'Melo will remember the Celtics

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'Melo will remember the Celtics

Before last nights game, Carmelo Anthony sounded like a man who was beyond the Boston Celtics. Like a man with nothing to prove against the five-time defending Atlantic Division champs and a team barely removed from the Eastern Conference Finals.

Honestly, we dont even think about them, Anthony told reporters at yesterdays shoot around. No disrespect or anything. We focus on ourselves. Just happens the Boston Celtics are the next game on our schedule.

No disrespect? OK, fine. But not much respect either. At least not compared to what his teammates had to offer:

Theyre not done at all, Jason Kidd said. Theres a lot of basketball left. They have a great coach and know what it takes to win.

Boston is a veteran team, Tyson Chandler added. They do things late in the season. Theres not much of a sense of urgency as far as the regular season goes, because they know theyve been together a long time and can turn it on.

Once again, here's Melo: Honestly, we dont even think about them.

Twelve hours later, he was standing out in the cold, wearing an awesome red hat and locked in a staring contest with a bus. He was so consumed by the Celtics that he didn't even shower or talk to the media. That he reportedly needed to be restrained by Rasheed Wallace (Ha!), and even before that, had come dangerously close to getting himself thrown out of the game.

What set him off?

In an abbreviation: KG. But it had to be something more than that, right? Something above and beyond Garnett's typical trash talk. Did he drop another cancer line? Make another joke about Bin Laden? Did he say something about sweet La La, Anthony's wife?

Whatever it was, he was irate. Way past angry. In the kind of volatile state that typically leads to overly emotional and idiotic decisions like, say, trying to pick a fight outside the opposing team's bus.

It will be interesting hear what 'Melo has to say the next time he meets with reporters. You figure by then, once he's done standing on KG's front lawn screaming "Cowwaaaaaaard!" at the top his lungs, Anthony will want to discuss what happened. And I hope he gives us the full story. But in the meantime, here's one thing we know for sure: Carmelo Anthony will be thinking about the Celtics.

He came into the game acting like it was nothing. As if two months of solid Knicks basketball had already erased five years of Celtics dominance. It was basically: "Oh, Boston's in town? That's cool. Just another speed bump."

The Celtics turned out to be a brick wall. And I think it caught 'Melo by surprise. I think he was looking past the Celtics to begin with, then they lost Rondo, then the Knicks jumped out to an early 10-point lead and Anthony was flying high. Like LeBron, he had officially cleared the green hurdle, and was ready to leave the Celtics in his dust.

But then Boston fought back. Playing without Rondo, they delivered the most entertaining and spirited performance since last year's playoffs. Pierce and KG were in post-season form. Avery Bradley was all that he can be. Jason Terry found ways to contribute (five assists, four rebounds) despite missing his jumper. Courtney Lee played defense like the Courtney Lee we all expected. Jeff Green took perfect advantage of Steve Novak. Brandon Bass had the jump shot working. Jared Sullinger continued his crusade to become every single Celtics fan's favorite player.

As the game went on, and the Celtics continued to click, Pierce and KG started having some fun. And why not? How many more chances will either of them have to play in a game like that at Madison Square Garden? Can you imagine how great it must have felt to play on that stage after everything's that's happened this season? Of course they're going to get fired up.

For Pierce, that means doing stuff like this. For KG, that means talking. And he clearly said something to get under Melo's skin. And I imagine Anthony, already dealing with the shock of defeat, was thinking: "What he hell? I thought I was done with this. I thought I was done with these guys. They've got no right to talk to me like that and . . ." Scene.

I don't know. Maybe that's just my romanticized version of it.

But either way, from here on out, the Celtics are no longer just another game on Carmelo Anthony's schedule. He's going to start taking notice. After the events of the last five days, a lot of people will.

And with a 10-day, five-game home stand set to kick off tomorrow night against Phoenix, the Celtics have a serious chance to run with the hype and finally start making an impact on this 2012-13 season.

Now if they can only do it with Rondo.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."