Notebook: Ricky and Raef Rebound from Shooting Slumps
36-16 pretty much tells the story of Monday night's win over the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. Generally a poor third quarter team, the Celtics outscored their opponent by 20 points in that 12 minute frame and did it on the strength of some sweet shooting by two guys who've had problems scoring as of late: Ricky Davis and Raef LaFrentz.
With the Celtics leading 46-44, LaFrentz got things going with his long-lost outside shot, nailing three of three attempts from downtown to spark the run that all but finished the Hornets. He also added a loud, one-handed stuff for good measure.
For a guy whose role is to knock down open threes, it's been an epic struggle for LaFrentz. He's only hit multiple threes-pointers in two games since December 4, going 17-61 from behind the arc for a 27.8% mark that would make even Antoine Walker blush.
Raef LaFrentz "rebounded" from his slump with a big third quarter Monday night against the Hornets.
"When you see a couple of them go in, you feel good about your release and you feel good about where your at and that's what happened tonight," said LaFrentz. "My shot felt good, same shots that were usually there came into play tonight and I was able to knock them down."
Doc Rivers has always looked at LaFrentz's three-point attempts as a litmus test for ball movement, so he's always pleased to see him taking threes. Of course, it's even more enjoyable when they're finding the net.
"If Raef is getting no shots, that usually means the ball's not moving at all. And in the third quarter he got shots and changed the game," said Rivers.
Another guy knocking down shots was Davis, who picked up where LaFrentz left off in the third. Davis scored 17 of his 32 in the quarter on 7-of-8 shooting and probably would have had more if it wasn't already garbage time by the start of the fourth quarter.
"You don't see anybody," said Davis of being on fire. "I didn't even know who was guarding me. It's just a matter of getting the ball and getting it up."
The other benefit of Davis and LaFrentz going off was that Paul Pierce got some extended rest, leaving the game at the 2:13 mark of the third and having no need to return in the fourth.
Halfway Home, Pierce
After 41 games, the Celtics are officially at the halfway point in the season. While they're certainly not happy about being under .500, winning three of their last four games has the glass looking half full.
"Guys are coming together, especially the young guys," said Pierce. "We're due for a run, and I still believe that we're going to make the playoffs."
A reporter reminded Pierce that the Celtics aren't likely to acquire Walker again this season, a move that spurred last season's remarkable 11 wins in 12 games stretch.
"I don't think that's going to happen. [If I were him] I would void the trade. I'd have too much pride. If they traded me away, brought me back, traded me away and brought me back again? I couldn't do it. That's a love-hate relationship right there," said Pierce.
Pierce did say that he's looking forward to playing his old Celtics teammates when Boston faces Miami.
"No question," said Pierce. "Him and Gary [Payton], I'm going to have a lot to say to them. We're going to make it fun. I can't wait for that."
Celtics still buzzing about Kobe's 81
Kobe Bryant's 81-point game was the talk of the NBA all day, and the Celtics were still buzzing about it before game time Monday night. Most guys had watched the game on League Pass Sunday night and were drawn in by history in the making, as Kobe connected on 28-of-46 shots in his astonishing performance.
"He's playing the best basketball of anyone in the NBA right now. I thought I'd never see that," said Pierce, whose career high at any level was 48 points in the NBA.
LaFrentz was watching Seattle-Phoenix and flipped channels in the third period when Kobe had 49.
"I figured he might have another 60 point game in hand," said LaFrentz, who said he dropped 50 points once in high school back home in Iowa. "They were basically handing the ball off to him and he was going one-on-three and one-on-four the entire fourth quarter – and scoring. It was definitely something to watch. 81 points is unbelieveable. The great thing about it is that they were down 18 and you could really see him start to exert himself. He really imposed his will on that game."
So could Kobe ever match Wilt Chamberlain's legendary 100-point game?
"I don't think anybody can get 100. You think about the way Wilt did it, he probably got all layups," said Pierce. "He was probably the best athlete, tallest player and you could just throw the ball up and he'd just lay it up every time. I don't think with the athletes today that anybody could get 100. They'd have to put more minutes on the clock."
What if Pierce shot every time down the floor?
Laughed Pierce: "I'm going to have to do that one day, and see what 46 shots do."