Rondo, through the Celts’ public relations team, said he would not answer questions about Paul or the two times the star guards were separated.
At the very least, Boston appeared happy it was given a bit of a test after two cakewalks this week and New Orleans was pleased it gave a good effort in the second half, when other Celts opponents have withered.
A couple of numbers that jumped off the page:
– Boston shot 63 percent from the floor after the first quarter.
– New Orleans was 13-of-28 (46 percent) from 3-point range. The Celts’ last two opponents had combined to go 2-for-25 from beyond the arc.
– Boston held a 56-26 advantage in points in the paint.
I’ll have more on the chippiness in a separate feature so be sure to check it out. The Celtics have a day off before beginning a brief two-game road trip in Philadelphia on Tuesday. All the analysis will be right here.
Final, Celtics 97-87: For the first time since the opener, the Celtics were tested a bit, and they passed.
In improving to 4-0 on the young season they shot 53.9 percent from the floor.
Chris Paul, who had a shoving match with Rajon Rondo earlier, was jawing with some Celtics after the horn but nothing came of it.Fourth quarter, 39.1 seconds, Celtics 97-86: Tremendous execution down the stretch for the Celtics, and it’s Paul Pierce’s long-range touch that may have provided the final blow.
Pierce hit his third 3-pointer and eighth in the last two games, and Kendrick Perkins scored on a short jumper to make the closing seconds a bit more comfortable.
Fourth quarter, 2:52, Celtics 88-83: A New Orleans foul before the timeout gives the Celts possession.
A basket here would be big, as Boston has clamped down on Peja Stojakovic the past couple of possessions.
If this becomes a foul-shooting contest down the stretch, it’s worth noting that the Hornets could be a tad rusty there. They have taken just four free throws all game, an indication as to how much of a perimeter game New Orleans has played.
Fourth quarter, 3:27, Celtics 88-83: Kevin Garnett has back-to-back hoops, but the Celts have turned the ball over five times in the fourth and 15 times overall, one off their season high.
Fourth quarter, 6:03, Celtics 82-83: Eddie House was just marking Chris Paul for a possession. After House was called for a block, Rajon Rondo quickly came off the bench to take House’s place.
All of the starters are in for the stretch run for Boston.
Oh, and Peja Stojakovic made another 3-pointer to make it a two-point game. That’s four 3-pointers in the second half for Stojakovic, who has amazingly been wide open on most of them.
Fourth quarter, 8:20, Celtics 80-77: Just as Rasheed Wallace’s 3-pointers have been big for the Celtics, Peja Stojakovic has kept the Hornets close with a handful of his own.
Stojakovic just made his fifth 3-pointer and now leads all scorers with 23 points.
Fourth quarter, 9:15, Celtics 80-74: Rasheed Wallace is keeping the Celtics’ heads above water here.
He just made another 3-pointer, which was followed up by a Shelden Williams dunk on a feed by Eddie House.
That’s three more reserves taking control for Boston, a theme the club has carried early on.
End of third quarter, Celtics 72-69: It was a 12-1 Hornets run before Rasheed Wallace hit a 3-pointer with seconds left to give Boston the lead entering the fourth.
Fittingly, Chris Paul hit a long shot just after the buzzer that didn’t count. But he was huge throughout the third.
Paul had seven points and an assist in New Orleans’ big run and scored 14 points in the quarter alone.
For the first time since Cleveland pulled within four points late in Tuesday’s opener, the Celtics have a game on their hands. We head to the fourth in a few.
Third quarter, 38.2 seconds, Celtics 69-65: Chris Paul is eating the Celtics alive right now. I’ll break down his numbers for the quarter at the break.
Third quarter, 2:21, Celtics 68-59: It’s been a back-and-forth affair since the C’s had a quick 7-0 run to get some separation.
Ray Allen has eight points in the third, while Chris Paul has seven for the Hornets.
Rasheed Wallace gave Boston some great minutes in the first half and has just returned.
Third quarter, 2:54, Celtics 68-57: Rajon Rondo just hit a fallaway in the lane for just his third and fourth points of the game.
But Rondo is now one assist shy of recording double figures in that category for the fourth straight game.
Third quarter, 6:05, Celtics 58-50: They are such good friends off the court, and now you see why.
Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins found themselves alone on a break, the only two players on one side of the court.
Perkins passed up to Rondo, way ahead of the play, but Rondo unselfishly passed back for a Perkins reverse jam to cap a 7-0 run.
Morris Peterson hit a 3-pointer on the other end to stop the burst.
Third quarter, 7:00, Celtics 56-47: One thing keeping the Hornets around here is their ability to control the boards and limit second chances.
The Celtics just picked up their first offensive board.
David West just buried a jumper for New Orleans and has been very active this quarter after a two-point first half.
Third quarter, 10:16, Celtics 49-42: We are underway in the second half and there’s no doubt the Hornets are aware that the Celtics have dominated opponents in the third quarter this season.
For the Hornets to stay in it, they will need more of Chris Paul, who was held to five points in 17-plus minutes in the first half.
On cue, Paul hits a jumper to start the scoring in the third.
Halftime, Celtics 47-38: A great end to the half.
After Paul Pierce blew by Julian Wright for a baseline jam, Hilton Armstrong had an emphatic put-back on the other end.
Pierce, recognizing that Wright has not stayed with him all half, then asked for a clear-out and beat Wright again.
With 10 points in the first and 10 points in the second Pierce now has 40 points in his last four quarters of play. Since the final quarter of Friday’s game was just garbage time he really has 40 in about three quarters.
Off to grab a coffee. We’ll see if the Celtics’ third-quarter dominance arrives again. Back in a few.
Second quarter, 1:50, Celtics 43-33: Just as they have in each of their first three games the Celtics have started to take control late in the second.
In the third quarters they have put teams away, so this is a critical time for New Orleans.
Paul Pierce hit back-to-back 3-pointers (he now has eight since the start of the second half Friday) and Rajon Rondo found Kevin Garnett for an alley-oop that forced Hornets coach Byron Scott to call timeout.
The Celtics have forced 11 turnovers and after a slow start are now shooting 46 percent (17-of-37).
Second quarter, 3:17, Celtics 38-30: Moments after Julian Wright had an athletic dunk in which he soared in from well outside the lane, Kendrick Perkins had a big block.
The big plays continued when Paul Pierce hit a 3-pointer to give the Celtics their largest lead.
Second quarter, 5:20, Celtics 33-28: Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul were just whistled for double technicals after getting into a shoving match on the baseline.
Rondo said before the game that all he has been thinking about was Paul, although that was in the context of contract negotiations. Maybe he meant it a little more than we thought.
Paul, for his part, seems to have a little more hop in his step since the shoving match.
Second quarter, 7:45, Celtics 28-23: For those itching to see Rasheed Wallace take the ball inside, he just converted on a nice feed from Ray Allen, who had curled to the hoop before finding his man.
Wallace entered the game having taken 20 of his 26 field goal attempts from behind the arc.
He followed it up moments later with a jumper and then argued a non-whistle. As the Celtics inbound the basketball, he continues to berate the officials.
Second quarter, 8:52, Celtics 24-23: Chris Paul did return to start the second, so that issue appears to have resolved itself, whatever it was.
Bobby Brown has stayed in there alongside Paul in the backcourt and is not shy. Brown just chucked up his ninth shot in roughly nine minutes.
Rajon Rondo nearly had a strip of Paul and a breakaway hoop, but Paul caught him before he escaped and was whistled for his second foul.
End of first quarter, Celtics 22-20: A see-saw affair in the first sees the Celts up two.
Paul Pierce leads all scorers with 10 points and has chipped in two rebounds and two steals.
Chris Paul has still not returned for the Hornets. He was on the bench near the coaches for the rest of the first quarter after being removed less than six minutes in.
He has only one foul and it appears as if Bobby Brown is staying in the game for him to start the second. Could it be a disciplinary matter? Hard to say. Rajon Rondo remains out for the Celtics, so perhaps both coaches are just waiting for the other to get their star point guards back in.
First quarter, 59.4 seconds, Celtics 22-18: A wild sequence just saw Kendrick Perkins collide with Paul Pierce, causing Pierce to lose the ball to James Posey, who had it knocked away by Eddie House, who recovered it in the backcourt before being fouled by Posey.
First quarter, 2:25, Celtics 18-16: Paul Pierce just had his second three-point play in a few minutes and is carrying the Celtics right now.
Pierce has 10 points. If you recall, he had just two points in the first half against Chicago on Friday before exploding for 20 in the third. He seems to still be on, although he’s getting to the hoop for all of these points, whereas he was hot from outside versus the Bulls.
Kendrick Perkins just had a nice move to give Boston the lead back.
First quarter, 4:59, 13-13: James Posey just entered the game and received a nice ovation from the fans.
Paul Pierce makes the free throw to convert a three-point play and we are tied again.
First quarter, 5:50, Hornets 11-10: Chris Paul just went to the Hornets’ bench after just 5:27 of playing time.
It doesn’t appear as if they are looking at him for any injuries and he has just one foul. I’ll keep an eye on it.
Rajon Rondo just found Kevin Garnett for a one-handed dunk on the break. It may mean nothing but Garnett still comes down a bit awkward from time to time, as he did there.
Regardless, a nice break for the Celtics gets the crowd on its feet for the first time.
First quarter, 7:20, Hornets 9-6: Julian Wright just made a 3-pointer for the Hornets, snapping a string of over 124 minutes in which the Celtics either led or were tied.
The streak extended back to the second quarter of Tuesday’s opener at Cleveland.
6:07 p.m. Eva Ricci, a 9-year-old, just gave a long and rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
It served to get the crowd into things, but it’s hard not to notice a few empty seats on the first Sunday of the season.
Perhaps just a few late arrivals.
We’re getting introductions right now. Tip in a few.
5:45 p.m.: I’ve returned from the locker room with the news you’ve all been waiting for: Brian Scalabrine is back.
Scalabrine will be limited to begin with and Doc Rivers said he hopes to not have to play him tonight and maybe the next couple of games, but it gives the Celtics 12 healthy bodies for the first time this season.
On a more serious news front, Rajon Rondo was asked about the approaching deadline for contract negotiations with the Celtics, but didn’t say there was much progress.
“No, I’m thinking about Chris Paul,” Rondo said when asked if he was thinking about the negotiations. “I’m focused on the season. Maybe if it was Oct. 1 or Sept. 1, I might be thinking about it.”
Rondo said he has not talked to his agent in two days and has no updates as to whether the two sides are any closer. Asked if he is confident he will remain a Celtic, Rondo had this to say:
“I don’t know. It’s a business. Like I said, I want to be here, but you never know what’s going to happen.”
Rondo will be joined by the usual suspects in the Celtics’ starting five tonight, joining Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.
The Hornets go with Paul and Morris Peterson at guard, Julian Wright and David West at forward and Emeka Okafor underneath.
Just a few minutes from tip. Stick around for all the action right here.
4:57 p.m.: I’ll be courtside in about an hour as the Celtics look to remain perfect.
Heading down for the pregame skinny from Doc Rivers in a moment. Check back before tip for any updates on injuries or reaction to tonight’s opponent, New Orleans.
12:05 p.m.: It’s hard to imagine the Celtics’ first home stand of the season going any better.
They’ll look to stay perfect in 2009-10 when they host the New Orleans Hornets. We’ll keep you up to date throughout the game right here, so check back before the 6 p.m. tip.
After a 33-point win in their home opener against Charlotte on Wednesday, the Celtics routed Chicago 118-90 on Friday night.
Paul Pierce scored 20 of his 22 points in the third quarter, Eddie House added 22 off the bench and Ray Allen chipped in 20 in just over 23 minutes of play.Through three games, Boston opponents are shooting 38.1 percent from the floor and a league-low 19.1 percent from 3-point range. They are averaging just 79.3 points, also the lowest in the NBA.
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