The Boston Celtics responded to an embarrassing home loss against the Philadelphia 76ers exactly how they should have- with a convincing win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Celtics took a 15 point first quarter lead and turned it into a 25 point halftime lead. Although the Timberwolves made a rally in the fourth quarter, bringing the deficit to 12 points, the Celtics pulled away once again, scoring a season high 122 points in the 122-104 win.
Paul Pierce led all scorers with 29 points on 8/14 shooting including 6/6 from three point territory- tying Danny Ainge and Walter McCarty for the most three pointers in one game. He also added seven rebounds and four assists.
"We talked yesterday and I just told him he needs to get back to playing with his instincts," coach Doc Rivers said of his discussion with Pierce. "I thought he was trying to get everybody involved which you want him to do too but I think our three really instinctive players are Kevin [Garnett], [Rajon] Rondo, and Paul [Pierce] and I think all three of them, they have the curse of a high basketball IQ. And at times I think they start wanting to ‘think' the game, and try to get this guy off; instead of just playing. Their instincts will take over and their IQ will play into it
Rajon Rondo recorded a double-double once again with 13 points and 15 assists. Ray Allen, playing with a hyper-extended ring finger, ended up with 20 points.
The play of the night and maybe season, however, goes to Eddie House and Tony Allen. Early in the second quarter House tipped the ball away from Ramon Session, sending the ball towards the sidelines. House got to the ball just as it was to fall out of bounds and threw a behind the back pass to the streaking Allen. Allen caught the ball cleanly on his way to the hoop and threw down a thunderous slam over Corey Brewer for the points and the foul, sending the crowd and Allen's teammates to their feet.
"Well, first I didn't think (House) was athletic enough to get to the ball," said Rivers. "So the fact that he got to the ball, I was shocked. And then he made a play once he got to the ball- it was pretty spectacular. It was great. I was happy because it was a great defensive play."
Allen finished the night with 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists, but more importantly zero turnovers. The Celtics needed Allen to fill the void left by Marquis Daniels who is out roughly until the All-Star break, and so far since coming back from his injury he has done just that.
"He's been huge man," Pierce said of Allen, "just his energy and what he's been able to bring especially with Marquis [Daniels] out because he's a guy who can come in and slash, score, and also what he's best known for is his defense. He comes in right away and he gets a steal and a fast break layup to start the game off when he gets in the game.
Kendrick Perkins was matched up with his old friend Al Jefferson tonight. Perkins finished the night with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Jefferson recorded 20 points and 11 rebounds.
"Perk [Kendrick Perkins] is getting better and better every game," said the Timberwolves' Al Jefferson. "If he keeps playing the way he's playing, he's going to get a big contract. He's a great defensive player, always has been... Plus his offensive game is getting better."
If the opponent can see the improvements Perkins has made, you can bet his teammates notice them on a daily basis. Perkins has really come into his own and embraced his role on this team. He has worked on his low-post moves and takes way more high-percentage shots than he has in previous seasons.
"He's improved," Kevin Garnett said of Perkins. "The one thing Doc expressed here is knowing your role, he tried to go out and do that every day, every night, even in practice. But the thing that stands out about him, because I get to see him every day, is that he works on his game every single day and that's what you want from a young guy."
"I know I had a tough matchup," Perkins said of his bout with Jefferson. "I just try to make things hard on him. You're not going to stop Al [Jefferson], you just try to make things tough on him. He will still hit you with some things you won't expect."