Joseph rallies reserves past Knicks, 109-98

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Joseph rallies reserves past Knicks, 109-98

ALBANY, NY Kris Joseph spent four years at Syracuse University, just a two-hour trek away from the Times Union Center in Albany.

The 6-foot-8 rookie indeed looked at home on Saturday in helping the Boston Celtics rally for a 109-98 win.

After trailing most of the game, Joseph provided a much-needed spark early in the quarter.

Joseph completed a 3-point play to tie the game at 83.

On the ensuing possession, Joseph blocked a shot and was rewarded with a lay-up while drawing a foul.

He completed yet another 3-point play that gave the C's a 3-point lead with 11:17 to play - their largest of the night at that point.

Joseph's opportunity to play was enhanced by Boston's decision to give Paul Pierce the night off.

Within minutes, Joseph had company as Jeff Green, Jason Terry and others began to chip in at both ends of the floor in catapulting the C's to victory.

Although Boston's strong play in the fourth was instrumental in the comeback, the C's began to step their play up back in the second quarter.

"Let's go and see if we can get it!" C's coach Doc Rivers said to his team during a second quarter time-out.

That's exactly what they did, chipping away at a 20-point deficit to make it a competitive game.

Capping off Boston's strong second quarter play was Terry, whose 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds remaining in the quarter cut New York's halftime lead to 52-47.

The 3-pointer gave Terry a team-leading 10 points at the half, followed by nine from Jeff Green and another nine points and six assists from Rajon Rondo.

Boston was playing without a number of core players, including Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett who were each given the night off.

In addition, the C's were without Brandon Bass (right knee bruise) and Darko Milicic (right wrist) who were both held out as a precautionary measure.

New York opted to keep some of its core players out as well. Among them were all-stars Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.

With superstars for each team sitting this one out, it afforded some lesser-heralded players an opportunity to play and with that opportunity, potentially play their way on to the roster this season.

Among those was New York's Chris Copeland, who had a big game in the fourth quarter in the C's 98-95 overtime loss to the Knicks last week.

He was at it again on Saturday, hurting the C's by rolling to the basket on pick-and-roll plays on his way to 23 points in the first half. He finished with a game-high 34 points.

Boston spent the entire third quarter trailing, but continued to show signs of breaking through.

They had a chance to go into the fourth tied up, but Jeff Green's desperation 3-point heave rimmed in and out as time expired with the C's trailing 83-80, going into the fourth quarter.

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

BOSTON – There’s certainly some disappointment among Celtics Nation that Isaiah Thomas just missed out on being an All-Star starter in the East.

But one thing we can certainly see with the new voting system … it works way better than the old way of choosing starters.

This was the first year that the NBA decided to allow current NBA players as well as a select panel of media choose who the starting five in the Eastern and Western Conferences would be.

The fan vote would count for 50 percent while media and players would each represent 25 percent of the final tally.

From there, the players would receive a fan ranking, a media ranking and a player ranking.

Because of the aforementioned breakdown – fans count for 50 percent while media and players represent 25 percent of the vote – the fan ranking would be counted twice while the media and player rankings would be counted once.

Let’s look at Isaiah Thomas’ situation which ultimately came down to him and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan for the final starting spot in the backcourt.

Thomas was fourth in the fan voting, second in the player voting and first among guards in the media voting. So when you add the fan voting (4 *2) + player voting (2 *1) + media voting (1*1), you get a total of 11 which is then divided by 4 to arrive at a score of 2.75.

Now let’s look at DeRozan.

He was third in the fan voting, third in the player ranking and second in the media voting among guards. So his score when you add the fan voting (3*2) + player voting (3*1) + media voting (2*1), you get a total of 11 which when divided by 4 brings you to a score of 2.75 – same as Thomas.

The tiebreaker was the fan vote which meant DeRozan and not Thomas, would get the starting nod in next month’s All-Star game.

As much as it may suck that Thomas lost out because of this system, he would not have had a shot at being a starter under the old system in which the fans were the ones to pick starters.

In fact, it would have been Chicago’s Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup under the old system.

No disrespect to D-Wade, but he has not had an All-Star worthy season. And had the old system been in place, he would be an all-star and thus take up a roster spot of another player who frankly, is more deserving.

And if you take a glance out West, they too would have had a starter who has not had an All-Star caliber season.

Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia finished second in the voting among Western Conference forwards, fueled in large part to his home country, Georgia, voting early and often for him. Because of the media and player voting, Pachulia wound up sixth among Western Conference big men which is still too high when you consider some of the players behind him – Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – who are all having better seasons.

While no one would say this new system is perfect, considering how this year’s voting would have panned out under the old rules, this change by the league is a good one that should stick around.

NOTE: I was among the media panelists selected by the NBA to vote for this year’s All-Star starters. My selections in the East were Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kevin Love and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. My Western Conference selections were Kevin Durant of Golden State, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio in the frontcourt, with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.