Notes: Celtics hustle plays beat the Knicks


Notes: Celtics hustle plays beat the Knicks

By A.Sherrod Blakely

NEW YORK Late in Monday night's game, Kevin Garnett forced a jump ball with Amar'e Stoudemire.

The two jumped and it was no contest -- Garnett won the tip, easily.

Earlier in the game, Delonte West out-hustled the Knicks and was fouled near halfcourt, resulting in a clear path foul against New York.

Rajon Rondo hustling down loose balls, Glen Davis grabbing offensive rebounds . . . the Celtics defeated the Knicks 96-86 for a lot of reasons.

Their ability to make all the necessary hustle plays was among the most important.

"That's who we are," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

But there are times when the C's, for whatever reason, tend to forget or get away from what they do best which on many nights, which is to simply out-work and out-hustle teams.

"We did a pretty good job of that in the second half," Delonte West told "It was good enough to win tonight, but we can't just play Celtics basketball for one half and expect to win."

For the second straight game, the Celtics struggled in the first half before surging in the second for a victory.

While pleased with the victory, players understand they can't rely on winning games this way.

Part of the problem on Monday was the second unit's inability to limit the Knicks primary scorer that quarter, Carmelo Anthony.

Rivers says he was to blame in large part for the second unit's struggles against New York.

"I screwed that up," Rivers said. "Delonte has been running point guard for the last week. And then I put Carlos Arroyo in at point and move Delonte to 2 shooting guard. That was all me. I screwed that up completely."

Rivers' gaffe only highlights what continues to be an issue for the Celtics -- integrating the new guys into the regular playing mix.

It's not all that surprising that in the second quarter, easily the worst played by the C's on Monday, it was primarily their second unit guys who struggled.

"This is a new team than the team we had at the start of the season, so we have to get back to putting together four quarters as a unit," said Ray Allen. "Whoever's coming off the bench, understanding exactly what we're doing."

One of Monday night's biggest difference-makers for the Celtics was Rajon Rondo.

The right pinkie finger injury that has bothered him for the past couple of weeks, was not an issue against the Knicks.

Rondo had 13 points and 12 assists, his first double-double since a 15-point, 16-assist effort against Phoenix on March 2.

Despite his recent struggles, his teammates never lost confidence that Rondo was simply going through one of those stretches that all great players endure at some point.

"You have to understand, no one's perfect in this league," Garnett said. "We're all going to have some bad games. Lord knows I know. Rondo just had some difficult games. This is not an easy game to perfect. Every night, hit or miss. Tonight he was really good."

Quotes to note:

"I haven't used the word soft in, maybe four years, but at halftime, that word came out a lot." - Rivers.

"Everything you do over the course of a game, it adds up." - Celtics forward Paul Pierce.

"We got on the floor and got grimy. We made it a dirty game." - Garnett

"They get into you and they make it tough to find a good shot. That's why they're competing for a World Championship and that's what they do." - Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit


Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

After the Clippers were elminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, a disappointed Paul Pierce told ESPN that he was "50-50" about retirement. 

In a video after Portland's Game 6 victory posted on, the former Celtics captain said his "heart is broken" by another playoff elimination. 

Pierce signed a a three-year, $10 million contract to return home (he grew up in Inglewood, Calif.) and play for his old coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.  He'll be 39 next season and coming off the worst season of his career. Pierce averaged 6.1 points, 36 percent shooting and 18 minutes a game, all career lows.

How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step


How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

WALTHAM, Mass. -- This past season, Isaiah Thomas took a major step forward to becoming more than just a solid NBA player, but one of the game’s best.
He knows he won’t stay among the elite for long if he doesn’t make some changes with the most notable being to his diet.
“I do not eat good,” Thomas acknowledged following his exit interview this week. “I eat like a young guy, a young guy who got a little bit of money, fast food every day. But I’m definitely going to change.”
The change becomes necessary not only in light of how the season ended for him and the Celtics, but also for his long-term goals, which include playing in the NBA until he’s at least 40 years old.
“I’m not that old but the greatest players took care of their bodies the best,” Thomas said.
Among those cited by Thomas who excelled at taking care of their bodies was former Celtic Ray Allen.
But Thomas was quick to add that he won’t go to the lengths that Allen did in maintaining good health.
“Because he’s a little crazy with that,” quipped Thomas. “I just want to play at a high level for a long time, like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant. You have to take care of your body. That’s half the battle of performing out there on the floor.
Thomas added, “This is a big summer for me to start doing that.”
Eating right is just part of the transformation process for Thomas.
He’ll also modify is offseason workouts to include some work in the boxing ring with long time friend Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
“I’m definitely work with him a few times, get my conditioning right, probably train, do some boxing stuff on the side, just to get in that type of shape,” Thomas said. “You get in that type of shape you won’t get tired on the basketball floor. This summer is big for me, transforming my body, getting into the best shape possible and coming back and having another all-star year.”
For the Celtics to improve upon this past season, they will need Thomas to continue elevating his play as well as the play of those around him.
It is that latter point that was among the many reasons Boston’s season is over. No matter what he did, those around him could not step their game up to a level needed in order to get past the Atlanta Hawks.
Chalk it up to another lesson learned for Thomas.
“You can’t do it on your own,” Thomas said. “There’s no way you can do it on your own. Nobody can do it on your own; and how hard it is to win playoff games, a playoff series. It’s not easy.”
And when you come up short, for Thomas is created an uneasiness that he never wants to experience again.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have this feeling again,” he said. “It really hurt me. I’m going to use that as motivation to continue to get better and to work on my flaws and make those into my strengths. I promise you’ll I’ll be back better than ever next year.”