Live Blog: Celtics at Cavaliers


October 27, 2009

Live Blog: Celtics at Cavaliers

Following a season-opening win against the Cavaliers, Celtics coach Doc Rivers had high praise for his bench, which helped take control during a key stretch at the end of the first quarter and through the second.

“The second unit saved the game for us,” Rivers said.

Indeed, after the Cavs raced to a 19-4 lead, a steady influx of reserves transformed the deficit into a six-point halftime lead, turning the ball over just once in the second quarter.

“This bench is a better scoring bench [than the 2008 bench], and when they defend, they are really good and that’s what they did in that stretch,” Rivers said of the reserve-fueled run.

As they had hoped when they signed him this offseason, the Celts got plenty from sixth man Rasheed Wallace. In 24 minutes of play, Wallace had 12 points, three rebounds and zero turnovers. He was also part of a defensive tag-team that limited Shaquille O’Neal to just four points over the final three quarters and held him scoreless in the fourth.

Wallace, Marquis Daniels, Eddie House and Shelden Williams combined for 26 points. With a quick turnaround before Wednesday’s home opener against Charlotte, fresh legs will be at a premium.

Check back for more updates leading up to that game and follow all the game action right here.

Final, Celtics 95-89: The last time the Celtics won in Quicken Loans Arena, Raef LaFrentz had a double-double, just to illustrate how much has changed over the course of an 11-game slide here.

Raef can breathe easy. The Celts dominated the middle portion of the game and clamped down defensively when the Cavaliers got close to get their first win in Cleveland since Dec. 18, 2004.

Paul Pierce scored 10 of his 23 points down the stretch and Kevin Garnett had 13 points and 10 rebounds in his return.

For the Cavs, it was LeBron James and not much else. James — who had 38 points, eight assists and four blocks — will need plenty more support to get this team past the Celts or any of the other elites of the league.

Garnett, for his part, seems perfectly fine and has not lost that sense of humor. In a post-game interview with TNT’s Cheryl Miller, he ended it by telling Miller she smelled nice.

Check back soon for more on Garnett and the Celts starting 1-0.

Fourth quarter, 1:03, Celtics 89-83: All those lamenting Rajon Rondo’s lackluster jumper and hoping the Celtics don’t break the bank for him in contract negotiations were just given a dose of what makes Rondo special.

The 6-foot-1 guard picked Shaquille O’Neal’s pocket to keep a possession alive and then had two offensive boards. It didn’t lead to any points, but was impressive nonetheless.

Paul Pierce makes a jumper on the next possession and the Celtics are in control entering the final minute.

Fourth quarter, 2:08, Celtics 87-79: Kevin Garnett just put Shaquille O’Neal on the line — where the big fella missed a pair of free throws — and then abused O’Neal on the other end.

Garnett tried it again moments later but that guy, LeBron James, intercepts his pass out to the point and is on the line.

Fourth quarter, 3:45, Celtics 85-79: LeBron James answers Kendrick Perkins’ three-point play with a 3-pointer of his own. James now has 31 points and the Cavs are as close as they’ve been since late in the first half.

TNT announcer Doug Collins just called for Rasheed Wallace out of the break, suggesting the Celtics might need some punch on the offensive end.

It might not be a bad idea. Paul Pierce had been held scoreless in the second half until he just hit a pull-up. Wallace is in for the stretch run.

Fourth quarter, 5:32, Celtics 83-76: A great pass by Paul Pierce underneath leads to a three-point play for Kendrick Perkins and the dry run is over.

Fourth quarter, 5:52, Celtics 80-75: LeBron James just committed his fourth foul. In his eyes, as usual, he did not.

The Celts will have possession out of the timeout and are in dire need of a basket. It’s been four minutes, 11 seconds since they have scored, going without a point after Rasheed Wallace hit a 3-pointer to make it 80-69.

The drought will continue, as out of the break, there’s a foul on Paul Pierce.

Fourth quarter, 6:10, Celtics 80-75: The Celtics have now been held scoreless for almost four minutes after Kevin Garnett misses a dunk.

Fourth quarter, 8:42, Celtics 80-71: A rough couple of trips for Eddie House there.

After driving into the lane and throwing an ill-advised underhanded pass to an unsuspecting Shelden Williams, who could not handle it, House chucked up an ugly 3-pointer.

The pass prompted Celtics coach Doc Rivers to look at House and say simply, ” No.” The brick preceded the first TV timeout of the quarter with the Celts up nine.

Fourth quarter, 9:48, Celtics 80-69: The Celtics’ second unit, which played so well during a key stretch of the second quarter, is on the floor again.

Rasheed Wallace just opened the scoring in the fourth and Marquis Daniels made his first 3-pointer as a Celtic to push the lead back to 10.

Keep in mind, the Cavaliers lost only twice at home all of last season and have won 11 straight against the Celtics here, including the playoffs.

End of third quarter, Celtics 72-65: The Cavaliers finished the third on a 15-7 run, with LeBron James scoring seven points and Mo Williams six.

Paul Pierce was held scoreless in the third for the Celtics, who went the final 2:43 without a field goal.

Third quarter, 0:29.7, Celtics 72-63: LeBron James just recorded his fourth blocked shot of the game — a swat of Ray Allen’s fast-break layup — and then hit a 3-pointer on the other end to pull Cleveland within nine.

James has 18 points and seven assists as well.

The Celtics are missing a few free throws here and there that could come back to hurt them down the stretch. Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace both just made 1-of-2 and James scored on the other end to make it a nine-point game.

Third quarter, 6:37, Celtics 62-52: Readers, you will get used to my tendency to jinx anything and anyone the second I open my mouth — or, in this case, type something. Just giving fair warning.

The second I mention that the Cavaliers are in danger of being run off their home court in the regular-season opener, five quick points by the hosts have trimmed the deficit to 10.

Shaquille O’Neal had a dunk to end Boston’s 10-2 run and Anthony Parker followed with a 3-pointer, Cleveland’s first since 4:47 remained in the first.

Third quarter, 9:20, Celtics 61-47: The Cavaliers are beginning to look rather listless and this has the potential to turn ugly.

It is now a 57-28 edge for the Celts since midway through the first quarter, and everyone is getting into the act.

During a 10-2 burst to begin the third, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo have each scored, while first-half scoring leaders Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have stood by.

Garnett just rose up for a high entry pass and settled before hitting a turnaround. Another great sign.

Third quarter, 10:25, Celtics 57-47: Kendrick Perkins opened the second half by making back-to-back jumpers and the Celts have their largest lead.

Good to see Kevin Garnett get up from a semi-hard foul and offer a wink to his bench. He buries both free throws and it’s a 10-point bulge.

Halftime, Celtics 51-45: Aside from a technical foul on Kevin Garnett (no loss of intensity there), the Celtics have plenty to feel good about heading into the locker room.

Overall, it was a 7-0 run by the C’s to end the half. Going back further to the point where the Cavs’ early dominance ended, Boston outscored Cleveland 47-26 over the last 18-plus minutes, aided when the referees correctly ruled that a late LeBron James basket came after the shot clock had expired.

Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are leading the way with 13 and 11 points, respectively. They have made four of the Celtics’ seven 3-pointers.

All nine Celts who have played thus far have scored, and the team is shooting 17-of-33 (52 percent).

James leads Cleveland with 16 points, five assists and three blocks.

Be sure to stick around for the second half. It’s bound to be a good one.

Second quarter, 2:11, 44-44: Following a pair of quick baskets by the Cavaliers — one on a Shaquille O’Neal hook over Kendrick Perkins — Ray Allen buried his first 3-pointer of the season to tie it.

The Celtics are now 6-for-8 from beyond the arc and just 9-of-22 inside it.

Second quarter, 4:31, Celtics 41-38: I did that on purpose. I knew that if I mentioned Kevin Garnett on the bench, just to get a reaction, that he would come back in.

Mission accomplished.

Second quarter, 4:31, Celtics 39-38: Paul Pierce just made his second 3-pointer to put Boston on top for the first time.

Six Celtics have scored in the past six-plus minutes alone, while the Cavaliers have made just two of their last 11 shots from the floor.

Of note: Kevin Garnett has not returned after playing the first 9:28 of the game. With the way the Celts are rolling, it’s of little concern, but we’ll keep an eye on coach Doc Rivers’ use of Garnett early on.

Second quarter, 7:23, Cavaliers 34-32: Rasheed Wallace and Ray Allen just executed a textbook pick-and-roll up top that led to Wallace’s second 3-pointer and the game’s first tie since it was scoreless.

Second quarter, 8:55, Cavaliers 30-29: Cleveland has missed its last seven shots going back to the first quarter.

Second quarter, 9:10, Cavaliers 30-28: Continuing on the theme of bench players, the Celts’ second unit, with the exception of Ray Allen, has trimmed what was once a 15-point deficit to two.

Eddie House, whom many thought would play more of the 2-guard with Marquis Daniels handling the point, has been bringing up the ball here early in the second.

End of first quarter, Cavaliers 28-21: The Celtics have to be pleased with a seven-point deficit after the way this one began.

LeBron James already has three blocks, including the aforementioned stuff of Rajon Rondo, and has looked every bit like the best player on the court.

But Boston’s second unit acquitted itself well. Rasheed Wallace and four other reserves combined for seven points to the Cavs’ two. Shelden Williams made an early entry for the Celts, a sight fans will likely get used to going forward.

First quarter, 2:45, Cavaliers 28-17: You have to give Rajon Rondo credit for trying, but LeBron James just immortalized him on highlight reels with a block from behind as Rondo attempted to stuff one home.

If you didn’t see it, you will.

Fortunately for Rondo, he was OK after falling hard to the floor. I think next time he’ll take a peak behind just to make sure the King isn’t coming.

On a better note for the Celts, Rasheed Wallace hit his first 3-pointer with the C’s to pull them within nine points. Overall it was a 13-7 run for the Celtics before Daniel Gibson hit a jumper for Cleveland.

First quarter, 4:08, Cavaliers 26-14: In case anyone was wondering, Shaquille O’Neal looks his dominant self and is showing early how he may transform this matchup.

O’Neal has six points on 3-of-3 shooting, four rebounds and assisted on the first basket of the night after he was double-teamed.

First quarter, 8:49, Cavaliers 13-2: We’re still waiting for the Celtics to start the season. Just a flat first three-plus minutes and this is already looking like a lot of previous visits to “The Q.”

Of note early, the Cavs have four players already in the scoring column, with LeBron James converting on an alley-oop to highlight the burst.

The Celts’ only points came from Kevin Garnett, but he later missed badly on a turnaround. And keep your eye on Ray Allen, who has all sorts of problems in this rivalry.

In his last 10 games against Cleveland, Allen has averaged only 11.8 points on 35.7 percent (35-of-98) shooting. Thus far he has missed two shots and turned the ball over twice.

7:32 p.m.: What a great sight for Celtics fans — Kevin Garnett tying his shorts as he talks to the post behind the hoop.

LeBron James, of course, follows it up tossing chalk at fans and those in press row.

I guess it’s time to get it on.

7:29 p.m: A quick look at the staring lineups yields no surprises.

The Celtics will go with the standard five of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.

Mo Williams and Anthony Parker start at guard for the Cavs, with LeBron James, Anderson Varejao and Shaquille O’Neal rounding it out.

We’re minutes from tip. Make sure to keep it here.

6:40 p.m.: The Celtics and Cavaliers are almost an hour from beginning the NBA season in a rivalry showcase that has it all.

It’s too bad there are so many off-court issues heading into the clash.

We have learned more about the Glen Davis situation, for lack of a better word. According to several sources, “Big Baby” was bloodied in a fight with childhood friend Shawn Bridgewater on a Waltham street, apparently the culmination of a dispute between Bridgewater and Davis’s girlfriend.

The resulting thumb injury will keep Davis out for up to two months, casting a spotlight on how coach Doc Rivers will handle the minutes early in the season for Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace. Also worth watching is how end-of-the-bench big Shelden Williams handles what may be an increased role.

While Davis was brawling with a buddy, Rajon Rondo and his agent were locking horns with Celtics management in intensifying contract negotiations. It appears Rondo will eye restricted free agency unless the two sides come together before the Oct. 31 deadline.

And on the Cleveland side of things, the burgeoning criminal career of ex-Celtic Delonte West has taken another turn. The 26-year-old guard is doubtful for the opener a day after his wife filed a domestic violence report against him.

West, who has battled a bipolar disorder, was arrested on a weapons charge last month.

Check back for any lineup updates and all the in-game analysis.  After all the news from the last two days, it will be nice to finally see some action on the court.

10:19 a.m.: With the return of Kevin Garnett from a right knee injury and the additions of Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels, the Celtics have eyed the 2009-10 season with dreams of something big.

However, they begin it in what has become a house of horrors, and on the heels of some troubling injury news.

The Celts have lost 11 straight in Cleveland?s Quicken Loans Arena, including three there in the ?08 playoffs. Seven of those losses have come by double digits and the C?s have scored 84 points or fewer in five straight at “The Q.”

While Garnett showed no real effects of the injury during the preseason, Boston will be without forward-center Glen Davis, out for an extended period of time after injuring his hand in what reports have said was a fight with a friend.

According to the Boston Herald, the Celtics brass is none too pleased with the situation.

With Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen also out with ankle injuries, the Celtics are a little thin off the bench as they begin a stretch of eight games in 12 days to start the season.

They will also contend with what will assuredly be a charged up home crowd eager to see the LeBron JamesShaquille O?Neal era begin with a win over the Cavs? chief rival.

Check back here for news and notes leading up to the 7:30 p.m. tip, and stick around for all the game action.

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