Paul Pierce Named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, respectively, for the week ending February 5.

Pierce averaged 22.0 points, 6.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds to help the Celtics get to 4-0 last week. He had 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a 91-89 win over New York on Friday.

On Sunday, Pierce registered 21 points along with six rebounds and six assists in the Celtics’ 98-80 win over Memphis — their eighth win in the last nine games — improving to 13-10 this season.

Kevin Garnett Post Game Following Celtics 91-83 Win In Orlando

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0sDIlcQqGU&feature=player_embedded#!

Garnett had 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and three steals in last night’s comeback victory over Orlando.

Rajon Rondo (Wrist) Out Tonight at Magic; Ray Allen Likely Sidelined With Ankle Injury

Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will once again sit out Thursday night in Orlando as he continues to nurse a wrist injury, according to the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.

Rondo originally suffered the injury during a hard spill against the Toronto Raptors last Wednesday night, and has missed the Celtics’ three games since.

Rondo is also listed as doubtful for Friday against Phoenix.

Also, Ray Allen will likely miss tonight’s game contest against the Magic with a jammed left ankle.

Celtics Done In by Westbrook and the Thunder 97-88

Russell Westbrook hit a 3-pointer and then shimmied his hands down his torso, bent his body at the knees and strutted down the sideline in celebration.

Just 39 seconds later — this time with less than a minute left in the game — he did it all over again.

Westbrook scored 26 points, including two of Oklahoma City’s four 3-pointers in the final 2 minutes, to help the Thunder beat the slumping Celtics 97-88 on Monday night. Kevin Durant scored 28 with seven rebounds for Oklahoma City, which won its seventh consecutive game.

“They started doubling K.D. later in the game,” Westbrook said. “I just tried to be aggressive and find my open spots.”

Paul Pierce scored 24 points, Kevin Garnett had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Jermaine O’Neal had 12 points and 11 boards for the Celtics. Rajon Rondo scored 12 points with nine rebounds and nine assists for Boston, which lost a fifth straight game for the first time in the New Big 3 era.

“None of us likes to lose; that’s the frustrating part,” Pierce said. “I think I like where we are headed, there are just little things that are really killing us.”

After trailing by 10 points to start the fourth quarter, the Celtics cut the deficit to two before Durant hit a 3 that made it 81-76 with 4:42 left. Garnett made a pair of free throws, then Durant threw down a tomahawk dunk.

Oklahoma City then hit four 3-pointers in a row — one from Thabo Sefolosha, two from Westbrook and another from Sefolosha that made it 95-85 with 24 seconds left. The Thunder were 2 for 11 from 3-point range in the first three quarters and 5 for 8 in the fourth.

“We stayed with it,” Durant said. “We made some good shots. Our offense is predicated on the drive-and-kick; that’s what we work on every day.”

Kendrick Perkins had seven points and five rebounds in his first game back in Boston since the trade that sent him to Oklahoma City and broke up the starting lineup from the Celtics’ 2008 NBA championship team. In the first quarter, his old team played a video on the scoreboard with highlights from his 7½ years in Boston.

“Mentally, I was out of it,” said Perkins, the 27th pick in the 2003 draft. “It was unbelievable. I really appreciated it. It was something they didn’t have to do.”

Perkins went over to the Celtics bench before the opening tip to hug the coaches and chest-bump some of his former teammates, and midway through the first quarter a video tribute was played on the scoreboard. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, which Perkins acknowledged by walking to center court alone and waving.

“It was emotional for him. He grew up here,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s loved by his former coach, teammates and the fans, and rightfully so. He does everything that you want your player to do. … That’s a classy organization, for what they did on the scoreboard.”

Boston cut the deficit to 83-80 with 2:25 to play, but Westbrook cut across the lane and whipped a two-handed pass to Sefolosha in the corner for the 3. After Rondo scored on a putback, Westbrook hit a 3-pointer of his own — then celebrated by strutting down the sideline.

Garnett hit Mickael Pietrus to set up a Celtics 3-pointer, but Westbrook answered again to make it 92-85.

The Celtics had not had a five-game losing streak since they lost seven straight and eight of the last nine games of the 2006-07 season, a year when they also had an 18-game losing streak that was the longest in franchise history. That summer they began assembling the New Big 3 — bringing in Garnett and Ray Allen to join Pierce, with Rondo and Perkins rounding out the lineup for a team that won the franchise’s 17th NBA title.

Boston returned to the finals in 2010, but Perkins tore up his knee in Game 6 against the Lakers and missed Game 7, which Los Angeles won 83-79.

With Perkins’ rehabilitation due to last well into the following season, general manager Danny Ainge signed Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal. Confident that they would remain healthy contributors, Ainge traded Perkins to Oklahoma City for Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green, but neither of them was able to remain in the lineup and the Celtics lost in the second round of the playoffs to Miami.

The trade looked even worse when Green was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, requiring surgery that put him out for this entire season. He is now a free agent.

Celtics Down Detroit 96-85 For First Win As Pierce Returns

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsraWNjFHPM

Paul Pierce made his regular season debut registering 12 points, four rebounds, and five assists in 23 minutes of action.

“It felt good to finally get out there,” Pierce said. “I was expecting to be me and I don’t settle for anything less. I worked tremendously hard. I did a lot of things. I did what I could do coming into the game, as much as I could, other than practice. I just stayed focused.”

The Celtics shot 52.2% and made all 19 of their free throws.

The defense forced the Pistons to miss 13 out of their 16 three-point attempts.

Jermaine O’Neal led the way for the Celtics, generating 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and two blocked shots. He played a season-high 29 minutes.

It was a rare, big performance by Jermaine — so what was the difference?

“Playing extended minutes,” O’Neal said. “When you can get a rhythm, you can get a flow and you can get comfortable with what the team is doing. If you look at the first couple of games, I was in and out so fast that it was almost impossible to get any flow to the game.”

Brandon Bass collected 17 points in 22 minutes off the bench. It was his fourth straight double-digit scoring effort to start the season.

Ray Allen added 17 points. He is now averaging 20 points per game on 58.1% shooting and 58.3% from beyond the arc.

Next Game: Sunday at Washington Wizards, 6 ET.

Pierce Targeting Return Tonight vs. Pistons; Pietrus Out Until Mid-January

UPDATE: Paul Pierce was in the starting lineup at small forward tonight against Detroit.

Boston Celtics scoring sensation Paul Pierce, who missed the first three games of the season with a bruised right heel, tweeted Thursday that he was “close very very close very.”

The Celtics play their home opener Friday night against another winless team –the 0-2 Detroit Pistons.

The last time Boston started the season losing three straight games — 2006-07.

With Sasha Pavlovic starting in Pierce’s place in each of the team’s games against New York, Miami and New Orleans — averaging 4.0 points and 1.7 rebounds a game — general manager Danny Ainge was hoping his most recent acquisition could contribute at the team’s thin small forward spot.

Pietrus Predicament: Ainge has told the Boston Globe that recently acquired small forward Mickael Pietrus is likely to make his Celtic debut by mid-January — he is about two weeks away.

Celtics Crushed By Hornets; Fall To 0-3 After 97-78 Loss In New Orleans

Ray Allen’s 28 Points Not Enough, As Celtics Drop To 0-2 After 115-107 Loss In Miami