Celtics can't wait for last second heroics


Celtics can't wait for last second heroics

By Jessica Camerato

BOSTON -- Last minute heroics werent going to cut it. Not this time.

Not when the last game (a loss) had been decided by two points.

Not when the opposing team had figured out how to stifle their defense.

The Boston Celtics needed more than that to beat the Dallas Mavericks. On Friday night, a failed lob attempt with 2.5 seconds left was not enough.

The Celtics (37-12) and Mavericks (34-15) met for the first time this season on November 8 in Dallas. The Mavericks pulled out an 89-87 win off a Dirk Nowitzki jumper with 17 seconds left. Rajon Rondo missed a three-point attempt with three seconds to go and Kevin Garnett failed to connect on a game-tying shot as time ran out.

The Mavericks proved they would not be beaten by a last-second effort. It would take four quarters, not four ticks of a clock, to put them away.

But that didnt happen.

There were problems from the start of the Celtics 101-97 loss. The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead with a balanced attack from their starting lineup and Jason Terry off the bench. The Celtics found themselves in a fairly uncommon position this season - trailing by seven after the first quarter.

Even though the Celtics outscored the Mavericks in the second half to cut the deficit to three, 54-51, at halftime, the Mavs had already set the tone for the game.

We have to get a great start, said Kendrick Perkins, who made his first start of the season since coming back from knee surgery. First and third quarters, weve got to do a better job of getting out. I thought they got into a good rhythm. They got everything we didnt want them to get.

The Celtics found themselves down by eight less than three minutes into the second half. They fought back, though, to tie the game at 77 apiece at the end of three quarters.

The next 12 minutes would be a battle, one where every mistake was magnified and a misstep could be the difference between a win and a loss.

It was just one of those games, said Paul Pierce. Youve got two heavyweights going at it. It just came down to whoever had the ball last and made the last shot.

The Celtics looked like they were going to take charge of the game in the fourth quarter. Perkins was dominating the glass, Pierce and Ray Allen were hitting three-pointers, the Celtics were limiting the Mavericks assists. They held a six-point lead with 2:43 to go.

But then came a three-point play by Nowitzki, a steal by Tyson Chandler, and finally, a trey by Jason Kidd against Allen to put the Mavs up, 97-99, with seconds left.

As they have done so many times before, the Celtics drew up a last-second play to take back the game. They came up with two options - a lob from Rondo to Garnett or a pass to Allen,

depending on who was open. With 2.5 seconds left, Rondo went for the lob. And missed the mark.

Doc Rivers isnt faulting Rondo for the end result - I have no problem with it at all, he said. The Celtics didnt lose because of one pass.

The problem was, the game should not have come down to one pass. Not when the opponent is more than capable of pulling off last-minute heroics just like the Celtics are.

We didnt execute down the stretch like we were supposed to, Glen Davis told CSNNE.com. As far as defensively, we got into some sticky situations and they made some big plays. A team like that, youve got to be precise on everything you do.

We slipped up and they ended up winning the game.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

Celtics-Bulls preview: C's quickly turn page to new-look Bulls


Celtics-Bulls preview: C's quickly turn page to new-look Bulls

BOSTON – Change is an inevitable when it comes to NBA rosters.

Just as the Boston Celtics significantly altered the outlook many had for them this season by signing Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract, they face a Chicago Bulls team tonight that has also undergone significant change.

The Bulls traded away one favorite son (Derrick Rose) and went about adding another in Dwyane Wade.

In addition to Wade, Chicago also signed former Celtic All-Star Rajon Rondo to join a team headlined by All-Star guard Jimmy Butler.

As easy as it could have been to worry about the struggles they had in disposing of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, the Celtics knew they had to immediately turn the page and shift their focus towards a Chicago Bulls team that’s looking to start its season with a quality win over the Celtics.

“They’re a good team. They have great players over there,” said Jae Crowder. “They’re trying to figure it out. They’re going to be very excited to play of course. We have to take care of business, play the way we want to play and impose our will even more.”

One of the keys to knocking off the Bulls will be to get better play from their second unit.

Boston’s backups were outscored 58-40 but more significant than that was their inability to hold off the late-charging Nets which forced head coach Brad Stevens to bring his starters back on to the floor with about two minutes to play.

Among the reasons contributing to the bench’s ineffective play on Wednesday was the fact that Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) was out.

Remember, Smart has been with the second unit for all of training camp minus the second half of their 121-96 preseason loss to the New York Knicks.

Crowder believes not having Smart, who will be out for another week or so, was indeed a factor in the second unit’s struggles.

“They trying to figure it out on the fly,” Crowder said. “With a few days of practice and probably one tough day of practice without him. It’s tough but they’re figuring it out. There’s no other way to figure it out but in a game. They’ll figure it out as soon as possible.”