|Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Clippers coach Doc Rivers says surprising loss to Lakers ‘a good lesson for us’||10.30.13 at 8:10 am ET|
WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
World Series: Cardinals at Red Sox, 8:07 p.m. (Fox; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Celtics at Raptors, 7 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Nets at Cavaliers, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Lakers at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NHL: Bruins at Penguins, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College football: Cincinnati at Memphis, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
AROUND THE WEB:
• There’s been a lot of talk about the Clippers taking over Los Angeles from the Lakers. It will have to wait at least a little while. Despite playing without the recuperating Kobe Bryant, and sitting starters Pau Gasol and Steve Nash in the fourth quarter, the Lakers spoiled the debut of new Clippers coach Doc Rivers with a 116-103 victory Tuesday night at Staples Center.
“We were not ready tonight,” said Rivers, who before the game talked about a championship parade route for his new team. “[The Lakers] have heard for probably the last two months how good [the Clippers] were going to be … so you knew that they were going to play like this was the world championship — with that type of energy. And I thought we never matched it. Everything they did was harder than us and more physical than us. They destroyed us on the glass and destroyed us in turnovers. So it was a good lesson for us.”
Xavier Henry scored a career-high 22 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter as the Lakers scored 41 points in the period and used a 28-8 run to pull away.
“We’re a deep team, and people don’t think we’re that good,” Henry said. “That always fuels us. People are saying we’re going to finish 12th or whatever, but we have a great group of guys who go out there and play hard. We’re young. We’re athletic. We get after it.”
Added Jodie Meeks, who scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter: “It’s not a bad thing to be the underdog sometimes. No expectations. We go out there and play hard. What’s the worst that can happen? We lose, and people say we’re no good?”
• Meanwhile, prior to the game, Lakers legend (and former part-owner) Magic Johnson said he isn’t sure how the fans will respond to the team if the season plays out as expected.
“Laker fans are spoiled. I don’t know how they’re going to react now, because this is going to be a tough season,” Johnson said Tuesday in an interview on the “Max and Marcellus Show” on ESPNLA 710 radio. “This is going to be one of the roughest seasons that the Lakers have ever faced. You’re waiting on Kobe to see if he can get healthy. Nobody knows if he can be what he was. Then you’ve got Gasol – who I think is a premier big man — but he plays better when he has talent around him.
“You’ve got guys who are all on one-year contracts, and all were journeymen on other teams. Laker fans are not used to that. I don’t know if they’re going to buy into that. We’re going to see. If you want the Laker fans to really buy in and be involved, you’re going to have to win right away. I don’t see that happening. The West is tough this year.”
Johnson said he thinks Bryant can return to his “dominant” form, but he’s not sure there’s enough support on the roster.
“I’m hoping that they at least make the playoffs,” Johnson said. “But that’s going to be tough, especially without Kobe. We have to see what Kobe we’re going to get. Is he going to be that same Kobe or is he going to be hurt a little bit?”
Added Johnson: “Kobe can get 30 or 40,” Johnson said. “But you have to remember, you need at least three guys who can score. Right now I’m looking at that roster and going, ‘Who else is going to get you 15-20 a night besides Gasol and Kobe?’ ”
• At The Atlantic, Ryan Roderberg conducted a study to determine if there’s any substance to accusations of referee bias in the NBA — specifically related to Heat executive Pat Riley, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Spurs center Tim Duncan.
His result? Whining by Riley and Cuban, and fallout from Duncan’s famous run-in with veteran official Joey Crawford in 2007, have yielded no apparent signs of bias.
Wrote Roderberg: “I found no systematic evidence of a referee’s personal animus negatively impacting the performance of the team in question.”
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Oct. 30, 1954, the Celtics lost to the Rochester Royals, 98-95, in a game that marked the debut of which two NBA rules that had a big effect on the way the game was played?
|Doc Rivers: Clippers ‘should be better than any team I’ve ever coached’||10.03.13 at 11:35 am ET|
He left the Celtics about three months ago, but Clippers coach Doc Rivers continues to make news in Boston.
His latest head-turning comments came at Clippers practice on Wednesday, when Rivers said that he believes his current squad of players could be the most talented group that he’s ever worked with.
“They should be better than any team I’ve ever coached, I really believe that. They’re more athletic,” Rivers said. “They don’t have the veteran IQ, but they should be good in that area. We have a couple of individual defenders that can be dominating on defense. We have great speed, but we don’t have the size in some ways as some of the teams I’ve coached.”
That’s certainly lofty praise for his new team, as Rivers helped lead some impressive teams during his tenure in Boston, including a 66-win Celtics team that won the NBA title in 2008 and a 62-win squad that won 19 games in a row, the longest streak in franchise history, during the 2008-09 season.
Rivers also found similarities between LA and his prior Celtics teams by stating that he believes the Clippers have a “big three” of their own in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
“I’ve always focused on our big three guys, Blake, DJ and Chris. Their leadership is important to our team. I’m always watching them. I think those are the guys that I have more focus on than anybody else,” Rivers said. “That’s our big three, I like our big three.”
Rivers will make his return to Boston on Dec. 11, as the Clippers and Celtics will face off that night at the TD Garden.
|NBA free agency update: Knicks reportedly acquiring Andrea Bargnani from Raptors; Dwight Howard sweepstakes heating up||07.01.13 at 10:20 am ET|
He’s tall, he’s injury-prone, he’s expensive, and soon he’s going to be a Knick — maybe.
The Knicks and Raptors are close to finalizing an agreement that would send 7-foot power forward Andrea Bargnani to New York, ESPN reported, in exchange for center Marcus Camby and small forward Steve Novak.
However, the NBA refused to approve the deal Sunday night, so in order to complete the trade under 2013-14 cap terms, the Knicks are expected to sign-and-trade at least one player they had at the end of the season as part of the deal, according to ESPN’s Jared Zwerling. Earl Barron and Quentin Richardson are two candidates.
In his seven seasons since joining Toronto for 2006-07, Bargnani has averaged 15.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, with those marks down to 12.7 and 3.7 in 2012-13. Tommy Beer of hoopsworld.com points out that Bargnani was the first 7-footer to average both 28 minutes and fewer than four rebounds per game in NBA history this season.
The native of Italy has missed 98 games the last two seasons, including the end of this season after suffering an avulsion sprain of his right elbow. He is also set to make $23 million before his contract expires in two years.
The teams cannot officially complete the trade until July 10.
The Knicks aren’t the only team — or individual — preparing deals to be finalized in a week and a half.
The Rockets are pulling out all the stops as they enter the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, according to Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Besides Houston brass, a dinner meeting with the free agent also reportedly featured former Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, plus Yao Ming Skyping in from China. The AP reports the team cut guards Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks in an effort to open up some cap space.
Howard will visit with the Warriors and Hawks on Monday, then the Mavericks on Tuesday, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak met informally with the 6-foot-11 Howard Saturday and Sunday in an effort to get a head start on his competition.
The Lakers are using billboards and newspaper ads to woo Howard, and Dallas is getting some help from the community: Fast-food chain Raising Cane’s is offering Howard free chicken fingers for the rest of his life if he signs with the Mavs.
The Clippers’ acquisition of Doc Rivers, meanwhile, appears to be paying off. ESPN reports that Chris Paul, reportedly one of the driving forces in Los Angeles trading for the coach, is expected to accept a five-year, $107 million extension from the Clippers, and that it is such a sure thing that Paul’s agent told other teams to not bother with offers.
Forward Andrei Kirilenko, who averaged similar numbers to Bargnani with the Timberwolves in 2012-13, is turning down $10 million and opting out of his contract in favor of testing free agency again. His 12.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game were his best totals since 2005-06.
|Mike Krzyzewski reportedly considering return to Team USA||02.08.13 at 12:52 pm ET|
Mike Krzyzewski said after the London Olympics that he was done as the U.S. national team’s basketball coach. But a new coach has not yet been hired, despite USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo‘s comment after London that he planned to have a new coach in place around the start of 2013.
USA Basketball said there’s no timetable for hiring a new coach, but ESPN.com reported Wednesday that the hiring deadline has been pushed back to after the end of the college season to give Krzyzewski a chance to decide.
Krzyzewski was hired to lead the Americans in 2005, a change from the prior 13 years, when the national team had used exclusively NBA coaches. If Team USA stays with a college coach, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is considered the leading candidate.
If Team USA goes the NBA route, however, Celtics coach Doc Rivers reportedly is among the front-runners for the job, along with Philadelphia coach Doug Collins and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich. Colangelo apparently has not spoken to anyone else about the job.
Krzyzewski has been on the staff of 12 U.S. national teams since 1979, and one source told The Associated Press that there had been “rumblings” he was open to staying with the job after London.
|Top Stories of 2012, No. 5: Celtics burned by Heat in Eastern Conference finals||12.29.12 at 7:55 pm ET|
Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. This entry in the countdown is No. 5: the Celtics’ loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: NHL lockout
No. 9: Wes Welker’s up-and-down year
No. 8: Bruins’ early playoff elimination
No. 7: Ray Allen’s departure from Celtics
No. 6: Tim Thomas’ political controversy and sabbatical
The Celtics were one victory away from advancing to the NBA finals. But what stood in the way, LeBron James and the Miami Heat, turned out to be more than the Big Three and the rest of the Celtics could handle.
A 101-88 defeat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals put an abrupt end to a playoff run that looked like it had legs after a comeback season from the Celtics, who were under .500 at the All-Star break of a lockout-shortened season.
The C’s battled injury issues all season. Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox had season-ending heart ailments. Jermaine O’Neal had his season end early, and Avery Bradley missed the Heat series. Even as the playoffs began, a sprained MCL slowed down Paul Pierce and bone spurs kept Ray Allen off the floor.
After finishing first in the Atlantic Division at 39-27, the Celtics took down the Hawks in six games in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. They went on to get by the 76ers in a seven-game series and line things up for a big series with the Heat.
|Top Stories of 2012, No. 7: Ray Allen leaves Celtics for South Beach||12.27.12 at 6:42 pm ET|
Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. This entry in the countdown is No. 7: Ray Allen’s departure from the Celtics.
Heat owner Micky Arison first published the news of Ray Allen’s departure from the Celtics on Twitter, signaling the official end of the Big Three era in Boston.
Its 2:30am in London and I was just woken up with great news.Welcome to the family #20!!
— Micky Arison (@MickyArison) July 7, 2012
Allen made the choice to head south to Miami for around half the annual salary the Celtics were offering. In Miami, Allen would have the chance to play with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, while making a fresh start with a new team. Allen signed a three-year, $9.7 million deal in July.
Reports that Allen was unhappy in Boston began to surface. There was an apparent rift between Allen and mercurial point guard Rajon Rondo, and Allen was said to be unhappy with a lack of respect from management. A Yahoo! Sports report quoted a source as saying: “He felt he was getting respect [from the Heat] that he hadn’t gotten from [Celtics president] Danny [Ainge] and [coach] Doc [Rivers] anymore. … The [Heat] presentation was incredible.”
Ainge had placed Allen on the trading block in February in hopes that the C’s could get a younger player. And a deal with the Grizzlies for O.J. Mayo apparently was so close to being done that Rivers contacted Allen to let him know. That didn’t sit well with Allen.
Then Rivers inserted Avery Bradley, favoring his defensive tact over Allen’s 3-point shooting ability, into the starting lineup. Allen only started in the Eastern Conference finals because Bradley was out with a shoulder injury.
|Top Stories of 2011, No. 8: Celtics’ playoff loss to Heat||12.24.11 at 12:00 pm ET|
For the final 10 days of 2011, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. Our next entry in the countdown is No. 8: The Celtics’ playoff loss to the Heat.
Even before the start of the 2010-11 NBA season, Doc Rivers knew that there was one team the Celtics were going to have to face if they were to put together another championship run. When the Heat formed their own Big Three with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, it was evident that Boston and the new superteam on South Beach would end up in a postseason showdown at some point.
So it was no surprise that after sweeping the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, the Celtics were preparing to face the Heat win what many called the most anticipated second-round matchup in NBA history.
“We assumed when they put this team together, at some point if we want to put another banner up then we’ll probably have to go through them,” Rivers said of the Heat days before the series began.
The Celtics were 3-1 against Miami in the regular season, but all three wins came before the All-Star break, when Boston was 40-14, tied with the Heat atop the Eastern conference standings. After the All-Star break, the Celtics were just 16-12, dropping to third in the Eastern conference, while the Bulls and Heat rose to the top to secure the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively.
Many attributed Boston’s poor play in the second half the season to the trade of Kendrick Perkins. The menacing center was traded to the Thunder along with guard Nate Robinson on Feb. 24 in exchange for center Nenad Kristic, young forward Jeff Green and a 2012 first-round pick.
|LEEInks List: Most memorable Boston managers, coaches since 1967||07.11.11 at 11:46 am ET|
Dick Williams transformed the Red Sox in 1967. The team had not had a winning season in eight years, and attendance had dwindled. In came Williams, who turned a nightmare into an “Impossible Dream,” leading a squad of players including Rico Petrocelli, Jim Lonborg, Sparky Lyle, Tony Conigliaro and Carl Yastrzemski to an American League pennant and the organization’s first World Series appearance in 21 years. Though the Red Sox lost to the Cardinals in seven games, Williams and his team had restored the franchise.
With Williams’ death Thursday, WEEI looks back at the 10 most memorable managers and coaches in Boston sports since that 1967 campaign. These men aren’t necessarily the best Boston has ever seen (some were downright awful), but they are the coaches and managers whose personalities, triumphs and struggles left an indelible mark on the city’s sports history.
10. Bill Fitch, Celtics
Although K.C. Jones coached the Celtics to their height of success in the mid-1980s (two NBA titles among four straight NBA fnals appearances), it was Fitch who started the resurgence when he coached the Celtics to a championship in 1981. He was named NBA Coach of the Year with the Celtics in 1980. A former Marine Corps drill instructor, Fitch brought that same discipline and intensity to the Celtics, and Larry Bird would later say Fitch had a strong effect on the development of Bird’s legendary work ethic. He had to win over his players, but nothing does that like a championship.
Fitch went on to coach the Rockets, Nets and Clippers and retired in 1998 with 944 career wins, ranking him eighth in NBA history. It wasn’t always easy, though, as some players rebelled against Fitch’s hard-line ways. Check out this video highlighting an incident with the Nets when Chris Morris refused Fitch’s order to return to a game. Look for a young Doc Rivers toward the end of this clip.
9. Harry Sinden, Bruins
The Celtics may have owned the 1980s, and the Red Sox and Patriots have battled for control of the 21st century, but the 1970s in Boston belonged to the Bruins. Sinden inaugurated the Bruins’ reign with a Stanley Cup title in 1970. He coached two of the most beloved Bruins ever in Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. Like Dick Williams and Bill Belichick, Sinden turned a losing team into a champion, but he left just days after in a contract dispute. The Bruins put him on the voluntary retired list, keeping him from signing with a new team the following season.
|Top stories of 2010, No. 2: Celtics’ playoff run||12.30.10 at 8:10 am ET|
For the final 10 days of 2010, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year. In what was a memorable 12 months for all four of Boston’s major professional teams, there was a plethora of compelling storylines. The countdown continues with No. 2: The Celtics’ playoff run.
Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: Kevin Garnett’s return to form
No. 9: Patriots’ playoff meltdown vs. Ravens
No. 8: Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath
No. 7: Red Sox derailed by injuries
No. 6: Bruins’ playoff collapse vs. Flyers
No. 5: Patriots’ Randy Moss saga
No. 4: Red Sox’ signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford
No. 3: Patriots’ resurgence
Also, make sure to cast your vote in WEEI.com’s poll for the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year.
On June 17, 2010, the Celtics suffered one of the worst losses in their franchise’s history in Game 7 of the NBA finals against the Lakers. It was only the fourth time the Celtics had lost an NBA finals series and it was the first time they had ever lost a deciding Game 7. That it came against the Lakers in a game that was there for the taking only adds to the agony.
And yet this historic defeat also represented one of the great triumphs in team history, because exactly two months earlier when the Celtics took the court against the Heat to open the playoffs, not even Tommy Heinsohn himself would have predicted that they would have been four points away from an 18th championship.
Their improbable run to the finals defied all wisdom, both conventional and analytic, and breathed life into a franchise that spent the winter months of 2010 on a respirator. The Celtics went 27-27 over the final four months of the regular season and won only two of their last 10 games heading into the playoffs. The nadir came in a home loss to the lowly Wizards when afterward Doc Rivers uttered the quote that seemed to serve as their epitaph.
“If we make a run in the playoffs, will you forget [the regular season]? That’s my question,” Rivers said. “If we don’t, then it’s probably who we were all year — an inconsistent team — at least in the second half of the year. We’ll find that out.”
|Top stories of 2010, No. 10: Kevin Garnett’s return to form||12.22.10 at 11:05 am ET|
For the final 10 days of 2010, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year. In what was a memorable 12 months for all four of Boston’s major professional teams, there was a plethora of compelling storylines. The list begins with No. 10: Kevin Garnett’s return to form for the Celtics.
Also, make sure to cast your vote in WEEI.com’s poll for the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year.
The whispers began even before training camp started: Kevin Garnett was back. In informal scrimmages Garnett had been assertive, aggressive and more talkative than ever. A skeptical public simply nodded and said, “We’ll see.”
On the first day of camp, Garnett was bouncy and joyful. A complete reversal from the dark shadow of doubt that seemed to hang over him throughout the 2009-10 season. “I feel very strong,” he said. “I feel very vibrant. I’m excited about the year.” It was a far cry from the summer, which he described as, “Very painful, very dark.”
It was a summer that began with a crushing loss in Game 7 against the Lakers in a series that exposed the Celtics’ biggest weakness — defensive rebounding — as Garnett was unable to keep up with Pau Gasol on the boards.
There had been glimmers of the old Garnett throughout the playoffs. He destroyed Antawn Jamison in the conference semifinals and rendered Rashard Lewis an afterthought in the next round. But when Gasol rather innocently pointed out after Game 1 of the finals that Garnett had lost a step, the expected answer from KG was nowhere to be found.
Garnett had lost a step. That was obvious by even a cursory glance at his numbers and was succinctly summed up in a handful of painfully obvious plays, such as Lewis beating Garnett baseline for a game-winning shot during the regular season. The Celtics kept insisting publicly that Garnett was fine less than a year removed from knee surgery that kept him out of the 2009 playoffs, but everyone knew otherwise.
Finally, on media day, Garnett relented.
“I think more mentally than anything was hard for me because I was playing through some difficult times,” he said. “I’m not one to make excuses. I’m not the one to be out here [whining] and complaining about things.”
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