Post Ups All-Star 2008: Bloggin’ from the Big Easy
Post Ups Notebook - Bloggin' from the Big Easy
Sunday, February 17 - NBA All-Star Game
Ray Allen wasn't even supposed to be here, but he almost took home the All-Star Game MVP.
Allen had planned a trip to the Bahamas, but got the call as a replacement when Caron Butler pulled out of the game on Wednesday.
Scoring a game-high 28 points, 23 of which came in the second half, and 14 of which came in the intense fourth quarter, Ray Allen helped the Eastern Conference fend off the West despite their furious rally. Allen knocked down three triples and went to the line twice to seal the victory.
All-Star games always start off as a show, with guys looking for alley-oops and no-look passes, but if the game is close late, you suddenly have 10 of the most competitive human beings on Earth on one court, and the intensity is off the charts. Now a veteran of eight All-Star Games, Allen's familiar with the transformation that occurs.
"In the beginning, it's like a honeymoon. You throw alley-oops, then everybody's getting back [on defense], everybody gets that second wind. And by the fourth quarter, everybody's here for a reason. Everybody has that same competitive nature, it kicks in and you want to win the game," Allen said.
Rivers, who played in the 1988 All-Star Game, knew the complexion of the game would change, he was just waiting for it to happen.
"You knew with us having the lead, they were going to make the run. So we had the idea when the game was going to start, because we could see when they started catching up to us," Rivers said. "The league hasn't changed. It's a make or miss league, it always will be, and Ray made shots, LeBron [James] made plays and we won the game."
Allen's effort, however, was trumped by a dominant performance by James, who entertained a triple-double before finishing with 27 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
The Eastern Conference had built a comfortable 16 point lead about halfway through the third quarter, but Amare Stoudemire and company chipped away at the lead and tied it up with a 17-4 run that evened the game at 110-110. With the teams trading hoops and the West taking a 118-116 lead, Allen caught fire and scored nine straight points on threes while the West hung tough. With the East taking a 125-122 lead on his last three, he finally missed one and Chris Paul tied it with a triple of his own at 125-125.
It looked like Allen could be the MVP, given the way he'd kept the East in the game, but James' impressive driving dunk through traffic ended any possible debate.
Still, not bad for a guy who planned to be lying on the beach this weekend.
Check the Audio Archive for sound from Doc, Ray and LeBron...
Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett, who is inactive tonight, met the national media about an hour before tipoff. We've got the audio here for you in the All-Star Audio Archive.
Here's a few noteworthy items from that media session:
Kevin Garnett: Garnett again said that he intends to practice Monday with the hopes of playing on Tuesday night in Denver. He said he's made "major strides" and he's happy with where he's at. He noted that he still feels stiffness from the injury, but called it "tolerable."
Doc Rivers: Rivers said the team is taking a "wait and see" approach to tomorrow's practice and Garnett's availability for Tuesday night. Otherwise, he was mostly asked about Dwight Howard's dunk contest win, Kobe Bryant's injury, and what it's been like to have his kids along for the weekend here in New Orleans.
We'll be back after the game with a full recap and thoughts, as well as postgame interviews...
Charmed at Jam Session
"To Celtics.com, home of the hottest blogger in the NBA, we finally know. You're the Boss! Love, Alyssa. XOXO..."
Peter Stringer/Boston Celtics
Sunday's a rather slow day in terms of events, so we spent the afternoon checking out the NBA Jam Session fan festival, and it turned out to be a rock-solid decision, and perhaps the highlight of the weekend to date.
While wandering the NBA Store set up at Jam Session, I noticed a sign advertising an Alyssa Milano appearance at 2 p.m. Since I've been around basketball players 24-7 this weekend, I figured I deserved a break, so I stuck around for her appearance.
When she arrived (shorter and cuter than advertised, I might add), she spent about 45 minutes autographing and taking photos with fans in the store who were buying items from her Touch clothing line. Once she wrapped up, Milano started asking where she could meet the guy from Celtics.com.
That's how I'm telling the story anyway. But we did chat for a few minutes about how she launched her women's sports clothing line, and she told me that her Celtics gear has been the top seller among her NBA apparel.
"I grew up around sports, and I got tired of going to games and not finding anything fashionable that fit my body, that wasn't pink, so I basically thought if I was looking for it than there was a market for it," Milano said, adding that she had Kings season tickets as a kid before Wayne Gretzky arrived. "It's awesome to be able to look into the stands and seeing my gear."
So where does she get the concepts for her clothing?
"I try to make it a great sportswear line and make the [team] logos go with it. It's not just about wearing the gear to the game," Milano said. "If you're a Celtics fan, I wanna see you in a Celtics hoodie at the mall. You know what I mean? Even if you're not going to a game..."
Growing up as a child actress, Milano obviously spent plenty of time going to games in Los Angeles and still goes to games frequently. Unfortunately, she admitted to me that she's a Lakers fan, which, I told her, breaks my heart.
"I'm sorry. It's just because it's geographically convenient," Milano said.
When I extended an offer for her to come to the Garden, Milano was enthusiastic.
Hmmm....is that a date? She is an actress, after all. But color me convinced; I think it's official. Us Magazine, you heard it here first: Alyssa Milano is dating the Celtics.com reporter...
Either way, I'm easy to find, Alyssa...
Rondo Is in the Game
Rajon Rondo took on fans at the EA Sports booth at Jam Session in a spirited game of NBA Live '08.
Peter Stringer/Boston Celtics
Saturday, February 16 - KG Targeting Tuesday Return
Behind the Scenes on Saturday
We spent most of the day rolling with the Celtics behind the scenes on the bus, in the locker room after the East practice and then going through the NBA Entertainment media circuit. While it's not nearly as exciting as you might expect, we did get a small glimpse into the NBA life at All-Star Weekend, and much like mine so far in New Orleans, it consists of a lot of running around from venue to venue.
Bus rides are actually welcome interruptions simply because the guys get a chance to relax or even take a mini nap.
We've got plenty of photos to show, so take a look. Since none of our guys are competing at All-Star Saturday night, we'll get to enjoy the festivities from the fan perspective and have a little popcorn tonight before returning back to work tomorrow to cover the actual All-Star Game.
Speaking of enjoying the game as a fan, Rajon Rondo went to go see his alma mater Kentucky play hoops this afternoon.
Eastern Conference Practice; KG's Return Tuesday?
After this morning's adidas Basketball is a Brotherhood event at Jam Session, the NBA's fan festival, Kevin Garnett told reporters he hopes to play Tuesday night against the Nuggets. It's certainly not official, and the team and coaching staff may have other ideas, but Garnett made it clear that he wants to be ready to go Tuesday.
"Practice Monday and then be ready for Tuesday," Garnett said. "You talk to Doc, you talk to Eddie Lacerte, they might tell you something different. But I am getting better and I'm getting better fast."
For what it's worth, Garnett went through the Eastern Conference All-Stars "Practice" this morning, which consisted of Doc telling Jason Kidd to draw up an out-of-bounds play or the team, then a bunch of shooting drills concluding with a halfcourt shot competition. KG participated in most of it but with very light activity and there was certainly nothing taking place on the floor that resembled the intensity of a regular NBA practice, or game for that matter.
Garnett was scheduled to have a real workout with the Celtics training staff later this afternoon.
Check the audio archive for today's interviews with Paul, Ray and KG, as well as Pistons guard Chauncey Billups to get his take on how the Eastern Conference might shake out...
Friday, February 15 - Time To Get Busy
Rookie/Sophomore Challenge Recap
If you think the All-Star Game is a pick-up game, then I don't know what you'd call the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam.
It's more like intramurals; everybody has a jersey, they don't all match, and everyone is trying to show off. Eventually, the older kids win.
The Sophomores tend to dominate this game, and with good reason. They've got a year of NBA basketball under their belts. As it is, Rondo is such a more advanced player than he was at this time last year, at both ends of the floor. His stats weren't particularly gaudy, but he got the job done and controlled the flow of the game when he was on the floor.
Check the Audio Archive for postgame reaction from Coach Thibodeau and Rondo.
In Game Blog
A sultan of sartorial splendor, smartly attired Ray Allen meets the media corps on Friday afternoon.
Peter Stringer/Boston Celtics
136-109 Sophomores, FINAL: The Daniel Gibson show is over...
102-84 Sophomores, 7:40/2nd Half: Rondo sat down with six points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals.
66-52 Sophomores, Halftime: Rondo played the first 8:34 of the game, going 0-1 with four assists and a pair of rebounds. But the line of the game so far has to be Daniel Gibson: 7-12 from the field, all from three point range for 21 points. Remind me not to take him for my team in a pick-up game...
19-17 Sophomores, 13:23/1st Half:Ran into KG on the way to the court for the game tonight. He's sitting courtside with Doc Rivers to support Rajon tonight. Apparently it's working; Rondo's already got three assists.
Celtics Stars Meet the Media
A handful of writers were camped out at a table with a placard reading Kevin Garnett, but the Big Ticket has yet to arrive in New Orleans.
Garnett, who pulled out of his 11th All-Star appearance due to his abdominal strain, is due to arrive in town tonight, so in the meantime, reporters peppered Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Head Coach Doc Rivers with inquiries about the Celtics 41-9 start.
We talked to Paul about the change in culture that happened after the Garnett deal, with Pierce noting that there's only like four guys in the NBA who could transform a team upon arrival, listing KG in that group. Pierce talked extensively about how much different his own life is this year, and how he wakes up in the morning excited to head to practice, something he says he didn't do in the past.
Doc Rivers shared his thoughts on the rebuilding of New Orleans, his days coaching the Orlando Magic, and how the team has been able to get off to such a fast start.
After meeting with the media, Doc Rivers spend the afternoon helping to rebuild New Orleans on Friday.
Peter Stringer/Boston Celtics
We've got extended audio from Paul Pierce and Coach Rivers, a brief snippet with Ray Allen, as the media access period wrapped up and the players were getting ready to head off to various rebuilding projects throughout the city. We should have pictures from those events later in the weekend.
Tom Thibodeau ran the Sophomore team through a 90-minute practice this morning in preparation for tonight's Rookies vs. Sophomores tilt, and he wasted no time in putting in some familiar offensive sets. He called it a "framework for guys to make plays for each other" and it look suspiciously like some of the Celtics offense. Thibodeau wasn't as amped up as he is during a regular season game on the sidelines, but he was very businesslike, reminding the likes of Rondo, Rudy Gay, Andrea Bargnani and company to "play at game speed, men."
With Kevin Eastman, Mike Longabardi and NBA legend Willis Reed by his side, Thibodeau also covered how the team would defend the pick and roll, and also put in a few set plays for out-of-timeout scenarios, one of which finished with a lob for the alley-oop dunk.
He then closed the practice the same way the Celtics do: with free throws.
With practice over, the media was unleashed onto the court, and the sophomores were joined by the rookies for 30 minutes of interviews. An overwhelming amount of international media flocked to Yi Jianlian early, but Rondo and Thibodeau also spoke with reporters from all over the globe.
Celtics.com caught up with Rondo and Thibodeau during the session and you can listen to the interviews in the All-Star Audio Archive.
Rajon conducts an interview with Hoopsworld's Jessica Camerato after the sophomores practiced on Friday morning.
Peter Stringer/Boston Celtics
Our next stop is the Eastern Conference All-Stars Media Availability, which happens at 1 p.m. (New Orleans is an hour behind Boston), followed by some community work at the NBA Cares Day of Service. We hope to check back in sometime in the evening before the Rookie/Sophomore game tonight, and we'll have a recap of Rondo's play in the postgame update.
8-Ball Challenge Recap
After chasing down some cajun food at K-Paul's (authentic cuisine or tourist trap? Not sure, but either way it was tasty...), we stopped in to check on Paul Pierce and see how he fared at Magic and Zo's 8-Ball Challenge. Sadly, our hero got bounced in the first round but he took the billiards defeat in stride.
The party itself, was a who's who of NBA personalities, and it seemed like every few minutes you'd spot a player, former player, coach or entertainer. Without going all Inside Track on you, here's a quick, abbreviated list of who we saw: Magic Johnson and Zo (it is their tournament, after all), Eva Longoria (OK, I'm told she brushed right by me and I never saw her), Carmelo Anthony, Danny Glover, Dr. J, Frank Brickowski (I think!), and apparently Michael Jordan was buried in the back corner surrounded by a mass of humanity.
That's the short list anyway, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few. Anyway, it's almost time for the Rookie/Sophomore challenge practice where we'll catch up with Rajon Rondo and probably Coach Thibodeau as well.
Thursday, February 14 - Arrival in New Orleans
KG has arrived in New Orleans -- just not in person yet...
NEW ORLEANS - Well after a three hour flight we've settled in at the hotel, and while we'd like to tell you that New Orleans is buzzing, it seems pretty dead out on Canal Street. That should change by tomorrow as fans and players arrive.
Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were on the team charter today, along with Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers' coaching staff. But the Coach of the Eastern Conference All-Stars will be arriving on his own later, and Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen (who's doing Conan O'Brien tonight, don't forget to tune in...) will also be checking in between now and Saturday.
Rondo's right eye was much improved from the way it looked last night after he took a shot in the face from Fred Jones. He'll be up early tomorrow to practice for his the Sophomore team. I should point out that Tom Thibodeau will be coaching the Rookie team in tomorrow night's game, so if anyone knows how to scheme against Rondo, Thibodeau would be the guy.
Not much else to report for now. The party scene gets underway tonight, as Pierce is scheduled to play in the Zo and Magic 8-Ball Challenge later tonight.
Tomorrow, the All-Star participants will do their first round of media availability, and Rondo will do the NBA Entertainment Circuit, which consists of several photo shoots, a few interviews and a few other fun-filled items along the way. We're hoping to tag along for the fun on those as well.
The cajun cuisine is callin'...we'll check in tomorrow with updates and photos in the early afternoon.
Wednesday, February 13 - Allen's Reaction
BOSTON - Doc Rivers told Ray Allen the news at halftime of the Celtics win over the Knicks last night that he'd be heading for New Orleans to make his eighth All-Star appearance.
Rivers said Ray was pretty stoic about the whole thing in the midst of a halftime locker room session, but given a chance to reflect on the honor after the game, Allen was a little more enthusiastic.
"It's a great feeling. I think there is so much speculation on who is going to make it, who didn't make it, snubs, what ever you want to call it. We spoke about individual accolades, and the great thing about this team so far is we didn't care who did what on this team and everybody is contributing in some form or fashion and it hasn't mattered what we've done individually and that's why we've had so much team success," Allen said. "So when I wasn't nominated for All-Star at the time I was happy for Paul and KG and I go and get some rest for the second half of the season. Obviously I'm ecstatic for my career to be able to be an 8-time All-Star. To be able to represent this organization, it's a great time for this organization and the fans, I definitely feel like I'm privileged and in a great situation."
Paul Pierce is excited to see his teammate finally make the roster.
"It's great to see him part of it. I always thought he should be part of the original twelve, but he's there and he's going to represent the Celtics with me," Pierce said. "I was getting lonely for a minute when Kevin (Garnett) wasn't going to play, and now I have Ray with me, and we'll have a good time."
Doc Rivers also weighed in during his postgame conference Wednesday, joking that he'd only play Ray "two minutes" because he's trying to keep his banged up team as healthy as possible.
"I was very happy for him. And the reason I was happy is because his numbers have suffered because he sacrificed. And when you sacrifice on a winning basketball team, you should be rewarded for that and not punished for it," Rivers said. "Clearly if Ray was on another team, he could throw up numbers that would look All-Star worthy and not have wins. But he would rather have the wins and I'm glad that the league recognized that."
Kidd Deal Off?
The deal players from both the Celtics and Knicks were accepting as fact may now be off the table, so until something's official, it sounds like Jason Kidd is still with the New Jersey Nets -- until further notice.
Allen Added to East Roster
79-55 Celtics, 3:52/3rd: Ray Allen was just standing at the free throw line, and I know something he doesn't. He was just named to replace Caron Butler on the Eastern Conference All-Star Team.
We'll post reaction from Allen here after the game wraps up...
J-Kidd Deal a Hot Topic for Doc
The pregame water cooler talk was buzzing about the Jason Kidd to Dallas deal that was reportedly in the works Wednesday afternoon, with the New York media peppering Knicks Coach Isiah Thomas with Kidd questions. Thomas, however, didn't want to say much about the deal until he knew it was official.
"Dallas is saying they want to win now, clearly. I think it's a good trade for both teams," Rivers said.
Asked if it helps the Celtics that Kidd was dealt from the East, Rivers had a unique take on the situation.
"Listen, I hope Dwight Howard gets traded to the West. Rasheed, Rip, Bosh; all the guys I'll be coaching on Saturday [sic], if I can figure out a way to get them on the West team too. The question I have for you, is does Jason Kidd play for us?"
That's the question on everyone's mind, one which the NBA has yet to decide.
"This is the bottom line, if he is playing with us, and it comes down to one possession, I'm taking him out. I think he'd throw it for the West," Rivers joked.