Game Notes: Nuggets at Celtics
Rondo messes around, and Boston clinches.
by Ryan Jones / @thefarmerjones
I’m in Boston for reasons that have nothing to do with basketball, and which are too lame to bore you with. Thankfully my trip coincides with a Celtics homestand, including tonight’s game against the Nuggets. Lucky me.
My hotel is close enough, and the weather nice enough, that I walk to the gym. I cross the Charles River on way over here. The river is wide, the air blustery. Apparently they named it after Barkley.
At the Garden, where I’m tempted to ignore most of the “game” and spend my time writing about how LeBron James is mean to little kids who want his autograph. But I’ll do my job instead.
To set the scene: The Nuggets are coming off a 109-104 loss Tuesday night at that other Garden. They also lost to Milwaukee over the weekend. Kenyon Martin is out. The Celtics got beat Monday night in Utah and can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight.
Rondo and Scalabrine are playing 1-on-1. Rondo is wearing earbuds and appears to be not trying very hard. Later, Scalabrine plays 2-on-2 with three ballboys. I’ll let you figure out which game he looked more appropriate for.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the Nuggets live. A couple things I’m reminded of:
– Chris Anderson in person is even more terrifying than you’d imagine.
– Nuggets strength coach Steve Hess in person is almost as terrifying as Chris Anderson.
JR Smith is among the Nuggets wearing Kobes. I’ll go back to what I used to say about guys wearing Jordans: If you’re wearing shoes that have another man’s name on them, and you’re potentially going to have to play that man in some important games in April or May, hasn’t that other man already sort of won?
Between JR, Carmelo, Birdman and Renaldo Balkman, the Nuggets have so much ink Jesse James would leave his wife for them.
I realized yesterday that this is the first time I’ve ever seen the Celtics play in Boston. The only other time I was in this gym was for the 2000 McDonald’s All-American Game. Since I know you’re wondering: Zach Randolph was MVP. DeShawn Stevenson had a game-high 25. Yeah.
On the high school tip, I’m having flashbacks tonight: I remember interviewing JR Smith for a Big Punk when he was a senior in Jersey. I remember interviewing Ty Lawson at the 2006 McDonald’s Game in San Diego; I remember watching Arron Afflalo play in the same Pangos tourney that Bron and Bassy made a national event in 2003. I remember Anthony Carter — wait, AC was old even when I started at SLAM. Never mind.
Kevin Garnett is so open on that game-opening alley oop I’m pretty sure the Celtics just scored at the wrong end of the court.
The Celtics have 6 points on two dunks and a layup.
Rondo scores on the same sort of silly little reverse flip(pant) layup he was putting on Scalabrine at halfspeed before the game.
Make that 10 points on three dunks and a layup. 10-7 celtics.
Chauncey. Midrange. 11-10 Nuggets.
Another layup, this one by Pierce off Rondo’s behind-the-back dish. Nice. 14-11 Cs.
Afflalo back-to-back long Js, and it’s 16-all.
Ray Allen’s driving layup reminds me: Seeing his calves in person should be on one of those “100 things to do before you die” lists. Those things are unreal.
Late first quarter, and Rondo picks up his second foul on a very iffy reach-in call against Chauncey. He sits. Whatcha got, Nate?
Pierce with a pretty 13-foot one-hander, 30-27 Boston. And that’s the quarter.
Remember when the C’s won with defense? Neither do they.
Curley Neal in the house promoting upcoming Globetrotters appearance. He still looks pretty much like he did in this cartoon from 40 years ago.
Birdman just tried a 360, no-look pass and — this will shock you — it went out of bounds.
Michael Finley hits a 3, and the Garden fake noise meter goes apesh*t. Um, there’s 10:30 left in the second quarter. Can we maybe save the fake noise til late in the foruth?
Anthony Carter follow’s Fin’s jumper with a layup. That’s back-to-back baskets by the oldest guy on each team. Obamacare is already making a difference.
Glen Davis goes under Birdman for a layup. JR Smith counters with a slashing layup. Nate drills a top-key three. JR Smith hits a long J. Nate Dogg with a long J of his own. Nene with a layin. That’s 13 points in about a minute. DE-FENSE!
The Celtics still aren’t winning with defense, but they are winning. It’s 51-44 with 3:31 left in the 2nd quarter. Pierce has a quiet but extra efficient 16.
There is a jar of dancing grape jelly on the big screen during timeout. So you know.
Ok, the Celtics ARE winning with defense now. Tip steal, ahead to Rondo, behind the back bounce pass to a trailing Tony Allen for the jam. That’s nice. It’s 59-46 home team with 1:15 left in the half.
With :38 left, Chauncey with a super-quick pull-up 3 to try and get a 2 for 1. If the NBA ever does a 2-for-1 possession contest on All-Star Weekend (and they f*cking SHOULD) my money is on Chauncey. But they don’t get the twofer, and Tony Allen drives for a layup with 0.1 left to make it 61-51 Celtics at the half.
At the break, the Nuggets are shooting 53 percent. Celtics are a smidge over 54. Melo is 8-9 from the line. The rest of the Nuggets are a combined 5 of 11.
Celtics get it up to 66-53 before an Afflalo trey brings it back to 10.
KG with a turnaround and it’s 74-56 Celtics with 7:10 left in third. Melo is 1 of 5 in the quarter. The fourth might be garbage time for everyone.
Pierce with a put-back and it’s 81-60, 4:50 left in third.
Melo gets an and-1 — he’s hammered by Perk — and hits the FT. Maybe this sparks him?
Mid-third and Rondo has more rebounds than Perk — and 11 dimes. He could f with a triple-double here: He’s got 6, 6 and 11 with 4 minutes left in the third.
Melo with a LONG three with 3:30 left to make it 83-68.
Glen Davis is trying to guard Melo on the perimeter. It goes about as you’d expect.
Melo 2/2 FTs, 85-71, 2:30 left in the third…
JR with a steal and dunk, then Melo gets the friendly roll on 15 footer, and it’s 85-75, 1:30 left. That’s a 6-0 run in about a minute. And just like that Melo’s got 26. Dude is cold, but you knew that.
Melo, again, 2/2 FT: 85-77.
Finley stops the bleeding with a baseline J, 87-77.
After Nate runs down clock and settles for a bad three, JR takes a bad three of his own, because that’s all the Nuggets had time for. He hits it over Sheed at the buzzer. End 3Q, it’s 87-80. Denver on a 20-6 run over the last 4:30 or so to make it a game.
Nate opens the fourth with a better 3, and it’s back to 10. The crowd is hyped, and the Cs respond. Steal and Tony Allen layup on the break — that’s a 5-0 run just 30 seconds into the fourth. And now Nate is jawing with Birdman, I think. I’d pay for the PPV to watch those two brawl.
Melo with the stepback. Patent it. 92-82.
Rondo steals a rebound from Birdman and lays it in. 94-82.
Melo is doubled 18 feet from the basket. Tony Allen fouls him. Not ideal.
Ty Lawson with a long J, 94-84, 10:10 left.
Sheed called for being Sheed.
Pierce with a layup and it’s 98-85, 8:40 left.
I like this Celtics crowd. It’s not the hazy, crazy old Garden I grew up watching on CBS, but it’s still cool. This also reminds me that, when I was little, if I’d ever known that I’d be in the same room as Tommy Heinsohn, my dad would’ve been mad at me for not punching him. Growing up a Laker fan in the 80s, the fact that Tommy Heinsohn did national NBA broadcasts — specifically games in which the Celtics were involved — was the most offensive thing in the world.
Joey Graham just got called for an offensive foul against Kevin Garnett, extending his non-shooting arm into KG’s neck. Correct call, and one of those where you know you could literally bet a year’s salary on it not being called if roles were reversed. Comforting, in its way.
C’s get the lead up to 104-87, and Melo misses a 3. Half a quarter left, and we might be done.
KG just missed a bunny. Not even a full-grown bunny. Like a bunny fetus.
104-90 and a timeout with 4:28 to play.
107-95 with 2:32 left. Not enough time. For all the excitement of that late 3Q run, the Nuggets never got any closer in the fourth.
The standing O starts at 1:30, with the Celtics up 109-97. Ray confirms it with a 3 at 1:20.
Final: 113-99 Celtics. Rondo goes 3D with 11, 15 and 11. Melo with 32 on 9 of 23 shooting. Pierce with 27 on a crazy efficient 10 of 16. KG with 20 (on 20 shots…) and 10. Ray with 16, only 1 of 5 on 3s? JR with 21 off the bench for Denver.
On my way out, Twitter blows up with news of JSmoove’s game-winning, monkey-off-back-getting dunk. Hawks are in the playoffs. So is Boston, but no such drama here.