept my assertion that last year's Sixers were a "good" team while this year's version is a "bad" team; and the corollary that this year's Grizzlies are "good" rather than "bad," it does indeed appear than my slightly vapid observation that the Blazers have been getting beat by a relatively lower caliber of team this year than last does have some merit.

But if the Blazers are losing to worse teams while maintaining the same overall record as last season, perhaps there is some offsetting positive regarding the caliber of team they are actually beating...


Blazer Wins.

Both this year and last, 10 of Portland's first 26 victories have come on the road. I would have guessed that the team was performing at a somewhat better level on the road this season than last... They've actually played two fewer road games this season to win the same number — so they are doing somewhat better in 2009/10 than in 2008/09 — but the difference is fairly slight.

@ Chicago Bulls @ Charlotte Bobcats
@ Detroit Pistons @ Dallas Mavericks
@ Miami Heat @ Indiana Pacers
@ Minnesota Timberwolves @ Memphis Grizzlies
@ New Jersey Nets @ Miami Heat
@ New York Knicks @ Minnesota Timberwolves
@ Orlando Magic @ New Orleans Hornets
@ Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder
@ Toronto Raptors @ Philadelphia 76ers
@ Washington Wizards @ San Antonio Spurs
Boston Celtics Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets Houston Rockets
Miami Heat Los Angeles Clippers
Milwaukee Bucks Los Angeles Lakers
Minnesota Timberwolves Milwaukee Bucks
New Orleans Hornets Minnesota Timberwolves
Phoenix Suns Minnesota Timberwolves
Sacramento Kings New Jersey Nets
Sacramento Kings Orlando Magic
San Antonio Spurs Phoenix Suns
Toronto Raptors Sacramento Kings
Washington Wizards San Antonio Spurs

With regards to the quality of the team which the Blazers are beating this year, there does seem to be some good news. Of the ten road wins from last year, only a victory in Orlando sticks out as a particularly pretty feather for Coach Nate's cap. This year, on the other hand, the Blazers have went to Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans, and San Antonio and packed away victories. In short: the quantity of road wins has been slightly better than last year, but the quality of those wins has been significantly better for Portland this year.

As far as home victories go, things appear to be no worse than a wash. Last year the Celtics fell during the first half of the year, this year the Lakers; a win over the Hornets last year, a win over the Magic this... A couple wins this year over the Blazers' arch nemesis, the Houston Rockets, those look nice on the mantlepiece — but how good is that team, ultimately? Still: no worse than a wash and maybe a slight improvement over last year's first 16 home wins.

So if the losses suffered this year are somewhat worse than the hits taken last year, it is equally true that the wins are somewhat superior.


What Does It All Mean?

I'm not going to try to mathematize the obvious bringing in win/loss percentages. I'll leave that to Mr. Scot. Sussing it out gets us close enough to the facts... And the bottom line is pretty simple: The Blazers have had relatively better success on the road this year than last and have had a relatively more difficult time beating bad teams this year than last. They have lost to more bad teams while at the same time beating more good teams.

Does that average things out in the long run?


Portland beating more good teams and losing to more bad ones can definitely add up to the same number of wins when the smoke clears after 82 games. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Does being able to beat the best make you warm and tingly inside? Does an inability to triumph over doormats fill you with rage and loathing?

Given the Blazers' enormous success during the final 6 weeks or so of last season, when they were one of the hottest teams in the NBA, it is difficult for me to envision equalling last year's 54 wins during the current campaign. But anything is possible, I reckon. They ain't dead yet. Thus far, at least, the difference between this year's performance and that of last year is less than some naysayers may have you believe.


Channel Surfing.

Thursday, Jan. 21.


Los Angeles Lakers (32-9) at Cleveland Cavaliers (32-11).

Fifteen Observations About the Game:

1. Every once in a while Reggie Miller is good for something. He noted that LBJ is left handed. I never knew that... According to computer projections Reggie will again provide some positive contribution to an NBA telecast sometime in November 2016.

2. The 260 pound muscleball LBJ jumping over the Laker bench and landing in the lap of a 120 pound woman is a recipe for catastrophe. David Stern needs to force Cleveland to put up metal safety nets courtside like they use in NASCAR.

3. "I've always considered myself a high-level role player... Here, whenever Mr. James gets the ball, our job is just to make him look better." —The Always Hilarious Shaq.

4. Zydrunas Ilgauskas has better hair than Sasha Vujacic.

5. Wanna know the difference between LBJ and Kobe? Kobe hates losing more than Lebron hates losing. Lebron hates being shown up more than Kobe hates being shown up.

6. I realize that Sprite™® sponsors the NBA's Slam Dunk competition during All Star Weekend.™®  I have only one question for you, NBA fan, marketing target: do you or does anybody you know actually drink that lame crap? No, you say? I didn't think so...

7. I think the NFL's putting up a text number with which a person can instantly give $10 to the American Red Cross is probably a more effective way to raise funds for Haitian relief than the NBA asking people to log onto their website for additional info about giving money to UNICEF.

8. Shannon "UPS" Brown was originally a 1st Round draft pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I did not know that.

9. LBJ has never been called for a foul without whining or made a big shot without running his mouth like he's, ummm, The Chosen One or something... I'd like to continue with this thought, but I reckon the mods would come unglued.

10. Taco Bell's™® food sucks so bad that they can't even make it look appealing on TV. Did you know "Gordita"™® is Spanish for "Little Fatty"?

11. James dribbling and dribbling. Crowd chants: "M-V-P!!!  M-V-P!!!" Dribble dribble dribble dribble. LBJ chucks a contested trey. Airball. Cut to LBJ whining about an uncalled foul. Replay shows the ball "far out of his hands" (Reggie's words) before Lebron was tapped on the elbow. "A good no-call," opines Marv. Four point game, Laker ball...

12. Tie game, one minute. LBJ tripled, dishes to Varejao, who misses point-blank.

13. La-La down 2 points, 24 seconds to play. Pau Gasol is fouled under the rim. Pau, an 84% shooter on the year but a notorious clutch FT choker, bricks a pair. Cleveland rebounds and the Lakers are gumboots in the guano.

14. LBJ intentionally fouled. Makes one, misses one, but the Lakers mug Varejao and the foul is called. Lead is 5 points with 15 seconds and the guano is leaking over the gumboots now... Hasta, baby.

15. The Lakers let Trevor Ariza get away and signed Koo Koo the Klown EXPRESSLY for the purpose of stopping LBJ in the NBA Finals. Seriously... So how'd that work out for ya, Mitch? In 40 minutes Lebron shot 12/16 on 2 pointers, 1/9 on 3 pointers, 10/13 from the line — total of 37 points. He also added 5 rebounds and 9 assists.

Cavaliers 93, Lakers 87.


Friday, Jan. 22.


Portland Trail Blazers (26-17) at Boston Celtics (27-13).

I played hooky from work a little bit to catch this one. I'm not sure how wise that was, but January is the slow time of year in the shoe biz and I figured it was time to cash a chip... I REALLY REALLY hate Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics and Rex owed 'em one after the Donkey doing the Dog at him, so I've had this date circled on the schedule for a long time. 

I'm gonna drink whiskey and throw up bullets. I'm not getting paid — so sue me...

  • The Celtics were only 11 wins and 7 losses at home going into this one — Brandon Roy or no Brandon Roy, you have to be just a little bit excited about those odds.
  • Portland did a decent job of hanging with the home team during the first period, despite shooting just 47% versus the 63% of the Celtics they made it to the quarter break down 5 points, 30-25.
  • As the 2nd Quarter began, the Blazers were bricky from the perimeter. Boston began the period 8-for-8 from the field. That's not what you want to be facing in this venue, but the Boston fans are a little more subdued this year given their team's previous failures.
  • Boston was hitting their open looks. Good hustle was shown by the Blazers running for offensive boards, however, something which kept the boys in red in the game.
  • Boston was shooting over 70% from the field with 7 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter. How do you survive that?
  • Rasheed was fired up to play against his old team. "I'd like to get Sheed out of the game. When Sheed gets interested in scoring, he can be really tough," opined Mike Rice. Rasheed scored 11 points in the first half, which certainly counts as being "interested."  He finished with 14, incidentally.
  • Boston opened the game 21/28 from the floor, which works out to 71%. Boston's bench was outscoring Portland 22-0 with 4:30 in the half. Maaaaaan.
  • Rudy hit the first 3 for Portland (on the 6th try), also scoring the team's first bench points, at the 3:30 mark of the 2nd Quarter. His hit cut the lead to 4.
  • "I can't believe the score. I happen to look up, I think we're 15 down and we're only 4 down." —Rice.
  • "Second chance points are one of the things the Blazers need to excel in to have a chance in this game." —Michael Holton.
  • Both teams went cold at the end of the 2nd Quarter, which was just fine with Portland. Things going sluggish are always good for the Blazers. 
  • "[Andre Miller] is one of the guys that brings the nasty on this team. Him and Bayless together — that's good to see." —MB.
  • Blazers got sloppy at the end but sorta lucked out to bring the margin back to 5 at the half.
  • Bayless tweaked ankle. "It wouldn't be a Blazer game without some type of injury." — Rice.
  • Am I the only one whose heart sinks when Bayless goes out in favor of Rudy?
  • Where would this team be with no Roy if they didn't have Andre?
  • Celtics 4 wins and 6 losses without KG in the last 10 games.
  • Taco Bell's food looks like crap but the counter girls in the commercials are cute as hell. Severe Jimmy Carter Lust in my heart... I'm still not gonna spend 8 cents or 89 cents on one of those crappy McGreasies though...
  • Obligatory Defensive 3 Second Technical Foul on Portland and 91% FT shooter Ray Allen bricks the freebie. A good sign.
  • Blazers got it to 1 point just outside of 7 minutes in the third but couldn't get a shot off. Boston started getting the ball low and quickly extended the lead back to 7.
  • Why does a poofie-fluff softie like LMA have so many tattoos? Gimme a break, you're not fooling anyone...
  • Andre Miller is a crafty drawer of offensive fouls. I can appreciate that skill, for sure.
  • I've decided that Rudy Fernandez is a swell guy and a marketer's dream, but he's really not tough enough to excel in this league. Too skinny and he plays too soft. Sorry, Twiggs.
  • Ray Allen swishes two from the FT line. "He may not even hit the net from now on, it will be that clean." —Rice.
  • Sheed grabs a ref on the arm after a personal called. No Technical. Hmmmm. Special rules for special people...
  • Nine minutes to go, Blazers make one, get it back, and Marty drains a 3 to pull within 1 point. "You don't wanna catch up too quick," says Rice. Hmmmmmmm. Personally, bro, I'm good with catching up quick and building a little lead. But that's just me...
  • Doc Rivers is one of the most whiningest coaches in the NBA. The Mikes have made that sale.
  • LMA is the most unclutch megamultimillionaire in the NBA. KP — please bang your head against the wall. Thank you.
  • I think Andre Miller might be a keeper. Dude gets to the rim just like Brandon.
  • One minute in the game, Blazers down 2 points, and Marty does a jarretjack on the boundary. Ugh. Somehow in this game the Blazers have maintained contact throughout, which is good, but it has NEVER at any point seemed like it was gonna turn out happy.
  • Less than a minute, Rondo breaks to the rim, WIDE FRICKING OPEN and can not finish. Blazers rebound. A gift from the gods... "HOW DO YOU *&*^&%^*%&* MISS THAT?!?!?!?" I bellow to no one in particular. "How do you miss that?" Rice asks in a more subdued tone.
  • Marty ties it at 34.2. Wow.
  • Paul Pierce takes a shot and misses badly. Boston corrals the offensive rebound and calls time at 13.5. Bummer. Overtime would be nice at this point.
  • Rice calls a shot for Paul Pierce. Boston puts in House, Blazers go small. Pierce to the rim AND RUNS DOWN ANDRE MILLER FOR THE OFFENSIVE FOUL AND FOULS OUT!!! Wow. What are the odds? Crafty damned veteran, that guy is...
  • Time out and Blazer ball with 1.1 showing. Enough time for a prayer to steal this one... 
  • Lob to LMA fails and we have overtime. Which I will take (see above)...
  • "If you take it back, Blazers have lost 6 straight overtime games." —MB
  • Kudos to Andre for passing Jerry West to gain 24th place all time in NBA assists tonight.
  • Blazers 5 for 21 from behind the arc, early in overtime, and the Blazers were still in it. Pretty amazing.
  • Another Obligatory Defensive 3 Second Technical on the Blazers. Ray Allen miraculously misses again. "Ball don't lie," notes MB.
  • Rondo hits the first bucket of OT after more than 2 minutes played...
  • Portland up 2 and Rondo tips it out of bounds. Officials unclear and it goes to video review. MB and Rice are extremely nervous after the Milwaukee escapade, when a video review was made wrongly. "After the Milwaukee game I'm not going to assume anything," says MB. "We're in Boston, that's all I'm going to say," says Rice. Portland ball.
  • Of course, Ray Allen eventually hits a 3 and the Celtics lead. Two for 13 previously, but the Celtics now are up by one on the critical make.
  • I can't type what I want to say about the Ultimately Most Supremely Unclutch Useless LMA. It was loud and nasty in my house, suffice it to say. KP, how much did you agree to pay Mr. First Quarter again??? Remind me.... The miss ends in a Boston bucket and a 3 point lead. And, pretty obviously, the ball game.
  • 12.5 seconds. Blazer ball, down 3. 
  • Rudy chokes, throwing a desperation 3 with 3.5 on the clock. It's an L.
  • "It doesn't feel like there's justice in the world on nights like this when the Blazers don't have Roy and they don't have Bayless and they fight so hard..." —MB True.
  • Blazers: 12 shots in the Overtime. Celtics: just 6. Argh.
  • Andre Miller — 28 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists. Very nice. Smoke it, haters...

Celtics 98, Blazers 95 (OT). That's show biz...


Time for the Popcorn Machine GAME FLOW SUMMARY — so just give it a click!

Observation 1: From about midway in the 1st Quarter on this was Boston's game to lose. They were ahead for about 98% of the rest of the way up until overtime. The Blazers were lucky to get that close, actually.

Observation 2: Blazers had a critical 10-2 run late in the 4th Quarter to catch up. Superheroes on the floor for this were: Andre, Rudy, LMA, Juwan, and a tag team of Marty and Blake.

Observation 3: Portland's 4th Quarter points came from Marty with 10 and Andre with 9. LMA contributed exactly 1 clutch point in the 4th, to go with his zero-point-zero in the overtime.

Observation 4: Team high on the PLUS/MINUS was Marty at +10. Team low was Blake and -11. Since those guys were subbing in and out for one another all night, there IS something important to be observed there...


And now hop on over to your closet and pull out your wildest hawaiian shirt and join me in watching the latest installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD:



Well, goody for you, you've finally made it to the point of this whole exercise, the commentary and reportage of the bloggers and journalists of the Celtic Nation...



"Pucker Up, Jeff Clark."


Timbo's Bottom


You are banned from CelticsBlog.

You can browse the blog, but you can't participate.

Reviewing your moderation history, it's not worth a warning. Banned instead.



Ray-Demption: C's 98, Blazers 95 (OT)

by Zach Lowe, Celtics Hub (TrueHoop)

* * *
You can either celebrate a much-needed win and the return of Kevin Garnett or you can wonder why the C's had such trouble beating a Blazer team missing half its best players, including its star two guard.

Which path do you take?

Right now, I take the path to watching the last Conan O'Brien show. More later.

Oh, and Ray: It's a really good thing you made that shot.



I Never Doubted You, Ray

by BigMck, Red's Army

Ray Allen shook off a horrible shooting night (3-14 FG, 2-4 FT) and nailed a go-ahead three pointer with 41 seconds left in overtime which helped propel the Celtics to a 98-95 win over the Blazers. * * *

Despite KG's presence, the Celtics were beaten badly on the boards. Portland — a mediocre rebounding team — had 16 offensive rebounds and 22 second chance points. Juwan Howard had 12 rebounds. Yes, that Juwan Howard. * * *

Andre Miller lead Portland with 28 points. Jerryd Bayless — who was filling in for Brandon Roy - had 12 points at the break, but did not play in the second half due to a sprained ankle. * * *

A win is a win, but the KG-inspired Celtics did not impress me tonight.



KG Talks About His Game


by Mike Petraglia, Green Street

Kevin Garnett was in a jovial mood following his first game since Dec. 28.

And for good reason. He just passed the first significant test of his right knee, which was hyperextended during the ill-fated West Coast road trip.

He had 13 points, two rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes. * * *





What Tonight's Win Tells Us

posted by "Drucci" to CelticsBlog forum

* * *

  • KG looked great in his return on both ends. His jumpshot is nowhere near existent right now but rust will do that. He limped late in the game but I think it was due to his lack of conditioning - nothing to worry about. He ran very quickly and well during the game, and even went to his traditional fadeaway that we had not seen in while. * * *
  • We collapsed in the 4th. Once again, too many threes to start the game, or jumpshots. Blazers benefited from some calls too (like the Webster's 3 free throws after he moved his leg to get the call).
  • We couldn't stop Miller's penetrations. We once again had good plays (Rondo steal comes to mind) and poor plays (repeated turnovers). Basically kept the Blazers right back in the game. * * *
  • We couldn't get a rebound to save our lives tonight. Some were lucky bounces for the Blazers but for the most part we didn't box out or hang on to the rares boards we got. Really a concern. * * *
  • We kept our composure in OT, even down 2 with 30 seconds to play. Doc kept going to Ray when he was ice cold and it paid big time. I have ton confess I even said "Don't give the ball to Ray" while I always say to go to him in the clutch, but he sucked badly and had no confidence AT ALL in his shot. Never seen him struggle like that before.
  • Ray made the big three and then got a huge possession on a hustle play where he threw it to TA for a big dunk (3 point lead). * * *
  • By the way, the Blazers are really impressive. They basically had a 8 player rotation, down to 7 when Bayless left the game after getting hurt, and they nearly won the game. Show you what hustle and heart are all about, McMillan deserves strong considerations for coach of the year. * * *



A Tired Basketball Team

posted by "Tenn Smoothie" to CelticsBlog forum

*  *  *

My thoughts on the Celts are that this is a tired basketball team - not from this season, but from the toll the past three seasons has taken on an older and injury-proned team that this championship group of Celtics are.

They are tired mentally and emotionally more than physically. this group is a grind-it-out team, both offensively and defensively. they have to work very hard to play well and to look good. They do not get a lot of easy baskets, just not their style. They win by grinding the other team into the ground with their defense. This team has always been a little painful to watch on offense. I said that back in the championship season. After awhile, that type of style, which takes so much emotional focus and energy to play, will take the life out of a team. Throw in their age and the fact that they have had to fight thru long stretches without key players and the result can turn out like the breakdown we have seen during the past month.

I think last season's stretch run and playoff struggle without garnett took a lot out of this team. Throw in the fact that it is january, the "heaviest" month of the nba season, and you have even more wear and tear on the Celtics.

Tinally, I'm afraid that Rasheed Wallace does not fit with this team. his is a proud bunch of players who play very hard for each other and sacrifice for each other. Wallace has a basic lazy, selfish nature that does not fit. His energy detracts from the team instead of boosting it. His temper and bad behavior has turned into a distraction. He doesn't work hard and is not a grinder. Really, the guy has always been a bit of a front-runner and that definitely is not this teams personality. * * *



Thank God Roy Didn't Play

posted by "Cyclical" to Real GM Celtics message board

The Celtics lucked out on this one.

When you don't fight for rebounds, turn the ball over, miss wide open shots and have a 7-footer park his ass on the 3-point line instead of on the blocks it usually doesn't add up to a win.

Thank god Roy didn't play.



Updates from Celtics-Blazers

by Gary Washburn, Boston Globe Celtics blog

The Blazers were confused on the final play and Rudy Fernandez fired up two forced 3-pointers.

Kendrick Perkins gathered the rebound and fired the ball to the other end of the court as the buzzer sounded.

A gritty win, but remember the Blazers were without their best player -- Brandon Roy -- and second-year guard Jerryd Bayless who had 12 points in 19 minutes before an ankle sprain. * * *


                      *  *  *  A  D  D  E  N  D  A  *  *  *


Welcome Result: With Garnett back, Celtics edge Blazers

by Frank Dell'Apa, Boston Globe

Coach Doc Rivers said battling a depleted Portland team down to the wire last night might have been a positive sign for the Celtics. And the TD Garden crowd agreed, celebrating the team's 98-95 overtime win over the Trail Blazers with playoff enthusiasm.

In fact, there were some major Celtic positives. Kevin Garnett returned from a 10-game absence (hyperextended knee) to log 30 minutes and score 13 points. The Celtics broke a three-game losing streak and won at home for the first time since Jan. 2. And they got through overtime without Paul Pierce (24 points), who fouled out with 1.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Celtics struggled mightily in the second half against the Blazers, who were missing two starters, then lost Jerryd Bayless (sprained left ankle) a minute into the third quarter. Ray Allen was especially off target, but he recovered to convert the go-ahead 3-pointer in OT, then assisted on Tony Allen's dunk, the final basket of the game.

"It wasn't pretty," Rivers said. "But in some ways, for us, the way we won may have been better for us." * * *



Reflect, Then Look Ahead

by Gary Washburn, Boston Globe

There will be nothing but positives surrounding the return of Kevin Garnett if teammates react appropriately to his presence.

Garnett's return doesn't make the Celtics a championship team, it makes them championship-caliber. But the other 13 players have to respond with self-reflection and improvement because there was major slippage in his absence. Last night's 98-95 overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers at TD Garden wasn't exactly impressive, but Garnett's impact was apparent.

The "Garnett's out'' excuse grew tired recently. The Celtics lost to teams they should have beaten even without Garnett: a limping Dallas team that lost by 22 points to Toronto the day before; a Detroit squad still waiting for Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince to return; and an inconsistent Chicago club that lost to the Clippers Wednesday. Those teams soundly beat the Celtics without Garnett because Boston's other weapons misfired badly - mostly on the defensive end. * * *



That's the Ticket: Kevin Garnett's return gives Celtics a lift: End three-game skid with overtime win

by Mark Murphy, Boston Herald

Kevin Garnett? He's expected to show rust. What's unsettling about the team he rejoined last night is that it, too, apparently ehas a layer of corrosion to shed.

Matched against a Portland club missing four of its main stars, the Garnett-reconstituted Celtics didn't so much break their three-game losing streak as they did escape from it. * * *

Ray Allen, despite suffering through one of his worst performances of the season (nine points, 3-of-14 from the field, 2-of-4 from the line), still had enough to curl off a pick and hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 41.3 seconds left in OT.

He then fed Tony Allen, breaking down the floor after forcing a Trail Blazers turnover, for a game-sealing layup. * * *



Miss-and-Hit Night for Ray Allen

by Mark Murphy, Boston Herald Celtics Notebook

Ray Allen has gone cold before, even if last night's nine-point, 3-for-14, game-winning performance during the Celtics' 98-95 overtime win over Portland was one of his strangest in memory.

What especially caught Allen's attention was his 2-for-4 performance from the free throw line - both misses coming while shooting technical foul shots, each off a defensive three-second violation by the Blazers.

"What was interesting was I didn't take any shots in the first half — I missed two layups — so my rhythm wasn't established early," he said. "Still, it looked good and felt good when it left my hand. It was frustrating, but I kept thinking about the next shot. The free throws were really frustrating. They were still on line, but they were long. I felt like I was off just a little bit." * * *



Saturday Notebook: KG's Back, Marquis is Close, Doc Eases Up on Baby, a Word on Conan

by Zach Lowe, Celtics Hub (TrueHoop)

* * *

  • Doc Rivers (via Murphy at the Herald): "Ray's a shooter, and you've just got to keep shooting."
  • Doc again, via ESPNBoston, showing he has a very good understanding of math: "But shooters shoot and eventually you just have to think the odds [are with you]. Every miss meant the odds were on our side more [that Allen would make the next one] is the way I was looking at it."
  • Paul Pierce, via the Globe: "You know, Ray is one of the great shooters of all time — I told him that in the huddle. He had the looks, but the one we needed, he was able to knock it down, and that's how much we believe in Ray. We told him to keep shooting. And he came up the very next play, he had the wide-open look. That's what we expect from Ray. We believe in him that much, no matter how his night is going."  * * *



Alright... There's One Step in The Right Direction

by GreenBanner18, Hardwood Houdini (Fansided)

I'll tell ya there is nothing more energizing than a huge Celtics victory. Especially after losing every game for what has seemed like the past month. I can tell you right now that I would probably not have written a post tonight recapping this game after doing a post game pod cast, if the Celtics lost. Well, that wasn't the case, so here I am writing you a recap, and I might as well put up a Daily Poll after it, huh?

Anyway, Kevin Garnett got his first start after missing 10 games. INSTANT, and I mean INSTANT energy. No other way to describe it. This team is the Celtics when KG is on the floor. Not the Celtics, but the Celtics. Now I know you get what I am saying. He is the heart and soul of the team that brings them together and it is great to see that despite his 13 point performance, and Ray Allen shooting 3-14 from the floor and missing not 1 but 2 free throws, the team still wins. Why? Well because they have their glue. * * *



Garnett Steps on the Gas: In return, Celtics star says he's 'banged up' but still going strong

by Chris Forsberg, ESPN-Boston

BOSTON -- After missing the past 10 games with a hyperextended right knee, how did Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett sum up his return to the court Friday? One of the greatest players in NBA history compared himself to one of the worst automobiles of all time.

"The old '76 Pinto got banged up against the wall a little bit," joked Garnett on the heels of the Boston Celtics' 98-95 overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers at the TD Garden. "You just keep hitting the gas and it keeps going." * * *

"I felt good out there," Garnett said. "Confident. Strong. I got banged a couple times. That's part of the game, you get roughed up."

Garnett, wearing an oversized rubber brace that covered much of his right leg, was limited in part due to foul trouble, but his presence alone provided a spark for a Boston team that had lost three straight and eight of its past 12 overall. * * *



Ray Allen: "The Ball Needed to Go In"

by Mike Petraglia, Green Street

Ray Allen said the key to overcome his sluggish night from the field and the free throw line was keeping mentally focused. * * *

"I knew I was close," Allen said. "There wasn't anything wrong with my form or my mechanics. It was just the ball needed to go in. I had a shot where I hit the glass [on bank shot] and it just kinda hit the glass and rolled off and it was like, ‘Geez.' It just wasn't working for me.

"Mentally, I had to whatever I could to help this team win and just be prepared because you never know when that ball drifts in your direction and you've got to be ready to shoot."


The Bottom Line:

1. KG is back!!! Yaaaaay!!!

2. That was MUCH TOO CLOSE for comfort, especially considering the Blazers were going with 7-1/2 guys and were missing their best player.

3. Those refs sucked. The Blazers are floppers.



Punk was a part of a broad "New Wave" in the UK and USA, which marked a major departure from dinosaur "classic rock" on the one hand and wretched prefabricated disco slime on the other. The lines of demarcation in the New Wave movement were not rigid. XTC, from Swindon, England, isn't "punk" by any currently recognized definition of the term, but their tempo and the WAY they played guitars marked them as being HERE and not THERE, if you follow me.

The first two XTC albums featured Barry Andrews on keyboards and a bubbly, perky farfisa sound. It never did much for me... Andrews later waved bye-bye and joined SHRIEKBACK (along with the bassist from GANG OF FOUR). The Andrews material is pretty forgettable stuff for the most part, although this single track is one of my faves.

"This is Pop?" (live version, 1978)


The third full length, 1979's Drums and Wires, is the first of the four great XTC albums. In about 1982, guitarist and resident genius Andy Partridge began to suffer from incapacitating stage fright and the band stopped playing live. Partridge looks like he's clowning here, but it makes ya wonder...

"When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty" (live version, 1980)


Black Sea, released in 1980, is my favorite XTC album. This is one of the band's best songs ever, from the film URGH! A Music War. The band bowdlerized the lyrics of this song for the radio, which is a real party foul where I'm from... This live version is the authentic lyrics.

"Respectable Street" (live version, 1980)

"Sunday church and they look fetching / Saturday night saw him wretching over our fence..."


The band scored a minor college radio hit in the late 1980s with the atheist anthem "Dear God" from the Skylarking album. Actually, come to think of it, that song wasn't even on the first pressing of that album, being idiotically kicked off for use as a B-side. This decision was quickly reversed and the song was hastily added to a resequenced album when the 12" single started getting played around the country.

This is an interesting acoustic performance featuring Messrs. Moulding, Partridge, and Gregory. The band puttered around a bit after this point, but Skylarking pretty much was their last flash of greatness, in my opinion.

"Great Fire" + "Dear God" (live acoustic medley, 1989)


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