Notes: Rondo thrives against first place Spurs

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Notes: Rondo thrives against first place Spurs

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Rajon Rondo is a big fan of winning. It doesnt matter if the opposing team is 30-0 or 0-30, victory is always the ultimate goal.

But there is a little something extra to a game against a contender like the San Antonio Spurs. On Wednesday, Rondo made sure to bring something extra, too.

He recorded a triple-double (12 points, 22 assists, 10 rebounds) against one of the top point guards in the league. He just couldnt help it.

I like to compete, Rondo said following the Celtics 105-103 win. I've got to respect every opponent, but it's just human nature. I think I get up for some of the best guys that we play against - Tony Parker, D. Rose. I think it's just human nature. But for me, I'm really competitive.

Ray Allen has made over 2,500 three-pointers in the career, but there are still the eyebrow-raising moments when teams leave him open behind the arc.

When the Spurs failed to defend him in the fourth quarter, he buried an open trey to give the Celtics a 101-96 lead with 1:37 to go.

Allen is still surprised to find himself open after thousands of buckets.

Im always surprised any time I get open, especially for 3, he said. But one thing I learned about basketball a long time ago is if I can be in better shape than the guy thats guarding me, then the team will have problems because then somebody else is going to have to help and that means either the point guard or our big men are going to be wide open. For me to run as hard as I can and get to my spots, somebodys going to be open. And a lot of times its not me, but there are those few occasions I do get open and Ive got to be ready to take a shot.

Allen is averaging 43.8 percent from three-point range this season.

< The Celtics knew they were in for a challenge when the league-leading Spurs came to town. There was no doubt it would be a grind-out battle, but the Celtics wouldnt let themselves dwell on the Spurs record.

After the Cs pulled out a two-point victory, the Spurs werent dwelling on their own 29-win record either. The Celtics handed them their second straight loss.

Were very hard on ourselves, said Tim Duncan (18 points, 8-15 FG, 5 rebounds). Were not satisfied with where we are and honestly, I dont really care what our record is. Its how were playing through stretches. Were going to hang our hat in the last two losses and the kind of defense were playing, so were definitely not satisfied with what we have right now.

Glen Davis likes that Doc Rivers holds him accountable. That, along with the birth of his daughter, has helped him develop an increased sense of responsibility and a strong work ethic.

The two have a special relationship . . . one that Davis smiled about.

For sure father-son, he said, pausing before laughing, But like stepson.

All kidding aside, he appreciates the way Rivers pushes him to become a better player.

Hes worked with me, giving me opportunities to show what Ive got within the team, he said. But hes still hard on me. Hes still hard. Its like a love-hate - its like you love it but youre like, Oh my gosh, pipe it down sometimes!

Davis laughed again, knowing the tough love has paid off.

The Celtics have launched the Celtics Banner Moments program, an interactive program that allows fans to share their favorite moments in team history through video, photos, and text. The program will run through March and fans have the opportunity to win prizes including meet-and-greets with Celtics legends, game tickets, and more. One winner will be recognized at Fan Appreciation Night in April and will also win the chance to watch a playoff game in a private suite. Visit www.celtics.commoments for more information.

Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:www.twitter.comjcameratonba

Celtics-Sixers preview: Road has been kind to C's lately

Celtics-Sixers preview: Road has been kind to C's lately

BOSTON – For most teams in the NBA, road games are a necessary evil. 
 
Not for the Celtics. At least, not lately.
 
The Green Team hits the road for its next three games, and that has been a good thing – a real good thing – lately. 
 
Boston (11-8) has won its last four road games, the kind of success that breeds a heightened level of confidence heading into this current trip which begins tonight at Philadelphia. 
 
And it only helps that they hit the road coming off a 97-92 win over Sacramento on Friday. 
 
“We have to carry that momentum with us,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “You know how...anytime in this league, the momentum, you have to stay with it. We’ve been having success away from home. It was big for us to get this win (over the Kings) to start the road trip off.”
 
A big part of Friday’s victory was the play of Al Horford who finished with 26 points, eight rebounds, and six blocked shots. The points and rebounds for Horford were both season-highs.
 
Horford’s breakout performance came on the heels of a 121-114 loss to Detroit, a game in which Boston’s $113 million man (Horford) only took five shots.
 
“Coach [Brad Stevens] didn’t say anything about going to him just specifically,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “We just found him and made the right play and when he got it he was very aggressive.” 
 
Part of Horford’s success was that he was in more of an attacking mentality. But he also benefited from a Kings defense that didn’t double-team him nearly as much as the Pistons did. 
 
“I got a lot of early looks in the game and like I said [following the Pistons loss] I think the Pistons did a good job defending and doubling and forcing me to pass the ball. [Friday night] I had more opportunities to be aggressive.”
 
Facing a Sixers team that ranks among the NBA’s worst in several defensive categories, Horford and the rest of his Celtics teammates should have ample opportunities to make plays offensively. 
 
And in doing so, they will be able to add on to what has been an already impressive stretch of play this season away from home.
 
“I think it will be good,” Horford said. “[Tonight] it’s a Philly team that plays hard and we just want to keep building on [Friday night’s win over Sacramento] and just try to be better.”
 

 

Al Horford makes his mark on Celtics win with defense

Al Horford makes his mark on Celtics win with defense

BOSTON – Al Horford had the kind of game that stands out because of the way he scored from so many different spots on the floor. 

But the true measure of his value to this team usually lies in what he brings to the floor defensively. 

Horford had one of his better games defensively in Boston’s 97-92 win over Sacramento on Friday, a game in which he had a season-high six blocked shots. 

For the season, the four-time All-Star is averaging a career-high 2.9 blocks per game.

He’ll be looking to do more of the same tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

While Philly doesn’t have a player as dominant and difficult to contain as DeMarcus Cousins, their top post player Joel Embiid has been impressive even with a minutes restriction after having missed the last two seasons with injuries and recovery. 

Against Sacramento, he had a season-high six blocked shots which was one short of tying his career high which came against the Kings during the 2010-2011 season. 

Although Horford has ranked among the NBA’s top big men when it comes to blocking shots, the Celtics knew when they signed him to a four-year, $113 million contract they were adding a player who could help with rim protection. 

The biggest play in the Celtics’ win over Sacramento came in the closing seconds when Horford was credited with blocking DeMarcus Cousins’ shot. Horford was fouled and went to the line and made his free throws to secure the victory. 

“Playing at the power forward position it really frees me up defensively,” Horford said. “I feel like I can run around a little more and have more impact. When you are a center a lot of the times you get caught up with the bigs and it’s a little harder to get out to shooters and stuff. I’m just trying to be active, as active as I can.”

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas who was among the Green Teamers to recruit Horford to sign with Boston, seeing him protect the rim the way he did on Friday was no surprise.

“We’ve always known when we recruited him we knew that was what he was good at,” Thomas said. “Even if he doesn’t block shots, he alters shots and changes them. He’s a hell of a player on both ends of the floor and he played a hell of a game (on Friday).”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens likes what he sees out of Horford defensively, especially now that he plays for Boston and not Atlanta which eliminated the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs last season. 

“He was terrific in our series,” Stevens said. “Terrific. And so, playing him 10 times last year, and so, I mean, I think I’m an idiot but after 10 times I had at least an idea. You know, he’s all over the place and he covers a lot of ground, he calls out calls, and I think he’s a competitive guy. And that proof is in his winning track record.”