Final, Celtics 95-92: It’s never easy, is it? The Celtics survive the opener of this four-game West Coast swing and it’s the one that, on paper, you knew they had to win — the next three see the level of difficulty raised quite a bit.
Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace score 17 points apiece for Boston, which improves to 18-9 on the road.
The C’s get a day off before taking on the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, hours after the trade deadline. We’ll see if the lineup remains the same when the two old rivals meet.
Fourth quarter, 2.4 seconds, Celtics 95-92: Omri Casspi tried to miss a free throw but it went in anyway, part of a three-hour fourth quarter here.
Fourth quarter, 5.6 seconds, Celtics 93-90: As I said, the Kings have had the ability to get great looks all night and somehow they do so down four with just seconds left. Poor defense by the C’s.
Ray Allen makes two on the other end and the Kings have one last chance. Omri Casspi has been their best 3-point shooter so they may look to him right here.
Fourth quarter, 15.4 seconds, Celtics 91-87: Rasheed Wallace does what the Kings could not by burying two free throws in the clutch, making this a two-possession game.
The Kings still have time to go for a quick two here, but they have had some wide open looks from outside.
Fourth quarter, 16.5 seconds, Celtics 89-87: The Kings entered as the 26th-rated free throw shooting team in the league and we now see why. They have missed six straight down the stretch, including four in the last 91 seconds.
Fourth quarter, 36.7 seconds, Celtics 89-87: Doc Rivers nearly ran to the Kings bench trying to get an official’s attention to call timeout as Paul Pierce was trapped at halfcourt.
Pierce nearly lost the ball once, then almost stepped into the backcourt, then threw an elbow that wasn’t called, and through it all had nobody to pass to. That’s the fastest Rivers has moved since his playing days.
Fourth quarter, 1:09, Celtics 89-87: Two mammoth misses from the line for Omri Casspi.
Fourth quarter, 1:38, Celtics 89-87: He won the 3-point contest in Dallas and now Paul Pierce knocks down a huge one from way outside to give the Celtics the lead.
It’s great for Boston that the shot went in but it is the club’s 10th 3-point attempt of the half, which has seen a lot less attacking on offense.
Fourth quarter, 3:38, Kings 85-84: And just like that the Kings lead. Can you believe it? Of course you can, this happens every single game it seems.
The C’s only have themselves to blame. Everything on offense is being done from the outside and it’s all one-and-done.
Boston is 2-of-9 from 3-point range in the second half after making 6-of-12 before the break.
Fourth quarter, 4:28, Celtics 84-80: Ray Allen’s reverse layup ends a nearly three-minute drought for the Celtics.
Fourth quarter, 6:58, Celtics 82-78: Dangerous time here for the C’s. Arco is ready to erupt if the Kings ever pull to within a tie or take the lead. They’re certainly threatening here as the Celtics have just two baskets in the fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter, 9:20, Celtics 79-71: Rasheed Wallace never gets boring, does he? He hits a free throw to complete a three-point play and stretch the lead to nine, but not before nearly picking up a technical, scowling at fellow UNC alum Sean May, getting patched up by trainer Ed Lacerte and then talking trash with the Kings’ bench.
Fourth quarter, 10:29, Celtics 76-71: How many blocked shots are the Kings going to get? How about a pump-fake, fellas?
Sacramento has nine blocks thus far, twice their game average.
End of third quarter, Celtics 76-69: The Kings go the last 4:36 of the third quarter without a basket and the C’s avoid the third-quarter bug this time around.
With the exception of Ray Allen, all of the starters were on the bench by the time the quarter ended so we will see if the bench has what it takes to build upon this lead.
Third quarter, 2:50, Celtics 73-69: I’ve been as harsh as anyone on him this season, but Rasheed Wallace deserves some credit for another really solid outing. His block moments ago helped Kevin Garnett get to the line and is one of three blocked shots in the game for the back-up big man.
‘Sheed also has 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting and just looks a lot more comfortable over the last two games.
Third quarter, 5:30, Celtics 68-63: With Tyreke Evans’ free throw moments ago, the Kings have already matched their scoring total the last time these two teams met in Arco Arena.
In that 108-63 Celtics win, Sacramento got one player in double figures — John Salmons with 11.
Third quarter, 6:24, Celtics 65-63: It’s like clockwork, isn’t it? The Kings have scored 11 of the game’s last 16 points to get within a basket and the third-quarter jitters arise again.
Third quarter, 8:45, Celtics 62-58: That was great to see from the two wounded warriors — Kevin Garnett pokes the ball away from Donte Greene and Paul Pierce retrieves it in the front court for a two-hand jam.
Third quarter, 9:57, Celtics 60-54: Nothing but free throws to show for the first two minutes of the second half. Oh, there was another turnover for Kendrick Perkins, who just looks as if he is lacking confidence.
Third quarter, 11:46, Celtics 58-52: Kendrick Perkins gets to the line for 1-of-2 to start play in the second half.
Halftime, Celtics 57-52: The C’s ride a terrific stretch from the reserves to a halftime lead after trailing by as many as seven points early on.
There’s no reason why Boston cannot score 120 against the Kings, who have some nice athleticism and a few guys with very promising futures, but offer up little resistance on the defensive end.
The issue, of course, is if the starters can take a cue from the bench and attack the way the second five did.
The quintet off the bench combined to shoot 11-of-18 and has four of the C’s six 3-pointers. The starters were just 9-of-26 from the floor.
Back in a bit to keep a close eye on things in the third quarter. We don’t need to tell you how rocky that quarter has been this season for the Celtics.
Second quarter, 2:41, Celtics 52-44: You will almost never see Doc Rivers keep his starters on the bench that long into the second quarter, but can you blame him? The bench was doing everything right.
Kevin Garnett just sat for 10:25 and Paul Pierce was on the bench nearly 10 himself. And Rajon Rondo watched for the first 9:20 of the second.
That has to feel good for Rivers, who has tried so hard this season to find spots to give his big guns some rest.
Second quarter, 4:49, Celtics 49-41: This is an absolute demolition by the Celtics’ bench and it’s taking place from the outside, contrary to the starters, who attacked the interior.
Eddie House has two 3-pointers and one that came just inside the line, and Rasheed Wallace has one in this quarter alone.
Second quarter, 7:30, Celtics 44-37: Some terrific ball movement by the bench here as it strings together seven straight points.
It’s a 34-20 run overall for the C’s, who are putting the clamps down on the defensive end.
The Kings will turn the ball over (they rank third in the league in that category) and have given up points in big chunks this season. We are seeing both scenarios right now.
Second quarter, 8:54, Celtics 39-37: With a break in the action it’s a good time to note some approaching milestones for a few Celtics players.
With his three rebounds in the first quarter, Kevin Garnett is now 30 boards shy of becoming the 20th player in NBA history to record 12,000.
Paul Pierce is now 50 points shy of matching Terry Cummings in 40th place on the league’s all-time scoring list. I’m guessing neither will come tonight.
Second quarter, 10:10, Celtics 35-32: Rasheed Wallace banks in a short jumper to give the Celtics their first lead of the game and then adds a 3-pointer moments later.
Wallace has quietly made 10-of-13 shots over his last two games.
End of first quarter, 30-30: The C’s put together a 20-13 run to close the first quarter and offset a scorching start for Sacramento, but they will need to find a way to limit the Kings a bit going forward.
Both teams eclipsed 50 percent from the floor in the first quarter and they combined to make seven 3-pointers.
First quarter, 1:32, Kings 26-21: We’re seeing two offensive strategies on the court here, as the Kings are finding wide-open outside looks with regularity while the C’s have a decided advantage in the paint.
It’s not a surprise as the teams were expected to attack in those areas, but the disparity is so notable.
First quarter, 3:58, Kings 19-13: Kendrick Perkins with an ugly turnover and it seems he is carrying over a bit of a slump from before the All-Star break.
Perk had a total of 12 points on just 4-of-13 shooting in the last three games before the break.
First quarter, 5:30, Kings 17-10: Omri Casspi has two 3-pointers and two blocked shots already, giving the Kings three blocks as a team. They average just 4.6 per game.
The latest was a bit troubling if you are a Celtics fan. Kevin Garnett received a pass all alone in the lane and only had to turn and dunk for what should’ve been an easy two. Casspi, not known for his defense, soared in from behind to thwart an unsuspecting Garnett.
Simply no explosion there for KG.
First quarter, 7:13, Kings 11-8: The Kings made four of their first five shots with a basket for four different players, and already we are seeing the edge in quickness this team has over the C’s.
First quarter, 9:52, Kings 4-2: Paul Pierce with an early turnover offers up a reminder of the captain’s last outing in New Orleans, where he gave the ball away a ghastly eight times.
First quarter, 11:55, 0-0: Underway here at Arco Arena, and plenty to look out for, most notably the condition of the Big Three and how each can handle an athletic Sacramento bunch.
9:45 p.m.: We are moments away from the tip at Arco Arena, where a crucial stretch of games begins for the Celtics.
The starting lineups are in and Boston will have its usual five out there, with Ray Allen having returned from a one-game layoff with back spasms. Allen is joined by Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.
The Kings start rookie sensation Tyreke Evans alongside Kevin Martin in the backcourt. Omri Casspi and Donte Greene are the forwards and Spencer Hawes starts at center.
Also watch for Jason Thompson and Jon Brockman off the bench, as those two combine with Hawes to make the Kings one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league. If you need to be reminded of the Celtics’ issues on the defensive boards then you haven’t seen many of their games this season. That could create a problem in this one.
10:31 a.m.: The way the first half of the season ended for the Celtics, it’s likely they are itching for the second half to begin. Unfortunately for them, it involves four straight games out west against teams which are a combined 36 games above .500.
The “easiest” of those four is the first, as the C’s visit Sacramento for a 10 p.m. start. We will be following the action right here, taking you clear into Wednesday morning with Celtics coverage.
Boston opened what amounts to a five-game road trip with a 93-85 loss at New Orleans on Wednesday before the All-Star break gave the club a chance to rest a bit. The loss was the 10th in 17 games for the C’s, who again were dismantled in the second half.
The Kings, meanwhile, won their last two games before the break and may be looking for payback after losing by 45 points to the Celtics at home last season. It was the sixth-largest margin of victory in Boston’s franchise history and Sacramento’s 19 field goals are the second fewest ever recorded against the Celts.
Ray Allen, who missed last week’s loss at New Orleans with back spasms, is expected back in the C’s lineup.
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