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C’s-Jazz: Fallen Stars

 

ESPN Box ScoreSalt City HoopsSLC Dunk

PACE: 92 possessions (just below average)

OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY: 119 points/100 possessions (extremely high)

DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY: 93.5 points allowed/100 possessions (way above league best)

It’s sad, but I imagine the people of Salt Lake City were really looking forward to this game. After a long day at work and Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsal, they probably hoped to see their favorite team rebound from two very embarrassing losses to New Jersey and Washington against a Boston team with which they match up quite well. As Jazz fans cleared a path through the snow in their living rooms to their TV sets, they probably hoped for Deron Williams to assert himself against Rajon Rondo as the league’s most dominant point guard.

What they got instead was tough to watch: personal-worst-of-the-season performances from both Deron Williams and Al Jefferson.

The C’s performed very well in pretty much all facets of the game tonight. They picked up 31 assists on the night, moving the ball around like the Celtics of the old days (November 2010). They also took smart shots, focusing primarily on the rim and the three and converting at a high percentage from both, totaling 55% for the game led by KG’s 7-10. But they also got a lot of help towards this win from Utah’s ostensible two best players.

Before tonight, Williams hadn’t taken fewer than 10 shots in a game, and he hadn’t scored fewer than 10 points. Tonight he took four shots, made one of them, and scored five points with zero rebounds in 23 minutes (also a season low).

Jefferson, meanwhile, has had two games when he scored fewer points than the seven he got tonight: in the season opener he had six on 2-6 shooting, and in the overtime win against Miami he had two on 1-7 shooting. Tonight, however, his seven points came on a cataclysmic 1-11 shooting night. I’m going to go ahead and call that his worst night of the year, especially considering he only got 5 rebounds compared to 9 against Miami.

What got into these guys tonight? Well, for starters, Williams got whistled for two clumsy fouls on Rondo in the first four minutes. That kept him out of the game for the rest of the first quarter, and when he reentered he mostly relegated his offense to the perimeter. Three of his four shots were hasty threes, all misses. Marquis Daniels got Williams on D instead of Rondo, and his size made things difficult, but with Daniels out in the second half, Williams still avoided going to the basket: heady help defense from Semih and KG forced him to kick out virtually all of his drives.

Then at some point Williams quit on the game and stopped shooting. Like when you’re getting beaten at online Scrabble so badly you just resign. We’ve all been there.

As for Big Al…who knows. Maybe it was an overwhelming nostalgia for the days he played in the Garden with the likes of Orien Greene and Justin Reed. Whatever it was, it was strong medicine, because he missed in pretty much every way possible: layups, tips, and jumpers from all distances, many of them open. The only shot he put down was a dunk, the first Utah basket of the night. Again, kind of tough to watch at times. He’s a great guy and you want him to do well.

But you don’t want to hear about another team’s best players playing badly. You want to hear about the Celtics’ worst players playing really goodly. You want to hear about…

SEMIH ERDEMOLITION

When Shaq left with a sore right hip (which apparently is going to sideline him for the next couple of games), Semih ran on to the court, started flailing his arms around crazily, and never stopped. His strategy earned him three steals, seven boards, and a career-high 14 points on 5-5 shooting. “Attaboy, Semih!” said the insane man at the broadcasting table, and he was right.

Semih’s performance was not (entirely) accidental; he is seriously learning how to play NBA basketball. His rotations on defense were sound, he missed no assignments that I noticed, and read the opposing defense well enough to get himself open for high-percentage shots, specifically three dunks. Here’s the best of those dunks:

Love it. You can kind of see his hair fluttering in the breeze as he goes up, and he gets in a nice Statue of Liberty pose just before he throws it down, in tribute to his immigrant heritage. I’m not too nervous having Semih play extended minutes at center over the next couple outings, especially against the Wiz tomorrow night.

Two more highlights and then we’re out of here: first, the kooky one-handed accidental three from Ray to set up a four-point play. Kind of reminiscent of the Bird three I posted about a little while ago, except Ray got the call:

And finally, the dunk many viewers probably missed after they shut off this largely boring game to go to some party or something. The highlight of the night: Von Wafer’s putback slam.

This little guy can do a lot of things. Kind of hoping he sticks around to keep doing them.

NOTES

-Not sure if this has been mentioned before here, but Davis is getting star calls for his charges lately. In the one he got against Williams (his 41st of the season, according to Mike Gorman) his feet were more than halfway in the circle. Note that I’m not complaining about this. Also he shot very intelligently tonight, appreciated how much he got to the rim.

-Sterling effort from Tommy Heinsohn this evening. Some broadcasters panic as the second half of a blowout game stretches before them, but Tommy only sees opportunities to make things extremely weird.

First Tommy revealed in two separate moments that he doesn’t approve of “the bird thing” Nate Robinson does when he hits a three or of behind-the-back-dribbling. Then he had these two memorable exchanges:

(Referring to Kyrylo Fesenko, who Tommy had never seen before and inexplicably fell in love with)

Gorman: He’s from the Ukraine.

Heinsohn: He looks like the entire Ukraine!

(Deron Williams bricks a technical free throw)

Gorman: As Donny Marshall would say, “ball don’t lie.”

Heinsohn: Whoa! Are you telling me Donny’s talking to balls now? Oh, Donny, don’t talk to balls!

That last one obviously deserves a little more time. It seems like Tommy somehow heard “ball don’t lie” as “ball, don’t lie”, like a direct request made by a person to a ball. Why this happened I have no idea. Has Tommy somehow never realized what that phrase meant, even after Sheed said it five times a game last year? Was he making some totally bizarre joke? I’m not sure which explanation I love more.

  • Zee

    I heard Tommy say that about Nate. LOL! What’s not to like about the bird dance? He got it from Patti Labelle. :)

    I heard the “ball don’t lie thing” too. Guess its time for a vacation hunh? LOL :)

  • DRJ1

    Actually, I think this game deserves some recognition going forward. This was the first game of the season — and probably, though not certainly, the last — in which the Cs got the BENEFIT of the referees' bias/idiocy/blindness (take your pick(s)).

    [All I can say is what fans of every other team have said after their team got the same benefit playing against the Celtics -- and there have been MANY: -- "it's about time, after all the crap we've had to eat!" Nobody cares that an eye for an eye soon makes the whole world blind... least of all the refs, who are always glad to have more blind company on their planet.]

    • Steve B

      Totally agree. I can't remember the last time the C's got that many calls their way. Except for Marquis of course. He seemed to become a marked man after that T when he really should have got the call on his shot.

      • DRJ1

        Yeah, I forgot about what Ken Mauer did to Quis. I wonder why (I forgot)? Prob because it was so… weird. It's hard to believe how petty and stupid these 'professional' refs can be. Which is too bad, because the game itself is really beautiful.

        • hdavenport

          Yeah, not a huge Ken Mauer fan myself, even if he is Joe Mauer's cousin.

          • Tom W

            nothing was weirder this season then that streak of technicals he gave Minnesota. i think it was 5 of them in 10 seconds.

          • DRJ1

            Wow… didn't know it was THAT guy. I think he might not last long. Even the NBA has limits to what it will tolerate, and what he did in Minn made ALL the sports news reports. And not in a good way. NBA can get a little touchy about being made into a laughingstock.

          • hdavenport

            Well, he's also a convicted felon, so if he can come back from that I think the league can handle five technicals.

          • Tom W

            I'm glad to see we have such quality, trustworthy individuals officiating in this league.

          • DRJ1

            The funny thing is… I did not know that, but have always thought he kinda looks like a gangster right out of The Sopranos. Truth.

  • http://thecbbg.blogspot.com/ Tessa

    I too was pretty pleased with the refs… But I think the amount of calls the Celtics got tonight had more to do with the Jazz playing frustrated, crappy basketball than it did with the Celtics getting respect from the refs… But I'll take it!!

    Another one of my favorite Tommy moments of the night came when Semih and Okur were on the floor at the same time. Tommy said they were speaking Turkish to each other, and Mike asked how Tommy resisted from joining in. Mike also asked Tommy if he dreamed in Turkish, to which Tommy replied that he does in fact dream in Turkish, and used to dream in French. Toooo funny.

    • celtic

      Perkins will be back before we go back to staples

    • http://twitter.com/M_DeVelaine @M_DeVelaine

      I think he said Cousy used to dream in French, because I remember him following that line up with "At least that's what he told me."

  • bohaterewicz

    That was not well officiated game, a lot of ticky tacky fouls. But when you look at the box score you see: Celtics 30PF, 27/31 FT; Jazz 28PF 26/34 FT. The biggest concern right now is Center spot. I don't want to see Semih starting at Staples.

  • Batman

    It's clear we have to give Semih a max contract for 5 years

    • DRJ1

      Celtics have Semih for 2 years at the min. Don't think there's any option after that.

      I know sarcasm is sometimes really hard to pinpoint in an online blog like this, so idk if you were kidding or not. Either way then….. I believe that if he keeps playing like this, he will prove himself a very valuable, young, smart, tough true 7-footer — and that's rare enough in this league (well… on this planet, actually) that the Cs will probably do whatever they gotta do to keep him.

      • Batman

        Yeah i was being sarcastic
        I forgot that it is hard to hear (read?) sarcasm on the internet

  • JCP

    "You can kind of see his hair fluttering in the breeze as he goes up, and he gets in a nice Statue of Liberty pose just before he throws it down, in tribute to his immigrant heritage."

    Love your writing, Hayes.

  • Dropstep

    I didn't watch this game, but you can take charges inside the circle under certain circumstances. As I didn't watch the game, I don't know if those circumstances were met, but here's a post that talks about a situation in a Lakers/Suns game this year http://nbaplaybook.com/2011/01/06/why-matt-barnes

  • Eric

    Being a Texan, I had to hurry up and move the cattle onto the back 40, groom my horse, and cook beans over an open fire before I could watch this game.

  • Zee

    Here's a better link for the Von Wafer dunk (with audio): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGGDLlYHeZI

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