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News » For Celtics, goals to go Players grounded despite record start

For Celtics, goals to go Players grounded despite record start

For Celtics, goals to go Players grounded despite record start
The Celtics insist they are not impressed with themselves, yet. But they are making a strong impression on others.

"They are playing as well as anyone's played in the past 10 years," New York coach Mike D'Antoni said after the Celtics took a 124-105 win over the Knicks Sunday night.

Asked to compare the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, who defeated the Knicks last week, D'Antoni said, "It's December. Ask me again in April, because it really doesn't matter now. They were both in the Finals last year and, until somebody dethrones Boston, it's them. And they are playing at a very high level."

The Celtics hit milestones in the win over the Knicks, tying a team mark with 18 consecutive victories and becoming the third NBA team to start the season with 26 wins in 28 games. Both records could be snapped after tonight's contest against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics' last home date before a four-game road trip starts against the Lakers Thursday.

After the Celtics totaled 250 points in successive games (including a 126-108 decision against Chicago Friday), captain Paul Pierce noted the team could be capable of scoring in the 140s if it reduced turnovers. Pierce also said the Celtics would not be satisfied with their offensive performance unless they shot 100 percent from the field.

Both goals seemed attainable against the Knicks, mostly because of the New Yorkers' low priority on defending. The Celtics converted 18 of 22 shots in a 40-point first quarter before Rajon Rondo missed an unguarded 15-footer just before the buzzer. After that, Rondo converted 10 consecutive attempts on a 26-point night.

The Celtics have not lost since Nov. 14, a 94-85 decision to Denver, a game that included an uncharacteristic finish, the Nuggets scoring 10 of the final 11 points. Rondo scored 2 points in that game and had another 2-point output the next night, a 102-97 victory in Milwaukee that signaled the start of the winning streak. Rondo soon snapped into the form that has helped ignite the Celtics, with a 15-point, 7-assist, 8-rebound line in a 110-101 win over the Knicks Nov. 18.

Pierce compared Rondo to several guards - Jason Kidd (rebounding), Gary Payton (defending), Tony Parker (shooting), and Jason Williams (behind-the-back moves).

"He's a rare combination of speed and athleticism, with tremendously long arms, toughness," Pierce said. "It's rare to see a guy like Rondo, especially at his size."

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Pierce have been performing to standard. Rondo, 22, and center Kendrick Perkins, 24, have improved noticeably, changing the dynamic of the starting five. Much of the time, the Celtics have been a dominating team, overwhelming the opposition with sheer power (Garnett and Perkins) or smooth passing and clinical finishing, combined with a commitment to defense.

In fact, the emphasis on defending and focusing on the immediate task seem ingrained in the culture of the team.

"We take it a game at a time," Garnett said. "We don't look down at our schedule. Every game is circled. We don't worry about who is hot and how many they've won and what they've been doing. We focus on what we've been doing.

"When we say we take one game at a time we're taking it one game at a time, nothing more, nothing less than that. I think it's a sense of disrespect when you look past a team on your schedule. You set yourself up for a loss. I think that's been a consistent we've been saying since even last year, and we've carried it over to this year."

Reserve center-forward Glen Davis, injured in an auto accident Sunday, will miss tonight's game. Davis sustained a concussion and cervical strain, according to the Celtics. He was hospitalized after the accident and released Sunday night.

The accident occurred at about 3:15 p.m. as Davis was traveling in a 2008 Yukon on the Massachusetts Turnpike eastbound in the right lane just before entering the tunnel, according to state police spokesman David Procopio.

"Davis stated he was going about 30 m.p.h. He went through one inch of water in his lane, causing the vehicle to pull a little to the right," said Procopio. "He reacted by turning the wheel to the left and that reaction, combined with the slushy road conditions, caused him to swerve into the path of a Toyota pickup in the middle lane, which hit the right rear quarter panel of his vehicle. That helped push the Yukon further into the left lane, where it hit a Hyundai Sonata."

No charges were filed.

Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 23, 2008


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