I'll be sharing alot of random thoughts tonight. Hang on and enjoy the ride.....
The Celtics were led early by rookie highlight reel Tony Allen (TA). Allen scored 6 of the first 8 Celtic points and at the 9:55 mark, the C's led 8-2. Paul Pierce (PP) hit a 3pter at 8:52, 11-5 C's. Gary Payton (GP) had a nice drive and dish to Raef for a dunk at 8:23. 13-5 Celtics and the C's weren't done, as PP hit another 3pter and the Knicks took a timeout at 7:49, trailing 16-5.
(While the games in a break, let's talk about the broadcast. Specifically, the announcers. Yes, you know where I'm going. I'm in my own personal hell on nights like tonight. The game is in Boston, but because the Celtics are playing NY, it's blacked out on League Pass and I have to watch the tilt on MSG's feed. Another game where I'm tempted to put it on mute and do my own calls rather than have to listen to Walt "Clyde" Frazier. He makes my eardrums bleed most nights. The tone and variation of the odd and somewhat forced diction in the mans announcing drives me nuts. Up to this point in the game, I've already had to endure the kitchyness of the following: "Resounding Rebounding", "Loosey-Goosey", "Dishing and Swishing", and "Rejuvenated and Prospering". Don't get me wrong, the man knows the game enough to do his job fairly well. My problem is that I find his delivery horrible. Yep, that's my rant and I'm sticking to it.)
Clyde had distracted me enough that I was just now noticing that the Knicks had mounted a run and had tied the score at 18 ALL with 4:12 remaining. Blount stole the ball, dribbled awkwardly 1/3 of the court to the hole and scored to make it 20-18. The C's took a timeout at 2:03 with the Knicks ahead of them 24-20. The C's fared no better after the break, as the Knicks went to the first break leading 29-25.
Kendrick Perkins (Perk) tipped in a Jiri Welsch (Jiri) miss to make it 31-28. RD put a devastating spin move on Crawford in the post to score an easy layin and then Jiri hit a 3pter over Crawford in transition to tie the game at 33 with 9:41 left in the half. RD then continued his assault with a 12ft jumper to put the C's back ahead 35-33 at 9:08. A very nice piece of teamwork and passing (that led to a Knick timeout) at 8:20 saw a push up the court and RD sending a pass back over his head before going out of bounds under the rim, to a trailing Perk for a monster jam. 37-35 Celtics.
During this game break, Clydes' collegue showed a clip of the pregame and talked about how well recieved Clyde is by the Celtics fans. He went so far as to ask Clyde jokingly: "Do you ever get nervous surrounded by that many fans in green". It made me reflect on something that I try to remind people is a positive about our fanbase - Respect for and early knowledge of the history of the game. Celtic fans are almost by default historians of the game, because the C's have such a storied tradition of excellence. In order to know about the C's, you get to review alot of general NBA history in the mix. (The only decade we've never been in the championship mix was the 90's.) Of course the kids are going to gravitate to Walt, talk to him, want autographs and pictures. He's not a former Celtic great, but he was a former NBA great and young Celtic fans will acknowlegdge that IMO. Or maybe that's just my hopeful, feel good way of thinking about it.....
The Celtics came out of the timeout and fought with the Knicks for a while on offense. Rd hit a jumper at 5:57 to make it 42-38. Blount hit his standard 15fter from the elbow to make it 44-40 and PP hit a 3pter at 3:11 and the C's continued to lead 49-45. A long 2 by PP at 2:33 made it 51-45. Raef made a huge play for himself by making himself immediately available for a pass aftering inbounding the ball. He got it right back and scored to make it 56-48 with 1:24 left. Perkins had a nice block, reaching over the top of another Celtic defender to block Stephan Marbury.
At the Half: 57-51 Celtics. Celtics shot 53% FG. RD had 16pts and PP had 15pts.
Tony Allen came out of his offensive funk earlier than all the other C's to start the second half. He finally scored a FG at 10:21 to start the cleanup on a messy offensive start. He scored on another short jumper at 8:54 to give the C's a 62-53 lead. TA was playing borderling out of control at this point, but it suited the way the game was being played, for good or bad. It was uptempo, sloppy and largely unproductive. The ball was loose so much and the play changed directions so often that I felt his natural athleticism and instinct kept him in the play as much as anything. Blount hit a cutting GP under the basket for a quick score to put the C's up 67-55. Raef hit a drifting fade away towards the baseline to further the C's cause. He then hit a 3pter at 5:14 to make it 72-56.
The Celtics are really asserting themselves. Really getting out on the break, they are passing well and getting around and through the holes in the Knicks. Blount sealed off a "trapped on the switch" Penny Hardaway and was fed by RD for an easy score and the Knicks took a timeout, now trailing 76-56 with 4:27 remaining in the 3rd. GP hit 2FT's at 2:19 and Banks scored to extend the Celtics lead back to 20, 82-62 with :39 left. The 3rd quarter ended with the Celtics starting to pull ahead 84-62.
When I mentioned the manner the TA was playing in earlier, I know refer to the same style being displayed by Banks. In fact, Doc brought him to the bench, because he got a little too fancy, and not very efficient, with his passes. Perkins kept doing the little things by setting a screen for RD near the right elbow and with 8:42 left, the Celtics led 89-70. The C's got a little too lax or Doc saw something else he didn't like about the effort, because after a timeout at 7:16 and the Celtics lead at 91-76, he put GP, PP, and Raef back into the game.
RD was called for a FT violation around the half way point, when he came flying in along the baseline off a FT release. There was some confusion originally that about the interference, but apparently RD entered the arc area before the release of the ball and therefore the violation occured and no dunk. He'll probably get on SportCenter anyways.
Marbury hit FT's at 4:54 to make it 95-82, but Raef hit a 3pter to essentially close the door at 4:39 and the Celtic lead now 98-82. PP went around Thomas to score his first points of the 2nd half at 3:58. The Celtics now led 100-84. You know it's a good night when you're about to close out a game with a fairly confortable win and PP just scored his first FG.
But just to finish business, PP swung a pass across the arc to Raef, who then hit a cutting Blount in the paint for a score to make it 102-86. RD hit a pull up jumper at 1:47 and that's where I stopped paying attention to anything short of a major injury or brawl. Neither happened. C's win going away.
Final Score: 111 - 94. Celtics Win.
Player of the game: You call it!
Tony Allen: 12/3 isn't huge, but it's enough to get him noticed right now.
Raef LaFrentz: He quietly collected another double-double with a 15pt and 14rb night.
Ricky Davis: 25pts, 2 assts. RD was a littl short on the other stats tonight, but he shined at the fundamental basic of putting the ball in the hoop.
Paul Pierce: Good Start got him into this. 17/6/5 is a nice line for somewhat of an off night.