Chuck Da Three and Play D

Chuck Da Three and Play D

March 11, 2002

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try . . . Well, without repeating the word 25 times, you get the picture. The Celtics went 6 for 25 from 3-point range yesterday. The gospel for Boston this season has been that every open 3-pointer is a 3-pointer worth taking. So it's no wonder the Celtics lead the NBA in 3-pointers made and attempted (512 for 1,438).

The Celtics are not quite on the record-setting pace of the 1995-96 Mavericks (735 for 2,039), but that doesn't make their love affair with the 3-ball any less controversial. Every time Boston shoots below 30 percent, questions are raised. Why did the Celtics persist in shooting quick (although open) shots from behind the arc after they were 2 for 14 at the half yesterday, 3 for 18 at the end of three? Simple. Because coach Jim O'Brien encourages his players to take open 3-pointers. He made that clear one more time yesterday, after the Celtics defeated the Wizards, 98-91.

   "There's no Plan B," said O'Brien. "If you're open, I want them to shoot it. You can't score 130 one night, 117 another night, and then tell your guys to not shoot the three when they're open. I have always found that it's better to get angry at them if they don't shoot it when they're open, than to tell them, 'Don't take the three.' I expect them to shoot it and I fully expect every one to go in, to tell you the truth." Good rebounders

No one wants a losing streak, but sometimes that's what it takes to play better basketball. This season, the Celtics have found that four-game skids have preceded some of their best games. When they lost four in a row in November, they came back with a season-high six-game winning streak. After losing four in a row in late February/early March, they now are riding a four-game winning streak.

"I don't think anybody who is in that locker room, coaches or players, overreacts when things are not going well," said O'Brien. "It's a long season and I think if you overreact, you lose confidence. If you do the fundamental things, you'll get off losing streaks and you'll be able to get on a winning streak. I think in both cases we got back to fundamentals, as we always do. We said, 'This is what will win, if we do it.' "

Hmmm. Can you think of a former Celtics coach who overreacted after losses or during losing streaks? Here's a hint: He's not walking through the FleetCenter doors any time soon. Eyes to the sky

As Boston struggled against Washington, the players could look up at the scoreboard and find out both Detroit and Milwaukee were going down. When the Celtics returned to their locker room, they found the erasable Eastern Conference standings already were adjusted. Boston is tied with Milwaukee for third place. The Celtics have an opportunity to gain even more ground when they play the conference-leading Nets Wednesday night at the FleetCenter. Antoine Walker doesn't know whether the Celtics can catch New Jersey. "I thought maybe early on we [had a chance]," he said.

"I don't think it's out of the question, but they would have to go bad. I don't know if they would go bad. I think Jason Kidd is too good of a player. Kenyon Martin and those guys have been able to battle through things. We just want to take care of our business against them." . . . Asked why he didn't reinsert Kenny Anderson (17 points, 4 fouls)  late in the game when the point guard was in less danger of fouling out, O'Brien said, "I thought the team we had on the court was doing really well." Anderson sat out the fourth quarter while Tony Delk manned the point . . . Before they left to fly home, the Wizards requested a copy of the brackets for the NCAA men's tournament . . . No longer a teenager, but not yet legal, the Wizards'  Kwame Brown turned 20 yesterday.

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