Their schedule, as Kenny Anderson put it, is "about to get crazy." Beginning today, the Celticsplay eight games in the next two weeks, six on the road.
The Celtics won a game last night and they won it convincingly. If you are a fan of the team in green-and-white shamrocked shorts, that probably makes you happy. And if you want to stay that way, you must agree to do something. You must promise to memorize the box score of the Celtics' 94-80 win over the Knicks at the FleetCenter.
WALTHAM - Some teams are born for fantasy basketball leagues. They look great when they aren't playing games. They make you want to fawn over the considerable skills of their talented players (hello, Lakers). They make you want to declare them division champs before they lace a sneaker or palm a basketball (hello, Nets). They also transform active coaches into fired ones (goodbye, Del Harris).
The trip peaked when the Green Team tap-danced on the color purple Sunday in the Los Angeles Forum, but last night's 115-100 victory over the woeful Warriors was impressive in its own way.
Bowen keys press, NY is left flat
Forget about Bruce Bowen's 0 for 7 from the field and remember his two third-quarter blocks and stifling defense, an integral part of a 24-9 run that put last night's 94-80 Celtics victory over the Knicks away for good.
People kept asking Larry Bird about the left-handed shots. In the process of torching the Portland Trail Blazers for 47 points, including the game-winning basket in overtime Friday night, Bird scored at least seven baskets with his left hand. Bird thought he made closer to 10 or 11 hoops with southpaw shots.
Celtics fans should take comfort in the knowledge that Larry Bird is all the way back to his MVP form of the past two seasons. He's been the scourge of the West thus far on this trip and last night hit a 14- footer with three seconds left in overtime to give the Celtics a pulsating 120-119 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
This one was worth staying up late for. It was better than Johnny Carson, David Letterman or "People Are Talking" reruns.
The Celtics ran, passed and shot with some of the precision they had before the All-Star break; Larry Bird and Bill Walton sang some Lennon-McCartney harmonies; and Boston's West Coast Express got back on the win track with a 107-98 victory over the SuperSonics last night.
People are always asking me, "Who's the best player you ever saw?"
I tell them that's not a fair question. There are so many factors you have to consider: The era a man played in, the caliber of his teammates, the types of systems his coaches installed, and how well those systems were tailored to his particular skills. These are all important considerations.
Cooper no draft dodger
The risk was enormous. The Celtics stood on the cutting edge of history 49 years ago, but also on the brink of financial ruin. They were losing money and by making history, they were about to lose even more.
Ron Mercer hopped out of the trainer's room last night, favoring his left ankle. He rolled the ankle in the first quarter "after coming down on somebody's foot. I'm not sure what happened."
And, unfortunately for Mercer and the Celtics, no one was sure of the guard's status last night. He had his ankle X-rayed following the Celtics' 111-79 win over the Magic. He then retired to a night of "ice, ice, and more ice" for the ankle. The Celtics should know more by this afternoon, when Mercer and the rest of his teammates are scheduled to practice at Brandeis.
Paul Pierce simply won't give us a chance to see if there are any warts. After nine games, he's doing to the NBA what Tiger Woods did to the PGA Tour: showing he's mature, developed, prepared, well beyond his years.
February 26, 1999
DeClercq gets his bearings;
WALTHAM - Andrew DeClercq used to get lost all the time. It was part of his daily routine, which went something like this:
Leave home, armed with maps and compasses.
Get in vehicle.
February 25, 1999
The only difficulty they found the entire night came after the game was over. The Celticscouldn't decide which segment of their 111-79 win over the Magic was, you know, The Best.
Forget about the democratic process. Forget about letting the people determine which scene from the FleetCenter deserved to be held above the others. There were 18,235 fans at the arena last night. If you polled them, you would have a list of at least 10 notable items. And if you happened to look at Rick Pitino's Memorable Moments sheet, you would see that the coach did even better than that. He had 32 reasons to smile about his team's fourth win in nine games.
February 24, 1999
Anderson shoots for improvement
He is a career 41 percent shooter, some years a little better, some a little worse.
But this abbreviated NBA season has been much worse for Celtics point guard Kenny Anderson, whose shooting percentage of just .351 (34 for 97, including 0 for 9 on 3-pointers) is something he'd like to put behind him - and quickly, with the first-place Orlando Magic coming to town tonight.
February 23, 1999
After spat, Celtics are fined and dandy
WALTHAM - Kenny Anderson stood near a door yesterday, talking about ego trips, former teammates who were a trip, and the Celtics' recent road trip. He was on his way to talking about the intelligence of Boston sports fans ("You can't fake anything with them; they know their basketball") before he was interrupted. While Anderson's back was to the door, someone sneaked behind him and got the point guard in a headlock. The scene was filmed by several camera crews. "Y'all see this?" Antoine Walker said. "We're boys. We're cool. Now it's on TV."
February 22, 1999
Cold shooting and hot discussion from Walker
WASHINGTON - Antoine Walker has made a habit of torching Washington in his brief career. He had 49 points against the Wizards last year in one game and knocked down the game-winner in another. In five games against the Wizards last season, Walker averaged 28.6 points and 11.4 rebounds. Yesterday, there was none of that in the Celtics' 86-75 loss. Walker was in a fog all game, scoring just 8 points on 2-of-12 shooting. He missed his first six shots and his last four and snapped a string of 42 straight games in double figures dating back to an 8-point game against Dallas on Feb. 4, 1998. "A bad day," he said. "This is one that you want to forget. I missed a couple shots early and then I lost my confidence.
Rookie Pierce goes for 24, 12, 3 and 2 in Loss
February 22, 1999
WASHINGTON - The Celtics' game was unavailable to television viewers yesterday and that probably was a good, and safe, thing. Those who might have had the urge to watch missed the worst offensive performance of the season, some on-court sniping between Kenny Anderson and Antoine Walker, and a depressing end to a lockout-inspired road trip that had the team playing on both coasts in less than two days. The result was probably not all that surprising. The Celtics scored a season-low 75 points, shot a season-low 32.5 percent, had a season-low 13 assists, and fell to 3-5 with an 86-75 defeat to the Wizards.
Blazers Crush C's on the Glass
February 21, 1999
WASHINGTON - Rick Pitino hasn't called the Psychic Friends Hotline yet or taken out an ad with the toll-free number: 1-800-I-NEED-A-REBOUNDER. But it may come to that, soon, if we are to believe the coach was speaking out of something other than utter exasperation after Friday night's wipeout in Portland. Pitino had just seen his club get demolished inside by Brian Grant & Co., 106-86, and bludgeoned on the boards, 52-37. He emerged from the locker room wondering how he might be able to get blood from a stone. "I have to do one of two things," he said. "I can move Antoine [ Walker] to small forward, which gives us a bigger lineup. Or I can make a trade and bring in someone who rebounds the basketball.
Boston No Match for Portland
February 20, 1999
PORTLAND, Ore. - After two down-to-the-wire, strategy-matching, insomniac-rewarding performances out here on the Left Coast, the Celtics submitted a certifiable bow-wow last night. They were obliterated by the Trail Blazers, 106-86, as the Portland players spent the night taking turns going over the Celtics for rebounds and around them for baskets. The Blazers got 21 points and 18 rebounds from Brian Grant, who brutalized Antoine Walker before retiring to a standing ovation with 7:25 remaining and Portland comfortably ahead by 22. "Brian Grant was huge," said coach Mike Dunleavy. He sure was. So were his mates.
Celtics Move Garnett to Injured List
February 20, 1999
PORTLAND, Ore. - The NBA-decreed roster cut-down day arrived yesterday with a lot of coaches looking for injuries waiting to happen. Rick Pitino found one, as did many of his colleagues. Pitino had two of the three injured list spots already taken with Pervis Ellison and Walter McCarty hors de combat. But a third player had to join them, and at yesterday morning's shootaround, the coach revealed that rookie Marlon Garnett had suffered a sprained right ankle. Garnett, doing what all good rookies do, will keep his mouth shut and wear nice clothes for at least the next five games. Ellison is probably out for the season after undergoing ankle surgery in November.
Pierce Dazzling with 26 Points and 7 Steals
February 19, 1999
VANCOUVER - The country music station yesterday morning asked its listeners to name a song fitting for a funeral. Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" was the landslide winner - something by Garth Brooks was a distant second - but in between calls, the two talking heads at the station wanted to discuss something quite different: basketball. Specifically, they rhapsodized about Wednesday night's triple-overtime game between the Grizzlies and the Celtics, one that undoubtedly could have spawned several C&W hits, not to mention a few blues numbers.
February 17, 1999
SACRAMENTO - The nanoseason is just 12 days old, but last night's epic at Arco Arena gave fans a chance to look at the two highest-scoring rookies in the league: Jason Williams and Paul Pierce.
Fans here feel the same way about Williams that fans in Boston feel about Pierce: They got a steal. The dynamic point guard from Florida has taken hold of the Kings' offense and turned it into one potent scoring machine. Sacramento was second in the league in scoring as of last night, averaging a hefty 99.6 points. The Kings ran up 112 against Utah in an overtime loss Monday night.
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