February 27, 2002
WALTHAM - Jim O'Brien celebrated his 50th birthday at the start of the Celtics' recent tour through the Western Conference. But it wasn't until almost the end of the trip that general manager Chris Wallace found a suitable gift.
February 26, 2002
Refocus, v. 1. To bring concentration or attention back to a particular goal or plan. 2. To return to a better, more productive state. 3. To redouble efforts.
See for reference: The Celtics, who are resolved to hold large leads and finish games strongly, to perform the way they did earlier in the season.
February 25, 2002
To paraphrase Ferdinand Magellan, what a long, strange trip it was.
The Celtics are back from their annual February frolic through the West. It was their Headbands-over-America Tour, covering three time zones, seven games, and 14 days. They returned home yesterday still squarely in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. But they were a grumpy group overall after losing the last two games, and four overall.
Offensive on boards
Rebounds. Rebounds. Rebounds. What has happened to the Celtics' rebounding? Last night's 45-28 pounding on the boards was as horrid as it was reflective of their trip. Over seven games, the Celtics were outrebounded in each by an average 11.5 a game. Last night, they got crushed at both ends (Houston had 17 offensive rebounds), prompting Paul Pierce to observe, "It's tough to swallow. They outrebounded us with three guards. We've got to do a better job rebounding the basketball. I know I do. I'm not doing a good job."
The Celtics have not outrebounded an opponent in the last 15 games. Said O'Brien, "We're not getting the commitment from the five people we have on the court to rebound the basketball." . . . TonyDelk got thrown into the starting lineup in his first Boston appearance. In 23 minutes, he had 3 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, a steal, and a turnover. "I tried not to force anything," he said. "I'm just trying to fit in, learn the plays, and get familiar with my new teammates." O'Brien's rationale for starting Delk: "Why not? That's why we made the trade. Why wait any longer? Let's see what happens." Delk, who wore No. 00 in Phoenix, opted for No. 28, last worn by Quinn Buckner in the 1984-85 season. Rodney Rogers, meanwhile, also made his Boston debut, scoring 2 points in six first-half minutes. "I wish I could have been more effective out there," Rogers said. "We needed this win." Rogers wore No. 54.
February 24, 2002
HOUSTON - You will be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't like the Celtics' trading-deadline deal with Phoenix. They got two players who should contribute while giving up three who either didn't contribute or couldn't contribute. They also unloaded a draft pick they didn't really want and still have two first-rounders in 2003.
February 23, 2002
DALLAS - There were 50-60 tickets available for Thursday night's Suns-Grizzlies game in Memphis. That's because native Tennessean Tony Delk wasn't around to distribute them to friends and family.
February 22, 2002
ROGERS GIVES DEPTH A CHARGE
DALLAS - It was the spring of 1999 and Rick Pitino already was looking forward to the upcoming free agent crop. Several names intrigued him, including the Los Angeles Clippers' Rodney Rogers. "What I'm looking for," Pitino said then, "is someone who is a little down in his luck or someone who, for whatever reason, may have underachieved and needs a new start." He mentioned Rogers by name.
February 22, 2002
Boston, meanwhile, welcomed newcomer Rodney Rogers to the team, but he did not see any action. He was not expected to. The team did not expect to see Tony Delk until tomorrow in Houston, as Delk was home in Tennessee with his father, who suffered a stroke. But Delk surprisingly showed up early in the game and watched from behind the Boston bench. He'll practice with the team today.
The Celtics yesterday sent a clear message to the NBA that they take themselves very seriously in any discussion of Eastern Conference contenders by executing a significant trade with the Phoenix Suns.
Return with me to Saturday, May 17, 1986. It is Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. In the first period Larry Bird, a forward, has seven assists. Six are layups, real assists, old-fashioned assists, Tricky Dick McGuire assists.
A state jury today unanimously cleared Celtics Larry Bird and Dave Cowens of any wrongdoing or damages in connection with a Jan. 5, 1980, postgame incident outside HemisFair Arena.
The jurors, who deliberated more than three hours over two days, found that Johnny Merla, a member of the San Antonio Spurs' Baseline Bums organization, should receive zero damages for physical pain and humilitition he claimed he suffered in a confrontation with the two players.
The jurors in 37th State District Court found no merit in Merla's $825,000 lawsuit which charged that Cowens and Bird spat on him and that Bird knocked him to the ground with a duffle bag.
Cowens did not spit on Merla and Bird was acting in self defense when he swung the tote bag, the jurors ruled.
Three policemen, a paramedic, a bus driver, two San Antonio fans and the two players all testified that Merla provoked the incident by spitting in Bird's face while a drunken group of fans shouted obscenties at Boston players as they boarded a bus.
Bird left yesterday for Indiana to prepare for the upcoming season and was not on hand for the verdict.
Cowens, now athletic director at Regis Women's College, said he was "gratified and pleased that they came up with the right answer" and that his and Bird's names were cleared.
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