Paul Flannery, WEEI – “The Celtics have won three of the four games that Rondo has sat out and Nate Robinson has been a big reason for that success. Against the Nets, Robinson scored eight points in the first five minutes and got the Celtics out of the gate quickly. He also launched a couple of ill-timed 3-pointers, including one where he stepped back on the fast break to launch from deep. That’s part of the overall package with Robinson, and Doc Rivers has encouraged him to just be himself when he’s out on the floor because the reserve unit needs his scoring punch. … Robinson’s play has helped alleviate a little bit of the concern about Rondo who is clearly going to be dealing with physical issues throughout the season. It’s unfair to ask Robinson to carry over that kind of production with the second unit because, as Rivers noted in his postgame talk with reporters, he’s not a focal point of defenses when he’s on the court with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. But Robinson has proven his worth in games that Rondo has missed and he has already earned back the investment that the Celtics made in him this offseason.
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “Avery Bradley had played all of eight minutes coming in, but circumstances — from Rondo’s injury to the 32-point lead the Celtics piled up in the second half — allowed him to see more time than he has all season (15 minutes). He took advantage by flashing the defense that the Celtics have been praising him for since drafting him in June. ‘Our teammates always tell me whenever [Rivers] calls your name, just be ready to play and that was my thing, just go out there and play hard,’ Bradley said. ‘It was good to get a chance to go out there and kind of get a feel for the game and the speed. I still have a lot of things I have to work on so I can get used to it, but I definitely felt good. It’s like a step toward me getting used to it.’ He hounded Devin Harris and was the driving defensive force behind a second-quarter stalemate that all but took the fire out of New Jersey’s offense. ‘Avery was unbelievable,’ said Von Wafer. ‘He was the catalyst. He was getting in their guards, pressuring them. Nobody likes that. He was the catalyst for that whole run. And nobody wanted to let the other guy down and we just came together and played good defense.’”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “‘It doesn’t matter who’s on the court, we’re all held accountable to do our job,’ said Daniels, who scored 8 of his 10 points in the second quarter. Davis also scored 8 points (of his 16) in the second, fueling a 17-4 run that put the Nets in an inescapable hole. Davis and Daniels played 30 minutes apiece, letting the starters take a load off, but at the same time letting the second unit find a rhythm. ‘The second team got a lot of reps being out there, being able to make mistakes and to learn,’ Davis said. ‘We don’t practice a lot, so we try to take every opportunity — every game opportunity — to build. That’s what the second team needs. We need repetition. We’re young players, we need to get out there and get reps. We didn’t make shots with that group. We played defense. That’s what it’s about, defense creates offense. Von and Avery came in and did what they were supposed to do. They came in for five minutes, we didn’t score, but the score was still the same because we were playing D.’”
Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston – “Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (hamstring) is a last-minute scratch with coach Doc Rivers finding out his point guard was unable to go just moments before he met with reporters (about an hour before tip-off). Nate Robinson will start in Rondo’s place. Rondo missed three games late last month because of the strained left hamstring, but played in Boston’s last four games. At the start of Friday’s game against the Bulls, he motioned to be taken out, but stayed in the game after the initial soreness and ended up dishing out 19 assists in a win. With a two-day break looming after today’s game, the Celtics weren’t going to take any chances. “We have a two-day break after this and that’s one of the things that went into this,’ said Rivers, acknowledging that the team might need to shut Rondo down for a short period of time to get the hamstring right again. The Celtics do play a back-to-back later in the week as part of three games in four days. ‘Listen, it is what it is. We’re just going to try to get through it.’”
Rich Levine, CSNNE – “As for Rondo’s future status, Rivers wouldn’t rule out the possibility of his point guard sitting out more than just this game, although the fact that Boston doesn’t play again until Wednesday might allow Rondo enough time to rest.”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “Shaquille O’Neal is experiencing the same knee soreness that caused him to miss five games last month, but with the Celtics low on bodies (just 11 players active), he tried to play through it yesterday. He played 12 first-half minutes before taking a seat. ‘[Shaq] told me before the game that he probably wouldn’t go, but we didn’t have enough players,’ Rivers said. ‘He said, ‘If you just play me three or four minutes in a row, see how long I can go through halftime,’ and he was great. We needed that. We needed those minutes.’”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “Shaquille O’Neal was forced to miss the second half of yesterday’s win over the New Jersey Nets because of a drug problem. O’Neal is still bothered by pain in his right calf and shin from a collision of knees with Amar’e Stoudemire in the Oct. 29 victory over the New York Knicks. As part of his routine, he takes anti-inflammatory medicine the morning of night games. But yesterday’s 1 p.m. start necessitated him taking the dosage the night before. ‘I just forgot to take my drugs,’ Shaq said. ‘Without them, I can’t really play right now. But I’ll be fine Wednesday (when the Celts host the Denver Nuggets).’”
Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston – “Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal will resume individual on-court workouts Monday with hopes of returning to full-team sessions next week, but he did not establish a timetable for returning to game action after sitting out the past month with lingering left knee soreness. In returning to on-court activities, O’Neal is taking his biggest step forward since shutting himself down and, should all go well this week, expects to be cleared by Boston’s medical staff to engage in full-team exercises.”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “‘They jumped all over us in the second quarter, and we never recovered,’ said Nets coach Avery Johnson. ‘They looked like a championship team. They didn’t come in looking to mess around. They took it to us.’ And the Celtics did so without some key players, including O’Neal, who skipped the second half with a sore right calf. ‘We just kind of move on,’ said Rivers, who didn’t get the word on Rondo until less than an hour before tipoff. ‘We try never to make a big deal of an injury or anybody’s absence, and we just keep playing.’”
Colin Stephenson, New Jersey Star-Ledger – “All season long, the Nets have surprised, and impressed, with their fighting spirit, their never-say-die attitude and their penchant for playing great games against the best teams. They had none of those Sunday. Playing an afternoon game at the Prudential Center against the Boston Celtics, with a good portion of the crowd cheering for the visitors, the Nets suffered one of their worst losses of the year, scoring a season low in points as they went down in an ugly 100-75 defeat. This is probably our third bad game of the year,’ a subdued Nets coach Avery Johnson said afterward, bringing up the 101-78 home loss to Miami on Halloween and the 102-86 road loss at Philadelphia on Nov. 27 as the others. ‘We thought we would have some energy. We didn’t. Devin (Harris) wasn’t his normal explosive self. I could just go on and on down the list.’”
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