Snips and clips from the Celtics camp, plus:
- Western Conference Power Rankings
- Haiku Game Review
- Fried Rice
- Blazers/Celtics Recap
- Popcorn Machine
- The Basketball Jones
by Jeff Clark, CelticsBlog (SBN)
Is there a stat for "most blown double digit leads without losing the game?" Because we might lead the league in that. Ray's late 3 seals the deal. * * *
posted by fordescort to CelticsBlog postgame thread
The Blazers were basically in control of the first 3 quarters of this game as the C's looked unmotivated again and flat.
The good news was the C's came alive in the 4th quarter and finally pulled away from the blazers... though the Blazers did make a run at the end which made the game interesting.
Pierce gets the game ball as he had a very strong night offensively.
KG played well also...though he hit that big shot in the final minute Ray really struggled tonight.
Off the bench Baby performed well again with a strong all around game. * * *
The C's I think need to avoid coasting in games against weak opponents because it allows those teams to build confidence that they can play with the C's and makes the games that much tougher for the C's to eventually win.
Coasting in games against weak opponents have already cost the C's a few games already as we have seen this season and almost cost them another tonight.
The good news is this is just a mental problem that can easily be corrected hopefully by the players simply taking there less talented opponents more seriously in the future.
posted by mmmmm to CelticsBlog postgame thread
Paul Pierce on Matthews, that was the big difference in the second half.
Mathews was, I think, something like 6 of 8 in the first half and then in the 2nd half the Celtics put Paul on him and he smothered him. Matthews only had 2 FGs from that point and one of them was in that last minute run by the Blazers.
The Celtics also finally started defending and attacking the paint.
At one point, the Celts were losing the points in paint, 32 to 24. They then took control of the paint 12 - 0 when they surged into the lead. Unfortunately, they then let the Blazers back in at the end and finished up with a rare loss in the paint, 42-38. Fortunately they still escaped with a win!
By Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston Boston Celtics Report
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Celtics captain Paul Pierce scored game-high 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting (connecting on 4-of-5 3-pointers), while Rajon Rondo posted another double-double (10 points, 10 assists) and Kevin Garnett chipped in 17 points and eight rebounds as Boston hung on for a gritty win. The Celtics overcame 17 turnovers that led to 21 points for the Blazers.
The Celtics were staring at a six-point deficit with 4:31 to play in the third quarter, but held Portland without a field goal the rest of the frame, the Blazers settling for four LaMarcus Aldridge free throws as Boston embarked on a 17-4 run to open their biggest lead of the night. Pierce highlighted the spurt with a pair of 3-pointers before Garnett hit a 19-foot fadeaway to close out the third quarter with Boston on top, 79-72. That proved to be just enough for Boston to hang on for victory. * * *
by BigMck, Red's Army
Despite leading by 16 points midway through the 4th quarter, the Celtics need a Ray Allen three ball with :10 seconds left to seal a 99 - 95 win over the Blazers. * * *
I'm still not sure what the Blazers were doing defensively on the possession were Ray nailed the 3. Pierce held the ball at the top of the 3 point line while Portland fell into a psuedo 1-2-2 zone. Pierce promptly whipped the ball to Ray for the clincher.
by Julian Benbow, Boston Globe Celtics Blog
After nearly squandering a 16-point lead, the Celtics hung on to beat Portland before a sellout crowd at TD Garden tonight.
It was the 200th regular-season game of the Big Three and was it ever a seat squirmer.
After missing from the top of the key with 28.2 showing, Ray Allen atoned when he rose up and knocked down a huge 3-pointer with 10.7 seconds left to give the Celtics the breathing room they needed to pull this one out after the Blazers had closed to within 96-95.
Paul Pierce led the way for the Celtics (14-4) with 28 points and 7 rebounds while Kevin Garnett added 17 points and 8 rebounds. Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 10 assists. * * *
By Jimmy Golen (AP) in the Boston Globe
Ray Allen missed his first five 3-point attempts before hitting one with 10.7 seconds left to help the Boston Celtics hold off a late charge by the Portland Trail Blazers and win 99-95 on Wednesday night.
It was Boston's fifth straight victory, and the fifth straight loss for Portland. * * *
Matthews hit 5-of-7 3-pointers for the Blazers, and Aldridge and Roy had 18 points apiece. Former UMass star Marcus Camby had nine rebounds and four blocked shots with zero points.
The Blazers have struggled in the fourth quarter in the past week, scoring just 42 points total in the final period in their last three games. They had 20 in the game before that -- but they gave up 38 as the Utah Jazz rallied from a nine-point deficit to win 103-94.
This time, the fourth quarter was their strongest. * * *
by Brendan Jackson, Celtics Hub (TrueHoop)
You had to know that was going to happen. This script has been played out so many times before. A star has a completely terrible game. He's missing shots. He's fumbling the ball out of bounds. He just can't seem to get it together. Then in the final seconds with the game on the line the respected coach calls his number. It's the ultimate sign of respect.
In this case, Doc Rivers called Ray Allen's number twice in the final seconds of the ball game. Rivers tried to exploit the two-for-one situation in which the Celtics found themselves with a quick fire from Allen. Like four times earlier tonight, Allen bricked the three point attempt. Luckily the ball bounced to Kevin Garnett and Allen was given a second chance.
Rivers called his number again. Up one, you could feel building begging for Paul Pierce to take Wes Matthews off the dribble and pull up from his sweet spot- or even better, drive to the hole and force the Blazers to put him on the line. The only problem was that the Blazers were playing zone. With Garnett coming from the opposite wing to set a pick for Pierce, the Blazers' attention shifted for a brief moment to that side of the floor. This was just enough time for Pierce to make a great decision and fire the ball to Allen.
Ray, without hesitation rose and fired. Swish. * * *
by Rob Nelson, Boston Celtics Report (Rant Sports)
The Celtics have some point guard issues after this game against Portland. Rajon Rondo aggravated his hamstring injury. During the game he refused to come out because he felt he would not be able to return because it might tighten up.
The other issue was Nate Robinson left with a minor injury. Robinson down played his injury after the game, but he only played three minutes so this is more than a mild ailment. * * *
by Mark Murphy, Boston Herald
No amount of makeup or plastic surgery will cover all those liver spots on the second night of back-to-back games.
Perhaps a younger team like Portland can mask the dark circles on an evening like this, but the Celtics [team stats] are simply too advanced to look good for 48 minutes after a 24-and-a-half-hour turnaround from Cleveland.
But they still can pick their spots as well as any team in the league - as much as that makes Doc Rivers wince after last season's tawdry odyssey.
The Celtics barely survived a 15-0 Portland run in the last 3:29 to escape with last night's 99-95 win at the Garden. * * *
by Julian Benbow, Boston Globe
It doesn't happen every day. It's hard to recall a time when Paul Pierce and Ray Allen airballed in the same game, let alone the same quarter.
"I don't know if I've seen it," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "But it happens."
It happened in last night's 99-95 win as the Celtics were trying to deal the finishing blow to the Portland Trail Blazers after losing most of a 16-point lead. * * *
With a little more than a minute left and Boston ahead, 96-93, Pierce had the ball at the top of the arc with a chance to seal the game. He hoisted one up from 3-point range - all air.
"It was mind-boggling," Pierce said. "I thought the rim moved. I'm not sure what happened on that one." * * *
The Bottom Line:
1. This back-to-back stuff is tiring. It was not an entirely comfortable game for our Celtics, with the Blazers playing them very tough until late in the 3rd Quarter.
2. After running up a big lead in the 4th, the defense fell asleep a little and let the Blazers back in in.
3. Ray Allen was money, per usual, when he needed to be against some sort of blown defense or another.
4. Congrats on the 200th win for the Big Three.
Western Conference Power Rankings
Through Games of November 30, 2010.
Well, we're through the first full month of the season, four more months to go after this. It's time to take a look around and see where we are.
The other 14,574 fans, bloggers, journalists, and Presidents of the United States that periodically put together these power rankings dealies usually combine the Eastern and Western Conferences into one massive list. I prefer to go with what we know (and all we really care about) — the Western Conference.
For the record: there are only four teams with the remotest chance of a World Championship coming out of the East this season: Celtics, Bulls, Magic, and Heat (in that order). Watch out for the Bulls, you heard it here first...
Back to the West...
Each team's record will be noted, along with "good wins" and "all losses" from the previous month's action, which in this case includes a few games actually played in October. I'll add a paragraph of blather about each team just to add starchy filler so you'll have something to skip over without reading.
If you think I've got anything really wrong here, just scream out in the comments section below and we can haggle about it.
On with the show...
1. Dallas Mavericks (13 - 4)
Good Wins: At Denver, vs. Boston, vs. Dallas, vs. New Orleans, at OKC, at San Antonio, vs. Miami.
All Losses: Vs. Memphis, vs. Denver, at New Orleans, vs. Chicago.
Comments: "Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant, blahblahblah." The media are so stupid that it boggles... They love volume shooters that put up big totals chucking the ball 25 times a night. Legit Hall-of-Famers like the bigger, more versatile, altogether better Dirk Nowitski? Strictly under the radar, baby. The question isn't whether Nowitzki is a big enough superstar to carry a team all the way to the World Championship. He is. The question is whether the team's "Screw Economics, I Want a Championship" billionaire owner Mark Cuban has managed at last to assemble a cast of characters capable of helping The Large German Man get there. Dallas still has the reliable assist man Jason Kidd carrying the ball again, playing within himself per usual. They have sixth man Jason "Jet" Terry and the lightning-quick dwarf J.J. Barea off the bench, lighting it up. All this is as before, and Dallas was plenty good before. Are the low post toughie Tyson Chandler and the solid wings Caron Butler and Shawn Marion the key championship pieces? Perhaps. This much is clear: No team in the West has beat a more impressive array of opponents. The team's losses at home against the Nuggets and Bulls and on the road against the Hornets all fully understandable and even a beat at the hands of the Grizz can be forgiven. Stay tuned.
2. San Antonio Spurs (15 - 2)
Good Wins: At Phoenix, at OKC, vs. Chicago, at Utah, vs. Orlando, at New Orleans.
All Losses: Vs. New Orleans, vs. Dallas.
Comments: In May 1897 Mark Twain read an erroneous newspaper account of his demise and noted, "This report of my death was an exaggeration." So, too, was my gleeful drunken urination celebration on the grave of Old Grandpa Bankshot and his crew. Tony "Tiger" Parker is back to full speed, Manu Ginobili has stepped up his game to become a 20-point man night in and night out, and Richard Jefferson is at long last delivering value on his lucrative free agent contract. Low post mucker DeJuan Blair continues to make 29 NBA GMs look like stupid idiots with his continued solid play. Also worthy of note is Matt Bonner, who has been dropping 3-balls from the sky at a nearly 60% clip. Is this really a top tier team? As for today, facts are facts: the only losses have come at home against the Hornets and the Mavs, and there's no shame in either of those. They've managed to win a few good ones, albeit with only the road win in Utah during a Jazz confidence slump "write mama"-worthy. The Spurs escaped a loss in Minnesota thanks only to dubious officiating and to unquestionable T-wolf incompetence in closing. Can 56-year-old Center Tim Duncan stay healthy? Will somebody squish The Cockroach during one of his innumerable cannonball runs at the rim to draw contact? We'll soon see...
3. Los Angeles Lakers (13 - 5)
All Losses: At Dever, vs. Phoenix, at Utah, vs. Indiana, at Memphis.
Comments: The Lakers are back-to-back World Champions working on a 3-peat, but as November draws to a close they are slumping badly, having dropped three in a row for the first time in the Pau Gasol era... The Lakeshow have been beneficiaries of a puffy fluffy early season schedule, playing mostly at home against crappy teams, and they're being tested for the first time with that nasty travel stuff. Still, this team is good. Trust me when I say this as a guy who watched most of the Lakers games both last year and this: this is a much better team than last year's model. Matt Barnes and Steve Blake off the bench represent major upgrades, while Shannon Brown has experienced an almost magical transformation from breakaway flier to expert 3-point bomber. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol represent a wing/big combo as deadly as any in the NBA and even the lead weights in the saddle bags known as Derek Fisher and Ron Artest are capable of stepping up big on any given night. Lamar Odom is consistently excellent, a converted 6'10" Point Guard (seriously!) with passion and intensity. And Andrew Bynum is coming. All this makes for a very exciting, well integrated, professional team that's an almost impossible matchup for anyone...
4. Utah Jazz (14 - 5)
Good Wins: At Oklahoma City, at Miami, at Orlando, at Portland, vs. New Orleans, vs. LA Lakers.
All Losses: At Denver, vs. Phoenix, at Golden State, vs. Oklahoma City, vs. San Antonio.
Comments: Closing out November on a 6 game winning streak, the Jazz are on the way up the ladder... Jerry Sloan may never be NBA Coach of the Year, but I'd take the crusty bastard over the legend of Phil Jackson any day of the week. No coach, except perhaps San Antonio's Greg Popovich, gets more out of less. This is not to say the cupboard is bare in Salt Lake City: Point Guard Deron Williams is Brandon Roy Max, 'cept he actually makes his teammates better because he's a passing craftsman. Power Forward Paul Millsap is who we thought he was, angular 6'9" SF Andrei Kirilenko plays at least two inches bigger than his listed size and is a mismatch for many teams, and Big Al Jefferson is a capable low post player. The Jazz are playing without their jumpshooting "Center" Mehmet Okur, the Turkish Andrea Bargnani, which allows defenses to pack in against them more effectively than they will be able to do later in the year. C.J. Miles seems to be coming into his own this season in the absence of Wesley Matthews, putting up double digit scoring numbers. The team has beaten as many good teams as anyone in the Western Conference and hasn't been dumped by a scrub team — giving the Warriors at home the benefit of the doubt. In light of the fading of the Nuggets and Blazers this season, this is looking to my eyes like the Northwest Division champs in this 2010-11 NBA season.
5. New Orleans Hornets (12 - 5)
Good Wins: Vs. Denver, at San Antonio, vs. Miami, vs. Portland, vs. Dallas, at Portland.
All Losses: At Dallas, at LA Clippers, at Utah, vs. San Antonio, at Oklahoma City.
Comments: New Head Coach Monty Williams, a long time Blazer assistant, has his new team playing some of the most intense defense in the NBA. Defense wins championships. Unfortunately for the Hornets, a bit of offense is also required. Chris Paul is an All World Point Guard, sure, but despite the team's torrid start it takes more than a little imagination to think a lineup built around Marco Belinelli, Emeka Okafor, and Trevor Ariza is ready for prime time. Power Forward David West is a two-time All Star and remains a stud, of course, but it takes four wheels to make a wagon roll and Paul + West = a bicycle. Jarrett Jack improves a bad bench, anchored by the Blazer beater, 7-year veteran Willie Green and the talented youngster Marcus Thornton. Good luck with that "Bees Dee," on which Coach Monty is forced to bet the ranch this season. This team has a chance against anybody on any given night and that's all that NOLA fans can ask, but it verges on the inconceivable that this team will be the Western Conference champs this season.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (12 - 6)
Good Wins: Vs. Chicago, at Portland, vs. Portland, at Utah, vs. Houston, at Boston, at New Orleans.
All Losses: Vs. Utah, at LA Clippers, vs. Boston, vs. San Antonio, vs. Dallas, at Houston.
Comments: This is a three man team — lightning quick Russell Westbrook is shaping up to be a future All Star a la Derrick Rose; we all know about the volume shooting assassin Kevin Durant (those who worship point totals over shooting percentage already have him writing his Hall of Fame speech); Forward Jeff Green is the other guy. Beyond that, it's a bunch of pieces — undersized pieces in the paint. Still, if you start with 65 or 70 points on any given night from the Thunder's Big Three, it doesn't take too awfully much from the supporting cast to get ya over the top. OKC is the trendy pick to challenge for the Western Conference crown this season, but the first month has pretty well shot down that theory as fantastical. The Thunder remain a tough out at home for everybody in the world, but this group needs some serious supplementation before they're ready to join the Western elite.
7. Denver Nuggets (10 - 6)
Good Wins: Vs. Utah, vs. Houston, at Dallas, vs. LA Lakers, vs. Chicago.
All Losses: At New Orleans, vs. Dallas, at Chicago, at Indiana, at Phoenix, at Portland.
Comments: Nugget fans have been having a hissy fit about some sort of perceived demise of their team. I suppose the Carmelo Anthony contract situation, which is starting to smack more and more of the LeBron James fiasco, is a dark enough cloud that it would blot out all but the sunniest day... The Nuggets are doing their thing without Kenyon Martin and Birdbrain Chris Anderson, so they're only gonna get tougher when they get their muckers back. Early season roughness has been survived and the team is working on a 4 game winning streak at the end of November — 5 of the last 6 counting a loss to Portland, which is difficult to envision happening again. Denver remains a very tough place for visitors to play, with only the Mavs having broken serve in the thin air. Denver fans need to take a chill pill, this team ain't dead yet. Maybe if Melo walks there are issues, but that's another bridge for another day.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (8 - 10)
All Losses: Vs. Atlanta, at LA Lakers, at Golden State, at Phoenix, vs. Dallas, vs. Boston, at Orlando, vs. Portland, at Cleveland.
Comments: The Grizz have won 4 of their last 5 at the end of November which stands in marked contrast to the more dire fates of the Suns and Blazers. Rudy Gay is a legit star in this league and would be recognized as such if he played anywhere other than the arena with the most empty seats, a place they probably couldn't fill if they were giving tix away. Our friend Zach "Jackass" Randolph is an idiot, but he does play the Power Forward position properly, y'know, putting his not-inconsiderable posterior on people and snorking down rebounds. Marc Gasol isn't Pau Gasol, but a team could do a lot worse.
9. Phoenix Suns (8 - 9)
Good Wins: At Utah, at LA Lakers, vs. Denver, at Houston.
All Losses: At Portland, vs. LA Lakers, vs. San Antonio, at Memphis, at Miami, at Orlando, at Charlotte, vs. Chicago, at Denver.
Comments: The top 7 teams in the West are pretty clear. Then comes the second tier, in which 5 teams seem to be in the hunt for the remaining playoff spot. I'm giving the nod for now to Grizz because i don't for a minute really think that Phoenix is a playoff team without Amar'e Stoudamire bringing it hard at the low block. Point Guard Steve Nash is still quality and this team can go off from behind the arc on any given night (I think they hit 22 times against the Lakers, something like that) — but you know what Uncle Chuck says about teams that live by the jump shot... The Suns are losers of 5 of their last 7 bringing November to a close, a pretty good indicator that things are going the wrong way fast. Still, are they worse than the Grizzlies? They are at the moment, methinks...
10. Portland Trail Blazers (8 - 9)
Good Wins: Vs. Phoenix, at Memphis, vs. Denver.
All Losses: At Chicago, vs. Oklahoma City, at LA Lakers, at Oklahoma City, at New Orleans, vs. Utah, vs. New Orleans, at New Jersey, at Philadelphia.
Comments: When I started sketching this list out three games ago, I had the Blazers in the number 8 slot in the West. Their successive 4th Quarter collapses against some of the worst teams in the NBA has me wondering whether the 12 slot might be too high. I'll split the difference and slide them in the 10 slot for now since there are several teams in a similar skid in the conference... We'll see if they can turn it around. Problem is, they've beaten almost nobody of note this year and lost to some certifiable crap teams (New Jersey Nets? Philadelphia 76ers?!?!) so it's a leap of faith to think this is anything but a lower echelon team. The Blazers are butter soft defenders, switching on every screen, it seems, are unable to stay in front of quick perimeter players, and too lazy to guard perimeter shooters tightly. It's not difficult to envision a 35 win season at this point.
11. Golden State Warriors (8 - 10)
All Losses: At LA Lakers, at Detroit, at Chicago, at Milwaukee, vs. New York, at LA Lakers, vs. Denver, at Houston, at Memphis, vs. San Antonio.
Comments: Golden State is finishing November just like Phoenix and Portland — which is to say: terribly. The Warriors have dropped 6 of their last 7, managing to beat only the Minnesota Timberwolves. It's pretty ugly. Steph Curry can shoot, Monta Ellis can shoot, David Lee is fun to watch, but this is an unbalanced team that needs a couple muckers.
12. Houston Rockets (5 - 12)
All Losses: Too many to list...
Comments: I'm a bit at a loss to explain why the Rockets are so terrible this year. Yao Ming has managed to play in just 5 games this season, contributing an Odenesque 18 minutes per outing — that's part of it. They lost Carl Landry, that can't help. Aaron Brooks is still quick and Luis Scola is still ugly. Scola can play though, let there be no mistake — he's a first division Power Forward that works hard and who never takes a night off. He's a Jerry Sloan kinda guy. I'd like to see him next to Przybilla in Blazer colors, actually. Portland might not win any given game, but they'd certainly raise a few welts.
13. Los Angeles Clippers (3 - 15)
Good Wins: Vs. Oklahoma City, vs. New Orleans.
All Losses: Too many to list...
Comments: The Clippers have Blake Griffin, did you know that? He's pretty good. Yep, Blake Griffin plays for the Clippers. They have him. He's a guy they have. And ummmmmm... Chris Kaman is coming off a career season and returning to previous form, Baron Davis is perhaps the worst contract in the NBA, and the rest of the team are a bunch of gunners padding their stat sheets to aid their expeditious departure from one of the worst franchises of the modern era. Owner Donald Sterling is making lots of money playing to half-full arenas and that's really all that matters. God, I hate the Clippers.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves (4 - 13)
All Losses: Too many to list...
Comments: Hey, Kevin Love is really good. Successful rebounding is a mixture of size, tech nique, and force of will — the last-mentioned being the most important, as Love ably demonstrates. Darko Milicic has been a very nice surprise for David Kahn, playing like an All Star on some nights... Seriously, I've seen it with my own eyes, it's true! Darko is still averaging just 9.1 points per game and a shade over 6 rebounds, but for the first time EVER the 7-footer is moving his feet and putting the ball in the hole. Michael Beasley is scoring 21.6 PPG; I still wouldn't have him on any team of mine on a bet. Unfortunately for this comically inept NBA Point Guard Development Organization, that's pretty much all that's going on.
15. Sacramento Kings (4 - 12)
Good Wins: None.
All Losses: Too many to list...
Comments: Kevin Martin is gone, Jason Thompson is on the bench in favor of Carl Landry, and the energetic, fun team of last season is in the rearview mirror. Tyreke Evans can still play and Beno Udrih is an underappreciated talent. But this team is a mess... Rich Cho should be looking closely at making a deal, one would think that something could be arranged.
* * *
Here we go again
Tough D sinks the Blazer ship
But tonight some scrap
Here's some more wackiness from the twisted tongue of goofy Uncle Mike...
Just how big is this Shaq guy anyway?
Rice: "Shaq has lost some weight..."
MB (incredulously): "Really?!?"
Rice: "Everybody says that he has. He's lost 40 pounds — he could cut off two fingernails and that would be 40 pounds..."
Rice tells us just how big that Shaq guy is anyway...
Rice: "You could have called 10 seconds in the key on Shaq on that play. You can't get him out of there. He's a man that weighs 385..."
MB: I thought you said he lost weight!"
Rice's proclaims a new king of crybabies...
Rice: "Doc Rivers has time to stop and whine to the official..."
MB: "He does work them."
Rice: "Popovich has dropped off."
MB: "Are you putting Doc on top?"
Rice: "I'm putting Doc on top."
Blazers 95 at Celtics 99.
December 1, 2010.
Blazers' record is now 8-10, Celtics are 14-4.
1. Brandon picked up his first foul after about 10 seconds of action, an ominous start. But Roy soon righted the ship, bagging a couple buckets, while Sweet Wesley scored once in the paint and dropped in three treys. The Blazers were off to a 16-12 lead at the first scheduled break. Stat of the night: Number of Blazer Fans Believing This Would Continue: 0. Six turnovers helped to spot Portland a little advantage over the Celts, who were also on the tail end of a back-to-back and came out flatfooted. At the end of the 1st Quarter it was PDX 26, BOS 20 — but the Celtics were shooting 60% from the floor, and we know what that means, eh?
2. Boston continued to shoot well, turn the ball over, and trail. Nate spun the randomizer wheel and inserted Patty Mills instead of Armon Johnson as reserve PG, a decision which added beaucoup energy and quickness. Good news: Center Sean Marks made it back after twisting his ankle a couple games hence. Bad news: Center Marcus Camby left for the locker room favoring a painful right knee. It was Kiwitime: Sean Marks turned over the ball, catching his own airball, then missed two shots, then fouled Shaq — and a 9 point lead became 2 faster than you can warm up a Reser's bean-and-cheese burrito. Boston continued to hustle and took the lead with a Shaq dunk at about the 1:40 mark. The lead only lasted a cumulative 39 seconds though as Portland battled back. The good guys escaped with a small lead on Matthew's fourth trey of the half: PDX 49, BOS 48. Boston was still shooting 61% at the break. Hmmmmm, good luck with that... Wesley was team-high with 16 points. He's starting to look like a pretty good addition, eh?
Halftime Entertainment: The Go-Gos "We Got the Beat" (live, 1982)
3. Big news was that Camby was back on the floor for the start of the second half, just seconds after MB and Rice said he was done for the evening. I'm glad they were wrong. Rice gives us a stat: Andre Miller is #3 in the NBA for offensive rebounds by Point Guards... The Blazers came out with energy, getting the ball into the paint for their points and opening up an 8 point lead. Boston battled back, of course, but — surprisingly — Portland managed to hold off the charge and maintained a slight lead. At 2:50 it was Rondo to Pierce for an open 3 pointer and Boston had the lead again. It was a slow, methodical, plodding, foul-heavy halfcourt game — just the way the Celtics like it. A 17-4 run for Boston to end the 3rd Quarter and a substantial lead for the home team: BOS 79, PDX 72. Portland shot 37% in the quarter.
4. Washington Generals basketball... FEEL THE MAGIC!!! Here's the pattern: late in the 3rd Quarter and into the 4th Quarter, teams step up the defensive intensity. Portland responds by choking. "Let's see if the Blazers can play better from behind than they have the last two nights playing from ahead in the 4th," Rice optimistically suggested. The last four games it has been 110-62 against the Blazers in the final quarters.
At 9:40 Boston's lead went to double digits with a backdoor dunk. Blazers peedle-pinked around with Boston for several minutes, failing to make a dent in the Celtics' lead. Inside 6 minutes the Celtics pulled away. Nate decided the way to beat the methodical Eastern Conference champs was by running 4 guards plus gargantuan low post masher LaMarcus Aldridge at Center. Good night.
Or was it? Boston refused to match Nate's small lineup with a small line up of their own. They started missing shots. The crafty Andre Miller did everything he could to make it close. Rudy hit a corner 3 to make it 5; Wesley stole and went coast to coast to make it 3... Paul Pierce shot an airball with 1:01 showing. Roy hit in the key and it was 1 point — the Blazers on a 15-0 run. Doc Rivers called time at 36.6.
Boston shot and missed, with Kevin Garnet grabbing the miss. Wes fouled KG at 28 seconds, but it was the first foul in the last 2 minutes so the ball went side out to Boston with a new shot clock. With only about 4 seconds between game and Pierce ran clock before finding Ray Allen in the corner for a trey at 10.7. It was a 4 point game. DAGGER. There was a Chinese fire drill by the Blazers on the other end, featuring Andre Miller's 14th miss of 15 attempted 3s this year, followed by Rudy failing to take a reasonably open shot when he had it and time vanishing. Ugh. Nevertheless, there was some hope coming out of this loss, unlike the two previous. BOSTON CELTICS 99, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS 95.
P.S. The Blazers had LMA trying to guard Ray Allen on the perimeter on the last play. What the hell was that?!? Anybody???
Let's take at this thang graphically, shall we?
Well, here's the link for the fancy-pants Popcorn Machine graphs... CLICK ME.
Here's what I'm seeing...
A. By golly, we've seen this before, haven't we? Portland dominated for three quarters and then a big whoopsie heading into the 4th Q.
B. Marcus Camby was pretty clearly dinged in this game, judging by the very bizarre microscopic second and third shifts he worked in the second half — 26 seconds and 17 seconds. With Sean Marks racking 5 personal fouls in less than 8 minutes, Nate's decision to go very, very small was a product of necessity rather than conviction, it would seem.
C. Nic Batum had only 4 points in just over 15 minutes of burn. On "Talkin' Ball" after the game Jeff Pendergraph was saying that Nate is sending Nic mixed messages about what he wants him to do. Nic needs to be made into a scorer early in the game and a stopper in the last 3 minutes, it seems clear. Right now, I'm not sure that he's doing either. Nic was not even on the floor during the critical last Celtics possession, when Ray Allen hit over a late-closing LMA (!!!) for a corner 3 and the dagger... That's not just weird, that's STUPID and weird.
D. Wesley was team-high with 23 points, once again demonstrating the wisdom of Nate making him a starter.
Finally, let's gather round for another installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD, eh?
The Basketball Jones is a NBA blog and video/audio podcast, written and recorded five times a week by J.E. Skeets, Tas Melas, Jason Doyle and Matt Osten. Assume that there will be a couple Not Suitable For Work words used in any given episode.