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Stud and Duds: Isaiah Thomas, Celtics come up short against Hawks

12.18.15 at 10:28 pm ET
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Forcing a total of 21 turnovers, the Hawks also capitalized on an 11-0 fourth-quarter run and doubled up the Celtics to the tune of 68-34 in the paint en route to a 109-101 win.

The C’s made costly mistakes throughout the fourth quarter and couldn’t find their offense in the last two minutes, as the Hawks took a seven-point lead — their biggest of the night. The Hawks shot 46.6 percent from the floor and committed just 12 turnovers.

Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 29 points, and Jae Crowder added an impressive double-double (24 points, 10 rebounds). Dennis Schroeder’s 22 points led six Hawks in double figures, and Al Horford kept up with Crowder with (21 points, 10 rebounds).

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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One year later, Brad Stevens has no regrets when comes to Rajon Rondo trade

12.18.15 at 9:03 pm ET
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Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder

One year after trading Rajon Rondo, Brad Stevens has no regrets about what his team got back.

Jae Crowder has left his mark on the Celtics and their coach.

Having been one of three players traded to the Celtics in the Dec. 18, 2014 deal with the Mavericks ‘€“ joining Brandan Wright and Jameer Nelson (neither of whom are still on the team) — Crowder had nothing to lose and everything to prove.

“I knew people had told me they thought he could be a pretty good player,” said Stevens before his team’€™s game against Atlanta at TD Garden Friday night. “I knew he was tough when he played at Marquette. And I knew nothing else. So, I’€™m really happy he was included in that trade.”

Crowder came in as a blank slate, but has defined himself as one of the Celtics’€™ most important players since arriving in the Rondo deal.

Coming into Friday night, the Celtics had gone 43-40 in games Crowder has appeared. In those games, Crowder is averaging 10.4 points per game, playing in 25 or more minutes 55 times. Only Avery Bradley and Evan Turner has seen more time on the court for the C’€™s over that span.

Stevens admits, “I didn’€™t know that he could do all that he could do.”

This year, Crowder has averaged 36 percent from beyond the 3-point line, while totaling 12.5 points and 1.96 steals per game (9th best in the NBA).

Meanwhile, Rondo’€™s teams — Dallas and Sacramento — have gone a combined 35-35 when the point guard has played, with his individual results (both on and off the court) getting mixed reviews.

It has all helped put the former Celtics star ever further in the rear-view mirror for Stevens and his team.

“We started to see, like, hey, there’€™s a guy [in Crowder] that can do a little bit more than stand in the corner and shoot,” the coach said.

Read More: Brad Stevens, Jae Crowder, Rajon Rondo,

Stud and Duds: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Pistons hold off Celtics

12.16.15 at 11:08 pm ET
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Kentavious Pope-Caldwell

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

After the Pistons opened their first double-digit lead of the second half, Celtics coach Brad Stevens turned to his bench, but it wasn’t enough to counter Detroit’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Jackson, who combined 54 points in a 119-116 victory.

Once the Pistons built a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead — their largest of the night, Jonas Jerebko’s nine points on three straight 3-pointers helped the C’s cut the deficit to four. But before Jerebko’s final 3-pointer, Jackson converted three free throws on a questionable shooting foul that extended Detroit’s lead to seven. In the end, Jackson scored seven more points and Caldwell-Pope added four from the free-throw line in the final minutes for the Pistons.

Isaiah Thomas made a 3-pointer in the final seconds that cut the lead to 118-116. The Celtics fouled Jackson, who missed his second attempt, but with no timeouts remaining Jared Sullinger’s desperation heave from the opposite end of the floor sailed wide in the final 1.7 seconds.

Remarkably, the Celtics loss on the second night of a back-to-back on the road for just the first time in 11 games. Thomas scored a career-high 38 points, Sullinger added a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Tyler Zeller scored 12 off the bench. Caldwell-Pope netted a team-high 31 points, Jackson dropped 23 and Andre Dummond had a double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) for the Pistons.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Read More: Isiah Thomas, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Jackson,

Studs and Duds: LeBron James, Cavaliers win ugly over Celtics

12.15.15 at 9:50 pm ET
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After taking a 46-40 lead into halftime, the Celtics were outscored by 18 in the second half, and the final outcome of an 89-77 loss to LeBron James and his Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers should have been a lot worse.

Cleveland (16-7) shot 51.3 percent to the C’s 26.2 percent after the break, turning what initially was a hard-fought playoff rematch into an ugly laugher of a game. The Celtics fell to 14-11 and seventh in the East with the loss.

Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 17 points, but required 15 shots to get there. Likewise, Jae Crowder scored 14 points on 13 attempts and Isaiah Thomas netted 12 points on 15 shots. They were the only three C’s in double figures.

For the complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: David Lee?

Even if he wasn’t much help on defense, at least Lee did some work in the post offensively. He collected eight points on 4-of-8 shooting, adding four rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes off the bench. He finished the night as the C’s only player with a positive plus/minus.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Take your pick.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA,

A call for Adam Silver to increase Rajon Rondo’s suspension

12.14.15 at 7:06 pm ET
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In a disturbing anecdote detailed in Yahoo Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski’s report on NBA referee Bill Kennedy’s public revelation that he is gay, former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo allegedly directed multiple anti-gay slurs at the longtime ref after he was ejected in the Kings’ 114-97 loss to the C’s in Mexico City on Dec. 3.

Following an investigation, the NBA suspended Rondo one game without pay for “directing a derogatory and offensive term towards a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner.” Rondo’s use of anti-gay slurs is reprehensible, and it’s even worse when you consider he may have suspected Kennedy was gay following disgraced referee Tim Donaghy’s 2010 allegations against Doc Rivers on CLNS Radio. Here’s that exchange, courtesy of Red’s Army.

Question: One of the referees I’ve been annoyed with over the years is Bill Kennedy. Every time he has a Celtics game, I almost know that we’re not getting calls. Is his relationship with Doc Rivers or the Celtics organization as a whole something you know about?

Donaghy: That’s a difficult question for me to answer, because I certainly don’t want to offend anybody. … I’m just gonna come out and say it like it is. It’s no secret on the staff that Bill Kennedy is a homosexual. … I don’t have any ill will towards gays or lesbians, but it was no secret that he’s a homosexual. It was known around the league. It was obvious during a game Doc Rivers questioned his sexual orientation, and I think that has stuck with Kennedy over the years — and he has no love for Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics.

Rivers denied Donaghy’s claim that he directed homophobic language at Kennedy.

Rondo was a 2012-13 teammate of Jason Collins in Boston the season before the 7-footer became the first active openly gay male athlete in major U.S. sports history, and Collins credited Rivers in the April 2013 Sports Illustrated article announcing his sexuality, saying, “Doc Rivers, my coach on the Celtics, says, ‘If you want to go quickly, go by yourself — if you want to go farther, go in a group.’ I want people to pull together and push ahead.” While Rondo declined to speak with media Monday, he addressed the matter on Twitter.

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for directing an anti-gay slur at an official in 2011, and Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 for doing the same later that season. Rondo’s admission shows at least some players haven’t evolved since. Even if we take Rondo at his word — that he didn’t “mean to offend or disrespect anyone” and he acted “out of frustration and emotion, period” — that doesn’t excuse his behavior.

Whether or not he suspected Kennedy was gay, Rondo was quick to use an offensive term out of frustration, and the fear is that speaks to a locker-room culture where anti-gay slurs are on the tip of a player’s tongue. That needs to change, as it should in any workplace, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver would be wise to increase Rondo’s suspension in order to send that message. Then again, Silver should have sent that message before Wojnarowski’s detailed report, because reissuing a harsher penalty now might open the league up to all sorts of issues with the players’ association.

The NBA may have feared a harsher penalty would have risked indirectly outing Kennedy before he was ready, since the discipline was handed out prior to the Yahoo Sports report. The question then would be whether it matters if Rondo directed the homophobic slur at a gay man or a straight man. Either way, we as a society should not tolerate what amounts to hate speech, and the NBA could help set the tone in that regard.

The league has been on the forefront of cultural progression, particularly compared to other professional sports leagues and especially under Silver, so perhaps it’s time to take another stand.

Read More: Bill Kennedy, Boston Celtics, NBA, Rajon Rondo

Studs and Duds: Celtics bounce back, beat Hornets

12.12.15 at 9:49 pm ET
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Brad Stevens has to have the best cure for hangovers.

A night after an emotional double-overtime loss to the undefeated Warriors, the Celtics defeated the Hornets, 98-93. The win marks the C’s 10th straight when playing on the road on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Celtics struggled to find their legs in the first half, scoring only 38 points on 35 percent shooting from the field and converting a putrid 1-of-10 attempts from the 3-point line. But the Hornets, who came into the game with one of the league’s best offenses, couldn’t capitalize, as they too missed open shots.

The entire pace of the game changed in the third quarter, as the C’s hit seven of their first eight attempts from beyond the arc and built a 12 point lead. Despite a 35-point quarter, the Celtics squandered the double-digit 12-point lead, as Nic Batum (21 points) led Charlotte on a 10-2 run that closed the deficit to four.

The C’s clung to a narrow lead in the fourth quarter and escaped Charlotte with a five-point victory. Avery Bradley led all scorers with 23 points, while Isaiah Thomas (21 points), Jae Crowder (16 points), Evan Turner (10 points) and David Lee (10 points) also reached double figures.

The win pushes the Celtics to 14-10 on the season, just a half-game back of the Hornets (14-9) for second place in the Eastern Conference. The C’s will host LeBron James and the Cavaliers on Tuesday. The Cavs swept Boston in the first round of the playoffs last season.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, NBA

What we learned about Celtics in double-OT loss to Warriors

12.12.15 at 4:26 pm ET
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Friday night at TD Garden undoubtedly was the game of the year in the NBA.

The unbeaten Warriors came into Boston and topped the Celtics‘ best effort by a score of 124-119. It wasn’t easy. It took double-overtime for Golden State to improve to a historic 24-0 on the season.

After the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens was asked if he believes in such a thing as a “great loss.”

After about 10 seconds of silence in which you could tell his blood was boiling, Stevens gave the reporter the courtesy of answering his question.

“Not even a good one,” Stevens replied before swiftly moving on to the next question.

The coach certainly has created a trickle-down effect, as his players all agreed that there was nothing good about losing a game in which they spent 58 minutes going toe-to-toe with the defending champions.

All that said, we still learned somethings about this never-say-die C’s squad during Friday’s showing.

FEAR NO OPPONENT

Many teams have come out of the locker room to face the Warriors this season with the game already over. You can tell that they’re scared to begin with, but once Golden State gets on one of its runs, that’s when it’s officially over. The opposition waves the white flag and the Dubs run away with the game.

The Celtics weren’t going to let themselves be the hunted on Friday. They were the hunter.

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