Boston Celtics: 2013Game34

C's slow down Anthony

January, 8, 2013
Even before the Celtics slowed Carmelo Anthony from trying to get on their team bus, Boston boxed up Anthony on the floor at Madison Square Garden during Monday's win. From our friends at ESPN Stats and Info:

The Celtics used six different defenders against Anthony on Monday night, en route to holding him to his worst shooting night on the season (23.1 percent). Paul Pierce did most of the damage, holding Anthony to 3-for-10 shooting and forcing his only two turnovers. Carmelo struggled the most on shots inside of 15 feet, shooting 1-for-9, and failing to make a shot from inside of five feet for the first time this season.

What did the Celtics do to bottle up an MVP candidate?

"I think we got into his body, we didn't give him a lot of space," said Pierce. "When he got into the paint, we tried to send another man at him. We tried to get him different looks from the zone, putting a bigger guy on him. So I think that was key, helping making it tough on him all night long. We really did a great job. In my eyes and a lot of people's eyes, he's probably the most valuable player in the league right now. For us to play him that tough tonight, it was great work."

Added Kevin Garnett: "We just tried to put a hand in his face. Melo's such a good scorer that -- scorers, man, you just try to slow them down. We didn't run a lot of schemes today. We just tried to run him off the 3 and then, again, attack him."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers liked how his team tightened up that defense in the second half.

"[Boston's defense on Anthony was] terrible in the first half, honestly; he had three point-blank 3s when we were 1-on-1 coverage and we backed up and let him get rhythm 3s," said Rivers. "Carmelo is a great player and in shootaround I kept saying, 'He’s going to make shots.' But we did a better job in the second half, he had to make shots that we wanted him to make. Instead of the ones he wanted."

C's enjoy the big stage

January, 8, 2013
Despite Paul Pierce's kisses to the crowd, things got testy in the Big Apple and the Celtics served notice to the Knicks that the Atlantic Division still goes through Boston:

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Doc on Sullinger: 'Not going anywhere'

January, 8, 2013
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesJared Sullinger goes up strong against the Knicks.
NEW YORK -- Just in case there was any doubt about Jared Sullinger's immediate future with the Boston Celtics, coach Doc Rivers put that firmly to rest following the team's 102-96 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.

After Sullinger, whose name has popped up in the season's first batch of irrational trade rumors, scored 10 points, pulled down five rebounds and registered a team-best plus-9 in the plus/minus column, Rivers reiterated his rookie's lasting value to Boston.

"Sullinger, man, I'm telling you -- Jared's a warrior. He's not going anywhere," Rivers said. "He's just a physical, tough kid, and it was fun to watch."

In Monday's win -- Boston's third straight -- Sullinger brought a potent mix of composure and tenacity, never once seeming overwhelmed as the atmosphere on the floor grew more hostile with each passing quarter and the teams exchanged the lead and traded clutch shots. While some rookies might have stumbled on such a bright stage, Sullinger thrived, even later scoffing at the notion of Monday's game being what was described to him as "testy."

"That's testy? That's testy?" Sullinger said afterward. "I've seen way worse stuff in the '80s and I wasn't even born in the '80s. So if that's testy, I didn't see it."

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Postgame: 'Just basketball' for KG, Melo

January, 7, 2013

NEW YORK -- New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony reportedly charged the Celtics' locker room after Boston's 102-96 triumph on Monday night at Madison Square Garden, but if he was hoping to engage Kevin Garnett after some on-court flare-ups between the two, he was unsuccessful.

Anthony sprinted from the floor after the game and all indications are he attempted to pursue the Celtics toward their locker room.

Garnett said there was no altercation, noting, "No, no, man. Just basketball. Just basketball."

Contrary to Garnett's words, sources told ESPN New York that Melo and KG got into an altercation in the bowels of MSG that required building security to intervene.

"It was like being in the school yard," one witness to the incident said.

After the game, Anthony angrily approached the Celtics locker room and was screaming, according to one of the sources with knowledge of the incident. It is unclear if his ire at the time was directed at Garnett.

Anthony then approached Garnett near the Celtics' team bus. (VIDEO HERE.) MSG security intervened, according to a source.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't exactly deny the whispers that quickly spread in the hallways when asked whether Anthony came in search of a confrontation.

"I’m going to let y’all figure that one out," Rivers said. "I’m going to stay out of that. If it was the playoffs, I’d tell on him, but since it’s not, I’m going to just be quiet."

Rivers took two subtle jabs with that remark: While offering a non-denial on Anthony, he made reference to reports that Hawks general manager Danny Ferry snitched on Rajon Rondo for bumping a game official during Saturday night's game at Atlanta, which led to Rondo being hit with a one-game suspension that forced him to miss Monday's game in New York.

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Rapid Reaction: Celtics 102, Knicks 96

January, 7, 2013
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty ImagesNew York City traffic: Celtics captain Paul Pierce looks to dish against the Knicks.
NEW YORK -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 102-96 on Monday night at Madison Square Garden:

Paul Pierce overcame foul trouble to do what he does best -- thrive inside Madison Square Garden -- as Boston's captain scored a team-high 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting with six assists and three rebounds. Kevin Garnett added 18 points and nine rebounds, but the Celtics -- without Rajon Rondo after he was suspended for Monday's game for bumping an official -- got contributions from all over their roster. Avery Bradley overcame early shooting woes to chip in 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting (with five assists), while Jeff Green pounced each time he saw Steve Novak in front of him (16 points on 5-of-10 shooting). Jared Sullinger continues to do non-rookie things (10 points, 5 rebounds, team-best +9 in plus/minus) and Leandro Barbosa (3-of-3 shooting, 8 points) provided a little first-half spark. JR Smith scored a game-high 24 points on 7-of-17 shooting, while Carmelo Anthony had 20 points on 6-of-25 shooting to pace the Knicks.

After giving up a 35-point second frame, the Celtics limited the Knicks to 16 third-quarter points. New York was a mere 6-of-17 overall and missed all three 3-pointers it put up. Boston owned a four-point lead going to the fourth quarter, where it doubled its lead before a back-and-forth battle developed. Boston didn't just hit big shots, it had different players step up in key situations. Pierce inserted the dagger with a tough little step-back 21-foot jumper over Tyson Chandler for a six-point lead with 45 seconds to play.

Pierce saves some of his most inspired play for MSG, but two fouls over the first 4:33 left him frustrated on the bench (and he picked up his first technical of the season for his complaints). Boston's captain didn't return until two minutes into the second quarter, but made up for lost time by scoring 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the frame to help Boston hang around (and trail by just three at halftime). Pierce picked up his fourth foul three minutes into the third quarter and again got banished to the pine. It only seemed to add fuel to his fire when he returned.

Garnett had Boston's only points over the first seven minutes of the game. Ninety seconds after he came out of the game, the Celtics were staring at a double-digit deficit. Riding a second-unit lineup spearheaded by Barbosa and Green, Boston rallied for a one-point edge after the first frame. The Knicks responded by hitting 8-of-11 3-pointers in the second quarter, pushing their lead back as high as nine, but the Celtics leaned on Pierce to keep it a one-possession game at halftime.

Garnett and Anthony got tagged with double technicals after some early fourth-quarter jawing during a dead-ball situation. The two continued to bark at each other before referee Tony Brothers gave a little verbal warning to knock it off. Celtics coach Doc Rivers was incredulous later when Melo took a little post-whistle swipe at the ball in Garnett's hands, thinking it should have been another tech. Just wait until the two are teammates at the All-Star game in Houston next month.

The Celtics have now won three straight, matching their longest winning streak of the season (Nov. 10-14). But it's the quality and variety of wins that stands out in this stretch. Boston did it with defense against Indiana; rallied back from a 19-point hole in Atlanta; and grinded it out versus the Knicks while asserting that the Atlantic Division still goes through Boston. That's three Eastern Conference playoff teams and the Celtics found a way to top them all -- the common thread being a renewed commitment on the defensive end. The Celtics will take a day off before kicking off a five-game homestand with a visit from the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

NEW YORK -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he was disappointed with the league's decision to suspend point guard Rajon Rondo due to contact with a game official in Boston's win on Saturday in Atlanta.

The league announced a one-game suspension on Monday while also citing a failure to cooperate with a league investigation. Rivers said there was a conversation between Rondo and the league about the incident, but believes the league might have already made up its mind by that point.

"Not much reaction, I’m just disappointed," said Rivers. "I actually saw it when it happened and I didn’t think anything of it, honestly -- and obviously, the official [Rodney Mott] didn’t either. They didn’t call a tech. But you know the old saying: You’re not given a reputation, you earn one. I’m sure that had a lot to do with it as well. Listen, we just move on, for us. I’m far more focused on the game tonight than that decision."

The Celtics will be without Rondo for Monday's tilt with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Jason Terry slides into the starting lineup alongside Avery Bradley for Boston.

When a reporter asked Rivers if he was worried about Rondo's reputation working against him from now on, Rivers quipped, "From now on?!" Rondo has been suspended four times in the past year, including three times for incidents with game officials.

How can Boston fix that moving forward?

"We just work on it, everyday," said Rivers. "He’s going to play a long time, and he has a lot of time to change (his reputation)."

Courtney Lee said he was taken aback by the news that Rondo had been suspended.

"I kind of am surprised, because usually when a play like that happens during the game, everybody notices it," said Lee. "And for it to be so minor during the game and not even the fans that were there, not even the other team or our team witnessed it, so..."

Lee trailed off, maybe realizing he didn't want to contribute any extra cash to the league for saying anything overly critical.

"You know, I don't want to say too much about that situation," said Lee. "I just didn't see it. I didn't see it."

Asked if it's frustrating to lose Rondo before a big game, Lee added: "Definitely. Something of that nature, of course, with our point guard being out. We've won two games in a row... and we're trying to get to three and continue to go, then when something like this happens, it's definitely a dagger to us. But other guys in the locker room have got to step up and go out there and perform."

W2W4: Celtics vs. Knicks (Game 34 of 82)

January, 7, 2013
AP Photo/Kathy WillensKevin Garnett and Tyson Chandler will renew acquaintances Monday at Madison Square Garden.
The Boston Celtics (16-17, 6-11 away) visit the New York Knicks (23-10, 13-3 home) on Monday night at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

* MEASURING-STICK GAME: Celtics coach Doc Rivers typically scoffs at the notion of a measuring-stick game, but the first meeting of the season between Boston and New York is a chance for both sides to gauge where they are at nearing the midpoint of the season. The Knicks have been fantastic out of the gates of the 2012-13 campaign and own a seven-game lead in the Atlantic Division. That won't faze a Boston squad that always seems to save some of its most inspired play for visits to MSG. The Celtics are starting to play a more inspired brand of basketball, but the Knicks will give Boston a better idea of the progress its made since its late-December stumbles.

* SYNERGY SNAPSHOT: The Knicks are playing like an elite offense, ranking fourth in the league averaging a robust 0.989 points per play, according to Synergy Sports data. New York suffers virtually no drop-off when forced into a halfcourt set (ranking second in the league at 0.965 ppp). The Knicks boast four of the league's most efficient scorers in Carmelo Anthony (1.089 ppp, 96th percentile), Tyson Chandler (1.246 ppp, 100th), Jason Kidd (1.067 ppp, 94th) and Steve Novak (1.192 ppp, 99th). Bottom line: The Knicks are going to put points on the board and Boston has to limit the damage. Defensively, New York has regressed from last season, dropping from sixth in opponent points per play to 23rd (0.938 ppp). Chandler simply can't do it alone and opponents have exploited JR Smith (0.97 ppp, 17th percentile) and Kidd (0.945 ppp, 22nd) in particular.

* OFFENSE VS. DEFENSE: The Celtics' defense has made great strides over the last three games with the return of Avery Bradley. The question is whether Boston can maintain its level of play against a top-tier offense. For more on that -- and a longer preview of Monday's game -- hop HERE.

3-on-3: Celtics vs. Knicks

January, 7, 2013
Before the Celtics and Knicks clash for the first time in the 2012-13 season, we preview the matchup with a game of 3-on-3 with ESPN New York's Ian Begley and Jared Zwerling:

1. Most people predicted the Celtics to be better than the Knicks this season. So what's been the big difference?

Begley: Guilty as charged. I picked Boston because I didn't see the Knicks developing chemistry as quickly as they did, or taking care of the ball the way they have. Mike Woodson's club has exceeded expectations by far. Boston's 3-point shooting and rebounding are way below what I thought they'd be.

Zwerling: The Knicks' D was prepped for an upgrade with the permanency of Mike Woodson, the addition of several defensive players and the team's veteran leadership. But as far as their offensive efficiency, 3-point shooting and a consistent J.R. Smith, who could have expected that? The unique Raymond Felton-Jason Kidd pairing, as well as Carmelo Anthony playing like an MVP, has made everyone better. With the Celtics, they completely lost their perimeter D. But Avery Bradley has returned.

Forsberg: New York's offense has (finally) overachieved; Boston's defense has (woefully) underperformed. It's impressive to watch the Knicks' offense figure it out. We always knew the talent was there; now it seems that it's clicking. While a lot of the focus seems to be on Anthony's exploits (and rightfully so), I'm more impressed that the Knicks have three other players who rank among the most efficient scorers in the league, including Tyson Chandler.

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Nights on Broadway

January, 7, 2013
We'll get some answers to lingering questions when the Celtics visit the Knicks on Monday night:



Isaiah Thomas
18.9 5.3 0.6 26.3
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsI. Thomas 5.3
StealsM. Smart 1.4
BlocksJ. Sullinger 0.7