For all the negatives associated with being an older team, the one big plus those squads should be able to lean on -- their virtual cane, if you will -- is being better than their less-seasoned opponents in crunch time.
The Orlando Sentinel poked fun at the aging Celtics in advance of Thursday night's showdown between Boston and the Orlando Magic by producing a photo illustration of a prematurely aged Rasheed Wallace with a headline, "Old & Gray is the new Green." Despite the headline, the article stressed how dangerous Boston was because of its wealth of experience.
But the Celtics just looked plain old Thursday.
Boston disappeared mentally and physically in the fourth quarter of a head-shaking 96-94 loss to Orlando at Amway Arena.
"We deserved it," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I said it in the second quarter, we had a chance to be up 20. I thought we completely lost our focus. An 11-point lead, I told them at halftime, it was a joke. We should have been up 25 points at halftime.
"We started walking around like we had accomplished something by getting up. We don't do that, but we did it today.
"I told them, I love this team, but I didn't love them every play today."
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Opposing View: Final play was designed for ... Vince Carter?!
When Magic coach Stan Van Gundy drew up a final play Thursday, it featured the ball going to Vince Carter, who was 2 of 13 shooting for six points. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on how you rooting allegiance), the play never got a chance to develop and Rashard Lewis saved the Magic with his baseline drive for a layup with 1.3 seconds remaining to win it.
Even still, Van Gundy had no fear going with Carter.
"Especially with the score tied, we don't really have anybody else that's been in that situation," said Van Gundy. "We have a lot of guys that have made big shots, but managing the clock and being able to get that shot and not give them time coming back is huge. And he's really the only guy we've got that's been in that situation. very much.
"To me, I knew he was having a tough night, but to me it was a fairly easy call. If you're down one, it might have been tougher because you're going quicker and we could have gone a lot of different ways. But it didn't end up mattering because the play broke. J.J. [Redick] did a good job holding his composure, getting Rashard the ball and then Rashard, great drive, all the way to the rim. Not something you expect to get at that point in the game."
Said Lewis: "The play was drawn up for Vince to come and get the ball. Paul Pierce played pretty good defense on him -- denied and couldn't get the ball into him. J.J. had to pick the dribble up so he couldn't dribble the ball. I just ran up to give him another outlet and got the ball from him, and turned the corner with my right hand and took it to the basket. I expected the defense to collapse and I was very surprised when I got around [Kevin Garnett]. I was surprised I saw the rim because they're usually a great defensive team."
Poor Wallace simply can't get away with screaming, "And one" when looking for a foul call in the Sunshine State.
Wallace got whistled for a technical by referee Greg Willard after making a basket with 3:21 to go in the first quarter and exclaiming the phrase looking for an additional foul call as the ball went through the cylinder.
Wallace incurred a similar technical foul against Miami on Nov. 29, when referee Bennett Salvatore hit him for screaming "And one" after making a short jumper. The NBA later rescinded that call.
Wallace had a few words with Willard during a timeout later, telling him, "You're whack with that."
Boston's Paul Pierce and Orlando's Matt Barnes were hit with matching technicals in the first frame for a dust-up under the Orlando basket that had both players face-to-face exchanging words.