Running Diary: Boston Celtics run by Toronto Raptors, 106-90

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A night after leading Boston to a come-from-behind win against the New Jersey Nets, Rajon Rondo was at it again. This time, though, he was joined by Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in leading the Celtics to a 106-90 victory over the Toronto Raptors. He was also joined by Ray Allen, but Ray would have hit just about as many shots while sitting on the bench in a suit as he did in 26 minutes of play in this one. Still, the first unit looked great and Rondo – despite a modest line of only 6 points, 8 assists and 4 steals – was the catalyst. Getting into the lane time after time, Rondo kept pressure on the defense all night long and created opportunities for his teammates.
But Celtics fans will probably be less excited about Rondo’s performance than they’ll be by his three alley-oop passes to Garnett. Only two of them were dunks but Garnett looked like he has “his wings” back. I think the focus can now get off Garnett’s knee and move onto other things; Garnett is progressing just fine and he’s going to be a force for the C’s this season (if you’re religious, or even if you just love the Celtics, please pray that that sentence does not jinx him… please).

Other standouts included Paul Pierce (ultra-efficient 17 points), Kendrick Perkins (a quiet but tough 11 points and 7 rebounds), Glen Davis (another solid performance, with 13 points in 19 minutes), and Lester Hudson (12 points, 2 assists, 2 steals, 0 turnovers and great hustle). And without further ado, let’s get on to the running diary…

First Quarter

I’ll be watching this game on a computer in my school’s library. I should be doing 12 pages of papers due by tomorrow, but I’d rather watch a meaningless Celtics preseason game. Obsessed, you say? Thanks, but I prefer dedicated.

I can’t even hear the commercial advertising Sunday’s game, also against the Raptors, but the montage of KG slamming it home, Big Baby hitting the Orlando game-winner and Pierce scoring buckets still gave me goosebumps.

Garnett is one-of-a-kind. The intensity he brings, even in a meaningless preseason game, would make Ric Flair jealous. He just fired up the half-full house at the Hartford Civic Center with his normal pregame routine.

Perkins manhandles Bargnani down low for his first rebound. Toronto is talented, but very thin on the inside. And by thin, I don’t mean they don’t have good players. I mean they’re skinny.

Garnett with a jumper from the corner on the first possession, then Pierce with his patented up-fake… wait for defender to jump sky-high… lean in… draw foul move on the second possession. I like the way this is starting.

Pierce stepback fadeaway, then a pretty 3-on-1 fast break started by a steal that ends with Ray-Ray dumping one off to a cutting Pierce for an easy two.

The Celtics are running and gunning and making the game look easy. Whenever the C’s get out in transition and go they look like a different team. Then again, I guess any team looks good on fast breaks. But not every team has a Rondo-led fast break with KG and Pierce running the wings and Ray Allen trailing for a jumpshot.

Celtics up 14-5 and making the game look so easy. Ball movement is easy and effortless, Rondo is slicing and dicing, and everybody is making plays.

It all starts on defense though. Celtics stop getting stops and all of a sudden their offense is a little stagnant. And right as I’m saying that, the patented KG-from-Rondo alley-oop connects for the first time this year! 16-13 C’s.

Emailing my teacher for an extension on my paper. I could really, really, really use one.

My, how quickly things change. One minute, the C’s are winning and looking like a well-oiled machine. The next, the Raptors are running and gunning down their throats and KG is getting trucked while setting a screen. 19-16 Raptors.

When I said the Raptors frontcourt is thin, I obviously forgot about Reggie Evans. He’s a beast. And he also once squeezed Chris Kaman’s, ummm… genitals.

Sweetney in there early, with a couple minutes left in the first. And he looks hungry… to score buckets, that is.

Unfortunately, somebody forgot to tell Sweetney fouls weren’t double cheeseburgers. He’s racked up three fouls in only four minutes of play.

Quarter ends, 25-all.

Second Quarter

Missed the first three minutes, then came back to the sight of J.R. Giddens on the floor and Sonny Weems flying through the air for a dunk. I don’t know which one’s better for the Raptors. 31-31.

Shelden Williams with a running hook through the lane? Haven’t seen that one since the Duke days. Come to think of it, we might never have seen a running hook from Shelden. At least one that actually went in. And he follows it up with a jumper on the next play. I want a clear out for Shelden Williams!

Giddens seems less spastic this year. He hasn’t done anything good, but he doesn’t look completely lost on the court either. Small steps.

Shelden Williams with another jumper! Williams is taking over this game! 37-36 C’s. If this keeps up, I’m going to get my vision checked. I don’t believe it’s actually #13 making these plays.

By the way, I’m skipping a group meeting right now to watch this game. And I’m in the library where my group is meeting. One of my group members just walked right by me, with a very quizzical look on her face. She kind of looked like how I do when Tony Allen makes a nice pass. Good thing she didn’t see what I was doing on my computer; it’s tough to defend missing a meeting for watching a preseason C’s game.

Pierce with a pretty and-one over Turkoglu. He uses his body so well.

A technical foul has been assessed to somebody but, because I have the sound off, I have no idea who it was. House hit the technical free throw though.

Garnett looks the best he has so far, snatching a rebound well over the rim. Every game, he looks a little bit stronger. I think Doc made a good decision sitting the Big Three out yesterday. Right after I say that, he bumps his knee in a collision with Pierce and then the floor. But he comes back fine. Very good sign.

Chris Bosh is tough to guard. He’s a little like Garnett in that he loves the midrange game. But he’s a far worse defender than Garnett, which is why he’s only an All-Star and not the superstar Garnett is.

Rondo just had a very nice hesitation dribble on a hedging Bosh. Illustrating both Rondo’s speed and why Bosh is not as good as KG. KG would have contended that a whole lot better than a little wave at a passing Rondo.

Halftime. 51-46, good guys. Garnett looked really good, and Rondo was his usual penetrating self. Pierce leads the C’s with 12 points, Rondo has 4 assists and 4 steals, KG has 8 points and 5 rebounds, and Big Baby has 10 points. Ray, despite going 0-5, contributed 4 rebounds and 3 assists. On the other end, Bosh is killing with 20 points and Hedo is doing what he does… making plays.

Third Quarter

Rondo gets in the lane and kicks out for a Ray Allen three. Normally automatic, but Ray-Ray continues his 0-fer. Either way, it was a nice play and Rondo is really making the defense work with his aggressive drives to the hoop.

The Celtics come out strong for the second straight half. 60-52 now, good guys, and Rondo is spurning (UPDATE: Rondo is not spurning the offensive success, he is spurring it) the offensive success. If he could only get a hand up on Calderon shooting threes, the Celtics would be up a bit more.

And another Rondo assist, this time a lob pass to a sprinting KG on the fastbreak. Garnett and Rondo are really looking very good. Two possessions later, they do it again! Rondo and KG connect on their second alley-oop and everything is right in the world. Watch out ladies and gentlemen, the Big Ticket is baccckkk…

Rondo is getting whatever he wants against the Raptors D. He hasn’t scored much, but he’s getting into the lane and finding open Celtics time after time. When he’s energetic, the Celtics are so tough to stop.

Is it just me or does Chris Bosh kind of look like a crackhead? And not in a racist way at all… Chris Anderson is white, and he looks like far more than a crack head.

This is the Rajon Rondo show. He just hit a jumpshot in Calderon’s mug and has had a hand in more or less everything the C’s have done in the third quarter. He has only 6 points, but he’s completely contolled the game; especially the third quarter.

78-65 when Rondo goes out with about 3:30 left in the third. Keep that in mind. I wouldn’t be surprised if they struggle with him on the bench. He’s done so much for the C’s tonight.

During the commercial, a McDonald’s commercial was played. I couldn’t hear what the commercial said, but I can imagine it went something like this, “The deliciousness of our Chicken McNuggets is why Michael Sweetney does not have a guaranteed contract in the NBA. If he likes them so much that he’ll ruin his career for them, then you’ll like them, too. McDonalds: Sweetney’s loving it.”

Hudson and Williams in with just over a minute to go in the third. Shelden gets his first shot blocked. Somehow, I figured he wouldn’t play as well as he did in the first half.

With Rondo (and every other starter, to be fair) out of the game, the C’s don’t look nearly as smooth.

One thing didn’t change over the offseason: Eddie House can still shoot.

83-71 C’s to end the third. Red would be smoking his victory stogie but… the lineup right now is Hudson, House, Daniels, Big Baby and Williams. Not exactly awe-inspiring.

Fourth Quarter

The play has slowed almost to a halt as the second units do battle. I’d love to say my prediction of the team looking worse without Rondo has come true, but everyone else in the starting lineup got subbed out too. It might not be just the Rondo Effect, but I guess I'll take credit for my prediction; after all, it did come true.

House is doing a lot of the ball-handling when Hudson is in the lineup. Looks like Doc envisions Hudson playing a House-like role as a small shooting guard.

The Boston Globe now has a blog post saying that, get this, Rajon Rondo is wearing lowtops tonight. I know he’s had a few ankle problems, but I don’t quite find this earth-shattering news. Kobe seems to play okay in lowtops.

Hudson is looking very good. Aggressive shooting the ball, aggressive taking it to the hoop, and aggressive defensively. He has limitations with his PG skills, but Hudson certainly doesn’t lack when it comes to confidence.

Every time I watch Sweetney play, I wonder how good he could be if he kept his weight down... and then I thank God for my fast metabolism.

Scal is the last one off the bench. I’m wondering why. Tweet fiend and Celtics fanatic @MrTripleDouble10 thinks it might be because Rondo stole Scal’s lowtops.

I officially really like Hudson’s game. He’s fearless, tough, and he hustles. And Giddens is hustling right along with him. Giddens doesn’t have nearly the same line he had yesterday, but has a few rebounds and has kept a few more balls alive. I like Giddens’ attitude this year; he’s really fighting to keep from being demoted to Maine, and you can tell.

And my feed to the game just went out with about 2:30 left in the game. I suppose it’s for the better; there’s only so many times I can praise Lester Hudson before it starts to get a wee bit annoying. I guess that’s all for the running diary.

P.S., I just had to check the box score to see if Daniels did ANYTHING at all. And the verdict was no: 0 points, 0-6 shooting, and 2 assists in 17 minutes. But if you’re a super-optimist, he didn’t have a single turnover.


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