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How you know it

isn't your week . . .

After losing to the Lakers and being upset by the Warriors, the Celtics ended the West Coast Trip From Hell, falling in Portland, 91-86, giving them more losses (three) in six days than they'd had all season (two).

Making it perfect, the Trail Blazers' Travis Outlaw scored on an inbounds play with six players on the floor to end the first half. Portland was given a technical foul, which Ray Allen made, but the referees counted the basket.

NBA Vice President Ron Johnson, a retired Army general named to succeed the bumbling Stu Jackson despite having no experience, agreed the mistake wasn't correctable.

There's no truth to the rumor Johnson assembled an independent committee of Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, who voted, 3-0, to count the hoop.

Or your year?

Unfortunately for the Celtics, they have real problems, like not enough players. While their bench was getting outscored, 69-38, in their three losses, Dikembe Mutombo, whom they wanted, signed with Houston, and P.J. Brown, whom they hoped would come out of retirement again, said he wouldn't.

Showing they need help, Kevin Garnett came up empty the night after the Lakers game, scoring 14 points with four rebounds against the Warriors.

"I told Paul [Pierce] and Ray that I could have stayed at the hotel after the performance I gave," Garnett said.

Grieving process

Celtics fans aren't actually different (i.e., more irrational, in greater need of lives) than anyone else's fans, but they are more visible.

From his always-entertaining, Boston-as-center-of-the-universe perspective, ESPN's Bill Simmons attributed the Christmas loss "to Kobe Bryant and a gritty 15-man Lakers team (I'm including the refs)."

In reply, ESPN fantasy expert Matthew Berry noted Boston's 38-10 free-throw edge in Game 2 of last spring's Finals, compared to the Lakers' 15-8 edge in this game.

Wrote Berry: "Bill and every other Celtics fan . . . are all banned from whining about ref calls in any Lakers-Celtics game from here 'til the end of time."

That should stop them.

Another country

heard from

The NBA is close to a situation with Chinese voters making New Jersey's Yi Jianlian No. 3 among East forwards in All-Star balloting.

With 959,324 votes, Yi trails James (1,521,272) and Garnett (101,541) and is far ahead of Chris Bosh (601,204) and Pierce (387,105).

Happily, Yi is averaging just 9.7 points. If he gets to 12 next season, the coaches may have to put KG on the team.

There's a

place for us

Golden State's Stephen Jackson wants the Clippers' Baron Davis back but the Warriors have issues, too.

The power shift that led them to withdraw their offer to Davis continues, with General Manager Chris Mullin on his way out.

Coach Don Nelson recently told Jackson, who just got a $28-million extension, to pick it up. Jackson, who'd been playing hurt, sat out the next four games, telling teammates he'd welcome a trade.

"I was frustrated," Jackson told ESPN's Ric Bucher. "I am frustrated. But I don't want to be one of those guys who just gets his money and then wants out when things go bad. . . .

"Coach and I don't agree on everything, but I appreciate what he's done, making me a captain and everything."

-- Mark Heisler

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: January 5, 2009


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