EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 29, 2009

House Money

Celtics backup guard states case for All-Star 3-point contest

On Pro Basketball

BOSTON — Eddie House was so money, the ball turned green. He was so deadly, the sellout crowd serenaded him. His stroke was so pure, even Sam Cassell chanted his name in the locker room.

House lit up TD Banknorth Garden like a Roman candle last night, pouring in 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting. He hit a career-high eight 3-pointers, delivering a flurry of fourth-quarter punches that knocked out the Sacramento Kings.

"It feels good right now," he said after Boston's 119-100 victory. "It feels real good."

The 6-foot-1 reserve guard, in his eighth season out of Arizona State, can't remember a stretch like this. In the past week alone, he's had two seven-trey games and one eight-trey performance.

He hopes it will earn him a spot in the NBA 3-point shootout over All-Star weekend.

"I'd say I'm making a strong case to get in there," he said with a smile.

More importantly, House and his second-unit cohorts are looking much better of late. Newly activated Tony Allen (10 points), who was sharp in his first game back from a sprained ankle, and Glen Davis (14 points) helped down the struggling Kings (10-37). The Celtics, who actually trailed by 10 in the first quarter, have won nine straight.

"All season we've been trying to find our niche, our identity," House said. "I think we've finally found it."

For a born scorer — House once dropped 61 points in a college game — the role can't be easy to play. He averages 17.5 minutes per game but is counted on to sink long-range jumpers consistently.

"Ego wise," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said this week, "he has no problem with that. He comes in and he knows what to do."

As a backup, House watches games like an honorary assistant coach. It's a lesson Rivers hopes his young bench players will learn.

"Gabe Pruitt, Tony Allen, Leon (Powe), they don't watch the game," Rivers said. "Eddie actually pays attention. When he first comes on the floor, he knows exactly where his shots are."

He was an unlikely NBA finals hero, scoring nine points in the second half of Boston's Game 4 victory.

"I just have a different type of focus. I'm ready before I get in the game," House said. "I've already got a feel for what's going on in the game. I can see where I'm going to get my shots up."

Last night it was on the break.

"If we got out in transition," House said. "I definitely was going to be able to get to open spots."

With the Celtics protecting what had dwindled to a 12-point lead in the fourth, House hit threes at 9:50 and 9:06 to give the Green a 100-83 advantage. He sank four threes total in the quarter, spurring the "Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!" chants that carried on until the final buzzer sounded.

"He does it every game," Rivers said. "There's no question when Eddie comes on the floor, within two or three minutes, he gets a wide-open shot."

The diminutive House has never been afraid of any shot — or anybody.

According to a Sports Illustrated story published in 2000, he once got into a fist fight with Arizona center A.J. Bramlett in an Oregon restaurant. House, remember, is maybe 6-1, 175 pounds. Bramlett is 6-10, 235 pounds.

Eddie's still a fighter these days, but only in the pursuit of playing time.

"Eddie's been on fire," Kevin Garnett said. "You know, I gave him a couple of my secrets. ... He needs to be in the 3-point contest. That's what this press conference is about."

Afterward, Cassell walked out of the trainer's room shouting "Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!" in his thick Baltimore accent (he then segued into a one-man discussion of Oriole great Eddie Murray).

House smiled sheepishly as he returned from his shower. So money, he doesn't even know it.

Celts box

Score: Boston 119, Sacramento 100

Attendance: 18,624

Stats of the day: Eight. The number of 3-pointers Eddie House hit. He finished with a game-high 28 points. House is shooting 41 percent from downtown.

Is that necessary? Sacramento's Brad Miller stared down the Celtics bench and shook his head after hitting a second-half jumper. The Kings were down by 20.

Injury update: Boston's Brian Scalabrine will be sidelined for 7-10 days after suffering his second concussion in three days at practice Tuesday. Tony Allen returned from a sprained ankle last night and scored 10 points.

Rondo'd: Another stellar game from point guard Rajon Rondo, who scored 24 points and dished out nine assists.

Big 3 report: Kevin Garnett (14 points, 8 rebounds), Paul Pierce (8 points, 8 assists) and Ray Allen (12 points, 4 assists) didn't need to be super heroes against the lowly Kings.

Streaking: Boston (38-9) has now won nine straight games.

Up next: Tomorrow at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.

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