Celtics start road trip against Hornets looking to avenge earlier loss

USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics begin a 3 game road trip in New Orleans as they look to get back into the win column.

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Boston Celtics (36-30) at New Orleans Hornets (22-46)
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #67 – Road Game #33
TV: CSN-NE, FSO, NBA-LP 760(BOS)/761(NOH)
Radio: WEEI, WWL
New Orleans Arena
Referees: Joey Crawford, Sean Corbin, Kevin Scott

Game Thread l Chat

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The Celtics begin a 3 game road trip in New Orleans as they look to avenge a loss to the Hornets at the Garden earlier this season. Kevin Garnett, who missed the last 2 games with an adductor injury and some kind of illness, traveled with the team and word out of the shoot around was that he will be playing tonight. On the other side, Anthony Davis is a game time decision due to illness. .

Starting the trip out against the 22-46 Hornets, who are at the bottom of the Western conference, could give the Celtics a chance to get the trip started on the right foot. The Hornets lost lost their fourth straight and 12th in 15 games on Monday as they began a seven-game homestand. The Celtics had won seven of nine before falling to the Heat on Monday, but the two losses came on the road by an average of 19.0 points. The Celtics will play six of their next eight games away from home and must find a way to win these games on the road.

The first meeting between these two teams was all about Doc's first game coaching against his son Austin. This time around, Austin is out with a hand injury so they will not have that distraction. Jeff Green is coming off perhaps his best career game and the Celtics are hoping that they will see some consistency from him and that he will play well in this game also.

Every game from now until the end of the season becomes important. The Celtics simply cannot take a game off. The standings in the East are so close that one loss can raise or drop a team as many as 3 spots. The Celtics are currently in the 7th spot, tied record-wise with the Bulls, who are 6th by way of leading the season series. Both teams are half a game behind Atlanta who are in the 5th spot. They are 2.5 games back of the Nets and 3.5 games behind the Knicks for the Division lead.

The Celtics beat themselves in part against the Heat. They missed 9 free throws in a 2 point loss. They also turned the ball over 20 times. They have to learn from that loss and tighten up those areas. They also have to increase their focus, especially on the road. A little more focus and energy will go a long way toward correcting those mistakes. The Celtics should be able to win this game if they stay focused and avoid the mistakes they made in the last game.

ProbableStarters

PG Avery Bradley

SG Courtney Lee

SF Paul Pierce

PF Brandon Bass

C Kevin Garnett

Reserves

Jeff Green

Jason Terry

Jordan Crawford

Chris Wilcox

DJ White

Shavlik Randolph

Injuries

Rajon Rondo (knee) out

Jared Sullinger (back) out

Kevin Garnett (adductor/illness) day to day

Red Claws

Fab Melo

Probable Starters

PG Greivis Vasquez

SG Eric Gordon

SF Al Farouq Amino

PF Anthony Davis

C Robin Lopez

Reserves

Xavier Henry

Roger Mason Jr

Ryan Anderson

Jason Smith

Brian Roberts

Lance Thomas

Darius Miller

Injuries

Austin Rivers (hand) out

Jason Smith (labrum) out

Anthony Davis (illness) game time decision

Key Matchups

vs

Avery Bradley vs Grievis Vasquez

Vasquez has been playing very well for the Hornets and is averaging 14.2 points, 9.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. Avery needs to disrupt Vasquez with his defense as well as keep the Celtics offense moving.

vs

Courtney Lee vs Eric Gordon

Gordon is the Hornets' top scorer and is capable of putting up a lot of points and so it will be up to Lee and Bradley to keep him from getting his shot going. At the same time, it would be nice to see both Avery and Courtney hitting their shots.

Honorable Mention

Brandon Bass vs Anthony Davis

Davis, the first pick in last year's draft, has been playing well for the Hornets with averages of 13.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Bass started out strong against the Heat but then faded and all but disappeared. The Celtics need the aggressive Bass who is active on the boards and on defense. He also needs to look for his shot and hit those jumpers that he was hitting last year, but not so much this season.

Keys to the Game

Defense - The Celtics have been winning with their defense and they need to continue to make defense their main focus. As long as they play lock down Celtics' team defense, they will always have a chance to win games. When they let up on defense and allow the other team to get easy baskets, they struggle on both ends of the court. The offense often feeds off the defense.

Rebound - It takes effort to rebound and the Celtics must put forth that effort if they want to win this game. They can't allow the Hornets to get second chance baskets. They must be the team that wants it more if they expect to win this game and that effort and desire will show itself on the boards. The Hornets outrebounded the Celtics in their first meeting 55-40 and the Celtics simply must do better in this game if they want to get the win.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to be aggressive on defense and they must be aggressive on the boards. They have to win the 50-50 balls and they also have to take the ball to the basket and not settle for jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling.

Stay Focused - The Celtics seem to lose focus and then beat themselves. We've seen them lose big leads time and again when they start to turn the ball over and miss shots. They have to stay focused throughout the game. They have to make smarter passes and limit turnovers. They also have to stay focused when shooting free throws. Missing 9 free throws against the Heat is unacceptable and shows a lack of focus.

X-Factor

On the Road

The Celtics are on the road and haven't had all that much success on the road so far this season. They have a 12-20 record away from the Garden and that goes back to the last of the keys to the game - focus. They have to bring extra focus to play well in a hostile environment and when they don't have the crowd behind them. Heading into the playoffs, the Celtics must develop some consistency on the road, as well as at home.

Official Report

Joey Crawford

Over more than three decades in the NBA, Joe Crawford has officiated 2,449 regular season and 293 playoff games, including 47 NBA Finals games. Crawford’s playoff and NBA Finals totals are the most among active NBA officials. Over his career, Crawford has officiated the 1986, 1992 and 2000 NBA All-Star Games, as well as the 1993 McDonald’s Championship in Munich, Germany. Prior to joining the NBA, Crawford officiated in the Eastern League (CBA) from 1974-76. He graduated from Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pa. and is a member of the Cardinal O’Hara High School Hall of Fame. In 2008, Crawford earned a degree in Liberal studies from Neumann College. Officiating can be considered a Crawford "family affair," as his brother is veteran Major League Baseball umpire Jerry Crawford, and his father is retired Major League Baseball umpire Shag Crawford. Crawford is also very active in his hometown community of Philadelphia.

There is no shortage of controversy surrounding Joey Crawford, the biggest of which was a suspension for tossing Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench and then challenging him to a fight. He is known for his quickness to call technical fouls but also doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd as much as many younger refs seem to be. In the 2008 Playoffs, Crawford was chosen to officiate Game 4 of the Western Conference final between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the closing seconds of the game, there was a no-call where the Spurs' Brent Barry was unquestionably fouled by Derek Fisher. Crawford was the closest official to the call, and the NBA later apologized for the lack of a call. Crawford was also one of the refs who was involved in the income tax evasion convictions and was suspended at that time as well.

He is widely viewed as one of the refs in the NBA who can officiate with an agenda and shows his biases on the court, hence the controversy that seems to follow him throughout his career. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 with Crawford and 4-2 this season. He called the 89-86 win over the Wizards in which the Wizards shot 17 free throws to 13 for the Celtics and the refs pretty much let them play. He also called the 101-95 win over Chicago where the Bulls shot 31 free throws to 16 for the Celtics and there were more than a few questionable calls. The 3rd game this season was the OT win over the Mavs in which the Celtics shot 30 free throws to 17 for the Mavs and the calls seemed to favor the Celtics for the most part. One loss this season was against the Grizzlies in which Memphis took 22 free throws to 16 for the Celtics but the officiating was good for the most part. The second loss was to the Knicks where the Celtics shot 28 free throws to 20 for the Knicks. Again, the officiating was good for the most part. The last game that Crawford called was the win over the Suns where both teams shot 23 free throws and the officiating was good. The Hornets are 2-8 in their last 10 with Crawford and 0-3 this season. His home W/L record this season is 27-23 and he doesn't tend to be influenced by the home crowd. In fact, at times he seems to delight in antagonizing the home fans.


Sean Corbin

The 17-year NBA officiating veteran returns for the 2012-13 NBA Season having worked 954 regular season NBA games and 44 playoff games, along with the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, 1999 Japan Games in Tokyo and the 1996 Schick Rookie Game. Corbin spent the summer of 2004 officiating basketball at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Corbin’s resume includes four years officiating in the CBA and nine years of collegiate officiating experience in the Big East, Southern, Southeastern, Mid-Eastern Athletic and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conferences. He also has four years of high school basketball officiating experience. Corbin, a Baltimore native, has been involved in charitable efforts in the city, including working for healthcare for the homeless. His athletic accomplishments still remain notable in the Baltimore community, where he played baseball and basketball at Coppin State College and Towson Catholic High School.

The Celtics are 1-2 this year with one loss to the Nets in the preseason and a loss to the Bulls. The officiating in that Bulls game was terrible (although most of the bad calls were by Marc Davis rather than Corbin). Even Hubie Brown was complaining about how bad many of the calls in that game were. Corbin also called a in over Golden State where the Celtics shot 28 free throws to 22 for the Warriors and if anything, the officiating seemed to favor the Celtics. Corbin didn't call any games last season so the his previous games with the Celtics were all in 2009-10. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Corbin. The Hornets are 1-3 this season and 6-4 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 28-19.

Kevin Scott

Kevin Scott enters his second NBA season having officiated 28 regular season games. Scott’s experience includes four seasons and 138 games officiated in the NBA DLeague where he officiated the playoffs in 2009, 2010, 2011 and was selected to work the NBA DLeague Finals in 2011. Scott’s collegiate experience includes four years in the Southeastern Conference, 10 years in the Atlantic Sun Conference, six years in the Southern Conference, and seven years in the Big South Conference. He was also one of the replacement officials during the referee lockout in 2009. He may be remembered for ejecting Bobcats'coach Larry Brown from an exhibition game that season and then calling security to escort him from the court when he didn't leave quickly enough for Scott. Brown was fined $60,000 for verbally abusing Scott.

This will be Scott's sixth career game for the Celtics and the Celtics are 4-1 with Scott in his career. The first was a win over NJ where the Nets shot 28 free throws to 17 for the Celtics. The second was against the Bobcats where the Celtics shot 45 free throws to 35 for Charlotte and every play seemed to result in a foul. The third was vs the Wizards where the Celtics shot 34 free throws to 7 for the Wizards and the Celtics seemed to get the benefit of a lot of close calls. Another game was at Cleveland where both teams took 22 free throws and the officiating was good for the most part. The last game was the OT win over Utah where the Celtics took 20 free throws to 24 for the Jazz and the officiating was good. The Hornets are 3-2 with Scott over his career. His home W/L record this season is 29-12.

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