The first returns of 2011 NBA All-Star balloting were released Thursday. A pair of Celtics rank highly among vote-getters, as Rajon Rondo (497,141 votes) stands second among Eastern Conference guards and Kevin Garnett (456,111) is second among Eastern Conference forwards. If both hold their position in the voting, it would be the second All-Star appearance (and first start) for Rondo and Garnett's 14th selection.


Former Celtics great and current TNT analyst Kevin McHale was a guest on the Dennis and Callahan show Thursday morning. McHale was first asked about New York Knicks and Amare Stoudemire. The Celtics defeated the Knicks in a 118-116 thriller on Wednesday night despite 39 points and 10 rebounds from Stoudemire, who has played at an MVP level so far this season. McHale admits some surprise at how well Stoudemire has fit in with the Knicks.


NEW YORK – After all the shots, all the game-winners, all the times Paul Pierce has done what he wound up doing to the Knicks Wednesday night, he still gets nervous.



NEW YORK -- Another day, another injury for Rajon Rondo, who sprained his left ankle early in the fourth quarter Wednesday against the Knicks. Rondo rolled his ankle when he tried to plant his foot on a cut. He limped off the court, but returned later in the game. In the locker room after the Celtics 118-116 victory, Rondo was clearly in pain, but he said he would play against the Hawks Thursday. "I expect to play," he said.


In a battle of two streaking Atlantic Division foes, something had to give.


In a game worthy of the notion that there is, in fact, a budding rivalry between the Celtics -- winners of 10 straight entering Wednesday -- and the Knicks (who had reeled off eight straight W's), the Celtics mounted a furious fourth-quarter charge to claim a 118-116 victory at Madison Square Garden. Paul Pierce dropped a fadeaway jumper over Amar'e Stoudemire with 0.4 seconds left to deliver a road victory to the Celtics.


According to multiple reports, Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal will miss Wednesday's game against the Knicks with a right calf injury.


O'Neal, averaging 11.2 points and 6.4 rebounds this season, has missed the last two games with the injury. It is unknown if he will miss Thursday's game vs. Atlanta. It is believed that Semih Erden will stay in the starting lineup against a Knicks team that features Amare Stoudemire at center.


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True to form, the Celtics weren’t exactly ready to play along with the hype heading into Wednesday’s game with the red-hot Knicks at Madison Square Garden.



WALTHAM -- Shaquille O'Neal said before Tuesday's practice that his sore right calf is "getting better" and is optimistic that he will be ready for Wednesday night's game at Madison Square Garden against Amare Stoudemire and the New York Knicks. 


"I'm doing better," said O'Neal, who worked out on the side and in the weight room Tuesday but did not practice. "My calf juices are getting back up there. I'll be alright."


WALTHAM -- Both teams may be on extended winning streaks and both teams may have rich basketball traditions but Celtics captain Paul Pierce said Tuesday that doesn't mean the Celtics and Knicks have revived the old rivalry between the two cities.


"It's a rivalry? You [media] let me in on all the new stuff," Pierce said. "I didn't know we had a rivalry going."


Here’s the frightening thing for the rest of the NBA: The Celtics played one of their worst offensive games of the season, without their top three centers and still won by 31 points on the road.