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Isaiah Thomas on first home loss since Jan. 6: ‘I feel like we let our fans down’

03.12.16 at 9:34 am ET
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In a season that has seen not one but two teams make a legitimate run at winning every home game, the Celtics had a nice home court run of their own at 14 games coming into Friday night.

But the Rockets’ size and the Celtics’ cold shooting (8-of-31 from long distance) put an end to that Friday in a 102-98 Houston victory at TD Garden.

The last time the Celtics lost at home was Jan. 6 to Detroit. In that span, the Celtics went on the longest home winning streak since the TD Garden opening in 1995 and the longest since an 18-game run in 1991.

“We didn’t really know what that felt like,” Isaiah Thomas said of the loss. “It was tough, getting that feeling again, especially at home. I feel like we let our fans down. [The] good thing about the NBA, short memory, you got another game in a few days.”

The Celtics hit the road for a game in Indiana Tuesday before hosting the Thunder on Wednesday night. The Celtics play three of their next four on the road, also playing in Toronto next Friday before a game in Philadelphia next Sunday.

During their 14-game run, the Celtics were able to take advantage of the home crowd and feed off the energy, coming from behind at halftime in four of their previous five home games.

But on Friday against the Rockets, the Celtics were never able to find an offensive rhythm in the second half, shooting just 37.4 percent for the game.

“Man, we couldn’t hit shots, point blank, period,” Thomas said. “We came back. We were getting the shots we wanted, and they were just going in and out.”

The Golden State Warriors are 29-0 at home this season and extend their own NBA record for home wins (spanning two seasons) with each successive victory. Their streak currently stands at 46 games. The Spurs are 31-0 on their home court and have a string of 40 straight wins, tying the Orlando Magic for the third-longest in NBA history.

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Mike Petraglia, Sam Packard on how Celtics home court streak ended against the Rockets

03.11.16 at 11:58 pm ET
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James Harden had 32 points and Dwight Howard chipped in with 12 points and 12 rebounds as the Houston Rockets snapped the 14-game home winning streak of the Celtics, 102-98, Friday night at TD Garden. Isaiah Thomas had 30 points to lead the Celtics, while Jared Sullinger added 24 points and 12 rebounds. Celtics forward Jae Crowder suffered a high sprain of his right ankle in the third quarter and will have an MRI on Saturday. The Celtics fell to 39-27 while the Rockets improved to 33-32.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Isaiah Thomas, Mike Petraglia

Brad Stevens has ‘positive vibes’ about Jae Crowder and his high ankle sprain, MRI Saturday

03.11.16 at 11:19 pm ET
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The Celtics and coach Brad Stevens might be holding their breath a bit on Saturday. 

An MRI has been scheduled for forward Jae Crowder, who suffered a high sprain of his right ankle in the third quarter of Friday’s 102-98 loss to the Rockets at TD Garden. 

Crowder was driving to the basket for a layup and came down awkwardly under the basket. The injury happened with 9:08 left in the third quarter. He fell to the floor and was slow to get to his feet. He limped down court and initially stayed in the game before coming out for Evan Turner a minute later. He did not return. 

“I was on a fast break, and I came down in an awkward way, and I got up and I didn’t feel good,” Crowder said. “Come to find out I just sprained it.  High ankle sprain.”

It may not have felt good but the prognosis is promising, according to Celtics coach Brad Stevens. 

“So Jae sprained his right ankle, twisted it in. Doesn’t have much swelling right now so it looks good,” Stevens added.

“They’re going to do an MRI on it [Saturday] and figure out if there’s anything above what they think right now. But I got mostly positive vibes as I was talking to him and then also to our doctors and trainers that it won’t be a long-term thing. But we’ll see.  We’ll know more [Saturday].”

“It affects us because he’s a big part of this team,” added Isaiah Thomas. “We need a guy like that out there. At the end of the day, when something like that happens, someone else has to step up, fill his shoes and step up, and we just fell short.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Houston Rockets, Jae Crowder

Studs and Duds: Celtics lose to Rockets, home winning streak ends at 14

03.11.16 at 10:09 pm ET
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Mar 11, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) fouls Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (right) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 11, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) fouls Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (right) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Well Suzyn, in life all good things come to an end.

The Celtics had their 14-game home winning streak snapped after a 102-98 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

James Harden was dominant down the stretch, scoring 23 of his 32 points in the second half. Michael Beasley, playing in only his fourth game this season after starting the season in China, added 18 off the bench.

Jared Sullinger recorded a his 21st double-double, scoring a season-high 25 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the loss. Isaiah Thomas (30) and Avery Bradley (16) were the only other Celtics in double-figures.

After trailing by as much as eleven, the Celtics made a number of runs in the second half, but were never able to overtake the Rockets. The team especially struggled to make shots, finishing a dismal 37 percent from the field.

The (39-26) Celtics will travel to Indiana to play the Pacers on Tuesday night, before returning home to play Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the Oaklohoma City Thunder on Wednesday night at the Garden.

For a complete box score, click here. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Isaiah Thomas, James Harden

Brad Stevens on Evan Turner: ‘He’s figured out our system’

03.11.16 at 7:47 pm ET
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Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) shoots against Memphis Grizzlies forward P.J. Hairston (19). (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) shoots against Memphis Grizzlies forward P.J. Hairston (19). (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Brad Stevens has always appreciated the value of Evan Turner, even before he was the No. 2 overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft by the Sixers.

“I’ve known Evan for a long time,” Stevens said of the product of St. Joseph High in Westchester, Ill. “I didn’t know him great in high school. I didn’t know him great when he was in college, but he played for my first boss, so I know a lot about him. I know what he’s made of. He’s just a great basketball guy. To me, you always enjoy having guys like that on your team. Then you have to earn being comfortable with your play and he’s done a good job of that.”

He made such a reputation that it followed him to Ohio State, where he and Jared Sullinger made a name for themselves. It was Turner’s desperation shot at the buzzer that beat Michigan in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. 

“I lived in Indianapolis when he hit that shot for Ohio State to beat Michigan from about 40 feet away,” Stevens recalled before Friday’s game. “The guy’s always had a knack for making big plays and making big shots. He enjoys those moments.”

Those moments continued in the pros, most notably when he beat the Celtics in Jan. 2014 with a buzzer-beater over Sullinger. Playing for Stevens’ Celtics, he beat the Hawks, 89-88, in Feb. 2015 on another buzzer-beater. 

“He’s always been a good down the stretch player,” Stevens said. “My first year here we’re playing Philly and he beat us on kind of a spinning move in the lane where he took contact and somehow threw it up.

“He’ll go to a high school game on the road,” Stevens said. “He’ll go to a college game on the road. He’ll talk about some small conference college game he was watching the night before on TV or an NBA game he was watching, just getting people talking about basketball, thinking about basketball and having that kind of passion about it.”

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Kelly Olynyk misses 11th straight game, Jared Sullinger (skin infection) good to go

03.11.16 at 7:10 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (L) and center Kelly Olynyk (41) are searching for best return path. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (L) and center Kelly Olynyk (41) are searching for best return path. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

The status remains the same on Kelly Olynyk. 

The 7-foot sharp-shooter was ruled out Friday night before the Celtics took the court against the Rockets, the 11th straight game he’s missed since partially separating his right shoulder in the first half against the Clippers on Feb. 10. 

“[He’s] not playing. We didn’t do anything today,” Stevens said before Friday’s game. “I’m assuming he’ll just stay on the same path of progress and feel better and better as he move towards next week’s games.”

The Celtics play four of their next five on the road, visiting Indiana next Tuesday before coming home to play the Thunder on Wednesday at the Garden. They will head on the road to play in Toronto next Friday and in Philadelphia on March 20. 

As for Jared Sullinger and his skin infection that had him wearing a wrap around his stomach against Memphis, Stevens said he was again ready to go. Sullinger hasn’t missed any game action but hasn’t taken part in the team’s practice on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday. Stevens said the team didn’t want Sullinger to “overdo it” in practice and re-hydrate after the events earlier in the week. 

“He looks to me like he’s got a different bounce,” Stevens said pre-game Friday. “We did a little jog-through and he looked good.”

Sullinger was limited to just 12 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes against Memphis, as his stomach wrap had to be re-applied. In his nine previous games, Sullinger was averaging 12.4 points and 10.6 rebounds, including five double-doubles. 


Read More: Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk,

Celtics looking for ‘locked in and engaged’ effort to handle Dwight Howard, James Harden, Rockets

03.11.16 at 4:36 pm ET
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Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics have had their fair share of success this season handling big men with big efforts from the likes of Jared Sullinger and Jae Crowder. 

Last week, in the span of 24 hours, Crowder was asked to handle Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. The Celtics rallied to beat the Knicks on Friday and had James bottled up for the first half in Cleveland before James and the Cavaliers wore down the Celtics in the second half. 

The Celtics didn’t have their best defensive effort against DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers but they found a way in overtime. 

Against the Kevin Durant-less Thunder in November, they allowed Russell Westbrook 27 points but Serge Ibaka scored just 16 and the Celtics beat the Thunder, 100-85, in Oklahoma City. And against the very team they face tonight at the Garden, they held Dwight Howard to four shots, five points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes. James Harden was just 4-of-10 in 30 minutes for a total of 16 points. The two combined to make just 6-of-14 shots as Boston prevailed in Houston, 111-95, on Nov. 16. 

“Like I’ve been saying all year, all five guys on the court have to be so locked in and engaged on taking away what they like to do and just making it tough for them,” Crowder said. “We have a great game plan going into tomorrow night. We’ll throw a lot of different coverages at those guys on the pick-and-rolls and stuff like that. It takes all five guys. It’s just not one player against their scorers or one player against Dwight. It just takes all five guys to get him off the glass and do everything. I think once we have that, we have control of the game.” 

Howard is still regarded as one of the best pick-and-roll players in the league.

“I don’t know if he’s the best,” Crowder added. “I know he’s a heckuva player. I know you’re aware that he’s down there. He’s a good presence and he’s a vocal part of their team. Try to take it away.”

The Rockets come in at 32-32 and in the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Rockets were not able to trade Howard at the trade deadline. Since holding onto Howard, the Rockets are 5-4, including two straight wins. Howard, to his credit, has responded. In those nine games, Howard is averaging 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds, including 9-for-12 from the field in each of Houston’s last two games. 

“Howard’s playing at a really good level,” Brad Stevens said. “I think he’s like 18 and 13 over his past seven games or so. Harden’s numbers are off the charts again for the year. And they’re more healthy than I remember them being when we played them last.

“Obviously, you’ve got [Patrick] Beverley back in the lineup. He’s a winning player. He makes a lot of great plays for them. And then [Donatas] Motiejunas is playing more now since he’s been back and starting. And obviously he had his career high last year here. So a lot of good talented players in addition to [Trevor] Ariza and [Corey] Brewer who are kind of their glue on the wings. Those guys are tough to play against. It’s a highly-talented team. I mean, they were in the Western semis for a reason last year and we’re going to have to play really well.”

“We always had the same goal,” Crowder added. “We came into the season with the same goals and this just gets a step closer to where we want to be, and that’s win a playoff series and build from last year. We got to the playoffs last year. We didn’t win any games so we want to win a series now and build from that and build from that. Right now, we’re headed in the right direction. We just have to keep winning, keep taking care of us each and every day, which is at practice. Come game time, we’ll be prepared and ready.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
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