Updated: Feb. 7, 2007, 7:21 PM ET

As losses mount, so does hope

It's entirely possible that many Boston Celtics fans were not very interested in watching their team take its record 15th straight loss Tuesday, courtesy of the Detroit Pistons and Chauncey Billups.

Instead, the green faithful might have watched Ohio State's Greg Oden swatting Michigan shots on ESPN. He's the top prize in the 2007 NBA draft, and Boston could get the big man.

Boston and Memphis both have a league-worst 12 wins. They've split the season series 1-1. They have no more meetings. But if they did, and it was the final game of the season with the worst record on the line, with a corresponding better chance to get Oden, what kind of things could you expect to see?

It's not been unusual in the past to see starters miss some time. I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of younger players getting minutes, with a 5 percent chance improvement of getting the best pick on the line.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers compared Oden to Bill Russell on a Boston radio station. Accurate?

That's a reach for me right now. He has a tremendous upside playing with his back to basket, and he's playing it one-handed now. Still, a reach.

If Boston finishes with the worst record, it has a 46.5 percent chance of landing one of the top two picks. Is Texas' Kevin Durant the world's greatest consolation prize?

You can't go wrong with either one. I think they might be better off getting the No. 2 pick and having the choice of deciding between Oden and Durant taken out of their hands. I see Durant coming in immediately and being a 20-point scorer. When we look back a dozen years from now, he might end up being the better player.

OK, let's say Durant and Pierce are the foundation. What about the pieces?

On that team, I like Gerald Green and Al Jefferson. Ryan Gomes is a good role player.

Biggest issue?

They have to address the point-guard situation, because they don't get enough from that position. Sebastian Telfair is not a guy who impresses me. And I see Delonte West as more of a third guard on a good team, not your starting point guard.

Boston is now 2-21 without Paul Pierce, who has another ailment to contend with.

They're not necessarily rushing him back, and I imagine they're not going to be too disappointed if he doesn't return. And consider -- do you want Pierce coming back to such a depressing situation?

No way. The last time a Boston team was this victory-challenged came 10 years ago in anticipation of drafting Tim Duncan.

In that light, which five would you take: Antoine Walker, David Wesley, Todd Day, Rick Fox, Eric Williams (not to mention Dino Radja and Alton Lister) of 1996-97 slouchers that went 15-67? Or the C's starting five Tuesday against the Pistons: Brian Scalabrine, Gomes, Jefferson, West and Rajon Rondo?

Absolutely, the '97 team. You could go back and find teams that have horrendous records along with some very good players.

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He's Gotta Say It
Spike Lee
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
A Madison Square Garden security officer, center, watches as film director Spike Lee talks to referee Bill Kennedy during the Knicks-Clippers game at Madison Square Garden.


Daily Dish: Be Like Dirk
Andrea Bargnani

Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo with Chad Ford:

"It's just interesting to make those Dirk Nowitzki comparisons [to Andrea Bargnani]. I think 7-footer, European, skilled perimeter player, he's got a lot going for him like Dirk. I just think that he's a lot more -- at this stage a lot more confident than Dirk was. It took Dirk a while to feel his way in the league, but further I think he's more athletic than Dirk, and ultimately that's going to bode well.

I think he's a little bit more fluid that way, and Dirk is just absolutely one of the best in the league right now. So, I think it proves that there are some things that were misunderstood about Andrea. People thought he was 6-10, 220 pounds when he was being talked about as the No. 1 draft prospect. Well, we knew him to be 7-0, 245, and the kid might even still be growing a little bit. But barefoot, 7-0, 245, is something to speak of, and to be as athletic and quick, and he's putting moves on players that surprise people. It's that good first quick dribble that he's got. He can put the ball on the floor and make the right pass.

See the full Daily Dish transcript



News and Notes
Joel Przybilla

• Blazers starting center Joel Przybilla played six minutes against the Suns and didn't score. Przybilla, who signed a five-year, $32 million deal before the season, is averaging just 2.1 points and 4.0 rebounds this season.

• The Blazers wore a black band on their jersey for former team executive Stu Inman, who died last week at 80.

• Phoenix has won six straight against the Blazers for the first time since Nov. 15, 1994 to Nov. 14, 1995.

-- The Associated Press


Records At A Glance



Green Daze: 15 Straight Losses

Pistons keep Celtics reeling


Wake Me When It's Over
Al Jefferson
Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Celtics forward Al Jefferson is clearly not enthused by Boston's play during a 109-102 loss to Detroit that was not as close as the score indicated.



Extreme Behavior
tracy mcgrady hspace=

Tuesday's Best
Rockets guard Tracy McGrady: The reliable one nets 33 points, eight assists and six boards in 98-90 win over the Grizzlies. At 31-17, the Rockets would be the East's No. 1 team. As of now, they're the West's No. 5 seed.

Cuttino Mobley

Tuesday's Worst
Clippers guard Cuttino Mobley: First, the good news. He nabbed six boards. However, going for no points on five shots in 26 minutes of MSG action is the bad news. So is a 102-90 loss to the Knicks.

Quote of the Day
"That was surprising, given the way Rip usually chases shots. He actually throws a nice pass."
-- Pistons forward Antonio McDyess, joking within earshot of Richard Hamilton, who had 11 assists in a win over the Celtics.

See how all 93 who played stacked up
Playoff matchups if season ended now

-- Andrew Ayres



Why Not Deron?
Deron Williams

Isaac (Brooklyn, NY): Why doesn't Deron Williams even get mentioned as an All-Star? His numbers are overall better than Tony Parker's, and their team's records are basically identical. After every Jazz game, all I read about is the opposing coach gushing over Williams. What's ESPN's problem?

Marc Stein: Sorry, Isaac. ESPN doesn't pick the starters or the reserves. Fair or not, it generally takes guys a while to crack the All-Star rotation in the coaches' eyes. Classic example was last year when Ray Allen (playing for struggling Seattle) was selected over Chris Paul (playing for the surprising Hornets). Not surprised at all that the coaches picked Parker over Deron. Tony has been on their radar longer. I'm not saying I like it or support it, but that's how the coaches have been voting for years.

See the full Marc Stein chat



It Happened On This Day In History

February 7, 1969
Rick Barry of the Oakland Oaks set an ABA and professional basketball record by going 23-for-23 from the free throw line as Oakland defeated the Kentucky Colonels 124-122 in overtime. Dominique Wilkins of Atlanta later matched Barry's feat and set the NBA mark on December 8, 1992.

February 7, 1987
In Seattle, Michael Jordan started at the opposite foul line to get a running start and took off from the near foul line to dunk without touching the floor in the Nestle Crunch Slam Dunk.

-- NBA.com



In The Company Of Losers

The Celtics are the 11th team in the last 10 seasons to have a losing streak of 15 or more games. How significant is this? Well, recently the futility has turned into draft success. Each of the prior three teams to lose 15 straight games in a single season all resulted in winning the No. 1 pick in that season's upcoming NBA draft.

Losing Streaks of 15+ Since '01-02
Year Team Streak Drafted
'06-07 Celtics 15 ?
'03-04 Magic 19 D. Howard*
'02-03 Cavaliers 15 L. James*
'01-02 Rockets 15 Y. Ming*

* No. 1 overall pick

-- Michael E. Jackson, ESPN Research

 

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