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“High Above Courtside: Celtics vs Knicks, 02/28/07”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 1, 2007

“Cousy” Newsday photo files

Got there 55 minutes before tip-off. Settle into the first row balcony, season ticket seats we share with a few others. First row means no one walking in front of you; they’d have to be really, really tall to obstruct this view. Balcony also means three steps to the Molson Canadian booth. Timeliness meant we were among the first 5,000 which, in turn, meant we were recipients of a DJ “3” lapel pin.

Two players on the court working out. Stephon Marbury on one end getting feed after feed for “catch, one-dribble right jumper; catch one-dribble left jumper”. A bunch of those and he’d move to the next spot. Ten or so and another spot. Etc. On the other end, Sebastian Telfair, Marbury’s first cousin, played a simple, easy, goof-around game of one-on-one (always on offense) against two of the Celtics’ trainers. Shooting contested jumpers from 20+. My wife, Ellen, noted he wasn’t making many. Marbury and Telfair are, of course, not just related, they’re members of the same royal family, that long line of storied NYC high school phenom point guards. Tonight, Telfair never got into the game.

Celts started out eager, attentive, built a 22 or point lead first half. Knicks erased that and more in the third and fourth quarters, waking up the crowd and, eventually the Celts. Celtics put it away when Pierce hit a jumper with Marbury lodged between his upper lip and gums, 102-94.

Some observations:

1) the Knicks, seriousy depleted because of injuries to key players (Jamal Crawford, David Lee) played hard (the 2nd half) and, impressively, displayed a willingness to move the ball, share the ball, to the point where you’d have to say it’s a strength of theirs. Whether you have forgiven Isiah Thomas for “saying that if Larry Bird were black he’d be just ‘another good guy’ instead of being hyped as the league’s best player” or not, you’ve got to give him credit for putting a team on the floor that is giving the appearance of functioning as a unit. I don’t know if they can make the playoffs with Crawford out, but they clearly have gotten better as the year has gone along;

2) Gerald Green not only is good on the break running the wing but also is good pushing it up himself after rebounding. He got the Celts two great opportunities by doing nothing but pushing it hard upcourt;

3) Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe, the legendary hoops’ scribe, never once looks out at the “entertainment” on the court during time-outs, between periods, etc. I’m hoping he hates it all as much as I do;

4) there must have been seven traveling calls;

5) Similar to Kobe, Lebron, Wade and McGrady, Stephon Marbury can get a good look at a good shot any time he wants. He just doesn’t finish as often as those others;

6) If Rajon Rondo ever develops a jumper, he could be a top ten point guard in the league: great in the running game, comes up with loose balls and rebounds, gets into the lane and dishes. I do wonder whether he has staying power, the mental discpline needed to get on the long-term improvement arc that most great players in this league follow;

7) Al Jefferson made a believer out of me last night. We’ve all seen the McHale-ian moves, the numbers he’s been putting up. But, last night and more recently, he’s been looking like someone who is learning how to play with Pierce and someone who is no longer struggling under the weight of expectation: “can’t miss”, “future all-star”, all that. Now ready to be an awesome four-man. Great to see.

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7 Responses to ““High Above Courtside: Celtics vs Knicks, 02/28/07””

  1. Jean said

    I got to go to the game last night too (with 3 transplanted Knicks
    fans). I have to agree with you on Al Jefferson. I had probably
    not watched him enough so I was never sure what all the “can’t miss”
    stuff was about, but last night he was great, playing with a lot
    of confidence. He had a couple of scores against Curry that had
    my buddies complaining about Eddie’s defense…a couple of time,
    he did look a little lazy, but the other times, Al just plain
    beat him.

    A couple of other observations:
    1) What happened to Delonte? He had a bad game, looking tentative
    on his drives and making a lot of bad passes. Is he worried about
    Rajon taking his job away?
    2) We knew Greene won the dunk contest, but we couldn’t remember
    who won the 3 point shooting contest. After a couple of Greene’s
    3s, we thought maybe he won that too :-)…Actually we figured
    out it must have been Scalabrine…
    3) You probably didn’t see this, but Dee Brown was a good sport
    for holding the ball while “Lucky” did his trampoline dunk over
    4) After the Celts had built that 20 point lead, my knick fan
    friends were grumbling about the game. I told them to wait for
    the inevitable Celtics collapse, and sure enough, they delivered
    (giving up 40+ points in 3rd quarter?). It did make for an
    entertaining finish.
    5) Probably not a stretch, but we all agreed that Pierce was the
    best player on the floor, doing what needed to be done when it
    needed to be done.
    6) Maybe it was the sparse turnout, but the DJ tribute (and
    fan response) paled
    when compared with opening night’s tribute to Red.


  2. 1) Delonte did look in a funk. I’m a big Delonte West fan which is to say I am a big fan of guys who go all-out all the time, can be disruptive on defense, get loose balls, score out of the flow of the game. He wasn’t doing any of that last night. I’ve always felt he was a “basketball player” and, therefore, not necessarily always a good fit in the pro offensive schemes. At St. Joe’s, they had a free-flowing “passing game” in which he absolutely flourished;

    2) I don’t know if you were serious about who won the shooting contest but it was Jason Kapono. C’mon, Jean, didn’t you read each and every comment in the Shooting Homework post???

    3) I did see it, but did Bob Ryan see it?

    5) Not much competition unless you count Marbury’s never-to-be-fulfiiled potential;

    6) agreed (but did you get a lapel pin?)


  3. Jean said

    Nah, that last pre-game beer at the Fours prevented us from
    getting to the Gahden until just before game time (walking the
    hallway during National Anthem), so missed out on lapel pin.
    Did see the “Times of Your Life” video to DJ though.

    Just joking about Scals (is that his official nickname?), but thanks
    for the answer about who actually did win.

    Checking out Shooting Homework now….


  4. Dan Z said

    I’m still not sold on Delonte. I love his hustle too, but this is year 3 of his career and I still don’t think he does anything extraordinary (besides free throw %). His right hand dribble is a liability for a point guard and his jumper is good but not great. He’s not a leaper and he doesn’t beat anyone off the dribble. At times he makes heady plays, but then other times he disappears and passes up open shots.

    I was very impressed that Pierce was deferring to Jefferson and Green for much of the 4th quarter. That is great experience for them.


  5. Again, remembering Delonte from that St. Joe’s team, one of my all-time favorite college teams, I think he just hasn’t found his place, his niche. And, the sad fact of the matter is, he may not find it in the pros. But, then again, he’s a tough, smart kid, and he may continue to develop the skills that he didn’t need in their system in college that he now needs in the pros.


  6. jim v said

    so its friday afternoon and i’m in work avoidance mode so this message might get long. in no particular order……

    stephon marbury – huge talent with nothing (except lots of $$$$) to show for it. his career in a nutshell – decided to leave minnesota (and kevin garnett) just as they were poised to become a contender. the timberwolves have never recovered. neither has his career.

    sebastian telfair – huge disappointment so far. a shoot first point guard without a reliable shot. he’s quick/fast enough to be a pest on defense but every point guard he defends doesn’t seem to have any trouble when telfair’s on the floor. i wouldn’t be surprised if he’s out of the league in 2 years

    al jefferson – we all saw the soft hands and the pretty drop steps 2 years ago. but now he’s healthy, in shape and staying out of foul trouble. 42 minutes against the knicks with 26 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks. granted its the knicks, but lets be positive here…..

    gerald green – this is the biggest summer of gerald’s life. this season we’ve seen evidence of a nice 3 point stroke, to occasionally create his own shot, and (recently) some clue on the defensive end. is this his apex as a player, or will he continue to improve? if he’s to get better, it has to be the summer of 1000 shots a day (long range, medium range, off the dribble), the summer of intense sessions in the weight room.

    delonte – i like delonte a lot. but i think they’re asking him to do things that don’t suit his strengths. if he were playing for a contender he would have to do less and end up contributing more.

    ok, time to get back to work………


  7. Dan Z said

    Jefferson just threw in 32 and 18 against the Nets. This was against Mikey Moore and and one of the Collins brothers, but still impressive!


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