For Shaq, Christmas begins early


For Shaq, Christmas begins early

By Jessica Camerato

FRAMINGHAM -- The holidays are a month away, but Shaq-a-Claus has already come to town.

On Sunday, Shaquille O'Neal shopped the aisles of Toys 'R' Us in Framingham to donate gifts to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

"This is what I do," he told as he piled toys into one of his many shopping carts. "I've been doing this Toys for Tots since '95. I just partnered up with Toys 'R' Us about five years ago. I'd always go, whenever I had a day off, and get four or five U-Haul trucks and just fill them up."

O'Neal donned a red Santa Claus hat and shopped around with members of the Marines. He also stopped to talk to fans along the way. Once he made his purchase, he helped load the toys into a military vehicle in the parking lot.

O'Neal stresses the importance of donating in the community and in his own family. His rule of thumb -- before his children buy new toys, they must donate ten toys of their own.

"We took a few of their old toys down to a homeless shelter," he recalled. "This little kid had a broken doll and she was crying. When she got her new gift she was running around happy. It actually made my daughter cry."

O'Neal hopes other public figures will also get involved in similar activities and provide toys for deserving children.

"My goal is get one big-time person in each state," he said. "Like me, I'm doing this here, New Jersey, Florida, and California. So there goes four states right there. So I just say we get Paul Pierce to take care of California and Kevin Garnett take care of Minnesota. My goal is to one day just have a guy take care of their own state and their own city."

Shaq-a-Claus is off to an early start this year.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Celtics hope to rebound after being outplayed by Bulls on the boards

Following Thursday’s 105-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics will be on the prowl to rebound – literally – from its first defeat of the season.

Because for all that did not go right in Thursday night’s loss, the way Boston was beaten on the boards stands out emphatically.

“They got 24 more shots than us. We only turned it over (12) times,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. “So that’s the obvious place they’re getting their possessions, on the glass. That’s going to be the number one thing, that has been the number one thing. It’s something we’ve talked about. We have to get better at it.”


Boston was out-rebounded 55-36 on the boards which heavily factored into Chicago’s 18-5 advantage in second-chance points.

In the Celtics' 122-117 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, Boston won the overall rebounding battle 47-44, but had just 12 offensive rebounds compared to Brooklyn's 15 offensive boards. Despite the close margin, the Nets won the battle on the offensive glass running away, outscoring the Celtics 23-13 in second-chance points.

Stevens decided to start Tyler Zeller ahead of Amir Johnson to begin the third quarter, hoping Zeller would be a better matchup on the glass than Johnson who did not grab a single rebound in the 11 minutes of court time he got in the first half.

While Zeller did do a few good things on the glass and scoring in half-court sets, it wasn’t enough to swing the momentum Chicago was steadily gaining due to its ability to control the boards.

“I wasn’t real surprised but at the same time I knew it could happen,” Zeller told reporters, referring to Stevens’ decision to have him start the second half. “They did a good job of coming out and setting the tone. They beat us up on the boards, especially the first half. It’s something we have to get better at and continue to grow at.”

And it’s not a one-player or one-position issue, either.

Usually we think of bigs when it comes to rebounding. But Boston’s guards need to step up their rebounding game as well.

The struggles thus far have to be put in the context of this being just two games, the latter being the season opener for the Bulls who were jacked up more than usual due to it being the first game for Chicago native Dwyane Wade and ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo.

“We have to focus on boxing out,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Guards have to do a better job. Guys like me, Al (Horford), Amir (Johnson), Tyler (Zeller) ... We have to do a good job of coming in the weak side and grabbing those; just focus on it, pay more attention to detail.”