Postgame notes: C's win ugly

February, 6, 2010
2/06/10
12:26
AM ET
BOSTON -- A collection of postgame news, notes, and analysis after the Boston Celtics posted a 96-87 triumph over the New Jersey Nets at TD Garden:

The rundown (a quick look at the postgame headlines)
  • KG and Rajon Rondo lament lack of killer instinct
  • Doc Rivers shuns halftime speech; lets stats do the talking
  • Bill Walker gets play; Ray Allen gets rest
  • No moral victory, but Nets can build off loss
  • Feed the pig! House gets hot late
KG and Rondo: Where's the killer instinct?



Both Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo lamented Boston's lack of energy out of the gates Friday night. Unlike the last meeting in New Jersey, where Boston opened a 71-35 halftime advantage, the Celtics allowed the Nets to hang around into the fourth quarter and that meant no easy evening for a team that could have used a laugher.

"Tonight, we didn't come out with that that killer mentality to destroy them in the the first half," said Garnett. "I thought that, collectively, as the quarters went on, we increased the intensity defensively... When we started the game, we didn’t come out with that energy to just get them out of here. You look at the game in New Jersey, the tone was set right away. Defensively, guys' hands were active. You could see the energy there, but tonight it wasn’t the same."

Rondo stressed that New Jersey's 4-44 record had nothing to do with underestimating them or not bringing the necessary energy.

“Last time, we did a great job coming out there early and attacking them," said Rondo. "We were setting the tone, and our guys got to sit in the fourth. That is not an excuse. We just didn’t come out with the right energy or right effort tonight.”

Rondo finished with 17 points and 11 assists, for yet another double-double. Garnett finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds, but labored at times defensively, and was his own biggest critic after the game.

“I was OK," he said. "I made some misreads. Kris Humphries made a couple of baskets on me and I wasn’t happy about that. Defensively, you have to know what you are going to have to do when picks come. Talking for guys like Rondo and Ray [Allen] on the pick-and-rolls. I messed up a couple of times. I am human, I will get better at that, but, for the most part, my focus right now is rebounding better and continuing to talk. I did miss some assignments tonight, which is something that I don’t usually do."

Doc's Opinion: No halftime speech



The side-by-side, first-half statistical comparison said all that needed to be said at halftime, so Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't reach for many motivational words for his team.

“I don’t know what it was, we just didn’t play well in the first half," said Rivers. "I thought it was a game that we thought we could just outscore them. And we have those games. All of a sudden, with about four minutes left in the second quarter, we missed a lot of open shots. And they kept making shots because we weren't defending.

"[The Nets] had a [55-51] lead and I didn’t say much -- very little -- at halftime. I basically said, ‘I don’t think I need to talk. We’re a defensive team and tonight we want to outscore them.’ And I said, ‘Good luck.’ That was about it. But in the second half, they were terrific. Our defensive energy picked up and that’s why we won the game."

While not thrilled with the first-half effort, Rivers didn't lament that the Nets pushed his team through three-plus quarters.

"Orlando lost to Washington tonight, so it’s just basketball," said Rivers. "You show up. I told them before the game that we should win, I’m not going to blow smoke and create some illusion that’s not there. I told them, 'Having said that, the only way you can do that is to execute our system. And if we don’t, then anybody can win the game.' It’s called basketball. It’s a competition. I thought from the middle of the third quarter on, we [executed our system.]"

Walker helps spell Allen

After playing Ray Allen for more than 42 minutes in Wednesday's win over the Heat, Rivers stressed that he absolutely needed to lower than number moving forward. So even as Boston's offense struggled and the Nets hung around, Rivers did his best to stick to his plan.

“I was bound and determined to try to get Ray to 33 minutes, in that area, and it was murder at one point because we couldn’t make shots in that one stretch," said Rivers. Allen logged 33:20 of action, scoring a team-high 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting.

"We were getting stops and I knew if we put Ray on the floor with Eddie [House], it would open the floor up, but Ray had already played his allotment for me. And so, I mean, that was a tough one. But we stayed with it, we stayed the course. And when [Allen] came in, it was big for us. I thought he made shots because he had better legs.”

Allen's decrease in minutes meant extra time for second-year forward Bill Walker, who logged 9:21, and earned praise from both Rivers and Rondo, who noted Walker's size and athleticism helped counteract the Nets when they tried to present matchup problems with their personnel.

“Billy was fine," said Rivers. "It’s really unfair to Billy in a lot of ways. We play him in practice at the four and at the three. We ran a couple sets, but you could tell he wasn’t comfortable at the three-spot. But he cuts hard. We ran the one play out of the time-out and he got it deep, but he just bobbled the ball. And we could get him down there. He’s a better post player than he has shown, but it’s tough when you get a catch every 12 games, you know, or 20 games in this case. So it’s very difficult for him, but I like what I see. He’s playing hard for us."

Walker finished with 2 points (both on free throws) while missing two shots he took.

Opposing View: Building block

Even with four wins to their credit, the Nets weren't about to take a moral victory out of hanging with Boston, but players and coaches did identify positives with which the team can build on.

"We're doing the same things we've been doing for the past week and a half now: playing good defense," said Brook Lopez. "There will be times we’re not scoring the ball, but with the majority of our groups, there’s still a few where we don’t rotate well enough to counter our inability to score. It hurts us, but for the most part we’ve been rotating well and helping each other out."

Added Devin Harris: "We were right there, we battled. We had some ill-advised shots in that first part of the fourth [quarter] and then we turned the ball over and gave up some easy layups. Obviously, with a 10-point lead we fought back a little bit, but they made shots and we didn’t."

Even coach Kiki Vandeweghe admitted that, as usually is the luck of a four-win team, the ball simply didn't bounce their way Friday.

"I thought we got a couple of bad breaks, but, all in all, that happens in games, especially on the road, and you have to play through that," said Vandeweghe. "You have to learn to play that way. As I said, [Boston's] a great veteran team and they capitalize on any mistakes."

Loose Balls

For the second straight game, Eddie House rescued the Celtics when they desperately needed his offense. House, scoreless early in the fourth quarter, scored 10 of Boston's 16 points to turn a one-point deficit into a comfortable lead. House did more damage, but a 3-pointer was nullified by video replay when it was shown to come after the 24-second clock had expired. "Eddie making shots bailed us out," said Rivers. Rondo noted the Celtics strove to get House the ball once he heated up. "That’s our mentality: Feed the pig," said Rondo. "Whoever has it going... Feed the pig."

Pierce watched from the bench for the second straight game while nursing the foot injury... Shelden Williams logged his ninth consecutive DNP (coach's decision) ... Tony Allen finished 2-of-7 shooting for 7 points and never looked comfortable with his shot. He wore a tape bandage over the index finger on his right shooting hand... Kendrick Perkins lamented his struggles (2-of-6 shooting, 3-of-6 free throws, 7 points) and noted he simply didn't connect on open looks... Glen Davis earned positive reviews from Rivers for the energy he brought in the second half (including a series where he grabbed two offensive rebounds, even if Boston couldn't capitalize on it). Davis finished with 13 points off the bench.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
19.5 1.6 0.9 34.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.3
AssistsE. Turner 3.4
StealsK. Olynyk 1.2
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.8