In a chat with Coach Jim O'Brien, the question of how long the offense was going to play "keep away from Vin Baker" (my quote--he got 11 shots in 56 minutes) came up. He responded that he was responsible to see that Baker has chances, but also commented that Baker can call his own plays at the key, "just as Antoine does", but that "he has not digested that". They do not have what they need for any of the players yet, but they're working on it. So it sounds like Baker is being told he can call his own plays, at least up to a point.
The Coach commented that Bruno will play the five, and Antoine the Four, and Vin Baker will be off the bench right now, to fill in until the injuries are no longer a concern.
O'Brien said the preseason schedule was "important to get out as many times as possible", and that the organization was responsible for the schedule, and he'd requested teams closer to home after last years "painful experience" in the weird preseason schedule. The NBA doesn't really get involved in that. He even said the number of games was not necessarily set, either. Apparently, the teams have a lot of leeway in setting the preseason schedule.
Injury update: Tony Battie didn't play tonight
due to knee injury (though he said had it been a regular season game, he'd
have played), Baker was set to come off the bench and test his ankle carefully
depending on the flow of the game. Kedrick Brown is of course, still
Thoughts before tipoff--"Please, guys--remember everything O'Brien and Harter taught you about playing defense last season." "You can't run a fast break unless you successfully rebound the ball." "Layups that go in get you more points that deep shots that don't go in." Let's hope they're thinking what I'm thinking. Narf! :>)
The C's opened with an inside shot, YAY!!!! The Nets replied with Kenyon Martin nailing a jumper. Pierce had to take a "shot clock three", and New Jersey took it back on the miss. So afr, the Nets are not hitting their shots, which is a good sign. Unfortunately, Mutombo is still grabbing rebounds. Then, Walker got a rebound of his own. Pierce was attempting a shot when Jason Kidd was creatively fouled. The shot failed, and the Nets broke up the court fast for a score. Sundov had a slam blocked by Mutombo, then Martin made it a 6-2 game favoring New Jersey.
Pierce scored an off the glass shot against the triple team, eep! He was complimented for protecting the ball on the shot. Delk grabbed a rare rebound for Boston, and Pierce drew a defensive three seconds on Mutombo. Off the side in, (as the blithering, blathering commentators talked) the Celtics ended good ball movement with a Net steal, a Kidd break, and New Jersey score. Kidd then forced an 8 second violation. New Jersey let kidd slam again, and Boston caught a break when the Nets fouled on defense. God knows the C's needed a break, when Williams hit a jumper.
Pierce got called for a silly foul, and the refs ruled it a shooting foul when it was described as clearly in the act of passing. Sounds like the refs are still handing the Nets free throws in abundance..Five minutes in, the Nets led 12-7.
Delk got another rebound, then knocked down a three, making it 12-10 favoring New Jersey. (yay!) Kidd made another uncalled offensive foul and scored. Pierce missed a three, and kidd took the ball back, and Kittles made a catch and shoot three. aaugh!!! With that, Jim O'Brien called time out with 5:34 to go in the first and the Nets ahead, 17-10.
After the break, the teams swapped possessions, and Kidd is somehow gatting ahold of the ball every minute. Kittles missed his free throws after a foul, and The C's tried to close the gap.Sundov came in the game and caught a kick out pass from pierce for a deep two.
Mutombo turned an offensive rebound into a basket, but Pierce and Sundov went back to the well for two more. Waltuh! made a rebound, and a third attempt to go to Sundov was deflected. Inexplicably, Sundov was pulled in favor of Baker, and Mutombo played ball whap again at both ends of the court. Will someone please elbow Mutombo in the tummy just so he might miss a rebound or two??? A timeout was called with 2:55 in the first and the Nets ahead 20-14.
After the timeout, Walker missed a shot and Rogers caught the rebound, handing it to Mutombo who promptly stuffed it through the hoop. Pierce kicked out to Walker for a three, to help the Good Guys. Mutombo hit a slam while off balance--ack. Pierce had a shot blocked by Mutombo, who was making his presense known at both ends every time out. Then Pierce got called for an offensive foul. Shammond stripped Lucius Harris, went the length of the court and made the shot while getting fouled! That's the way!!
Aaron Williams hit one off the glass easily slicing the defense, but Shammond replied with a nice 18 foot shot. Tony Delk's fast break was broken up by a Rodney Rogers foul in the open court. Rogers seems to be running despite some extra weight. Shammond hit another outside jumper off the missed free throw. Jefferson collided with Baker, who was called for a foul. Welcome to Boston, Vin, you don't get close calls here. Sigh.
After the free throws, the quarter wound to a close as the Nets held the lead, 29-24. It wasn't as close as it looked, but for the quick scores by Boston in the last two minutes.
So far, the Nets rebounding has been about 90%
Mutombo--and frankly, they don't NEED much else there...Boston hasn't been
able to draw him away from the hoop. Kidd has held the team in the
game again, by ferocious play. Baker's injury makes it hard to let
him have any impact. Sundov seems to be finding the groove, and Delk
is shooting more comfortably.
It started with a lob pass a foot or so too high, giving the ball to New Jersey. Baker got the ball and beat Williams to the hoop for two. Harris replied with a deep two. Shammond lost the ball, and Rogers was fouled on his way down the court to stop the break. Armstrong went to Rogers and New Jersey got another rebound. Rogers nailed the three on the pass out from the paint. 36-26 Nets with 10 to go in the second.
Baker fought for a rebound, but couldn't control it, but seems to be taking charge of his own fate, by going inside. More Nets rebounds created even more problems for Boston. Sundov picked up his third foul, and sat down for his error.
Pierce blew a reverse layup, and Rogers laid a charge into Waltuh! for an offensive foul at the other end. With a timeout called-(presumably to pry Waltuh! out of the floor after Rogers hit him)-there was 8:45 to go in the second, and the score 39-26 with the Nets holding the lead.
After the timeout, Pierce hit a fadeaway jumper over Harris to atone for his previous shot, and New Jersey handed the ball to Armstrong who hit his shot. After good ball movement, Waltuh! hit a three (I LOVE WALTUH!). Walker picked off the Nets upcourt, but was fouled by Scalabrini while going up, and Walker went to the line for two shots, making one of two.
New Jersey missed a 19 foot jumper and Walker nailed a three to say "nyahh, nyahh" to New Jersey, which prompted Byron Scott to call a timeout with 6:51 to go, and the Nets lead cut to 41-35.
After the timeout, New Jersey hit another three, and Williams was fouled en route to the hoop. (which Williams? No idea, they never said) Armstrong hit another shot, adn the Nets opened up a double digit lead. Rogers stripped Waltuh! and was fouled going into the hoop. This from a guy described as "overweight". Delk nailed a twenty footer like it was a layup. He sounds very impressive.
Scalabrini nailed another 18 foot shot to make it 51-38 New Jersey. A steal by Rogers led to another fast Net hoop. Boston missed a bad shot and the Nets went up again as Scalabrini hit a leftie sky hook.
A timeout was mercifully called after the 14-3 New Jersey run, as with 3:57 to go in the second, the Nets lead opened up to 55-38. I took advantage of the timeout to scarf more cookies and take deep breaths before giving in to the urge to scream at the computer to play some @#%$#^^% DEFENSE!!
After I calmed down, play started again, as Pierce was fouled. As in, it was called this time. Pierce hit a three over Armstrong to demonstrate his long range ability. Baker fouled Scalabrini, more out of frustration, and pain--he was "hobbling"--than any strategic intent.
Pierce nailed another three, and helped stem the bloody tide. But the Nets Earl missed a long two, followed by Boston taking another long miss. Walker took a rebound, and Pierce hit a really really, long two. Delk stole the ball from Earl and laid it in!! YAY! A 20 second timeout after a 10-2 Boston run made it 57-48 with 1:40 to go in the quarter.
Afterwards, Scalabrini missed a three badly, but Boston's fast break was lost out of bounds. The Nets took the ball back, and Scalabrini, and Ruben W rebounded and Walker missed a three--but Ruben W. took down the first offensive rebound for Boston!! About time, er, that's fine. Ruben then took another offensive rebound and was fouled in the process.
Ruben hit both his free throws (BTW, I heard someone in the background call him "Wolk". Works for me. The Celtics continued their run as Walker's three made it a 12-0 run, closing the second quarter with the score at 57-53 at halftime!! See? Cookies DO help!! (Mrs. Fields, chocolate chip, of course)
Ok, They talked to Eric Williams about last year's playoffs. He was glad to have had a chance to show what he and the rest of the team could do. He said the team has new guys, and needed to work to get things back to where they were last year. Says that his health is better after surgery, and he's been "feeling good". He acknowledged that Kenny and Rogers were key to their success last year, and knows that they have to "wait and see--we have a totally different team this year." He credited New Jersey for playing "like the series was a championship series" last May. He was glad that his family and friends got to see "someone who grew up with them" in a playoff situation.
The Celtics managed to trim what had been a 16 point Net lead to four points. This is very important because it will build confidence for the Good Guys, and allow them to hopefully keep the momentum going into the second half of the game. Still, they absolutely need to do what Wolk was doing and GET SOME REBOUNDS!! That will drastically cut New Jersey's scoring chances since their shooting percentage is low. The Celtics can outscore them if the rebounds are reasonably even. Let's cross paws and think positively.
The third opened as Jefferson slammed the ball, then Mutombo rebounded the ball at the other end, and Eric Williams at the same time, then got called for an offensive foul. Antoine Walker pulled a weird off the glass shot with his right, then Mutombo was called for travelling at the other end. Pierce went to Sundov, who missed, and Jefferson was called for a foul over the back of Eric Williams. Pierce's shot was rebounded by Mutombo, Kidd missed, and Kendell Martin kicked the ball out of bounds, giving Boston the ball. Eric Williams got an offensive rebound (yay!) and hit the basket. Delk was called for a foul going against Kenyon Martin.
After the free throws, Boston took the ball and Sundov hit an 18 foot shot. Pierce stole the ball, but Delk's pass was knocked out of bounds. Pierce took the ball, and was fouled by Mutombo. Pierce hit his free throws and the Celtics tied the game on a 20-4 run, tied at 61-61 with 8;28 to go in the third.
Martin reversed a roll and got two. Pierce passed to Eric Williams, who was fouled by Martin. Pierce took the ball, and was fouled by Kittles. Nice to see that. Pierce kicked out to Sundov for three. Way to go,Bruno!! Then the Nets Jefferson made an offensive foul, giving the ball--and the lead--to Boston.
Kidd took the ball, and the ball was kicked by Pierce. The play has been a LOT tighter so far, and Kidd threw the ball away, with the Good Guys up by one point. A three second call later, with Kidd hitting a Technical for the three second call, the ball went back out and Shammond blocked the shot, and Pierce ran the court got the three point basket AND the foul!!!
**doing the Snoopy dance**
Kidd took the ball, and a makeup foul call on Baker sent the Nets to the side. Kittles hit a three, and made it 68-67 Boston. Eric Williams hit a catch and shoot three. Jefferson made a deep two to cut into the lead. A timeout with 5:23 to go in the third had the score favoring BOSTON, 71-69.
Following the timeout, Mutombo got a rebound, and Delk committed a foul on defense, giving the Nets a chance to tie the game. With 5:00 to go, the score was 71-71 , Jefferson missed, but Martin rebounded and made the shot to give the Nets the lead. Jefferson then fouled Pierce and the Nets went over the limit, sending Pierce to hit his free throws, which he did, tying the score at 73.
Baker was called for his fifth foul going up against Mutombo, sitting down in favor of Wolk. Mutombo missed his second free throw, but Kidd nailed the rebound and put it in. Pierce was blocked by Kidd--what, does he have a warp engine or something?--the Celtics got another Wolk rebound, who went to the line on a foul courtesy of Kidd. Jefferson went to Martin who assulted the ball into the hoop.
Delk missed a jumper, and New Jersey got a lucky roll off the break and the foul, leading 81-74 with 3:03 in the third after the Nets run. Then, Mutombo got a defensive three second foul leading to a timeout.
The Nets stole the ball after the timeout and Martin was fouled on the way to the hoop. It was mentioned that in the two games, the Nets had--so far--taken 66 free throws. ack. Walker blew a shot, and Delk committed a silly foul on slade, sending the Nets back to the line on an 18-2 run.
Walker faked a three and drove inside for two. Wolk made a rebound to Shammond, who missed, letting Mutombo clean up the rebound. Kidd's miss led to another Mutombo rebound, and a trip to the line in the process. When you let your opponent shoot over 70 free throws, it's really, really hard to win.
Walker missed the shot, but was fouled by Martin, and went to the line. Unfortunately, he missed both shots, and the Nets were quickly fouled by Shammond, and the parade to the line continued for New Jersey. Kidd's shots went in and it was New Jersey leading 89-76 on a 22-5 Net run. Waltuh! made an offensive rebound, and was promptly fouled, going to the line. Walker held the ball for the final shot, and the C's worked to Delk who missed the three and the rebounded two. The quarter ended with New Jersey ahead 89-78.
The problem to this point is NOT the Celtics offense--it's
bad defense and an astounding number of free throws by the Nets that is
keeping New Jersey in front.
The Nets sent the ball into Martin, who bounced it to Armstrong who hit a deep two. Pierce was missing a three, but a foul away from the ball negated it anyway. Martin passed it in, but Eric Williams picked off the pass, and the C's sent it into Pierce, who was fouled while going up.
The free throws went one of two for Pierce giving him 20 points. Martin was challenged by Pierce, and the rebound went to Shammond, who brought it up to Pierce, and another two points went up for Pierce. Rogers took it into Martin, and the moved it around, but a miossed jumper went to Pierce, and Paul hit a three, singlehandedly setting up a 6-0 run.
J.R. Bremer stole the ball, and made an ugly layup, making it 91-86, and the crowd was back into it. Armstrong missed a shot, and Walker made the rebound. The C's passed the ball around, and Pierce drew the foul inside. A timeout with 8:40 to go had the score with New Jersey holding a slim 91-86 lead.
After the timeout, Walker drew the foul on a missed jumper, going to the line. He hit both, and the Nets took the ball upcourt, where Scalabrini was fouled by J.R Bremer en route to the hoop. Walker was yapping at Scalabrini after the fact, and Rogers nailed a three over Eric Williams.
Walker lost control on the break, but Sundov returned the steal, and Walker got blocked going in. Sundov picked up his fifth foul on the next trip, sitting in favor of Vin Baker. Armstrong made the free throws, making it a 96-88 lead with 7:21 to go in the fourth.
Pierce made another shot, and New Jersey replied with a fast two. Pierce was stripped by Scalabrini, and Vin Baker got hit with his sixth foul--14 minutes, 2 points, no rebounds. sigh. The Nets turned over the ball on a travelling call. Then Bremer passed to Walker, who missed the three. Armstrong went into Tamar who made the shot and drew a foul on Pierce. A timeout was called with 5:37 to go in the game and the Nets ahead 100-90.
After the timeout, the free throw was good, but Bremer took the court and made a layup. Rogers missed a layup, and Wolk took the rebound. Rogers then committed a foul, and the ball wnt out the side. Walker went to Pierce, who missed the three. Scalabrini got the rebound, and was fouled by Walker.
Shammond was fouled after the Nets free throws, and went to the line. A few lineup changes sat Walker and Pierce, who played 40 and 36 minutes respectively. Armstrong missed a shot, and the Celtics took the ball. Bremer was shadowed by Scalabrini and made the shot anyway. It was 103-95 with 3:39 to go. Shammond was made one with the floor on the next trip up. He made both free throws.
The Nets hit a jumper, making it 105-97 with 3:05 to go. Bremer's shot was short, and Wolk committed a foul on the rebound. The Nets went one for two, and on the return trip Shammond made an offensive rebound and was fouled, going to the line. A timeout was called with 2:40 to go in the game, and the Nets holding a lead, 106-97.
After the timeout, Shammond went to the line for two. He made one of two, and then Wolk got fouled on the rebound. Shammond and Scalabrini had harsh words. Wolk made the free throws, and on the next trip up, the Nets took the ball into Marshall, and reversed it into the hoop, making it 108-100.
Shammond returned the favor momemts later. The C's pressure defense worked the shot clock to seconds, but the missed three was rebounded by the Nets, giving them a new clock. But Armstrong palmed the ball and turned it over. Shammond drove inside and was fouled by Lonnie Jones, going to the line. He made them, 108-104, but the Nets made a fast response.
Bremer took it to Wolk, who narrowly missed a three. Shammond committed a foul, sending the Nets to the line with 52 seconds to go in the game. They went one of two, and on the next set, Bremer committed a deliberate foul to stop the clock. Unfortunately, New Jersey made one of two. Then Marshall was called for a foul stopping Bremer in the lane. Sundov missed a three, and Waltuh! got stripped by Scalabrini, but the Nets turned it over on a travelling call.
Bremer was fouled going to the hoop with 6.7 seconds to go in the game. Following the free throws, the game quickly ended, as the Nets won the game, 114-106.
This game was not decided offensively. It was a defensive screwup as the Nets rebounded at will for most of the game. Of the Celtics, only Wolk showed any consistent ability to grab rebounds. If I had my way, he'd start the next game for that alone. Also, really bad fouls--often caused by trying to stop fast breaks after blowing defensive rebounds--sent the Nets to the line so often, they must have thought it was a free throw drill.
Baker wasn't a factor, but I'm willing to cut him slack due to the injury. But he doesn't have a lot of time to show he's got what we need him to do. The injuries weren't really a factor. When only one person makes consistent rebounding efforts, you don't win against a lot of teams. If they clean up the rebounds, that'll cut down on the silly fouls.
The next game is Saturday, October 19, against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Now, I'm going to drown my sorrows in chocolate milk and chocolate chip cookies.
And that's the view from the doghouse.