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BOSTON - Mickael Pietrus had to endure a lockout and then some before he even got the chance to play the game he loves. To make matters even worse, Pietrus didn't get to experience the joy of winning with his new team until his fifth game.
"It's always good to see a smile on the face of my teammates and I enjoyed it," Pietrus said. "Just have to think about the next one, it's going to be even harder and I think that you just have to stay focused. We've been doing great things defensively and offensively so just keep doing it."
Pietrus signed with the Celtics on a veteran minimum deal after being waived by the Phoenix Suns, the team he will face in his next game on Friday. After signing with the Celtics on Christmas Eve, Pietrus continued to recover from offseason knee surgery, which kept him out until January 11 against the Dallas Mavericks.
Pietrus didn't make much of an impact in his first three games with the team but had a resurgence on Monday night, when he scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the Celtics' 97-88 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. His rejuvenated level of play carried into Monday, as the veteran forward scored 12 points and hit some timely threes in the win.
"I think we moves the ball extremely well," said Pietrus. "We were able to get open and make some shots. We started feeling much better about ourselves starting the game so I'm confident."
Regarding his increased level of play, Pietrus insists that nothing has changed. At the end of the day, it's just Pietrus being Pietrus.
"Nothing (changed)," he said. "I'm just trying to be Mickael Pietrus. I'm just trying to enjoy my time and just trying to help my team the best way I can. I'll be honest with you, I never look at what I do on the floor. So long as my team gets a win, Mickael Pietrus is happy."
Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. Boston defeated the Toronto Raptors, 96-73, on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
When you're an aging team like the Boston Celtics, you'll take wins in any way you can. Considering that wins had been hard to come by entering Wednesday night's game with the Toronto Raptors -- Boston had lost five straight games -- it was especially important to beat a mediocre (if you can even call them that) squad in the Raptors, who were 4-10.
Not only did the Celtics get the win, but they did so in convincing fashion. For the first time in over two weeks, the C's put together a thorough effort from start to finish, and their effort clearly showed based on the final score, a 17-point win.
It helped that their opponent was a basement-dwelling club, but there were other factors.
RAJON RONDO THRASHES RAPTORS WITH HIS OFFENSE, BUT GETS HURT
It was a bittersweet night for the future of the Celtics' franchise. Rondo took the game over with his offense scoring a game-high 21 points on an impressive 7-of-8 shooting. The performance was as good as almost any this year. Rondo only had two assists in the game, which is an oddity consider he was averaging 10.1 assists entering the game.
"You want him to be aggressive most nights," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said about Rondo's night. "I've said that, about a week ago. His assists are going to happen because he's a great passer. And tonight it was just one of those nights. He was basically just scoring; wasn't getting assists. But it was good for the team."
What wasn't good for the team was the fact that Rondo went down hard late in the third quarter after a flagrant one foul on Linas Kleiza. Rondo landed on his right arm and hand and was forced to leave the game with what was later diagnosed a sore right wrist. Thankfully, the injury doesn't appear to be serious, and Rondo said he is day-to-day.
Games like this from Rondo are encouraging, considering the Celtics' need for scoring outside of the Big Three. Rondo is clearly capable, but his inconsistency is discouraging. If and when he develops that consistent offensive game, the sky is the limit.
PAUL PIERCE AND RAJON RONDO DO A LITTLE ROLE SWAPPING
Paul Pierce is the scorer, and Rajon Rondo is the distributor. That's how it had always been ever since Rondo joined the Celtics. I guess those roles were getting boring, because Pierce and Rondo decided to trade responsibilities for the evening. Rondo had 21 points and Pierce had a game-high seven assists in the win.
"Paul kind of jokes and told me 'let's [swap] roles tonight' and he would make the plays and I'll just put it in the basket," said Rondo. "I got some wide open looks at the rim, made some easy ones, made some tough ones. I was just trying to stay aggressive. I wanted to pick and choose my spots and I think I did a good job with the pace."
As for Pierce, his scoring is always helpful, but his passing can make an impact, too.
"He was terrific," Rivers said. "My favorite play of the game by Paul - and I don't remember quarters right now; I think it was the third quarter - he could tell that Ray [Allen] was struggling a little bit getting his shot. And Paul clearly had the shot off the pick and roll. And he held it just long enough for Ray to free open and ave Ray a three. I thought that was just such a - those little plays, they just help you team later in such big ways. You know? Ray clearly appreciated that. And Paul knew what he was going. I didn't. I wanted him to shoot when he came off it. But then when you saw what he was trying to do, it was just - those little things, man, they really help team building."
Very high praise from Pierce' longtime coach. At any rate, it's good to see that teamwork.
FINALLY, THE CELTICS' BENCH SHOWS UP (AND ACTUALLY CONTRIBUTES)
Old or not, every team needs quality reserves. It's even more important when you have a group like the Celtics where the starters need rest, and lots of it. At the start of the season, there were glimpses of hope off the bench, with the brightest potential start being Brandon Bass. During the team's losing streak, the bench had all be disappeared.
On Monday, it came back with a vengeance. Mickael Pietrus scored 12 points and Bass added 13 points and nine rebounds to lead a second unit that scored 28 points on 13-of-34 shooting (38.2 percent). All in all, it was an encouraging performance considering the absence of two important backups in Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox.
"You know Keyon [Dooling] is still out and [Chris] Wilcox is still out, but Pietrus and Bass have been terrific," said Rivers. "Pietrus has already done far more than I thought he would do this quickly, and his energy is just infectious, and defensively he's unbelievable. You know, I remember not liking him when he was with the Magic when he came on the floor, because of his defensive toughness. And you've kind of forgotten about it. And he's reminding you why you didn't like him. He's terrific."
Outside of Pietrus and Bass, the young guns had solid outings. Avery Bradley scored eight points in garbage time while JaJuan Johnson had three points and two rebounds in just under six minutes and E'Twaun Moore totaled three assists.
"You know, just that they're young and athletic and they run around just as fast as they can," Rivers said about what he liked from his young players. "JaJuan [Johnson] is just so darn athletic. I mean, he had a blocked shot attempt that was just - it should be on TV. He didn't get it, but I don't even know where he came from. He's just, like I said the other day with him and Avery [Bradley] and E'Twaun [Moore], you know their minutes have been scattered, but they've had a great spirit, they work every day, and that's all you can ask as a coach."
BOTTOM LINE: It's a win that they were supposed to get, easily, and they did. Based off that, how can you not be happy? This doesn't indicate the end of the Celtics struggles. Quite the contrary, actually. But it's good to see that, when they absolutely need a win, the Celtics don't have any struggles getting the job done against a low-quality opponent.
NEXT UP: Steve Nash and the sort-of-rebuilding Phoenix Suns come to town on Friday night in a matchup that would have been on national television a few years ago. Instead, the Celtics and Suns are both aging teams whose glory years are likely behind them. Still, Nash is a dangerous player and it will be a solid test for the Celtics.
BOSTON - Immersed in the latest batch of trade rumors, Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce declined to speak with media following his team's 96-73 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
"Doc told me I had the night off," Pierce said as he walked through the locker room after the win.
Pierce is reportedly a target of interest to several contending teams, according to a Yahoo! Sports report. Pierce played well in the win, finishing with eight points and a game-high seven assists, trading roles in a way with Rajon Rondo.
"Paul kind of jokes and told me 'let's [swap] roles tonight' and he would make the plays and I'll just put it in the basket," said Rondo, who led all scorers with 21 points and had just two assists.
Pierce was followed into the trainer's room by Celtics president of basketball operations and general manager Danny Ainge, the man who would have a large amount of say in whether or not Pierce gets traded. While the Celtics have struggled out of the gate this season, Pierce is a local icon and franchise legend, and it's unlikely that he'll be dealt.
"He's still our leader," Rondo said in regards to the trade rumors surrounding Pierce. "He's the captain. We all lead different ways. It's a team effort. Obviously we have a great veteran team, so it all doesn't just fall on Paul. I'm the point guard, it starts with me, I believe, and we go from there."
The rumors are disturbing to longtime Celtics fans, and likely to Pierce as well. Yet at the end of the day, it's a business, and that's something Rondo - who has had his name mentioned in countless rumors over the years - knows very well.
"I was [mentioned in rumors] a couple months ago. That's part of it," Rondo said. "I don't think anybody is actually safe until the trade deadline is over, but we don't play in that order. We're very focused on what we have and who we have in this locker room. We believe in each other and our team is coming along."
Pierce has played all 13-plus seasons of his career with the Celtics and is third on the franchises' list of all-time leading scorers. Pierce has 21,559 points in 974 career games in Boston.
BOSTON - Rajon Rondo went down hard on a play late in the third quarter and had to leave the game with what was later confirmed as a sore right wrist. Rondo told the media that he is day-to-day with the injury.
The injury occurred when Rondo was fouled by Linas Kleiza driving to the basket with 2:12 to go in the quarter. Rondo landed hard on his right arm and wrist and stayed on the floor for several minutes before being helped up. Rondo actually stayed in the game to shoot the two technical free throws, as Kleiza was issued a flagrant one foul.
"I tried to brace my fall and I put my arm behind my bottom and just landed on my wrist and elbow," said Rondo, who scored 21 points. "It's day-to-day, we'll see how I feel tomorrow. I took a couple Advil and I'm sure I'll be ok."
As Rondo lay motionless on the floor, the TD Garden crowd was naturally quiet. At first, some weren't sure of what to make of what they had just seen, including Doc Rivers, who was actually thought Rondo was trying to get a foul call.
"Honestly, I was laughing right afterwards. I wasn't (concerned) at first because I thought he was trying to get the flagrant. I thought he was laying down, trying to - you know. And then when he stayed down then I was concerned. But I didn't know what it was. And then when I saw him grabbing his arm or hand I was thinking 'last year, playoffs' obviously."
Rondo's performance was one of his better ones this season, at least from an scoring standpoint. Rondo made 7-of-8 field goals and had three rebounds but just two assists.
"He was really aggressive offensively and that's what we needed out of him," Rivers said. "We had a little goal offensively which we didn't reach but it was close. We had the one bad quarter and you could tell he was looking, he was trying to keep getting to that number there we established. It was funny, you look at the stats at halftime - Rondo had  points and Paul [Pierce] had six assists and Rondo had none. And so it was really interesting. But the ball movement was terrific in the same right."
BOSTON - Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce must have gotten bored with their usual roles, because the two pulled the old switcheroo on Monday night. Rondo, the team's assists leader, scored 21 points and Pierce, the franchises' leading scorer of the past decade, dished out seven assists as the Boston Celtics buried the Toronto Raptors, 96-73, on Wednesday night.
Boston (5-8) snapped a five-game losing streak in the process, thanks in part to a very strong first quarter. The Celtics led 29-14 after one, making 12-of-20 field goals to shoot 60 percent in the opening period. They also held a 14-9 advantage on the glass and did not allow a single rebound in the quarter. Rondo paced the attack, scoring 13 points.
Toronto made a run to start the second quarter, scoring seven straight points to open the frame and outscored Boston 24-15 in the period to trim their halftime deficit to 44-38. Rondo, meanwhile, was held to just two points in the quarter.
The slump wouldn't last long, though, as the Celtics put up 29 points again in the quarter while holding the Raptors to 17. Rondo highlighted the quarter, but not in a good way. The Celtics' star point guard went down hard after a flagrant foul from the Raptors' Linas Kleiza late in the quarter. Rondo stayed in the game to shoot the free throws but headed back to the locker room immediately after. It was confirmed that he had a sore right wrist, and he didn't return.
With a big lead in hand, the Celtics coasted through the fourth, sealing their fifth win.
Kevin Garnett chipped in with 15 points and seven rebounds for Boston. Mickael Pietrus and Brandon Bass carried the load on the bench, with Pietrus scoring 12 points and Bass contributing with 13 points and nine rebounds. Avery Bradley scored eight points off the bench in garbage time to pad the lead.
Gary Forbes, a product of UMass, led the Raptors with 18 points off the bench. DeMar DeRozan finished with 11 points, Jose Calderon added nine points and Rasual Butler totaled eight points. The Raptors were without leading scorer Andrea Bargnani in the loss.
Boston looks to build on its success when it hosts the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
BOSTON - Rajon Rondo went down hard under the basket late in the third quarter after a flagrant foul on Linas Kleiza. Rondo, who appeared to fall on his right wrist, stayed in the game to shoot the two technical free throws but was replaced by E'Twaun Moore and headed back to the locker room soon after.
Rondo had a game-high 21 points and two assists in 28 minutes and was the Celtics' offensive spark plug. Rondo, who was 7-for-8 from the field, had an outstanding first quarter, scoring 13 points and leading Boston on a big run to take a 29-14 lead after 12 minutes of play. He scored only two points in the second quarter but had six in the third before the injury.
Boston currently leads Toronto, 7155, with 17 second remaining in the third quarter.
UPDATE: Rondo has a sore right wrist and may return, according to a team announcement.
BOSTON - Bucking their recent trends, the Boston Celtics stormed out of the gate and had one of their best opening quarters of the season, ultimately leading to a 44-38 lead over the Toronto Raptors at halftime here at TD Garden.
Boston made 12-of-20 baskets in the opening 12 minutes, allowing it to take a 29-14 lead heading into the second. The C's also looked much better on the boards, out-rebounding the Raptors, 14-9, overall and even 1-0 on the offensive glass.
Toronto opened the second half with seven straight point and was able to trim its deficit to 29-21, but the Celtics were still able to maintain their advantage entering the intermission despite the Raptors outscoring them 24-15 in the quarter.
Rajon Rondo spurred the Celtics on in the first, scoring 13 points and helping to lead Boston on a 21-7 run to close out the quarter. Rondo finished the half with 15 points and Kevin Garnett, who scored eight in the first quarter, scored 10 in the half. Meanwhile, Paul Pierce recorded just four points but had six assists and four rebounds.
BOSTON - Something has to give on Monday night. Both the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors have lost their last five games and are a combined 8-18 on the season. When they go head-to-head tonight, one streak will come to an end.
While signs point towards the Celtics' losing skid being the one that is snapped, nothing is guaranteed in the NBA. Certainly, it helps when the C's opponent will likely be without it's best player in Andrea Bargnani, who is a game-time decision as he continues to recover from a calf strain.
Meanwhile, no sign of Paul Pierce in the Celtics locker room. But really, what did you expect? Pierce has had his name tossed into the rumor mill once more, with a Yahoo! Sports report indicating that several contending teams have inquired about his availability. Danny Ainge, the C's president and general manager, did pop in but did not answer any questions.
Keyon Dooling is feeling better too, telling me that you can't feel bad everyday. That's a positive step, but he will still miss Monday night's game and appears slated for a return on Friday night against the Phoenix Suns. Dooling was on the court shooting around, while Chris Wilcox has not yet returned to the court and is also out of action for Boston.
Check out more pregame news and notes by listening to the following interviews below.
BOSTON - Losing streaks have a way of dampening the mood of lots of people. Whenever a team hits a skid, fans get depressed, as can coaches and the players themselves. But that simply isn't the case in the Boston Celtics locker room.
At least, it isn't that way for Sasha Pavlovic, who insists that the team is still confident.
"It's hard, but we've got a great group of guys," said Pavlovic. "We're staying positive and we've seen some improvement since the first loss we got. You just keep getting better, and tonight we have to show that and keep doing what we do best -- playing together, sharing the ball, attack the rim -- and we're going to be fine."
Pavlovic hasn't seen much action at all during the Celtics' five-game losing streak, playing a total of one minute in the first loss to the Indiana Pacers on January 6. For the season, Pavlovic is averaging 2.8 points in 70 total minutes. Even with his minimal playing time, Pavlovic continues to keep his head up and says he's ready for whatever comes next.
"It's hard a little bit, but I try not to think about that because I've been in this league long enough to realize that those [things], if I think too much, it's going to effect me," he said. "I'm staying ready. I'm working hard, and whenever coach calls my name, I'm going to be ready."
Unlike the majority of basketball fans, players are normally detached from the often harsh and misleading media, which makes sense why Pavlovic said he hadn't heard anything regarding the potential trade availability of captain Paul Pierce.
"No, I didn't hear about anything," Pavlovic said. "It's always like that during the season, especially as the trade deadline comes closer, there's going to be a lot of talk. I'm not thinking about it."
One of the men that has jumper in front of Pavlovic in the Celtics' rotation is Mickael Pietrus, who provided the team with a big spark in the last game, scoring a season-high 14 points off the bench.
"He's a great shooter, can defend, great guy in the locker room. Everybody likes him," Pavlovic said about Pietrus. "We need him."
Fans and media members may be concerned about what lies ahead for the Celtics this season, but Pavlovic isn't. He maintains that good things are in store and the team is ready to turn the page, starting tonight.
"Of course, yes," said Pavolvic. "We all believe in that. Things are going to be fine."
Ten straight combined losses aside, the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors will meet on Wednesday night at TD Garden as each team looks to end their respective losing streaks.
Event: Toronto Raptors (4-10) vs. Boston Celtics (4-8) - NBA Regular Season, Game 13.
Date/Time: January 18, 2012 - 7:30 p.m. EDT.
Location: TD Garden (Capacity: 18,624), Boston, MA.
Broadcast Info: Wednesday's game between the Celtics and Raptors will be televised regionally on Comcast SportsNet New England, with Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn and Greg Dickerson bringing you all of the action. In addition, the game will be aired on the WEEI Sports Radio Network, with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell on the broadcast.
Odds: Boston is a 9 1/2-point favorite over Toronto, with the over-under set at 110 points.
Celtics Roster 2011-12: Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels,Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Jermaine O'Neal, Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Greg Stiemsma,Chris Wilcox. Head Coach: Doc Rivers.
Raptors Roster 2011-12: Solomon Alabi, Leandro Barbosa, Andrea Bargnani, Jerryd Bayless, Rasual Butler, Jose Calderon, Anthony Carter, Ed Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Gary Forbes, Aaron Gray, Amir Johnson, James Johnson, Linas Kleiza, Jamaal Magloire. Head Coach: Dwane Casey.
Celtics And Raptors In 2011: Boston and Toronto met four times in the regular season last year, with the Celtics losing three of the four games. After a season series-opening 102-101 win for the C's on Nov. 21, Toronto closed out the series with three consecutive victories -- a 110-101 win on Nov. 26, a 93-79 win on Jan. 2 and a 122-102 win on Jan. 7.
Last Time Out: Boston, losers of five games in a row, is coming off a 97-88 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. Paul Pierce played his best game of the season, scoring a team-high 24 points and Mickael Pietrus scored 14 points off the bench for the Celtics, who were held to 39.1 percent shooting from the floor.
Toronto, which has also lost five straight games, was defeated by the Atlanta Hawks, 93-84, on Monday. Leandro Barbosa led his team with 22 points off the bench and Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon both scored 13 points. The Raptors shot 42.3 percent from the field in defeat and only made 3-of-12 three-point attempts.
Statistics Central: Ray Allen is the Celtics' leading scorer, averaging 16.5 points. Rajon Rondo leads the team with 10.0 assists per game and 1.8 steals per contest, Kevin Garnett averages 7.5 rebounds and Jermaine O'Neal is averaging 1.7 blocks. Boston ranks 26th in the league in points for (89.8), 28th in rebounding (38.6 RPG), ninth in assists (21.7 APG) and ninth in points allowed (92.5).
Andrea Bargnani is the Raptors' leading scorer, averaging 22.3 points. Amir Johnson averages a team-high 8.2 rebounds, Jose Calderon averages 9.1 assists and 1.2 steals and James Johnson is averaging 1.5 blocks. Toronto is 29th in the league in scoring, averaging 86.0 point and is 15th in rebounding (42.0), 19th in assists (20.5) and eighth in points allowed (91.9)
Storyline: If you are looking for quality basketball, you may want to shield your eyes. Boston and Toronto haven't exactly been playing quality basketball to start the season, with the two teams boasting a combined 8-18 record and an 0-10 mark in their last five games combined. Not exactly what one would call pro-quality hoops, is it?
Nevertheless, something has to give on Monday night. Both teams enter with five-game losing streaks and both are among the worst offensive teams in the league. Since it isn't possible for both teams to lose in a game, one team will find its way back into the win column once again.
Fortunately, all signs would point to that team being the Celtics. Boston took care of Toronto twice in the preseason, even if those games are meaningless, and is a hearty favorite to win again Monday. However, the Raptors have recent history on their side. Last season, Toronto won three of the four meetings by an average score of 106.5-96.
Don't expect a high-scoring affair tonight, though, as both teams are lacking the scoring touch so far this year. Do, however, expect a close game. It may be too much to ask for a Celtics blowout win in any game this season.
Prediction: This won't provide many top ten moments on SportsCenter, but it will hold your interest simply because it will likely be a close game. Again, just warning you, it probably won't be pretty. Final Score: Celtics 94, Raptors 88.
Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics (4-8) take on the Toronto Raptors (4-10) as they look to snap their five-game losing streak at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston, MA. (TV/Radio: CSNNE/WEEI 93.7 FM).
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