Final: Celtics 94, Kings 86. It doesn’t come easy, but the Celtics do polish off the victory over the Kings at the TD Garden, getting one final bucket from Kevin Garnett and sealing the deal with Rajon Rondo’s third steal of the night. It’s the Celtics’ sixth win in seven games, and fifth straight at home. Sacramento puts up a fight late, but the C’s get the job done on their home floor.
Fourth quarter, 1:10, Celtics 92-84: Or not. First Sean May gets two quick free throws, then KG gets T’d up and Carl Landry hits the shot. Back to eight. Not quite over yet. Game-high 28 in this game for Landry.
Fourth quarter, 1:23, Celtics 92-81: Pierce gets a layup on one possession, then draws a foul next time up the floor and hits a free throw. After a dunk on the ensuing possession from KG, the lead is back to 11. Perhaps now, finally, at long last, this game is over.
Fourth quarter, 3:10, Celtics 87-81: And there’s Beno Udrih with the three. The lead is down to six! You can’t help but admire a Kings team that’s hopelessly out of the playoff race and has nothing to play for, yet has the heart to come storming back in a game like this. And without Tyreke Evans, no less. Win or lose, an incredible team effort from the shorthanded Kings.
Fourth quarter, 4:10, Celtics 85-78: Gotta hand it to the Kings — down the stretch as the game gets close, they just keep getting stops. A 16-footer from Carl Landry cuts the Boston lead to nine at 85-76, and Jason Thompson draws a foul from ‘Sheed on the following possession. He knocks down two shots, and the Kings are within seven for the first time in a long, long while. We’ve got a little drama all of a sudden.
Fourth quarter, 6:14, Celtics 82-72: The Kings really aren’t going away. Sean May, Jason Thompson and Donte Greene string together a 6-0 run for the Kings, and all of a sudden this game looks like it could get close. The Celtics are looking lazy offensively and settling for bad shots from 25 feet out, and nothing’s falling. They’ve got to bear down and get a couple buckets inside to shift momentum back in their favor.
Fourth quarter, 9:12, Celtics 80-66: No Gino just yet — the Celtics maintain their double-digit lead, but they’re still unable to put the icing on the cake and finish this one off. Every time the C’s score, the Kings come right back and get a bucket to match. It’s certainly not helping that Nate Robinson is done for the night with a sprained ankle, forcing them to use Tony Allen as their backup point guard. (Doc seems very much averse to giving serious minutes to Marquis Daniels, who’s had a really subpar month in a Celtics uniform.)
End of third quarter, Celtics 74-61: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Brian Scalabrine sighting! After Glen Davis gets T’d up with 1:15 to play in the third quarter, Doc Rivers pulls him and unleashes Scal in his place. It’s Scal’s first time on the court since March 7, when the Celtics were forced to deactivate him as Michael Finley made his debut two nights later. Good to see the lovable redhead back on the floor. Even better to see it in a game that the Celtics lead handily.
Third quarter, 3:22, Celtics 70-48: Here’s a question for you: Where can’t Kevin Garnett score? KG’s getting inside and lofting hook shots over the Kings’ bigs. He’s standing at the top of they key and heaving up long twos. He’s putting up fallaways. Doesn’t matter where he shoots — the ball just goes in. KG is now 6-of-11 from the floor, and he’s got 12 points and 11 rebounds for his second straight double-double. Remember when he used to look old?
Third quarter, 6:13, Celtics 65-43: The Kings may be getting their heads handed to them, but you’ve still got to admire the effort they’ve gotten tonight from Carl Landry. He’s shooting 7-for-11 tonight and has piled up 18 points, five rebounds and an assist. Meanwhile, the rest of his team might never have woken up this morning. The jury’s still out on that one.
Third quarter, 9:03, Celtics 63-39: Another Celtics franchise record falls tonight. Paul Pierce has now made 5,370 free throws in his career, breaking the team mark of 5,369 held by John Havlicek. Pierce has had a heck of a record-breaking night — he’s a perfect 7-for-7 from the line in this game. The Celtics’ lead is now a comfortable 24.
Halftime, Celtics 57-37: The Celtics pad their lead with a 9-0 lead toward the end of the half. You always hate to say this at halftime, but it already looks like this one’s out of reach for the overmatched Kings. Expect a lot of Shelden Williams, Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine when we hit garbage time in the second half. The C’s are comfortably on their way to their sixth win in seven games.
Second quarter, 2:54, Celtics 50-33: And he’s done it. Rajon Rondo has season steal No. 168, snatching one away from Sean May and shattering Rick Fox’s single-season Celtics record. Then two possessions later, he comes up with No. 169, making a ridiculous move behind the back of Andres Nocioni and cruising from coast to coast to lay one up. Six points, 10 assists, two rebounds and of course the two steals for Rondo already in this game.
Second quarter, 6:05, Celtics 35-29: With the Kings missing their best player in Tyreke Evans, the Celtics could easily turn it on and blow them out of the water if they really wanted to. But the second unit has been lazy on defense for much of this second quarter, enabling the short-staffed Kings to hang around. Carl Landry has blown past the Celtics’ bench guys and created a couple of easy open jumpers, and Sean May of all people has scored a couple times as well. The Kings aren’t going away too easy.
Second quarter, 9:06, Celtics 35-21: Shelden Williams makes a much better backup big man than he’s often given credit for. Watch him in this game, and he’s doing a lot of things well — defending, grabbing rebounds, acting as an efficient back-to-the-basket scorer. (And unlike Glen Davis, he’s able to go to the hole without getting his shot blocked. Never underestimate that.)
End of first quarter, Celtics 32-17: Too many ridiculous first-quarter stats to list them all. Paul Pierce finishes the first quarter with 11 points; Ray Allen has eight. KG has seven boards. Rondo has six assists. The Celtics hold the Kings to 38.9 percent shooting. They get off 26 shot attempts to the Kings’ 18. They get 11 points off of turnovers to the Kings’ zero. Need I go on? All of these numbers point to a blowout in the making.
First quarter, 3:20, Celtics 25-15: The Celtics are forced to go small when Rasheed Wallace gets in early foul trouble, using Garnett at center and inserting Glen Davis at the four. The result is a monster first quarter inside for Garnett. First-quarter stats for KG so far: 2-for-4 shooting, four points, and an insane seven rebounds. As a reference point, the entire Kings team has eight boards. KG has been flashy athletically and shown brilliant instincts to boot; the result is a double-digit Boston lead.
First quarter, 6:11, Celtics 15-11: This might sound a little weird, but the Celtics don’t look like the older team out there at all. Even against the practically diapered Kings, the men in green look like the younger, more energetic squad on the floor. They’re driving the lane, they’re running the floor, they’re outworking the young Kings on hustle plays and getting to loose balls. Kevin Garnett — yes, the 33-year-old Kevin Garnett, with two shot knees — even gets into the paint to slam home an alley-oop. These are the young, fresh-looking Celtics, and they’re a heck of a lot of fun to watch.
First quarter, 9:17, Celtics 4-3: What a tease. Rajon Rondo enters this game tied for the Celtics’ all-time franchise record for steals in a season, even with Rick Fox in 1996-97 at 167. And on the Kings’ first possession, Rondo goes to work and deflects a bad pass from Donte Greene into a turnover. But unfortunately for Rondo, the steal’s been awarded to Ray Allen instead. We’ll have to wait to see the C’s young point guard make history.
7:05 p.m.: This just in: No Kendrick Perkins tonight for the Celtics. Perk is missing in action due to a sore left knee — Rasheed Wallace moves into the starting lineup in his place. Perk will be inactive tonight, meaning both Michael Finley and Brian Scalabrine will be on the active roster together for the first time. Expect to see a little of Scal tonight, and also expect Shelden Williams to come off the bench as the lead big man for the second unit, with Sheed starting.
8:05 a.m.: As the Celtics get deeper into their longest home stand of this season, they get a chance to find their rhythm within the confines of the TD Garden. Every little bit helps.
After a win Wednesday night over the Nuggets, a leading contender in the Western Conference, the C’s take the floor Friday night for their second of six home games over the next two weeks. Waiting for them will be the Sacramento Kings, who have lost four of their last five and are destined for the NBA draft lottery.
The Celtics will be at full strength, as they have been all month since Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce returned to bolster the team’s starting five. The Kings, meanwhile, are without their best player. Tyreke Evans is day-to-day with a mild concussion and has decided to sit out this weekend’s contests against Boston and Cleveland.
With the Kings taken down a notch, the stars are aligned for the Celtics to clean house, earning their sixth win in seven games. Let’s see if they can take care of business.