Celtics guard Paul Pierce left Thursday night's game at Portland late in the fourth quarter with a bruised right knee and is questionable for Friday's game with the Suns. According to reports, Pierce said that it started hurting in the third quarter, but he played through it until the final two minutes before heading back to the locker room. He told reporters in Portland that he hoped to play Friday, provided there was no swelling.

Here was a night when the Celtics offensive machine was spinning its wheels like a Prius in a snowbank. It was a night when the factors in the C's usual formula for disaster — low shooting, high turnovers and lots and lots of offensive rebounds for the other team — were all happening at once.



PAUL FLANNERY

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It wasn't pretty, but the Celtics opened up their four-game West Coast trip with an 88-78 victory over the Trail Blazers on Thursday night. Paul Pierce scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half and Ray Allen took over in the third quarter with eight of his 18. Kendrick Perkins also had a strong night in his second game back with 10 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes. Kevin Garnett added nine assists, including five in the third quarter when the Celtics began to get untracked.

 

Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett were not among the Eastern Conference starters for the 2011 All-Star Game as voted by the fans. Chicago's Derrick Rose and New York's Amar'e Stoudemire passed them in the voting and joined Miami LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and Orlando's Dwight Howard, who was the East's leading vote getter.

 

The Western Conference starters are Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Yao Ming. (Yao is injured and will be replaced by commissioner David Stern). The reserves will be announced Feb. 3.

 

The Celtics will be without Shaquille O'Neal for the third straight game as they open their west coast trip Thursday night in Portland. Shaq told reporters at the team's shootaround that he would likely be back for Friday's game in Phoenix. The Celtics did get some positive news as Marquis Daniels has rejoined the team after being away for several days to deal with a family issue.

 

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined The Big Show for his weekly visit and said that the team was likely to stay intact through the rest of the season. The trade deadline is Feb. 24, but Ainge pointed to the return of Kendrick Perkins last week, as well as the return of Delonte West, hopefully in late February. "Of course there's players out there that are good players, but I like our team," Ainge said. "I like the mix when we're all healthy.

The Celtics are about to head out on their first west coast swing of the season where they will play four games in six night starting Thursday night in Portland. While trips to the opposite coast are never easy, this one figures to be particularly grueling.



PAUL FLANNERY

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Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics and the NBA.

 

There's a rumor going around that the Celtics are interested in Pistons shooting guard Richard Hamilton, but Mannix downplayed it.

 

"That's just a rumor," he said. "The only way they acquire him is by buyout. Right now, the ownership situation in Detroit is in such flux that that buyout, it ain't coming anytime soon. And I'd be really surprised if it came before March 1st."

 

Kendrick Perkins couldn’t sleep Monday night. After seven months away from the game and just a little over six months removed from anterior cruciate ligament surgery, Perkins was just hours away from making his long-awaited return. So, he went to the gym around 10 p.m.



PAUL FLANNERY

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After turning his ankle late in the first quarter on a layup, Paul Pierce left Tuesday night's blowout win against Cleveland with just over three minutes left to get some extra treatment.