Too old. Too slow. By now it sounds like a recording for the Boston Celtics, but there’s a new problem beginning to surface that may be the real reason why this team is looking like a fake contender. Forget age and speed — these Celtics aren’t as hungry as they were in ’08 and ’09. During last night’s 20-piecing at home at the hands of the Grizzlies, the Celtics looked a lot like the UConn men’s team when they went through the motions before quitting in the Big East Tournament; maybe it’s something in the New England water … Rudy Gay (28 pts, 8 rebs) is exactly the kind of motivated thoroughbred giving Boston problems. The defining play came late in the first half, when Rudy picked off a pass in front of Paul Pierce and went galloping coast-to-coast. Pierce gave up the chase after a couple of steps, and Ray Allen (17 pts, 0-6 3PA) could only offer a feeble swipe at the ball as Rudy blew past them for a hammer dunk. Next possession, Rudy drained a three to push the Memphis lead to 22 going into halftime. The whole night was full of lazy D and careless errors from the Celts, while the Grizzlies out-hustled them on the glass (48-29) and took good shots … During the game, one of the most loyal and optimistic Celtics fans we know e-mailed us this: “Pierce might be close to Michael Finley status. Really banged up and his body isn’t responding like it used to.” … That said, it’s not like the Celtics stink. At 40-23 they’re tied with Atlanta for the third-best record in the East (though ATL swept the season series), and in our latest NBA Hit List Power Ranking, we’ve got Boston hovering around the top 10 … The Pistons are hustling and giving effort — they’re just not very good in the first place. As the Jazz were running away from Detroit in their own gym, announcer Greg Kelser was getting pissed. “They’re dipsy-do-ing, having a great ol’ time, yukking it up. AT YOUR EXPENSE!” Kelser snarled. He was right. Deron Williams (18 pts, 12 asts) was dropping Harlem Globetrotter dimes on the break and the guys on the Utah bench were acting like high school kids as the Jazz dominated the second quarter to pave the way for a double-digit win … During that first-half run, Ronnie Price threw down a sick two-hand dunk over Austin Daye. No matter the circumstances (Price had a head start on a breakaway), it’s never a good look when somebody a foot shorter than you catches you like that … But the highlight of the night came from J.R. Smith. As the Nuggets were trying to put a scrappy Minnesota squad to bed in the fourth quarter, J.R. got behind the defense — while literally everybody on the Wolves was staring at Chauncey Billups (25 pts) with the ball — and caught an alley-oop that he turned into a 360 cram. It technically took a couple more buckets from Nene and a Chauncey three to shut the door, but that dunk stole a lot of Minnesota’s heart … Before that, Denver was getting all they could handle from a team that had Darko in the starting lineup. After like 5 teams in seven years, Minnesota might finally be the right spot for Darko (12 rebs, 6 pts). Kurt Rambis obviously likes him — Rambo gave Darko Kevin Love‘s minutes against Dallas earlier this week because he wanted him to guard Dirk — and there’s no bright media spotlight or pressure to perform on a young small-market team where K-Love and Al Jefferson are expected to carry the front line … Speaking of Dirk, he didn’t have to do much (12 pts, 3-16 FG) to keep Dallas’ win streak going at 13, because they were playing the Nets. That’s about as close to a Big Dance 1-vs-16 matchup as you’re going to get in the NBA, but Jersey was actually right in there until deep into the fourth quarter. Since Dirk was cold, Jason Kidd (20 pts, 9 asts, 4 stls, 5 threes) hit the daggers to seal the win … Other stat lines from Wednesday: Kevin Durant scored 29 points in OKC’s win over the Hornets; Manu Ginobili dropped 28 on the Knicks in a Spurs win; Tyreke Evans posted a triple-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as Sacramento beat Toronto; Dwyane Wade went for 27 points (15-17 FT) and 8 assists as Miami got past the Clippers; and Stephen Jackson posted 24 points, 10 boards and 3 steals to lead the Bobcats past Philly … Did you hear Matt Harpring seething at the fact that Jason Kapono didn’t get a minute of PT in that Sixers game? We know you’ve gotta look out for your brethren, but Harpring sounded like Jimmy Boeheim chastising the media … We’re out like Kapono …
Smack / Mar 11, 2010 / 4:06 am
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