Celtics Win in New Jersey, Improve to 5-0

Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics Celtics Beat Nets 112-101 to Remain League’s Only Undefeated Team

Playing the second of back-to-back and for the third time in 4 days, the Celtics went into New Jersey and showed just why they are the team to beat in the Atlantic Division. Once again, it was Boston’s new Big Three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett leading the way. This time, Pierce led the Celts with 28 points, including 13 in a 19-5 run to start the second half that all but put the game away. Allen pitched in with 27 points and 10 rebounds while KG contributed 18 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists. New Jersey made a 4th quarter run to make it interesting, but in the end, the Celtics were just too much.

The Nets were again led in scoring by Richard Jefferson (28 points), who is averaging a career best 26.0 points so far this season. To add injury to insult, Vince Carter limped off late in the third after spraining his ankle on a highlight reel dunk. X-Rays were negative, but Carter did not look to be in good shape leaving the court. No timetable has been set on his return, but I would guess that he is out 1-2 weeks.

The Celtics dominance down low is really what separated the two teams. Besides Garnett, the Celtics got solid contributions from from Kendrick Perkins (4-5 FG) and the surprisingly impressive Glen “Big Baby” Davis (6 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals). New Jersey, on the other hand, got virtually nothing from their 3-headed PF/C combo of Nenad Krstic, Jason Collins and Jamaal Magloire. Amazingly, the three combined for only 2 points, 7 rebounds and 8 fouls in 43 minutes. The lone bright spot on the block for the Nets was rookie Sean Williams who, in only 11 minutes, had 10 points, 4 rebounds and one ridiculous alley-oop dunk (courtesy of a Jason Kidd pass). The Celtics 5-0 start is their best in over 20 years.

Nuggets Storm Back to Beat Pacers

The Denver Nuggets erased a 25 point first half deficit to pull away from the Indiana Pacers, 113-106. Carmelo Anthony had a game high 32 points and Allen Iverson chipped in with 27, including a back breaking three ball to put Nuggets up 109-101. Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby had 10 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 4 steals for the Nuggs. After embarrassing losses to the Knicks and Celtics to begin their 4 game Eastern Conference road-trip, the Jekyll & Hyde Nuggets pull out back-to-back road wins (never easy in the NBA) against the Wizards and the Pacers and head back to Denver with a record of 4-3.

Troy Murphy led 6 Pacers in double figures with 18 points. After starting 3-0, the Pacers drop their third in a row to even their record up at 3-3. Danny Granger summed up the Pacers problems, “In the second half, we made bad decisions and took bad shots. We have to figure out a way to close out games.”

In Other Action…

Steve NashLeandrinho Barbosa, starting in place of the injured Raja Bell, poured in a career high 39 points including 8-13 from beyond the arc, to lead the Suns to a 106-96 win at Orlando. Dwight Howard, who was seemingly the only Magic starter to show up, finished with 33 points and 16 boards. However, Howard missed 9 of his 16 free throws for the Magic, who finished a dismal 42% from the stripe. For reasons unknown, the Magic fans booed former player Grant Hill all night long. They should have been booing starters Rashard Lewis, Keith Bogans and Jameer Nelson who couldn’t get anything going against a weak defensive team in the Suns.

In Chicago, the Raptors hammered the Bulls 101-71. Speaking of players not showing up, check out these statlines for the Bulls starting 5 and first off the bench:

  • Luol Deng – 5 pts, 0 reb, 1 ast, 2 stl, 0 blk in 22 minutes
  • Tyrus Thomas – 4 pts, 1 reb, 0 ast, 0 stl, 0 blk in 12 minutes
  • Ben Wallace – 0 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk in 18 minutes
  • Ben Gordon – 11 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast, 0 stl, 0 blk in 24 minutes
  • Kirk Henrich – 2 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl, 0 blk in 17 minutes
  • Joe Smith – 0 pts, 3 reb, 0 ast, 1 stl, 0 blk in 11 minutes

Chicago Bulls StrugglingOuch! Are you kidding me?! What the hell is going on in Chicago? A popular choice to represent the East in the NBA Finals, the Bulls are now 1-5 and getting drilled at home by a team starting Jamario Moon. Moon, a 2000 graduate of Meridian Community College playing in only his third NBA game, has a resume that includes such highlights as a career best 5.2 PPG for the Mobile Revelers of the NBDL back in 2001-2002 and a 2007 slam dunk finalist in the CBA. Wait, the CBA is still around? I thought Isiah ran that league into the ground, after ruining the Raptors and becoming the worst broadcaster in NBA history, but before destroying both the Pacers and the Knicks. Well apparently, the CBA is still around, presumably acting as a developmental league for the NBA Developmental League.

Sacramento beat the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves 100-93, led by Kevin Martin’s 29 points. How bad are the Wolves? They are starting Theo Ratliff, Marco Jaric and Greg Buckner and Bassy Telfair is coming off the bench playing very significant minutes. Last night Seabass pitched in a solid 4 points on 1-8 shooting in 30 minutes of action. As a Celtics fan, all I can say is: THANKS AGAIN KEVIN McHALE! A true Celtics legend!

Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah JazzUtah won their third straight, beating Memphis 118-94 behind 31 points from Carlos Boozer and 20 points, 14 assists from Deron Williams. The big story in Utah though, in my opinion, is the resurgence of Andrei Kirilenko. AK-47, who in the offseason threatened to quit the NBA if he wasn’t traded, has been filling up the stat sheet like its 2005. Last night line: 15 pts, 12 reb, 9 ast, 4 stl and 1 blk. If Jerry Sloan can get this out of AK all season long, the Jazz are going to be a threat to every team out West.

Young guns Brandon Roy (32 points) and LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points) spurred Portland to a 91-82 win over Dallas. Even without Greg Oden, the Blazers, now 3-3, are playing some good ball to open the season. They would probably be better off finishing with a high draft pick and building an unstoppable young nucleus behind Roy, Aldridge, Oden and a top pick, but lets not start thinking about “tanking” this early in the season. I’m actually disgusted with myself that I would even think in this way at this point. It must be a hangover from following the Celtics last season.

As far as Dallas goes… I wonder if the loss to the Warriors in last year’s playoffs (and possibly the loss to the Heat the year before) has done permanent damage to their collective psyche? Maybe, maybe not. But the Mavs window for a championship might be closing. With Phoenix and San Antonio looking as strong as ever; Utah, Houston and Denver improving; and the new look Celtics dominating; I would not bet on the Mavs to win a championship with this roster playing the way they are right now. Then again, they started off 0-4 last year and finished with one of the best records in recent NBA history so maybe its too early to count them out.

Celts Hammer Nuggets!

Kevin Garnett

The Boston Celtics cruised to a 119-93 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated. The Celts, who led by 41 early in the third, finished the first quarter with a 16 point lead and went into the halftime break up 77-38. KG, Ray-Ray and the Truth looked as if they had played together for years, shooting a combined 28-41 from the field for 71 points. The Nuggets, playing back-to-back road games never looked like they would pose a threat. Barring injury, the Celts are going to be a very tough team to deal with this season. They have three motivated all-stars in their prime and the early indication is that chemistry will not be an issue. KG has completely altered what this team can and will do defensively. He, along with Kendrick Perkins, provide the Celts with a toughness underneath that they have lacked since the Big Three.

I know its early in the season, but how are the Nugs in this bad of shape? This is a good team with a ton of talent and they barely showed up tonight. Last night, they blew a big lead late against the pathetic Knicks. Running out of gas while 600+ pounds of Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph were running wild on them is an absolute disgrace. You would think that practicing up in Denver would give them a stamina advantage. Get these guys running some suicides, Karl! Denver is destined this season to win 50-55 games, playing mostly .500 ball for the majority of the season with one or two crazy streaks where they rip off ten straight on the strength of Camby, AI and ‘Melo playing lights out. Then they will lose first round in the playoffs. Different year, same story. Oh, by the way Denver… stick a fork in KMart, he is D-U-N, DONE! At this point, the “Badass Yellow Boy” brings nothing to the table. Play Nene at the 4.

Hawks Stun Suns

Speaking of early season, back-to-back road games… Atlanta held Phoenix to 41% shooting en route to an impressive 105-96 win. Fantasy stud Josh Smith aka J-Smoove led five Hawks in double figures with 22 points, 10 boards, 4 assists, 4 steals and 5 blocks. Rookie Al Horford ripped down 15 rebounds for the Hawks. The Suns used a rotation of six as no one outside the starters and supersub Leandrinho Barbosa scored a point or played more than 6 minutes. Thats not a winning recipe for the second of back-to-back roadies, even for a team like the Suns. For the record, the Hawks have already beaten the Mavs and the Suns this season. Is this the year they actually field a competitive squad? I’m still not sold that they’re a playoff team. Though drafting in the top 5 for the last 20 years, you would think at some point the blind squirrels down in Atlanta would find a nut. With Joe Johnson, J-Smoove, J-Chill, Marvin Williams and rookies Horford and Acie Law, the Hawks finally seem to be moving in the right direction. Its amazing that this team has not been relevant since Spud Webb and ‘Nique were battling Jordan for Slam Dunk titles and people considered the Omni a “state-of-the-art” facility. Yeah, its been a while.

Highlights From the Other Early Games

Clippers Continue to Roll
The Clips won at Indiana, 104-89, to improve to a shocking 4-0. Sam Cassell went off for 35 tonight on 13-20 shooting and Chris Kaman continued his ridiculous play as he dropped 15 points and grabbed 22 boards! For the season, he is averaging 16.8 points, 16.5 boards, 2 blocks and shooting 50% from the field and 87% from the line. Holy shit! Who is this guy?

Bobcats Get Slammed Again
Charlotte improved on last night’s 32 point loss to Phoenix by losing to Philly by only 31 tonight. Great job, guys! I guess, they can forget about that 2-0 start now down in Charlotte.

Orlando Improves to 4-1
The Magic made a nice statement winning at Toronto to improve to 4-1 while the Raps drop their third in a row. This is the most impressive win so far for the Magic as all five starters scored in double figures, led by Hedo Turkoglu with 24 points and 15 rebounds.

Spurs Beat Heat… Obviously
In the only other early game tonight, San Antonio beat Miami. San Antonio is nasty, Miami sucks. What else is there to say. Of course, this was the early ESPN game. A 88-78 treat for the entire nation! Fortunately for me, I had the Celts-Nugs in HD and of course NBA League Pass to fall back on. NBA League Pass will be the best $159 I spend this year!