Celtics Live Blog: Paul Pierce In Midseason Form, But Nets Defeat C’s 97-96


Celtics Live Blog: Paul Pierce In Midseason Form, But Nets Defeat C's 97-96

Game over, Nets win 97-96: It got hairy at the end and a motley crew of Celtics was not able to claim the close victory, but the loss should not overshadow how good Paul Pierce looked. The Celtics captain poured in 29 points on 10-for-17 shooting, including 6-for-8 from beyond the arc. Courtney Lee had 13 points and Jeff Green had 14 points as the only other Celtics in double figures.

Hats off to everyone involved for avoiding overtime in this one. Two preseason games going extra time would have been too much to tolerate.

Fourth quarter, :03.6, Nets 97-96: Collins delivered to knot up the score at 96-96, but Stephen Dennis was fouled. Dennis missed both, yet thankfully the refs know that an overtime preseason game is a terrible thing, so they sent Teletovic to the line right away.

Teletovic hit one of two, which is fine. Celtics ball.

Fourth quarter, :27, Nets 96-95: Well, they could not hold onto the lead. Tornike Shengelia, who has spent 90 percent of his time on the floor literally "on the floor," notched the old-fashioned three-point play to give Brooklyn the lead. Downs missed an up-and-under floater, but Shengelia tried to save the ball and it will be Boston possession. Preseason intrigue at the Gahden, folks.

Fourth quarter, 2:54, Celtics 95-86: A lineup of rookies and end-of-the-bench guys were not able to pull out an overtime win against the Knicks in Hartford. Now let's see if a similar group can hold onto this lead at home.

Jason Collins, Kris Joseph, Rob Kurz, Micah Downs and Fab Melo were entrusted with the lead. None of them has shown the ability to be a scoring option in the preseason, and now that Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith are gone, one of them has a chance to emerge.

Fourth quarter, 4:40, Celtics 91-83: We got an extended look on what the Celtics' offense could look like with Terry operating at the point. It was a little different without Rondo dominating the ballhandling duties, but it worked because the other four players on the court shared the ball well among each other.

Bass and Sullinger, who joined Terry, Lee and Green on the floor, have mostly been mentioned as an either-or setup. But they spent a good deal of time playing together in the fourth quarter. Their dual abilities to rebound, stretch the defense with their jump shots and score inside raise another interesting lineup possibility for Boston.

Fourth quarter, 8:45, Celtics 85-78: The Celtics did a fairly good job controlling turnovers, which have been their bugaboo, in the first three quarters. They committed 10 entering the fourth quarter, which is a manageable number, but then handed the ball away two more times before the quarter was three minutes old. Rondo has six turnovers, once again coming close to offsetting his 11 assists.

End of third quarter, Celtics 83-74: If Andray Blatche can stay in line with Avery Johnson's demands this season, the Nets could have one of the steals of the offseason. Blatche had 23 points and nine rebounds through three quarters, much of it against the Celtics actual rotation players. He is making the veteran's minimum with the Nets, who signed him after the Wizards waived him via the amnesty provision. (Blatche is still going to make more than $7 million as a result of the amnesty.)

Anyway, there is still no sign of Rivers. Assistants Mike Longabardi and Armond Hill might be putting him on the hot seat with this second-half performance.

Third quarter, 2:57, Celtics 75-64: Garnett waited until 15 seconds into the second half to get into the scorebook, but once he did he set off a flurry.

The Celtics extended their lead to as many as 11 points and Garnett poured in eight points, all in the third quarter. It felt like a real, live regular-season game there for a little while, minus all Brooklyn's good players, of course.

Third quarter, 7:04, Celtics 63-58: Rivers has opted to sit out the second half. Really. The Celtics coach will not be on the bench for the entire second half, according to the team's official Twitter account. Everything is apparently fine and this is by design. Rivers joked before the game that he was going to leave at 9 p.m. to watch the debate — at least, we figured he was joking.

Anyway, maybe Rivers should take more time off. The Celtics extended their lead to five points in the opening minutes of the third quarter when Lee drained a three from the corner. Lee must — repeat, must – hit that shot consistently to fulfill all the reasons the Celtics brought him here.

Halftime, Celtics 49-47: Jason Terry, and the Celtics players on the floor, gave the fans a little something to cheer about at the end of the first half. Terry rose from the bench to egg on the Boston fans as the Celtics defended on the final possession, and the people in attendance responded with a little bit of a rousing cheer — not too much, but this is the preseason, after all.

Much more exciting for the fans was the stuff on the court. Rondo led a three-on-one fastbreak with Green to his left and Lee to his right, and the point guard delivered a look-away scoop pass to Lee for a layup. Rondo has to like offseason acquisition of players like Lee who can run with Rondo, rather than behind him.

Pierce led everybody with 20 points, but Andray Blatche was arguably the most impressive player in the first half. Blatche scored 15 points and had seven rebounds as he tried to rebuild his image in Brooklyn. If the 26-year-old forward/center can avoid some of the extracurricular nonsense that doomed him in Washington, he could add some needed depth to the Nets.

Second quarter, 2:39, Celtics 45-42: Sure, it may be great for the Celtics that Pierce has gone hog wild, but even with his 20 first-half points the Celtics only led the Nets by three points. Those Nets, by the way, were resting all their projected starters.

Second quarter, 5:11, Celtics 42-35: Everything about the Celtics feels a little sluggish, as though they are all moving a half-step slow. All of them, that is, except Pierce.

The Truth is in midseason form. He pulled up on the break when nobody stepped up to cover him and drilled a 3-pointer while toeing the line. The next trip up, he was a good step behind the arc when he let fly another shot that touched nothing but twine. Considering how Pierce hobbled into last season, he could not have more of a hop in his step this year.

Second quarter, 8:53, Celtics 28-27: Green could end up endearing himself to Celtics fans if they give him a chance. The man with the maligned four-year contract crumpled to the ground clutching his knee after drawing a foul on a fast break, but he popped up after about a minute on the floor. On the very next play, Green stepped in and absorbed a charging foul on James Mays. Neither play drew much reaction from the home crowd, who must not be paying very close attention.

End of first quarter, Nets 25-22: There is "small ball" and then there is what the Celtics rolled with for a time in the first quarter. It started with Brandon Bass technically manning the five and then got utterly ridiculous with Pierce, Green, Lee, Terry and Rondo teaming up to end the quarter. Nobody in that lineup stood taller than 6-foot-9.

Pierce was the high scorer in the opening frame with 10 points. Mirza Teletovic did his best to match Pierce, though. The rookie from Bosnia jacked up six shots in less than seven minutes of action.

First quarter, 1:57, Nets 22-18: After a strong start, the Celtics faded a bit offensively and fell behind the Nets. A few of the TD Garden fans were displeased, but they miss the point.

The score is not important here. This is the preseason, where occasionally stinking up the joint is not a terrible thing. The Celtics are trying to work in some of their new guys like Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger, who will contribute big minutes this year, and that did not look so crisp. And that is OK.

Pierce kept looking for his own shot, and Rondo made a ridiculous dribble move to split a double-team and scoop home a layup. Jeff Green followed that by tracking down a tipped ball by Rondo to score a physical fastbreak layup.

First quarter, 7:40, Celtics 9-2: C.J. Watson received a lot of (deserved) credit last season for keeping the Bulls afloat when Derrick Rose was sidelined. He will back up another excellent point guard in Brooklyn, but he had a rough opening for his new squad in this one.

Starting in place of Williams, Watson missed his first shot and committed three turnovers before watching defenselessly as Rondo dropped a jump shot. Paul Pierce came out looking for his own shot, putting up four of the Celtics' first seven shots. Pierce's minutes might be reined in on this second night of a back-to-back, so he is making up for it by testing out his ol' shootin' arm early.

7:09 p.m.: Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledged before the game that his team is on the lookout for a backup point guard who may become available as teams pare their rosters in preparation for the regular season.

From the sound of it, though, Rivers is counting more on acquiring a backup for Rajon Rondo via different means some time in December.

"Point guard, maybe the Heat will cut LeBron, whoever," Rivers said. "We're
always looking. I think every team is always looking. If nothing comes of it
does that bother us? No. It'd be great to get another guy at any position.
Obviously, that one would help but we can forget that Avery's coming back, too.
We don't want to overdo the point guard thing."

Bradley was not as effective last season when he had to man the point for long stretches, but he would have help this year. Jason Terry is capable of playing point guard and Rivers added that Courtney Lee can help handle the ball if necessary.

Oh by the way, Darko Milicic will sit out to give his right wrist time to heal from a minor injury, and Kevin Garnett is back in the lineup. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace also have the night off.

The starting lineups appear below.

Nets
Andray Blatche
Reggie Evans
Josh Childress
C.J. Watson
Keith Bogans 

Celtics
Kevin Garnett
Jared Sullinger
Paul Pierce
Courtney Lee
Rajon Rondo 

6:42 p.m.: Bah, humbug.

The Celtics scrooged Dionte Christmas on Tuesday, announcing that they had waived the former Temple guard. Although Christmas impressed summer league coach Tyronn Lue and was considered one of the most likely candidates to land one of the Celtics' 15 roster spots, the veteran of several international leagues appears to be headed back overseas.

Jamar Smith, a combo guard who showed flashes of NBA potential last season with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League, was also waived. Smith could not throw the ball in the ocean during the preseason, missing all but four of the 22 shots he attempted.

Micah Downs and Kris Joseph remain, most likely in a battle for that coveted 15th spot. (Waiving Christmas and Smith gives Boston 16 players.) For those looking for a silver lining, Christmas and Smith should still have strong prospects for playing abroad. 

8 a.m. ET: Any Bostonians with a diehard craving for live
preseason basketball can finally get their fill when the Celtics host the
Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. Afterward, hopefully those fans can also get
professional help.

Kevin Garnett presumably will be back in the starting lineup
after getting the night off Monday in the first game of a back-to-back set.
Whatever other machinations Celtics coach Doc Rivers is plotting with the
roster will not be known until about an hour before game time.

The first thing to look for in this game will be the Nets' new
uniforms. The franchise shed the red, white and blue from its previous 44 years
of existence for a more Jay-Z-esque black-and-white scheme, so colorblind fans
should be happy that they get to see the same thing as the rest of us. The
second thing to look for will be how Deron Williams and Joe Johnson mesh,
albeit in limited duty, in the new-look backcourt that might be the league’s
best.

Join us for updates and analysis from the TD
Garden during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m.