Celtics Come Back to Beat Kevin Love, Timberwolves in Fourth Quarter


Celtics Come Back to Beat Kevin Love, Timberwolves in Fourth QuarterFinal: Celtics 96, Wolves 93. Despite witnessing an epic performance from Kevin Love and trailing practically from wire to wire, the Celtics have stolen a win from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Love finishes with 12 points and 24 rebounds, his sixth 20-plus-rebound performance of the season, but it's not enough. The C's come up with a slew of big plays down the stretch, and they survive for their second consecutive win in as many nights.

Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 23 points and six rebounds, while Ray Allen adds 20 of his own. Michael Beasley is the leading scorer for the Wolves in defeat, dropping 19.

The Celtics have an off day Tuesday, and they'll need it. They've got to rest up for the mighty San Antonio Spurs, who visit the TD Garden on Wednesday night.

Fourth quarter, 9.5 seconds, Celtics 94-93: Wow. Luke Ridnour gets a breakaway to the basket and a chance to win the game — and he runs into two problems. One is Ray Allen, who slams his shot out of bounds with authority. The other? A traveling violation.

Celtics ball. They can finish the deal with a couple of free throws, assuming the Wolves can get off a quick foul.

Fourth quarter, 10.3 seconds, Celtics 94-93: Kevin Love has gotten 24 rebounds tonight, and that was by far the most important one. A big defensive board from Love has given the Wolves one last chance to win this game.

The Wolves have called yet another timeout.

We're in for a spectacular finish to a spectacular ballgame.

Will Michael Beasley come through one more time? He's been money for the Wolves down the stretch.

Fourth quarter, 44.9 seconds, Celtics 94-91: Maybe Rajon Rondo has gotten his confidence back after all. The Celtics' point guard just hit a big mid-range jumper to put the lead back to three.

The C's need at least one more stop before they can breathe easy.

Fourth quarter, 1:13, Celtics 92-89: Glen Davis just got to the line for two shots and hit them both. The Celtics are really in the driver's seat now.

Kurt Rambis has called a timeout. The Wolves need a bucket, and fast.

Hard to believe that they've led this game almost from wire to wire, and now it's slipping away. But this is what good teams do — they find a way.

If the Celtics can finish this thing off, it's a big win for them, regardless of the lackluster win-loss record of the opponent.

Fourth quarter, 2:08, Celtics 88-87: Well, hello there, Shaq.

The big fella gives the Celtics their first lead in a long, long while.

Can they hold it?

Fourth quarter, 3:34, Wolves 85-83: Uh oh. Here come the Celtics. Run and hide, T-Wolves.

Paul Pierce knocks down a 3 from the top of the key, and the Celtics are once again within one possession at 85-83. Meanwhile, the C's have strung together six straight stops, and the Wolves are scoreless in the last 3:20.

Fourth quarter, 5:45, Wolves 85-80: The big story of this game has been Kevin Love's 22 rebounds, but Rajon Rondo has quietly piled up 14 assists in Love's shadow.

The C's will need Rondo's playmaking skills to overtake the Wolves in these final six minutes.

Fourth quarter, 6:26, Wolves 85-80: Ray Allen just hit a big, big 3 to bring the C's back to within five.

They could really use a few more of those.

Fourth quarter, 8:50, Wolves 80-75: The Celtics are letting their second unit run wild to start the fourth quarter, and it's working decently.

Von Wafer knocks down a jumper to keep the Celtics close. He's now got 10 points, a season high.

Fourth quarter, 10:19, Wolves 77-73: Yet another fourth quarter where Glen Davis is the Celtics' go-to guy from the start. Big Baby comes up with a big three-point play to keep the Celtics close.

But if Baby really wants to make himself useful, he might want to try his hand at boxing out Kevin Love.

Good luck. Love now has 21 boards.

End of third quarter, Wolves 73-70: Well, this sure was unexpected. The two guys keeping the Celtics alive in this game are Paul Pierce and… yep. Von Wafer.

Wafer gets a huge defensive rebound and takes it coast to coast for a layup. He gives the C's four straight points; meanwhile, Pierce piles up 15 in the third quarter including two on the final possession to cut the Wolves' lead to three.

The C's have had all kinds of problems in this game, and yet somehow they're in a one-possession game with a chance to pull it out.

Third quarter, 2:54, Wolves 67-59: This game is starting to look sloppy on both sides, with both teams turning the ball over and settling for jump shots too much.

Paul Pierce is the one guy hitting his shots for Boston — he's 3-for-6 in the third quarter with eight points, keeping the C's somewhat within striking distance at 67-59.

The C's are still lacking in ball movement and smart shot selection. This newfangled second unit with Von Wafer and Luke Harangody is struggling to find consistency. These guys need more reps together.

Third quarter, 5:49, Wolves 60-53: This is starting to get ugly. The Celtics are settling for jumpers, they're not falling, and that's only making them more frustrated.

The Wolves aren't your typical "young, athletic" opponent for the Celtics. They combine that youth and athleticism with a pair of beastly inside forces in Love and Milicic.

The Celtics don't appear to have an answer.

Boy, do they miss Kevin Garnett right now.

Third quarter, 8:37, Wolves 53-49: The Celtics show Kevin Love they're not going to be pushed around — Ray Allen forces a held ball on a Love rebound attempt, and then Glen Davis leaps to recover the jump ball and turn things the Celtics' way.

The C's are standing up to the big, bad rebounding machine now. God help them.

Third quarter, 10:46, Wolves 51-45: The Wolves open the third quarter on a 4-0 run, but Ray Allen drains a corner jumper to keep the Celtics looking alive out there. Ray now has a game-high 12 points for the Celtics.

Meanwhile the C's are getting nothing from their other guard spot. Rajon Rondo has zero points; he's only taken two shots, in fact.

Halftime, Wolves 47-43: Double double, toil and trouble. Kevin Love has 11 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, and it's only halftime.

The Celtics aren't shooting well, they aren't defending well, and they really, really aren't rebounding well. When you think about it, it's a miracle that they're only down four.

Glen Davis and Ray Allen have kept things close for the Celtics, chipping in 10 points each.

The Celtics have to do something about Kevin Love. God knows what.

Second quarter, 2:18, Wolves 41-37: Kevin Love gets his 14th rebound, and it fuels a Wolves fast break. The super-athletic Martell Webster gets to the basket in transition, draws a foul from Glen Davis, and gets to the line to hit two free throws.

Suddenly the Wolves are back up by four. You're looking at a 6-0 run — so far.

Second quarter, 4:27, Celtics 35-33: Usually by this point in the second quarter, Doc Rivers has sent his starters back in to close out the half. But with Von Wafer playing this well, why bother? Give Ray Allen some rest.

Wafer's got four points and four boards for the C's in only seven minutes of burn. This could be his best game in Celtic green if he keeps it up.

Uh oh, here comes Ray back into the game. Never mind.

Second quarter, 5:52, 31-31: Hey, look who's still alive! It's Shaquille O'Neal. The Celtics' lumbering center just took in a lob pass from Rajon Rondo, threw down a layup in traffic, and drew a foul from Darko Milicic along the way.

Shaq even swishes the ensuing free throw, tying the ballgame for the C's for the first time this quarter.

Second quarter, 6:53, Wolves 29-26: Von Wafer just fired up the TD Garden crowd by getting a clean steal from Martell Webster and taking it all the way to the cup. Basket, foul, three-point play, and we're back to a one-possession basektball game.

Wafer is playing with more energy the last three games than we've seen from him in a long while. It's an encouraging sign for the Celtics' bench.

Second quarter, 8:27, Wolves 28-23: Jermaine O'Neal has been a beast for the Celtics off the bench with five points and two rebounds, but he's also been quite a bit of a hothead.

J.O. just picked up a tech for a hard shove on Nikola Peković. When he gets fired up, look out. You don't want any part of it.

Second quarter, 9:55, Wolves 25-20: Doc Rivers is using his entire second unit — complete with Von Wafer and the rookie Luke Harangody — for an extended stretch. No Paul Pierce or Ray Allen required to babysit them.

That's an encouraging sign for the Celtics, especially because this unit has managed to shut down Beasley and Love defensively so far. We'll see how long that lasts.

End of first quarter, Wolves 25-17: When you shoot 7-for-20 and you get outrebounded 14-3, you're generally not going to have a good chance of winning. That's where the Celtics stand right now.

Kevin Love has an absolutely ridiculous 10 rebounds after one quarter, singlehandedly destroying the Celtics on the glass. As a team, the Wolves are outrebounding the C's 14-3. Absurd.

Ray Allen has eight points for Boston, and Michael Beasley seven for Minnesota. But Love has been the story of this game so far.

First quarter, 2:39, Wolves 21-15: I feel funny even typing these words, but the jump shooting of Glen Davis is the main reason the Celtics are even within striking distance in this game.

Rajon Rondo's a step slow, Shaquille O'Neal looks half-dead, and Ray Allen can't do this himself. The C's have needed Big Baby to step up, and so far he's done it. He's got six points on 3-of-6 shooting.

First quarter, 5:49, Wolves 12-8: Glen Davis just bounced an offensive rebound out to the perimeter for Rajon Rondo, and Rondo was a step slow getting to it. Michael Beasley swooped in and took the ball away.

It's little slip-ups like that that'll make you wonder if Rondo is 100 percent healthy yet. Rondo is known for his quickness and his sharp basketball instincts, and he should get that ball every time.

Luckily for Rondo, he draws a charge from Beasley seconds later. So no harm, no foul, so to speak.

First quarter, 6:48, Wolves 11-8: The Celtics were just a step slow to rotate on a Minnesota pick and roll, and Michael Beasley made them pay.

Beasley's been doing that a lot. He's got seven points already on 3-of-4 shooting, and he's averaging 21.8 points per game this season for the Wolves.

The C's need to keep a hand in his face constantly.

First quarter, 8:41, Wolves 6-5: It's still very, very early, and Kevin Love already has four rebounds. The Celtics as a team have one.

The C's knew what they were getting into, but when you see it for yourself, it's a sight to behold. Love has an incredible instinct for the basketball.

First quarter, 11:42, Celtics 3-0: Ray Allen gets the Celtics started right, draining a 3 on their very first possession. That's what you want to see.

The C's have been slow to establish Ray early in games lately, waiting until the third quarter to get him going. Maybe this time, they'll try something a little different.

7 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden, where the Celtics have two starters recovering from sprained ankles, and both are going to give it a go against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rajon Rondo will go for the second straight night, and Paul Pierce will get the start despite injuring his ankle on Sunday night in Toronto. All things considered, the Celtics' health situation is looking pretty good.

9:30 a.m.: Last month, the Celtics won 14 consecutive games without breaking a sweat. Since then, they've struggled even to win two in a row.

They can change that now. Coming off a win north of the border over the Toronto Raptors, the C's have a chance Monday night at the TD Garden to make it back-to-back victories, getting the ball rolling for another winning streak.

The C's are coming off a decisive win, their rhythm is there, and they have point guard Rajon Rondo back in the mix after a long bout with a sprained ankle. The stars are aligned for Doc Rivers' crew to return to its winning ways.

Rondo and the Celtics tip off against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7:30 p.m.

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