|01.24.14 at 7:10 pm ET|
The Oklahoma City Thunder superstar will sit out Friday’s game against the Celtics to rest his shoulder, dinged up in a win over the Spurs Wednesday night. Durant had 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in Oklahoma City’s 119-96 win over the Celtics on Jan. 5 in Oklahoma City. The Thunder enter the game with a 33-10 mark, a half-game better than the Spurs for best record in the West.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said before the game that Perry Jones will fill in for Durant.
“Kevin definitely loves the game. He’s not one that looks forward to missing games,” Brooks said. “The guy is a gamer. He loves to play.”
Durant also loves to score, something he’s done at will in the last nine games. Durant has scored at least 30 points in nine straight games, averaging 38.9 points over that run for the Thunder.
“It’s the best thing for him. Until he’s ready to play, he’s not going to play, regardless of how he feels or what he wants to do. It’s a medical decision,” Brooks added.
For the first time in Thunder history Durant and Russell Westbrook won’t be in their lineup.
“I never looked at it that way,” Brooks said. “I know we’ve always had guys that step up. We have a team that takes challenges every night. You never want to be without your players, not only us but the entire league. Regardless of if he’s a starter or not a starter, you want your entire roster to give yourself the best chance. We have more than enough to compete. Old coach of mine [said]: ‘All you need is five.'”
Durant is certainly a leader in the early MVP race, averaging a league best 31.0 points. Durant has already won three NBA regular season scoring titles.
“I’ve seen Kobe Bryant score 40 points in nine straight games,” Durant told NewsOK.com on Thursday. “Michael Jordan have 11 triple-doubles in 12 games. LeBron James have a month when he’s averaging 35 points. So those guys, that’s something to write home about.”
As for Durant, he may or may not return for the Thunder’s next game, in Philadelphia Saturday night. The
The Thunder, meanwhile, visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. Brooks wasn’t sure if Durant will be back for that game.
The Thunder don’t figure to need Durant against the Sixers who, like the 15-29 Celtics, are bringing up the rear of the Atlantic Division.
|01.23.14 at 9:44 pm ET|
The NBA announced the starters for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, and naturally leading MVP candidates LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the leading vote-getters for the Eastern and Western conferences, respectively.
The roster includes no Celtics, who are in danger of failing to produce an All-Star for the first time since 2007, when Paul Pierce suffered through an injury-plagued season, and only the 10th time in the game’s 63-year history.
Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green are the C’s only hopes for a spot when the voting from coaches reveals the final seven Eastern Conference All-Stars on Jan. 30, but neither is expected the make the roster (unless Rondo receives the sympathy vote for his fifth selection). Each received more than 100,000 fan votes — well shy of a starting spot.
Old friends Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett edged out Rondo and Green in the fan voting for backcourt and frontcourt players, respectively, although Green received 26,006 more votes than Pierce. Here are your 2014 starters:
Bryant, who received his 16th All-Star bid despite participating in just six games this season, will likely be replaced in the starting West backcourt by Chris Paul (804,309 votes) due to the Lakers star’s knee injury.
Likewise, should Wade’s knee injury keep him from participating in his 10th All-Star Game, John Wall (393,129) would be the second starting guard alongside Irving in the East. Among the remaining healthy Eastern Conference guards, only Allen received more votes than Rondo, but his fate lies in the coaches’ hands now.
|01.22.14 at 9:47 pm ET|
Gerald Wallace jogged out at tip-off as one of the starting guards – yes, the same defensive-minded Wallace who’s averaging 4.3 points per game. Phil Pressey orchestrated the offense as the starting point guard – yes, the same undrafted rookie who entered Wednesday night’s game shooting 23.5 percent from the field.
But instead of folding given the stacked odds against them, the Celtics knocked off the Wizards in overtime, 113-111, on the road Wednesday night to snap a three-game losing streak and a 10-game road slide.
Wallace played the role of hero as he banked in a layup with 2.5 seconds left in OT to give the Celtics (15-29) the win.
Jeff Green erupted for a season-high 39 points, including eight 3-pointers. Pressey poured in 20 points and Jared Sullinger added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
John Wall completed a triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Five other Wizards (20-21) scored double digits, with Nene Hilario (17 points) leading the way.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS
Green start, Green finish: The aggressive, electric version of the enigmatic Green appeared in the first half, and unlike a number of times this season, that version stuck around for the remainder of the game. With Rondo and Bradley absent, Green shouldered the scoring load for the Celtics. He collected 19 first-half points, hitting four 3-pointers to go along with three rebounds, and Boston held a 61-43 lead at the break. Green’s hot start did not peter out, as he went for a game-high 39. Green made a pair of big shots in overtime to give Boston the lead for good. The visit to the nation’s capital was a homecoming for Green, a former standout at Georgetown University.
Pressey: The Missouri product has proven this season that he’s capable of running the point in a past-first, low-turnover capacity. But many Boston fans want to see at least an iota of offensive prowess. He showed rare offensive chops against Washington with a career-high 20 points. Pressey made six of his first seven shots — including four 3-pointers — and dished out four assists as well. He knocked down his fifth 3-pointer with less than a minute left in overtime to give the Celtics a three-point lead. Pressey was averaging 1.3 points per game and had shot 6-for-38 from 3-point range heading into the game.
Hot half: Boston’s rag-tag lineup torched the Verizon Center in the first half. The C’s shot 51.2 percent overall in the first half and finished 9-for-19 on 3-pointers, with Pressey and Green notching eight of those. Fourteen of the team’s 22 made baskets were assisted. The dominance was not restricted to the offensive end, as Boston held Washington to 37.2 percent shooting from the field and 18.2 percent from beyond the arc, and pickpocketed the Wizards seven times.
Wall/Beal D: The recipe to success against the Wizards’ superb guard combination, Wall and Bradley Beal, seems easy enough: Keep Wall out of the paint and Beal inside the 3-point line. Entering Wednesday’s game, Wall was shooting 63.2 percent on shots from less than five feet, compared to 34.2 percent from outside the paint. Beal, conversely, thrives from long range, as evidenced by his 3-point percentage (44.2). But that figure drops to just 37.9 on mid-range shots (5-to-23 feet). Beal and Wall scored 42 points, but on an inefficient 45 shots. Wall struggled in particular, shooting 9-for-29 from the field. Boston followed the scouting report, forcing Wall into 16 jump shots, and he made just three of them. Additionally, the Celtics blocked as many of Wall’s layups (six) as they allowed (six). Beal finished the game 0-for-4 on treys.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS
No Rondo: Celtics coach Brad Stevens opted to rest Rondo on Wednesday and avoid playing him in back-to-back games. Rondo played a season-high 26 minutes in Tuesday’s 93-86 loss to the Heat. In his third game back from ACL surgery, Rondo shot 0-for-8 from the field and scored one point in Miami. He’s averaging 5 points (on 25.9 percent shooting), 4.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. Prior to Rondo’s return, Stevens made it clear that he wanted to avoid playing his point guard in back-to-back games. Rondo is expected back vs. the Thunder on Friday.
Third quarter: It would be unrealistic for Boston to have maintained its torrid first-half shooting pace and 18-point halftime lead considering its personnel compared to Washington’s. But in one quarter, the Celtics massive lead had dwindled to just three points. The Wizards reduced the deficit with scorching shooting and stingy defense. Washington made 60 percent of its field goals while forcing Boston into 27.3 percent shooting. Wall bounced back after a tough first half to score seven points in the quarter.
|01.22.14 at 4:40 pm ET|
The Celtics cited “precautionary reasons” for holding out Rondo in just his fourth scheduled game since returning from ACL surgery.
Meanwhile, Jerryd Bayless (toe) and Avery Bradley (ankle) are also expected to miss Wednesday’s game, leaving only undrafted rookie point guard Phil Pressey and recently signed D-League guard Vander Blue as the only healthy members of the C’s backcourt against Wizards starters John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Keep in mind veteran guard Keith Bogans was granted leave from the team over a playing time dispute and remains on the roster for $5.1 million.
|01.22.14 at 1:59 pm ET|
According to Forbes’ numbers, the C’s had $169 million in revenue over the past year, with $47 million in operating profit.
The Knicks, worth $1.4 billion, are ranked No. 1 for the second straight year. They earned a league-record profit of $96 million, a 27 percent jump from last year, as the three-year, $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden starts to pay off.
The Lakers rank second at $1.35 billion, earning $66 million last year, a 35 percent increase. The Bulls, who have led the league in attendance for four straight seasons, are third at $1 billion, up 25 percent.
The Nets, who moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn, jumped from 14th two years ago ($357 million) to fifth ($780 million).
The rest of the top 10 consists of the Rockets ($775 million), Heat ($770 million), Mavericks ($765 million), Warriors ($750 million) and Spurs ($660 million).
The average franchise value is $634 million, up a whopping 25 percent from last year after profits averaged $23.7 million.
As for individual players, Forbes figures that Kobe Bryant earned $64.5 million in salary and endorsements to lead the way. LeBron James is next at $61 million, followed by Derrick Rose ($38.6 million, Kevin Durant ($31.8 million) and Dwyane Wade ($30.7 million). Rounding out the top 10 are Carmelo Anthony ($30.4 million), Amar’e Stoudemire ($28.2 million), Dwight Howard ($26.5 million), Dirk Nowitzki ($23.2 million) and Chris Paul ($22.7 million).
|01.22.14 at 8:00 am ET|
Blue received congratulations on his Twitter account and wrote: “God is amazing! I’m speechless right now … all it took was patience.”
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard has been playing for the Delaware 87ers, a D-League affiliate of the 76ers. In four games, he’s averaging 19.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 30.5 minutes.
Blue, a former Marquette star who went undrafted last June, was a late cut of the 76ers in training camp. He then signed to play in Israel but returned after just seven games there with Maccabi Rishon Le Zion.
While Rajon Rondo returned to the Celtics last week, he is on a minutes restriction. Avery Bradley left Tuesday’s loss to the Heat with a sprained right ankle. The only other true guard on the active roster is Phil Pressey.
Chris Johnson, a swingman signed to a 10-day contract on Friday, was pressed into duty Tuesday and played well in 24 minutes.
|01.21.14 at 10:01 pm ET|
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.
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.
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