Clover grief in Beantown

Post-Christmas swoon is plaguing Celtics once again

March 14, 2010|By Mark Heisler

Midnight in Boston?

Happily for the Celtics, it's not over when some writer says it's over, but rather when the clock strikes 12.

Right now, it's only, say, 11:46 p.m.

They have gone 18-18 since Christmas with recent losses to the lowly Nets at home and last week's back-to-back setbacks to the Bucks and Grizzlies.

Not that losing by 20 to the Grizzlies was torture, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers called the two-minute warning "the only good message this entire game."

The Celtics don't even say the "A" word (age). It's gospel in Boston that their bodies are able but their spirit no longer is willing. That, at least, gives fans a last hope to grasp.

Their trademark, Kevin Garnett-inspired ferocity looks fine early in seasons. In the last three, they went an incredible 72-11 from opening night through Christmas.

They then have hacked their way through the rest of the schedule amid a slew of injuries.

"They're a skilled, athletic team," Rivers said of the Grizzlies, tipping his concern.

"When you give them confidence, the way we're constructed, it makes it difficult."

His team is constructed of skilled, older players with Garnett no longer able to roam wherever needed in a defense that suffocates young, athletic teams.

Of course, it's never over till it's over, especially with guys as gallant as these - or as gallant as they were once, anyway.

More Iverson scuttlebutt: Puncturing the 76ers' cover story, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Stephen A. Smith reported Allen Iverson's "personal problems" involve drinking, gambling and profligate spending.

Smith then was savaged by "Player X" in an ESPN blog who claimed the whole league is angry with him for pinning the 76ers "failure [on] Allen's drinking and gambling."

But Smith was pleading for Iverson to pull his life together. The lone mention of the team was identifying Iverson as "the former 76ers star."

Asked what people could do for Iverson, his business manager, Gary Moore, told Smith, "Pray."

Waiting game: Michael Jordan is expected to be approved as the Bobcats' owner next week, raising the possibility he may comment this season.

Jordan reportedly contacted former North Carolina teammates Sam Perkins, a Pacers exec, and James Worthy, a TV analyst for the Lakers, about front office jobs - assuming Jordan will maintain the schedule keeping him out of Charlotte much of the time.

Trying times: The 76ers' Eddie Jordan, coaching for his job, benched Andre Iguodala in a victory at Toronto amid reports he won't make it to season's end.

Why Jordan wants to make it to season's end is the question, with nightly grilling on his job security and prickly relationship with players.

"They're good character guys," Jordan bristled of his team. "Like all teams, every once in a while they need a kick in the pants, motivation and positive thoughts. ...

"Everyone just puts it out there: 'The team's not listening.' They're full of …"

Noted Delaware Online: "After the game (a home loss to Charlotte), it seemed like Jordan was full of … "

They said it: The Nets' Devin Harris on Chris Douglas-Roberts, just before he was benched: "You definitely want to watch the shoestrings around him when we lose."

•Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni on former Knick Darko Milicic's claim he could have practiced "like bleeping Michael Jordan and it wouldn't have mattered": "Yeah. … What is Michael. About 59?"

•ABC's Jeff Van Gundy, after his brother, Magic coach Stan, blew off an interview between quarters with curt answers: "I propose we eliminate his in-game interviews and just talk to a random fan."

mheisler@tribune.com

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