By Jake Appleman and Russ Bengtson
Live from Xanadu, IT’S SATURRRRRRRDAY NIGHT!
Starring: The big 3; The other big 3; Big 3’s; IZOD; Free gum; Eddie House; Jellied Cranberry Sauce; Ironic injuries; Tim Meadows;
Featuring: A cartoon by Rajon Rondo; Babies that eat rebounds; Sean Williams;
Musical Guest: Wayman Tisdale (no, really)
And your hosts: Appleson
–Ray Allen is pretty much alone in the Celtics locker room. Figure he must have lost a game of rock-paper-scissors on the bus with Paul Pierce to determine who would talk pregame. KG is safe in the back of the trainers room. Oh yeah, Rajon Rondo is out there, so is Tony Allen and Eddie House. And Scot Pollard is watching tape of Nets/Wizards. No one cares, though.
–Pollard does something doofy—I wasn’t paying attention so I can’t tell you exactly what it was; I think he may have pulled his jersey up and started rubbing his belly or something—and Eddie House, after Pollard goes into the trainer’s room, comments, “That boy is retarded.” He’s kidding of course, but it’s still kind of funny. I feel obligated to mention right now that I’m extremely jealous of Scott Pollard. He has the best job in the entire world (get paid to watch the Celtics and occasionally pay attention to Eddie House’s musings), and I wish I could be him. There, glad I got that out of the way.
–An anonymous source lets me know that Kendrick Perkins had 3 pregame hot dogs. As much I’m tempted to criticize Perk for this, 1) Perk is a beast; beasts have completely different digestive capabilities when compared to normal human beings and 2) Perk eating 3 hot dogs is equivalent to a regular person eating 1. As such, it’s just one freaking hot dog; nothing to get bent out of shape over.
–Gary Sussman, beaming like Mario Batali, literally drags us into the media room to make sure we eat Thanksgiving dinner 14 days early. It’s really good, though, so we won’t complain.
–In response to Japanese reporter Karou Sanada’s claim that she has a friend whose favorite rapper is Kanye West, Russ writes a list of over 50 rappers that he likes more than Kanye. Fun facts: the task was to name 50 rappers better than Kanye, and 50 Cent was not chosen; Sam Rubenstein and Jake Appleman came in at 56 and 57; Russ came up with 50 before he even thought of Jay-Z.
–KG on the Celtics in person is still sort of weird. Thought about wearing the T-wolves throwback tonight.
–Nets win tip. Perk jumps for the Celtics despite the fact that KG is taller.
–Nets turnover, Ray Allen quick fakes VC at the three-point line, takes two dribbles in, hits a floater off glass. 2-0, Celtics.
–Richard Jefferson goes baseline on Paul Pierce, and gets fouled. From our vantage point—and we’re pretty close to the play—it looks like it was a nearly impossible angle and that Pierce bailed him out. RJ drains both.
–KG shoots over Kidd at the free throw line, off the rim and over backboard.
–Kidd oop to VC that I don’t see. Reversed nicely.
–The Nets go zone early.
–Carter defensive rebound, tied up by KG. VC can jump, but KG is tall.
–Pierce drive and kick to Rondo, lightning fails to strike twice.
–Pierce intercepts VC crosscourt pass, takes it the length but can’t convert, falling into the crowd on the baseline. The Nets take advantage of the four on five, and an unguarded Kidd hits a long two. Tied at 6.
–Late call, Rondo foul on Kidd.
–Pierce upfakes Jefferson, drives around him, spins in the lane, aaaaand, the 24-second clock expires. Oops.
—Kendrick Perkins boxes out well, but he looks funny when he runs.
–Ray Allen, corner three, yes. Pierce with the assist, KG with the hockey assist.
–Garnett across the lane, fouled by Krstic. Both.
–RJ from up top.
–KG. He’s heating up.
–Carter, baseline fallaway.
–Pierce misses a three, RJ with the leakout dunk from Kidd.
–KG misses a 20-footer, Nenad Krstic and Richard Jefferson combine to tip it in the wrong basket and innocent bystander Kendrick Perkins (who is actually headed the other way already) gets a free two points. As do the Celtics. If he ends up breaking Wilt’s scoring record tonight there’ll be cause for controversy. You’ve gotta love the rare NBA “own goal”.
–Tony Allen is in for Pierce.
–Foul, Tony Allen.
–Ray Allen, three.
–Ray Allen, another jumper. He’s got 12.
–Jefferson drive, scores over Garnett.
–KG jumper from the corner. 22-all with 2:45 to go in the first.
–Eddie House! He’s booed as the traitor he is.
–Jefferson dunk straight down the gut. KG wisely gets out of the way. RJ then yells at, uh, Wayman Tisdale. Sussman: “MOVING ON UP!” Get it, because his last name is Jefferson and the Jefferson’s moved on up? Despite the apparent sarcasm, I very much like this call.
–Enter the Snackbar for RJ.
–Eddie House beats the 24-second buzzer with a corner trey. Dagger-esque.
–KG makes Jamaal Magloire look slow. So do glaciers and garden slugs, but that’s beside the point.
–KG is also noticeably taller than Magloire. I’m just saying.
–Rondo with a defensive rebound, then a driving layup. I love Rondo’s speed. That layup included a Bill Rafferty commemorative blow-by.
–Magloire airball hook over Garnett. Well, it hits the backboard at least. Garnett recovers.
–Antoine Wright for three. First points for a Net not named Kidd, Carter or Jefferson.
–P squared replaces R squared. Therefore P = R.
–Glen Davis sheds his warm-ups, approaches the scorer’s table, then heads back for a time-out. He will soon come onto the floor joining Ray Allen. Big Baby Jesus, I can’t wait.
–Out of the time out, Eddie House hits a three. Not the first time he’s done that in this building.
–Paul Pierce. Surrounded by talent, Paul Pierce is good at basketball. In case you didn’t know…
–Nothing doing for the Snackbar. Garnett corrals the board, and Pierce draws a foul on Wright down the other end.
–Pierce makes the first, misses the second. Long rebound to Glen Davis, to KG. Allen winds up missing a corner jumper, Kidd throws an uncharacteristically reckless slow rolling pass upcourt to no one in particular. Jefferson saves it, and the Nets wind up with a Wright dunk off a frontdoor cut. Assist, Jason Kidd. Incredible sequence. Kidd scores the next time down as well.
–And Kidd again, to the Snackbar for the corner three. 41-39, Nets.
–Pierce down the lane, scores over Collins, who’s also called for the foul.
–The Celtics are getting plenty of second-chance shots, they just aren’t doing much with them. Allen and Garnett are a combined 7-18 from the floor.
–Big Baby keeps it alive, Perk taps it out, House hits the three.
–Richard Jefferson, continuation. He does not hit the free throw.
–Pierce misses a fallaway (that completely loses RJ), but Big Baby is there to clean up.
–Kendrick Perkins fouls Richard Jefferson, who’s driving so recklessly tonight he should get points on his license.
–KP in the paint. 49-45 Celtics.
–Paul Pierce, for three from up top. Good. The Celtics are building the lead with Garnett on the bench. The Nets realize this, and call time. The Celtics also realize this, and send KG back out there for Glen Davis, who has seven rebounds in five minutes. That works out to roughly 65 rebounds per 48.
—The Big Baby/Boki Nachbar matchup is interesting for obvious size reasons. Not surprisingly, Big Baby is late on a closeout, and Boki nails a 3. Also not surprising is Boki’s inability to hand Big Baby on the defensive glass.
–Richard Jefferson, with no regard for his own life, jumps straight into Kendrick Perkins. Who, lest you forget, is a beast.
-Jason Collins is better at guarding KG than Jamaal Magloire.
The Nets trap full-court, and all it does is earn Krstic a foul, and Pierce a trip to the line.
Eddie House leads all Celtics in neck tattoos. The House also comes with a microwave.
Rajon Rondo earns his second assist by feeding the Celtics assist leader (well, for this game) Kendrick Perkins, for the two-handed dunk.
Malik Allen fouls Ray Allen while Tony Allen waits to re-enter the game. Allen Iverson has nothing to do with it.
–KG gets a tech for arguing a late whistle. Indeed, I had remarked, “oh, wow, that was late,” after the foul was called. KG, with this menacing glare in his eyes, is berating the officials, saying, “five seconds late.” Pretty sure he said something else of a more profane variety to earn him the tech, but that’s what he was mouthing afterwards. Jefferson, automatic from the stripe, hits the freebie.
–Vince Carter, and 1. Except he misses the and 1.
–KG knocks down Krstic and is blocked by Vince Carter. Harm, perhaps. Foul, no.
–Celtics lead 57-52, there’s a time out and 14.2 seconds remaining in the half.
–Rondo drives on Kidd, knocked out of bounds to the Celtics. 2.7. Inbound to Garnett (better idea) who hits from the corner as the buzzer sounds. 59-52 Celtics at the half. Jefferson leads all scorers with 20.
–Celtics are out-rebounding the Nets 28 to 15, both teams are 14 of 17 from the line. Weird.
–Paul Pierce. 61-52 Celtics.
–Kendrick Perkins in the lane. Celtics by 11. PERKISABEAST DOT COM, BABY!
–Ray Allen with a pair. That’s kind of a joke, but you’d have to be here.
–Carter one of two. Glen Davis is resurrected.
–Richard Jefferson dribbles between his legs, loses the handle, and drives down the paint like he was Pele. That’s not legal, as Jack Nies helpfully points out. Turnover.
–Rajon Rondo drops an admittedly off-target Paul Pierce pass out of bounds.
–If Kobe is experiencing Michael Jordan’s career in reverse, Vince Carter is experiencing it in fast-forward. Baseline fallaway, miss.
–Paul Pierce drives into Krstic, elevates, is swatted by Jefferson. This was probably not intentional.
–There have now been 437 straight turnovers.
–What do you know, a basket. Paul Pierce. Celtics by 14.
–RJ, steps. Jamaal Magloire enters for the cardboard cutout of Jason Collins.
–Pierce misses. So does Kidd. Garnett is blocked from behind by Magloire. Out of bounds, back to the Celtics. The Nets call time out to bronze Magloire. And, to bring it all back full-circle: Pierce misses.
–Rajon Rondo pumpfakes underneath and is buried beneath an avalanche of Nets wing players. Carter gets tagged with the foul. The Celtics inbound and turn it over.
–Jason Kidd drives down the left wing, tries to flip up a left-handed layup, and is
eaten fouled by Glen Davis.
–Paul Pierce with the drive, the baseline, the up-and-under layup. Foul on Jefferson. Enter Josh Boone for the first time tonight.
–Kidd misses a corner three, Ray Allen dribbles around and hits a 20-footer. C’s by 17.
–One Wright doesn’t make a basket.
–A Nets drive ends with roughly 27 players laying on the floor and a jump ball between Davis and Wright.
–The Truth. For three. Celtics by 20, 75-55. If you’re scoring at home, that’s 16-3 for the quarter with 3:51 to go. Time out, Nets. How about a little bit less stagnation and a little bit more MOVEMENT?
–Vince Carter, layup. There you go.
–Paul Pierce, corner three. Maybe guard that guy. He’s got 23.
–Pierce misses a pullup in the lane, Garnett collects the rebound. Pierce ends up taking another three, which he misses. On the other end, Boone is fouled by Davis. Misses both. Garnett rebounds.
–Offensive foul, KG.
–Foul, Glen Davis. That’s four. Jefferson hits both.
–Allen, to Rondo, bucket.
–VC driving dunk, lands on Pierce’s foot, and his right ankle buckles. Goes down hard, clutching at it in obvious pain. The Nets foul to stop play, and he’s helped off by Collins and Malik Allen. Be surprised to see him back tonight.
–Anyway, Ray Allen to the line, hits both.
–Jason Kidd. He’s got 13.
–Ray Allen, for three.
—Snackbar, for zero. Garnett with his 12th board to go with his 12 points.
–Big Baby muscles in for the reverse layup. That would be five assists for the Big Ticket.
–Wright over Ray Allen at the end of the quarter to cut the Celtic lead to 21. Don’t call it a comeback.
–The Snackbar drives on Big Baby, who’s called for the block. One of two.
–Pierce to House, who misses a contested three. Davis out-jumps a pair of Nets for the rebound, and slings it to House underneath, who gets the layup and the foul. C’s by 23.
–Stop. Sean Williams time. Like MC Hammer time?
–House fouls Williams. Williams, cooler than a polar bear’s toenails, hits both. Sean Williams should play more. I’m just saying.
–Glen Davis fouls the Snackbar from behind (and 1), and that’s gonna do it for Big Baby. Six points, eight boards, two assists and a block in 17 minutes. He goes out…for Kevin Garnett. Yikes. Extra point is good.
–Nets break. Snackbar with the dropback feed to Wright. And the Boston lead is 16 with 10 minutes to go. Still, Vince is gonna have to come out of the tunnel like Willis Reed if they’re gonna win this one.
–Nets press out of the time out, Pierce turns it over in the half-court. Pierce rebound, Garnett layup.
–Darrell Armstrong fouls Rondo crossing halfcourt.
–Kidd in for Jefferson.
–Ray Allen shortarms a layup on the break. Garnett gets a block on the other end, but Williams is able to recover.
–Wright fouls Garnett. Williams fouls Garnett. Garnett fouls offensively. Turnover, Celtics.
–Kidd to Williams with the alley. 92-78.
–And Boston calls a timeout in the backcourt, narrowly avoiding an eight-second violation. Haven’t seen one of those this year yet.
–Out of the time out, Ray Allen, three-pointer. He’s got 26.
–Armstrong fouled on a three by Eddie House. This is not what you call smart basketball.
–RJ misses a jumper, House with the rebound. He then misses the heck out of a three.
–RJ baseline over Paul Pierce. Celtics by 12 with 5:20. Rondo has a layup blocked by the Snackbar, Kidd misses a jumper, and Garnett collects rebound number 13.
–JAMAAL MAGLOIRE TRIPLE-DOUBLE WATCH: He needs just 10 more points, nine more blocks, and eight more rebounds.
–KG posts up Williams, dribble, draws double, kicks to Pierce for three.
–Kidd oop to Williams, who can’t put it down. It remains Nets ball. RJ hits over Pierce. He’s got 26.
–Garnett fades, misses.
–Sean Williams doesn’t.
–Williams with a foul fighting Garnett for the ball on the perimeter. KG to the line, hits both.
–Nets turnover, Celtics break, Rondo ahead, has his layup snuffed by a trailing Darrell Armstrong who, incidentally, is 382 years old.
–Darrell Armstrong for three. 102-90, Celtics with 2:41 to go.
–HACK A RONDO. Seeing that there’s only one Rondo on the floor, Rajon goes to the line. And misses the first. Hits the second.
–Pierce backs down Armstrong, shoots an awkward turnaround. It rattles around, comes off, and Rondo puts it back.
–Armstrong for three, Rondo gets yet another layup snuffed (Jefferson) and Williams gets a perfect alley-oop from Kidd. Eight-point game. And Ray Allen AIRBALLS a three. Mercy.
–Nets ball with 1:17 to go. Kidd gets it on the perimeter guarded by Garnett. Drives, can’t get it to go. Garnett stays with him. Williams misses the dunk follow, C’s wind up with Pierce on the line. Hits a pair. Back to 10 with under a minute to go.
–Kidd gets dropped by House shooting a long jumper. At least it’s not a three this time, but Crazy Eddie’s gots to chill. Kidd hits both.
–Kidd fouls KG real quick in the backcourt. Both for KG. He’s got 18.
–Rondo fouls Jefferson. Because, you know, the Celtics want to stop the clock. It’s possible that House and Rondo share a brain, only House got all the shooting parts.
–Rondo. Leak out. Dunk.
–Kidd misses a three, Allen grabs his 10th rebound, and this one is…not over because Darrell Armstrong fouls Allen. Thanks, DA! Allen goes one for two.
–Jefferson shoots from up top, Garnett leaps for the rebound (his 14th), and NOW it’s over. Final score, Celtics 112, Nets 101. Jefferson leads all Nets scorers with 28 (only eight in the second half). For the C’s, Pierce has 28, Allen has 27, along with 10 boards and five assists, and Garnett has 18 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block.
—Boston’s big 3 registered 77 points, 27 rebounds and 15 assists. They actually beat the Knicks on Sunday night without even playing them.
—Pierce and KG give their postgame interview against the white wall just outside the visiting locker room. KG comes out first and when Pierce is just about ready to come out, someone says, “Make way for the captain.” Pierce greets the media this way: “Ya’ll taking away from my eating time.” He also makes time to say to what up to Russ through the throng of cameras, which is kind of awesome and kind of awkward. You’ve gotta love Paul Pierce.
–”We care about each other.” – Doc Rivers
–Brandon Wallace is rocking an Ubuntu shirt. You can’t spell team without Ubuntu.
–I ask Eddie House if he feels like a casino. The logic being: a) Due to circumstantial advantages, the House has a statistical leg up on its opponent and b) the House always wins. Somebody laughs, but House doesn’t bite, instead choosing to spit some cliches. “I don’t get too complacent. I don’t get too happy.” Good for you, Eddie. I read 7 Seconds or Less and expected more.
Talking Point: Paul Pierce’s team: This idea has been bandied about on the internets already, most notably by Shoals of FD and the Fanhouse, and I have to agree: This is Paul Pierce’s team. Pierce was clinical in the post when guarded by smaller players tonight. Ray Allen had a monster night because the shots were there. He didn’t force anything. KG did his stat-sheet stuffing thing as a complimentary piece, and, come to think of it, I’m not even sure KG took a jumper from more than 14 feet away. When the Celtics needed to make a statement, they went to Pierce, who abused whoever was guarding him.
Talking Point: Break their spirits early: The two biggest shots of the game were made in the first half: Pierce’s dagger 3 that put the Celtics up 7 late in the second quarter and KG’s impossible fadeaway at the halftime buzzer. Both buckets deflated a Jersey squad that was playing well and sticking with the Celtics, almost as if to say: You can play as well as you want, you probably still won’t win.
Talking Point: VC’s Injury: Yes, it’s ironic that Vince injured himself after dunking on the other team. We’ve gotta wait and see how long he’ll be out to assess how it will change things.
Talking Point: Quality Rookies: Both Big Baby Davis and Sean Williams showed that their specific talents belong in the league. Apparently, the C’s were considering sending Big Baby down to the D-league. Why?
My Tommy Point: This is the most important thing I have to say in this entire post: The Celtics are playing so well right now, they’ve almost rendered Tommy Points meaningless. In other words, with the exception of the close win in Toronto, the difference hustle has made in the outcome of their games has been negligible. After this win, Doc Rivers lauded his team’s resurgent defense in the second half for bumping cutters and getting passing lanes, in essence giving his team some credit for the Jersey’s third quarter woes. The thing is, Jersey bricking themselves out of the game was just as big a factor as Boston’s defense. Once the Nets were behind by double digits, each bricked jumper seemed effected by the heightened pressure of trying to come back against such a talented team. There were points in the second half when the Nets simply looked deflated. Even before Vince went down, the look in their eyes and faces read as despair and the feeling throughout the arena was palpable. It had very little to do with being out-hustled, and very much to do with being an inferior team.