A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE – “With Rondo out with a sprained left ankle injury, Robinson has been a starter who has tried to balance what he does best — shooting the ball — with running the team. ‘It’s challenging, but at the same time, I’ve watched Rondo and how he handles it,’ Robinson told CSNNE.com when asked about directing the Celtics offensively. ‘He does a great job at it. Those are big shoes to fill.’ … ‘We want Nate to play to his strengths,’ said Pierce, who at times demands the ball from Robinson to initiate offensive sets. ‘That’s where he gives the most value to this team. We want him to be a scorer, a guy who can be electric shooting the ball. That’s what we need from him.’ Which is why none of the Celtics were bothered by his 2-for-15 shooting performance against the Magic. ‘Nate missed some shots he usually hits,’ Garnett said. ‘We had some breakdowns at times. It happens, man.’ And while some players may become gun-shy after struggling, don’t count Robinson among them. ‘You just have to be ready to play,’ Robinson said. ‘That’s something that Isiah Thomas used to tell me. No matter what, you don’t know how many minutes you’ll play or when you’ll play. As long as you bring your energy, they can’t take anything away from you. That’s your greatest asset to the game.’”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “In the past few weeks, Robinson’s gone from understudy to playing one of the more important roles in the offense, and he’s handled the change so well that it’s easy to overlook how difficult the task really is. Not only is he replacing Rondo. He’s essentially the Celtics’ only option at the point besides rookie Avery Bradley. At the same time, being a starter is relatively new territory for Robinson. In his career, he’s started just 68 games. Since his rookie season in 2005-06, when he started 26 times for the Knicks, Robinson never has started more than 17 games in a season. He’s started eight for the Celtics already, and with Rondo out for the foreseeable future resting the left ankle he sprained in New York Dec. 15, he’ll have to continue to adjust. The shots Robinson is used to seeing, when he would burn teams for going under screens because they had prepared so much for Rondo, aren’t there as often anymore. ‘You notice when Rondo was playing, Nate came in and he always got the early threes, the early shots,’ Rivers said. ‘But now teams are starting to gameplan for that.’ ‘He just has to get used to maybe playing a lot of minutes,’ said forward Paul Pierce. ‘We don’t know when Rondo is going to come back. He’s definitely filling in Rondo’s role, and it’s a different game when you start than coming off the bench. He has to have a different type of mentality at the start, and I try to tell him, you can’t ease into these games. When you’re starting the game, you have to have it from the start.’”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “But there is something else to take away from the game that could well make the defeat — ugly though it was — seem insignificant when push comes to playoffs. The lingering image here of Saturday afternoon was Kevin Garnett calling for the ball and willingly going into physical battle inside with Dwight Howard and Dwight Howard’s biceps. The more recent model KG has shied away from such confrontations, but he was different when he showed up this season. Christmas Day was just the latest giant step, and, for the Celtics, it was a gift that could give them so much more. Garnett made 10-of-14 shots on the way to 22 points against the Magic. He had four steals. He was the only Celt to shoot 50 percent or better; the rest of the lads were a combined 18-for-67 (26.9 percent). ‘His body’s feeling better,’ Ray Allen said. ‘He’s getting back to using power, and he has that confidence in going straight ahead. We’ve been going to him even more in the last month. I’d imagine he’s feeling better, but there’s a responsibility that comes with that. He’s getting his body prepared and he does everything he can to keep his muscles strong and keep his mind right.’”
Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston – “In five losses this season, the Celtics’ average margin of defeat is a mere 4.8 points. Boston is giving itself a chance to win every game thanks in large part to avoiding large deficits. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Celtics’ largest deficit in any game this season was 14 points (during an 89-87 loss to Dallas on Nov. 8). The only other NBA team that hasn’t trailed by as many as 15 points this season is the Mavericks (Dallas trailed the Nuggets by a season-high 13 points in a 103-92 loss).”
Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel – [Editor's note: It took 15 seconds before Dwight Howard was penalized for a 10-second violation. I agree with 0% of this piece, and may God have mercy on Brian Schmitz's soul.] “This is all Dwight Howard needs: Something else to think about when he’s shooting free throws. Everybody has given Howard home remedies and suggestions to help him cure his ills at the line. Now it’s his best friends — the refs. They insist he hurry it up, pressuring him by conducting a silent countdown. A little-known NBA rule states a player has 10 seconds to shoot a free throw once he receives the ball. Officials enforced the statue against Howard on Saturday when the Magic faced the Boston Celtics. Referee Bob Delaney said Howard took too long and wiped out the attempt. Frankly, if anybody should have been penalized for slow play, it ought to have been Shaquille O’Neal. Did you see how long it took Shaq to get up and down the floor? Howard leans toward conspiracies. Now I don’t think the NBA is out to get him. But I do wonder how many other superstars would be put on a clock during a national TV holiday game, and that’s what irks Howard. I timed two of LeBron James’ attempts when he toed the line in the fourth quarter against the Lakers on Saturday (thanks to DVR). LeBron held the ball on his hip, spun it, bounced it, recited the Gettysburg Address and then slowly released the shot….in 11 seconds by my clock. Another shot took about 12 seconds. No call. I’m just sayin.’”
Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston – “The Boston Celtics closed out practice Tuesday doing five-on-five half-court work and, on the final play, the green-clad starters cranked up their intensity a few notches and created a defensive stand that left the white-clad reserves, who had been competitive to that point, paralyzed offensively. ‘The first unit knows that, whenever they want to, if they up their pressure, they can take the second unit out of anything they want to run,’ Celtics coach Doc Rivers said later. And therein lay one of Boston’s secrets to success during its low-on-style-points 14-game winning streak — ramp up the defensive intensity late to salt away the win. Half of the 14 victories were decided by single digits, with the Celtics’ opponent often hanging around for 3½ quarters before the Boston starters clamped down defensively. But on Saturday, that formula fell apart as Boston’s defense couldn’t get it done, and instead the Orlando Magic tightened up, helping the home team snap Boston’s winning streak with an 86-78 triumph at the Amway Center.”
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