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Heat knock off Celtics behind LeBron James’ 29 points

01.21.14 at 10:01 pm ET
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Despite a valiant effort from a depleted Celtics team, the Heat nudged out a victory on Tuesday night, 93-86, in Miami.

Boston (14-29) played without two of its shooting guards, and Rajon Rondo‘s minutes were still limited, but a strong showing from some unlikely characters on the bench kept the game close.

LeBron James led all scorers with 29 points, and he also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. Chris Bosh added 16 points.

Brandon Bass led Boston with 15 points off the bench. Kris Humphries (14 points), Jeff Green (12 points), Jared Sullinger (12 points) and Chris Johnson (11 points) also chipped in.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS

Johnson debuts: Injuries to shooting guards Jerryd Bayless and Avery Bradley necessitated minutes of play from Johnson, who joined the Celtics late last week. In his first action with Boston, Johnson, the 6-foot-6 swingman from Dayton, finished with 11 points. His debut began with a pair of corner 3-pointers only two minutes apart. Before he drilled his first triple, Boston trailed 34-17; by the end of the half the Celtics had cut the deficit to 11. Johnson quieted until the fourth quarter. In the final frame he converted an and-1 play on Anderson, the Heat’s best shot-blocker; then grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in; and finally dished out a beautiful assist to Humphries for an easy dunk.

Rebounding: It’€™s well known that the Heat’€™s one weakness is a lack of an interior presence, and more specifically, major issues with rebounding. Boston exploited Miami on the boards, as it held a commanding 46-33 advantage in rebounding. Humphries led the way with 13 rebounds. Sullinger also added 11 boards, including eight offensive.

Bass boost: Bass’€™ final line does not light up a stat sheet, but in a game where Boston desperately needed someone to step up because of injuries, and a general lack of a go-to scorer this season, Bass answered the call. The three-year Celtic came off the bench for 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 18 minutes. It was Bass’€™ third double-digit scoring game in his last five.

Double trouble: Both Sullinger and Humphries aided in the Celtics’€™ exploitation of the Heat on the boards with double-doubles. Humphries notched 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Sullinger scored 12 points and grabbed 11 boards. They both excelled in the second half after a sloppy first half. The starting forwards combined for four points, 11 rebounds and a dreadful 1-for-8 shooting line in the first 24 minutes.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS

Points in the paint: Boston showed its inferiority inside on offense and defense, particularly in the first quarter. Some stats that highlight this point: In the first seven minutes, the Heat led 16-7 and scored 14 points in the paint to the Celtics’€™ zero; It took Boston until the 3:04 mark to register its first points in the paint; and at the end of the quarter, Miami held a 16-4 advantage on inside points, which contributed to the Heat’€™s 14-point lead.

Bradley injured: With Bayless temporarily out, MarShon Brooks no longer a Celtic and a hampered Rondo, the last thing Boston needed was an injury to its most dependable guard. But that’€™s exactly what happened against Miami, as Bradley left early in the second quarter with a sprained ankle. The injury occurred when the shooting guard was engaged in his usual full-court defense, and his right ankle rolled outwardly. This left Boston with Pressey, Johnson and a limited Rondo as the only three available guards.

Rusty Rondo: For the second straight game, the effect of Rondo’€™s extended absence showed. Rondo scored just one point and failed to make any of his eight field goals. He also missed a pair of free throws with 44 seconds remaining that would have cut the deficit to two, and then missed a shot on the Celtics’ next possession. Rondo had six points on 3-of-10 shooting in Boston’s 93-91 loss to Orlando Sunday.

Sonny Parker: Jabari ‘not entertaining’ NBA future until after Duke season

01.21.14 at 2:08 pm ET
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Despite a recent report on NBA.com suggesting Duke freshman phenom Jabari Parker plans to remain in college after this season, the father of the projected top pick in this June’s NBA draft remains adamant that a decision has not been made — and the subject will not even be broached until after the season.

“My wife, my son and I haven’t talked about it,” Jabari’s father, Sonny Parker, who played for the Warriors from 1976-82, told WEEI.com. “We honestly don’t know. After the season, we’ll talk about it. That’s what I told Coach K [Mike Krzyzewski] when he was recruiting Jabari, and that’s what I tell him now.

“We just want Jabari to enjoy the season. People can speculate all they want, but it’s not a discussion. Right now, he’s dealing with being a student-athlete at Duke. He’s not entertaining that.”

All of which makes the Bulls.com report a bit confounding for the Parker camp:

“The growing view among NBA executives seems to be Jabari Parker will not leave Duke this year. Chicagoan Jahlil Okafor, a Parker friend and big man, is going to Duke next season. Parker is a bright young man with a strong family and the feeling is he understands both the importance of education and feels he owes Duke and the chance to have a great Duke team, which more than likely is the next two seasons. Plus, Parker has seen what staying in school has done for other greats compared with the tough starts for even stars like Kobe Bryant.”

While it’s true the Blue Devils, who have been forced to play Parker out of position at the 4 and 5 this season, will welcome a remarkable Class of 2014 — including the nation’s top center and point guard recruits in Okafor and Tyus Jones, respectively (as well as Justise Winslow, the apparent small forward heir to Parker) — the question remains: How could NBA executives know Jabari’s future when he apparently hasn’t even made up his mind?

“We’re not thinking about that right now, and we don’t want him thinking about it,” added Sonny Parker. “He doesn’t want it to be a distraction for his teammates. I don’t know where they’re getting their information, because we really don’t know what he’s going to do. He just wants to have fun, concentrate on this season and enjoy school.”

A remarkably humble elite basketball recruit who led Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy (Derrick Rose‘s alma mater) to a record four straight Illinois Class 4A state titles, Parker has always placed equal values on education, his Mormon faith and a love for basketball, so this speculation was inevitable. After maintaining a 3.71 GPA at the prep level, Parker earned all A’s and B’s in his first semester at Duke, according to his father.

During the recruiting process, his family even suggested the 6-foot-8, 235-pound wing could remain in college all four years, but Krzyzewski told The Dan Patrick Show last month that he  expects Parker to enter the 2014 draft.

“Everybody’s got him one-and-done,” said Sonny Parker, who knows many mock drafts have his son listed as high as the No. 1 overall choice. “We know the projections. We know what people are saying. Right now, he just wants to win a championship. Everybody’s saying he’s coming out, but he’ll let us know. That will come from him.”

Meanwhile, Parker is averaging 19.1 points (48.6 FG%, 40.9 3P%, 74.5 FT%), 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 blocks and 0.9 steals in 29.1 minutes per game for the Blue Devils (14-4). After his scoring average dipped to 10.8 points on just 32.2 percent shooting over a five-game stretch that included losses to Notre Dame and Clemson earlier this month, Parker bounced back with 23 points on 14 shots against N.C. State over the weekend.

“All these people are saying he hit a wall,” Sonny Parker said. “He’s not hitting a wall.”

Read More: Duke University men's basketball, Jabari Parker, NBA,

Celtics keep on losing, this time falling short against lowly Orlando Magic

01.19.14 at 8:44 pm ET
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In the race to claim one of the NBA’€™s worst records, this would have been a good night for the Celtics. But for those hoping for some wins, the 93-91 loss to the Magic was about as demoralizing a game as this season has presented.

The Celtics lost for the 14th time in their last 16 tries, extending their road losing streak to nine straight.

This one, however, was more than just another defeat. This loss came at the hands of a team seemingly in worse shape than the Celts.

With the victory, the Magic snapped a 10-game losing streak. They had also dropped their last 10 meetings with the Celtics.

Orlando still claims the worst record in the NBA, standing at 11-30, while the Celtics drop to 14-28. Brad Stevens‘€™ club is now tied with Utah and Philadelphia for the league’€™s second worst mark.

The loss was sealed when Orlando’€™s Tobias Harris sunk two free throws after Kris Humphries was whistled for a loose ball foul with 10 seconds remaining.

Avery Bradley lost control of the ball while driving to the hoop as the buzzer sounded, ending the Celtics’€™ final chance.

In his second game back after recovering from knee surgery, Rajon Rondo scored six points in 21 minutes, going 3-of-10 from the field while dishing out four assists.

The Magic finished with five players in double-figures, with former Celtic Glen Davis recording 17 points and seven rebounds. Arron Afflalo led the hosts with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Celtics guard Jerryd Bayless was forced from the game after spraining his right toe.

Click here for a complete box score.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Brad Stevens, Celtics, Glen Davis

Bounceback: Kelly Olynyk enjoys breakthrough game

01.18.14 at 1:15 am ET
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After the Celtics win against the Raptors on Wednesday night that featured a zero-point output from Kelly Olynyk, Boston owner Stephen Pagliuca approached the 7-footer at his locker.

Pagliuca wanted to instill confidence in the Gonzaga product whom the Celtics took in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft to offset the loss of Kevin Garnett. Olynyk’s lack of aggression was not limited to the Toronto game. His zero-point effort just capped off a rough stretch of play. From Jan. 2 to Jan. 15 (nine games), Olynyk averaged 14.5 minutes per game and 4.3 points per game on 39 percent shooting. His boss encouraged him to abandon his on-court reticence.

“€œ[He said] be confident, be aggressive, take shots when they’€™re there,” Olynyk said after Boston’€™s 107-104 loss to the Lakers on Friday.

Olynyk received that message and translated it to the court in a big way against the Lakers. He totaled a game-high and career-high 25 points, and tacked on seven assists and five rebounds.

“€œI thought he was good,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “[He] took advantage of some match ups in the interior and then also got his jump shot rolling.”

The timid, unaggressive Olynyk who has been prominent at times this year vanished against Los Angeles. He was efficient around the rim and creative with his passing from the top of the key. Olynyk made his only 3-pointer in the first half, but played more of a facilitating role, tallying five assists in the first 24 minutes of the game. But in the second half, the Lakers had no answer for the center, as he scorched their frontline for 16 points. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brad Stevens, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Garnett, Stephen Pagliuca

Despite disappointing ending, Rajon Rondo’s return a success

01.18.14 at 1:04 am ET
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Through 47 minutes and 59 seconds there was nothing to complain about regarding the debut of Rajon Rondo.

But it took just a second for that outlook to change.

With Boston trailing by three points in the waning moments, Rondo hoisted a 3-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime at the buzzer. But his shot clanked off the rim, and Boston fell 107-104 at the Garden.

‘€”Just came up a little bit short, but I was glad he had the ball,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the game.

Still, there were plenty of positive takeaways from Rondo’s first game since last January — starting with the fact that he changed the dynamic of the team before the opening tip. Stevens, unbeknownst to Rondo, bestowed captainship upon Rondo before the start of the game. Rondo is the 15th Celtic captain, following Pierce, who reigned from 2003-2013.

“€œI never told him — I mean, maybe it’€™s something I should have done,” Stevens said. ‘”But I think it’€™s something you earn through your effort, through your leadership, through your involvement in the community.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Avery Bradley, Brad Stevens, Doc Rivers, Jared Sullinger

Celtics blow fourth-quarter lead in Rajon Rondo’s return, fall 107-104 to the Lakers

01.17.14 at 10:01 pm ET
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The return of Rajon Rondo was not enough as the Lakers came back from eight down with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter to shock the Celtics, 107-104.

In limited minutes, Rondo tallied eight points, four assists and two steals. However, he missed a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer to put a sour taste in the mouth of a TD Garden crowd that had waited anxiously to see the return of their revered point guard.

Pau Gasol led the Lakers (15-25) with 24 points and Kendall Marshall added 19 points, including a 3-pointer with just over one minute to put the Lakers ahead for good.

In defeat, Boston’s bench showed up in a big way against Los Angeles. Kelly Olynyk (25 points), Gerald Wallace (14 points) and Brandon Bass (10 points) all came off the bench with double-digit performances for the Celtics (14-27).

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS Read the rest of this entry »

Celtics guard Rajon Rondo starting against Lakers

01.17.14 at 7:25 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo got the start at point guard in his much-anticipated return to the court on Friday night against the Lakers.

Celtics (14-26) coach Brad Stevens confirmed Rondo’s return to reporters before the 7:30 tip-off at the Garden.

Rondo has been sidelined since Jan. 25, 2013 with a torn ACL he suffered in a regular season game versus the Hawks.

Undrafted rookie Phil Pressey started his first career game at point guard in the Celtics‘ 88-83 win on Wednesday night that snapped a nine-game losing streak. Pressey briefly took over for the starting duties for the traded Jordan Crawford.

Rondo averaged 13.7 points, 11.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game in 38 games last season.

Read More: Brad Stevens, Jordan Crawford, Phil Pressey, Rajon Rondo
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