Celtics' Collins remembers Pierce, Garnett from AAU days


Celtics' Collins remembers Pierce, Garnett from AAU days

One of the highly-touted seniors was intense,JasonCollinsremembered, while the other effortlessly hit his shots.

Nearly 20 years before he signed with the Boston Celtics,Collinsfaced current teammates Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in a 1994 Las Vegas AAU Tournament. Collinswas entering his sophomore year at the time and was well aware of his older competition.

As a student at Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, he had played against Inglewood native Pierce in previous AAU games. Even though Garnett attended his first three years of high school across the country in South Carolina, there was nationwide buzz about the teenager going straight to the NBA.

Kevin was the same way intense, talking trash, playing hard,Collinstold CSNNE.com. He had 19 blocks in the game so he wasn't letting anything go. Paul had the same style, all-around game. He was a scorer, just knocked down shots.

Collins team, ARC, lost the game, but the matchup stayed with him throughout the rest of his high school career.

That was my first time playing against a really good big man, the seven-foot center said. Their team won the game, but I learned a lot because I was two years behind those guys and that helped me tremendously for stuff I needed to work on.

Collinswent on to become a McDonalds All-American and played college basketball at Stanford University. He joined Garnett and Pierce in the NBA when the Houston Rockets selected him with the 18thoverall pick in the 2001 Draft. 11 years later, they became teammates when Collins signed with the Celtics in July.

I didnt know I was playing two future Hall of Famers, but I knew I was playing against two highly talented basketball players, he said. I took away from that game what things I needed to work on. When you're going up against better competition, it only makes you better. It shows you your weaknesses and what you need to improve upon. Two years later, I'm a McDonald's All-American and someone behind me is learning from going up against me.

Now playing on the Cs,Collins, Garnett, and Pierce are pushing their younger teammates together, the same way in which Garnett and Pierce pushedCollins years ago.

Horford's all-around play key in first regular season game with Celtics

Horford's all-around play key in first regular season game with Celtics

BOSTON – The Al Horford love fest continues with the veteran big man delivering yet another impressive performance for the Boston Celtics.

And this one?

Unlike his play in the preseason, Wednesday night's game counts.

Horford’s all-around play was pivotal to Boston holding on for a 122-117 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

CELTICS 122, NETS 117:

The four-time All-Star made several high-basketball IQ-type plays that in hindsight, were major key moments in Boston pushing its lead to as many as 23 points.

In the third quarter with Boston ahead 71-65, Horford took advantage of Brooklyn closing out too hard on him and drove into the lane. As the Nets defenders collapsed to take away a shot attempt in the lane, Horford swung the ball to Jae Crowder whose jumper triggered a 14-5 run.

Boston would lead by double figures until the last couple of minutes of the game.

“We have to keep playing the right way, for 48 minutes,” Horford said when asked about the team’s late-game collapse.

The late-game struggles aside, there was a lot to like about how the Celtics played throughout the first 40 minutes.

And a big part of that strong play has to be credited to Horford whose ability to help keep the ball moving allowed the Celtics to finish with 36 assists on 48 made field goals, the kind of opening night assist numbers that haven’t been seen around these parts in decades.

Horford was among those getting into the act, scoring 11 points to go with five rebounds and six assists.

To see him racking up guard-like assist numbers isn’t unusual when you consider he was third in the league last season in assists per game (3.2) for a center.

“Guys were moving the ball very well,” Horford said. “It’s kind of contagious.”

Said Crowder: “I never saw coaches clap on a three-second call. We moved the ball in the first quarter so much we got a three-second call. We passed up a lot of open shots. It just shows how unselfish we are playing as a unit.”

And while that selfless brand of basketball was on display at times last season, the addition of Horford seems to have taken it to another level.

“He opens the floor, he makes it easier for everybody; he’s always in the right spots, he’s a threat at all times,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “He can hit the 3, hit the mid-range, and also post up so he has the full package; a guy that makes it easy for everybody.”

Stars, studs and duds: Win vs. Nets 'a good learning experience' for Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Win vs. Nets 'a good learning experience' for Celtics

BOSTON –  Throughout the course of this season, the Boston Celtics will learn plenty of lessons about itself.

Sometimes it takes time to sift through the nuances of a game and figure out what should be extrapolated from it.

Following Wednesday’s 122-117 it-should-have-never-been-that-close victory over the Brooklyn Nets, there was no mistaking the Celtics came away feeling as though they survived a game in which they let up too soon and allowed a scrappy Nets team to make it more of a game than it should have been.

CELTICS 122, NETS 117:

After Tyler Zeller drained an 18-foot jumper with 7:36 to play, Boston held a commanding 112-89 lead.

Brooklyn went on a 28-8 run to make it a one-possession game with 6.8 seconds to play.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens explained the late-game collapse afterwards.

“We started shooting bad shots and not guarding and throwing it to the other team,” Stevens said. “It’s how quickly it can change; we all know that.”

Because Boston had such a commanding lead and they were opening the season with a back-to-back with a Thursday night game at Chicago, it made sense for Stevens to give his core guys a chance to rest in the fourth quarter.

“I was hopeful not to have to put those guys back in but I probably went a little bit longer than I normally would have, not doing that,” Stevens said. “So we’ve got to play better in that moment.”

Boston’s Jae Crowder acknowledged he and Boston’s other starters were not as locked in as they should have been when Stevens put them back in the game with 2:07 to play.

“We had checked out a little bit mentally and physically,” Crowder said. “Our bodies were not warmed up enough to do what we did. But we got it done. We’re just going to learn from it and move on to Chicago.”

Said Horford: “That’s the NBA sometimes; it’ll humble you. It’s a good learning experience for our group.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s season-opening win over Brooklyn Wednesday night.



Isaiah Thomas

He was there when the Celtics needed him most, making a pair of free throws with 1.9 seconds to play that sealed the victory. He finished with a game-high 23 points and nearly had a double-double with nine assists to go with six rebounds and two steals.

Jae Crowder

Crowder set the tone in the first quarter, and it was his shot-making early in the third that led Boston to being well-positioned for victory. He would finish with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting to go with five rebounds two assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

Bojan Bogdanovic

His 3-point shooting in the second half was a major key to Brooklyn’s rally to within just three points. He led Brooklyn with 21 points on 9-for-17 shooting.



Al Horford

He doesn’t put up the sexiest, eye-grabbing numbers, but Horford’s steady play continues to impress. He had 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting, in addition tallying six assists, five rebounds and four blocked shots.

Avery Bradley

The 6-foot-2 guard had a strong game that easily glided under the radar of some of his teammates. But Bradley still finished with 17 points which included a put-back lay-up of his own miss in the fourth quarter for Boston’s only field goal in the final 4:18 of play.

Justin Hamilton

Make no mistake about it, Hamilton will become a prominent part of the scouting report when these two teams meet again. He came off the Brooklyn bench to finish with a double-double of 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting, to go with 10 rebounds.



Brook Lopez

At no point did Lopez look comfortable or impactful for the Nets. He was a non-factor in every sense of the word, missing six of his seven shot attempts to finish with just seven points and five rebounds.

Celtics bench

This group had flashes of good play here and there, but their inability to close out the game in the fourth was a bit disturbing. Not having Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) was a factor. That said, a 23-point lead with under eight minutes to play should be more than enough of a cushion not to require the starters to have to come back in the game.