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They're desperate to improve

June 12, 2008|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

What, these mighty, mighty Celtics worry?

OK, maybe a little.

The word "desperate" was tossed around Wednesday by a couple of players in a light fashion that may not yet signal all-out desperation.

After all, they remain ahead, 2-1, in the NBA Finals with home-court advantage still comfortably secured, heading into tonight's Game 4 against the Lakers at Staples Center.

They'd prefer to play as though they were down tonight, not up, after a Game 3 loss that depicted several disturbing, if not disrupting signs.

"We didn't play our best [Tuesday], and we know they played -- I'm pretty sure that they said they didn't play their best, either," guard Ray Allen said. "But we didn't win, so we've got to be a little more desperate in Game 4."

More desperate and more driven.

"Me myself, I've got to do a lot better job of getting guys easy shots by being aggressive," forward Kevin Garnett said in the aftermath of missing 15 of 21 shots.

Paul Pierce fared worse, making two of 14 shots, but Celtics Coach Doc Rivers wiped away excuses that his All-Star forward's injured knee had possibly flared up on the flight from Boston to Los Angeles.

"We're not going to use that, I can tell you that," Rivers said. "Paul is a human being, he just didn't have a great game. I thought the Lakers did a nice job defending him.

"We've got to get Kevin going, clearly. He's shooting below 40% in the series, and that's something he doesn't do."

Rondo still hurting

The Celtics are falling. The Celtics are falling.

That's three NBA Finals games and three injured starters for Boston.

Rajon Rondo, their second-year point guard, followed Pierce and center Kendrick Perkins among the ailing Bostonians, bruising his left ankle in the third quarter of Game 3.

Like Pierce and Perkins, Rondo is hoping he can go without missing a game.

"There's no way I'm going to miss the game," he said, before qualifying it with a "probably." "I don't want to hurt the team and go out there and not give it my all, but I think I'm pretty sure I'll be playing [tonight]."

Rondo sat out Boston's practice Wednesday and wore a plastic brace on his left ankle.

If he can't play, Rivers said the team would resort to using two backup guards who are as different as night and day. The point duties would fall to Eddie House, a guard capable of instant offense, but not necessarily running an offense, and veteran point guard Sam Cassell, still wily and sometimes capable at 38, but still 38.

Rivers said he could also use Tony Allen, who has not seen much playing time this postseason.

Rest up

After Game 3, Rivers prescribed plenty of rest for his team. To that end, the Celtics are not scheduled to shoot around today.

"[Game 3] is the first game that I had four or five different players during the game signal to pull them out," Rivers said. "I had to blow a timeout, one that I dearly -- I didn't want to use. . . . Paul [Pierce] got fouled, he signaled for a timeout. I thought he was injured because he just said, 'I need a timeout' and I called a timeout. He just wanted a blow.

"We needed that darned timeout when I think about it, and I told our guys that, as well. I said, 'We can't use timeouts for rest for a couple guys.' Anyway, I just thought that it was a tough turnaround, and I just think rest is very important."


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