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Celtics fall in close battle with first-place Pacers 03.11.14 at 9:24 pm ET
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Apparently, the Celtics were exactly what the Pacers needed.

After losing four straight games, Indiana, the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference, returned to the friendly confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse to snap its worst losing streak of the season. The Pacers (30-4 at home) outslugged Boston, 94-83, on Tuesday night. The Celtics‘ two-game winning streak — only their second winning streak since Dec. 16 — came to a conclusion.

David West tossed in a game-high 21 points, and received help from Paul George (12 points), George Hill (12 points) and Luis Scola (11 points).

Jared Sullinger scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in the second half. Kris Humphries posted another solid game with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Chris Johnson chipped in 14 points off the bench.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS

Non-Humphries starters: Humphries got next to no help from the other four starters. Brandon Bass, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and Jerryd Bayless combined for 34 points, but shot a putrid 11-for-43 from the field. Rondo (4-for-15), Green (3-for-15) and Bayless (1-for-6) were the worst offenders.

Shooting: It’s next to impossible to beat the best team in the Eastern Conference shooting 36 percent. That’s exactly what Boston did on Tuesday night as it finished 32-of-89 from the floor. Additionally, the Celtics finished 3-for-18 from the 3-point line.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS

Offensive rebounding: The Celtics mounted a second-half comeback because of their work on the offensive glass. Boston collected 19 offensive rebounds, 11 in the second half. Sullinger contributed most prominently to the cause, snagging seven rebounds of the offensive variety. In just seven first half minutes, Sullinger scored four points and grabbed two rebounds.

Humphries: Facing another dominant center (Roy Hibbert) one game after bumping down low with double-double machine Andre Drummond, Humphries again responded with a big game. Humphries followed up his 20-point, 11-rebound performance with 15 points and nine rebounds, and kept Boston’s head above water when no other Celtic was contributing offensively. Hibbert had an uncharacteristically quiet night with just six points and nine rebounds.

Johnson: Celtics fans infatuation with Chris Johnson has worn off. He’€™s gone from one of the stories of the year — earning two 10-day contracts as an undrafted rookie free agent — to just another average role player in the last month. But Johnson recreated a piece of that two-week magic on Tuesday, posting his first double-digit game since Jan. 9. Johnson tied a career-high with 14 points, and finished 6-for-8 from the field.

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Road woes continue for Celtics in loss to Jazz 02.24.14 at 11:30 pm ET
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This was the Celtics‘€™ chance.

After losing 17 straight games on the road against Western Conference teams, including all 12 this season, the C’s respite from their cross-conference road suffrage was set up perfectly for them: a matchup with a hapless Jazz team that entered Monday night’€™s game just half a game ahead of the last-place Lakers.

Instead, the streak moved to 18 as the Celtics fell, 110-98, at Utah.

Now, it’€™s exceedingly possible that the Celtics (19-39) will go the entire 2013-14 season without beating a West team on the road. They still have two games remaining out West, but Boston squandered an opportunity on its four-game road trip that just concluded. Boston lost all four games, despite  three of the games coming vs. the worst three teams in the West record-wise.

Alec Burks led the Jazz (20-36) in scoring off the bench with 21 points. Derrick Favors and Marvin Williams combined for 39 points on just 19 shots.

Jeff Green produced his second-straight high-volume game, as he tossed in 21 points on 16 shots. Kelly Olynyk came off the bench to spark Boston with 21 points, Rajon Rondo recorded 18 points and Jerryd Bayless chipped in 13 points off the bench.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS

Shooting: The difference in this game can very simply be chalked up to the Celtics failure to shoot the ball compared to the Jazz’€™s ability to knock down shots. Boston dug itself a hole in the first three quarters by shooting 40 percent from the field and finishing 1-for-9 beyond the arc, while allowing Utah to bury 59 percent of its shots, and convert on 5-of-12 3-pointers. The Celtics fought back in the fourth quarter and made the final shooting figures more even, but the 15-point third quarter deficit was too much to overcome.

Turnovers: When you’€™re not shooting the ball well, and the Celtics weren’t, it’€™s imperative to avoid turnovers and maximize the number of possessions. Boston did not do this, as it gave the ball away 14 times (leading to 15 Jazz points), with the starters accounting for 11 of those. Rondo committed a team-high five turnovers, and all three of the bench turnovers were credited to  Bayless.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS

Rondo: You can argue that the Celtics are being overly cautious in holding out Rondo in the second game of back-to-backs, but the evidence that the extra day off benefits Rondo is indisputable. Entering Monday, Rondo had sat out the second game of three back-to-backs thus far. In the game following his rest, he’€™s averaged 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists while shooting 68 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3-point land. He continued that trend of success against Utah as Rondo finished with 18 points, 10 assists and three rebounds, after sitting out Boston’€™s loss to the Kings on Saturday.

Olynyk: The Celtics’€™ top pick in the 2013 draft has fumbled through an uneven rookie season, but was one of Boston’€™s lone bright spots in the loss. Olynyk, who’€™s averaging 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, was the only Celtic off the bench with double-digits, as the 7-footer tossed in 21 points, and added eight rebounds, four assists and a steal.

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Celtics lose 17th straight out West with setback vs. Kings 02.23.14 at 12:40 am ET
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The Celtics lost out on another opportunity to register their first win on the road vs. a Western Conference team this season, as they fell to the Kings, 105-98, on Saturday.

Boston’s (19-38) current four-game road trip looked like the perfect opportunity for the team to snap its road woes vs. the West, but after falling in Sacramento (19-36), the Celtics have now lost all 12 road games against the West this year, and their last 17 dating back to last season. Boston still has three road more cracks at it (the Jazz on Feb. 24, the Pelicans on March 16, the Mavericks on March 17).

Rudy Gay led seven Kings in double-figures with 22 points. Point guard Isaiah Thomas registered a double-double with 21 points and a career-high 12 assists.

Jeff Green led the Celtics with 29 points, while Kris Humphries (19 points), Jerryd Bayless (16 points) and Brandon Bass (12 points) chipped in.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS

No Sullinger, Rondo, Bradley: The Celtics played without three impact starters in Rajon Rondo,  Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley. Bradley (ankle) did not make the road trip, necessitating a promotion into the starting lineup for veteran Gerald Wallace. Since returning from a lengthy absence due to a knee injury, the Celtics have avoided playing Rondo in back-to-back games (Boston lost to the Lakers, 101-92, Friday night). Phil Pressey stepped in for Rondo at point guard, but after an uneven first half, Bayless started for Pressey in the second half. Sullinger suffered a mild concussion in the game versus Los Angeles, and Humphries took his place in the starting lineup.

Green’s resilience: Green began the game ice cold as deep into the second quarter, his stat line was highlighted by his 0-for-9 shooting from the field, and an atrocious -19 plus-minus. But Green did not let his cold start ruin the rest of his game. His overall shooting night (7-for-25) doesn’t look impressive, but after missing his first nine shots, he put together a respectable 7-for-16 line. Additionally, Green reached the free throw line 18 times, converting on 13. Green’s faced constant criticism this season for his lack of aggressiveness at times, but no one could complain about his tentativeness Saturday after he attempted 11 more shots than his per-game average this season.

3-point shooting: Boston actually finished the game with more 3-pointers (six) than Sacramento (five), but for a few reasons, that simple statistic did not properly encapsulate the Celtics‘ disadvantage from beyond the arc. For starters, Boston missed 15 triples, and finished at 28.6 percent from downtown, compared to the Kings who missed just four treys. Additionally, every single one of the Celtics‘ missed threes ended in an empty possession — no second chances and corresponding points were recorded off of the 15 missed 3-pointers.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS

Rebounding: Without their top rebounder Sullinger, and facing a dominant offensive rebounding team, the Celtic could have been excused for faltering on the boards against Sacramento. But despite missing Sullinger’s 8.3 rebounds per game, Boston held the rebounding advantage (42-38), and limited the Kings, the NBA’s sixth best offensive rebounding team, to just three offensive rebounds. It took until the 7:05 minute of the third quarter for Sacramento to grab its first rebound on the offensive end.

Humphries starts: On Saturday, Humphries was summoned back into the starting lineup for the injured Sullinger, and he stepped up with a complete performance. Humphries’ 19 points (9-for-13 from the field) were the most he’s scored all season, and he stuffed the stat sheet with eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals. He also made life tough for Sacramento’s double-double machine Cousins. The two sparred all night, but Humphries got the best of the immensely talented, but equally hot-headed Cousins, who finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and six turnovers. The 6-foot-11, 270-pound center averages 22.3 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, and in Boston’s first matchup with the Kings, he went for 31 points and 16 rebounds.

Anthony contributes: Since the Celtics traded for former Heat forward Joel Anthony, his role with the team has been relegated primarily to a spectator. He entered Saturday with just 38 minutes in 17 games as a Celtic. But with Boston’s frontline thin, Anthony saw more minutes than he’s used to off the bench.  The six-year veteran provided a spark in 10 minutes of game time, his highest total in a game since joining the Celtics. Anthony, never a prolific scorer to begin with, only tallied two points, but grabbed six rebounds, including four offensive, and blocked a shot.

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Celtics open road trip with loss to Suns 02.19.14 at 11:37 pm ET
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The Suns used a late rally to bury the Celtics, 100-94, Wednesday night in Phoenix in Boston’s first action since the All-Star break.

Boston blew a nine-point lead midway through the third quarter, as the Suns closed out the third quarter on a 15-1 run and never looked back.

Markieff Morris came off the bench for a team-high 18 points, and his brother, Marcus Morris, aided him from the pine with 11 points, including a number of big shots late. Dynamic guard duo Goran Dragic and Gerald Green, a former Celtic, each tossed in 17 points.

Rajon Rondo (18 points, 10 assists, six rebounds) and Brandon Bass (18 points) led Boston in scoring, while Jeff Green (17 points) and Jared Sullinger (11 points) also contributed.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS

Third-quarter breakdown: At the 4:54 mark of the third quarter, Rondo drained a mid-range jumper to push Boston’€™s lead to a game-high 70-61. But the Celtics self-destructed over the final five minutes of the quarter, and a nine-point lead turned into a five-point deficit. The Suns embarked on a 15-1 run, to reclaim the lead after three quarters. Five different Phoenix players scored during the stretch, but late 3-pointers by Channing Frye and Marcus Morris were key. Morris’€™ triple came at the buzzer, from more than 30 feet away.

West road woes: The Celtics‘€™ inferiority against the Western Conference on the road has reached an embarrassing low. With the loss to Phoenix, Boston has dropped all 10 road games out West this season, and the last 15 overall dating back to Feb. 25, 2013, when the Celtics nudged out an overtime win in Utah. Looking ahead, Boston completes its current West road trip against the three worst teams in the West by record: the Lakers (18-35), the Kings (18-35) and the Jazz (19-33).

Bench matchup: Phoenix’€™s bench, and particularly the Morris brothers, outplayed the Celtics. The Suns reserve unit tallied 37 points compared to Boston’s 21. Markieff Morris erupted for 18 points, and 10 of Marcus Morris’ 11 points came late in the contest. It’s not just that the Celtics reserves failed to post large scoring figures, they also went about their play inefficiently. As a unit, they finished 7-for-23 from the field.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS

Bass breakout: Bass continued to chug along in his role as one of Boston’s consistent scoring threats from the forward position. The Celtics’ forward notched 18 points and eight rebounds in his team’s loss. It was Bass’ third game in the month of February with at least 18 points. Bass has been the subject of myriad trade rumors this month, as the 28-year-old forward would seem to be a nice fit for a team in need of offensive help.

Forcing turnovers: One of the ways to combat an uptempo, run-and-gun offense is to limit the opposition’€™s shots and increase its turnovers. That’€™s exactly what Boston did as the Suns’€ turned the ball over 18 times, and the Celtics managed to put up four more shots than Phoenix. Sure, the Suns’€™ fast-break game remained (30 fast-break points), but Phoenix’s 18 turnovers led to 25 points for Boston. Phoenix’€™s starters were the guilty party, as they accounted for 13 giveaways, with Green and Miles Plumlee fumbling the ball a team-high five and four times, respectively. The Suns, however, only turned the ball over once in the final 17 minutes of the game — the time frame when Phoenix mounted its comeback.

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Rajon Rondo posts double-double, leads Celtics to win over Magic 02.02.14 at 3:20 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo scored a season-high 19 points and the Celtics snapped a four-game losing streak with a 96-89 win over the Magic on Sunday afternoon.

Rondo, who sat out Boston’€™s loss against the 76ers on Wednesday, shot 9-for-11 from the field, and added 10 assists for a Boston team that had lost 16 of its last 18.

Jared Sullinger led all scorers with 21 points, and he tallied his second straight double-double with 12 rebounds. Avery Bradley returned from his five-game absence with an ankle sprain to score 17 points. Brandon Bass also chipped in 19.

Arron Afflalo paced five Magic starters in double figures with 18 points.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS

Rondo: For the first time this season, Boston fans got their old point guard back. Rondo, who entered Sunday’€™s game averaging 6.7 points and 5.7 assists per game on 27.9 percent shooting, played his best game of the season. He scored a season-high 19 points and added 10 assists and five rebounds. Rondo did all this on shooting 9-for-11 shooting. He stuffed the stat sheet in the first half with 13 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals.

Sullinger: In the Celtics‘€™ 95-94 loss to the 76ers on Wednesday, Sullinger put together a 24-point, 17 rebound performance that on the surface looked impressive. However, the fact that Sullinger needed 25 shots ‘€” and only made nine ‘€” to get his 24 points took some of the punch out of that statline. Against the Magic, Sullinger again posted a double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds), but this time he did it in an efficient manner (9-for-14 from the field).

Rough on the rookie: Victor Oladipo will presumably have plenty of opportunities to showcase the talent that made the Magic use the second overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft on him against the Celtics in the future. But after one season, it’€™s safe to say that Oladipo’€™s career versus Boston has begun inauspiciously. Oladipo’€™s fourth and final game against the C’€™s this season was his worst. He shot 3-for-16 from the field, scored 12 points while playing the unfamiliar point guard position in place of an injured Jameer Nelson.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS

Green shooting: Jeff Green had a miserable shooting game in Boston’€™s win, as the small forward missed 11 of his 13 shots. Green, Boston’€™s leading scorer, finished with eight points and shot 1-for-5 bound the arc. To Green’€™s credit, he did dish out five assists. In his last four games, Green’€™s had two 2-for-13 shooting performances, and a 4-for-13 night as well.

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Knicks get their revenge, blow out Celtics 01.28.14 at 9:58 pm ET
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Knicks forward Kenyon Martin dunks in front of Celtic Kris Humphries during Tuesday's game at Madison Square Garden. (AP)

Knicks forward Kenyon Martin dunks in front of Celtic Kris Humphries during Tuesday’s game at Madison Square Garden. (AP)

114-73.

This was the final score on Dec. 8 when the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics steamrolled an embarrassed Knicks team at Madison Square Garden. The 41-point margin of victory was the largest in the NBA at the time.

Boston has taken the court 25 times since that game, and looked like a shockingly different team.

This became glaringly clear on Tuesday night, as New York avenged the blowout loss in December with a 114-88 shellacking of their own back at the Garden. The Celtics (15-32) have dropped 20 of 25 games, and now find themselves in a three-game slide.

Carmelo Anthony authored the win with 24 points and nine rebounds. J.R. Smith (17 points), Jeremy Tyler (17 points), Tim Hardaway Jr. (16 points),  and Tyson Chandler (12 points) aided the cause for New York (18-27).

Jeff Green was the only Celtics starter to reach double-digits with 14 points. Chris Johnson and Kris Humphries scored 12 points apiece rom the bench.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS

Disastrous first half: The Knicks set the nets ablaze and suffocated Boston on defense in the first half, en route to a 63-37 advantage in the first half. There were no silver linings, no glass-half-full outlooks. It was simply complete and utter domination by New York. The Knicks outshot the Celtics, 61.5 percent to 31.8 percent from the field and also made four more 3-pointers. New York collected 10 more assists than Boston and forced the C’€™s into eight turnovers. Finally, just two Celtics scored at least six points. Conversely, all four Knicks off the bench tallied at least six points. While the bench’€™s 28 points in the half helped, Anthony paced the team with 17 points. Chandler also added 10 points.

Melo: It’€™s not that the Celtics needed to stop Anthony. This would be an unrealistic goal considering that Anthony entered Tuesday’€™s game with 97 points in his last two games, including a 62-point, 13-rebound performance on Friday versus the Bobcats. Instead, Boston hoped to slow him, frustrate him, and perhaps even break his unconscionable scoring rhythm. None of this happened, as Anthony finished with 24 points, and never broke a sweat. He needed just 15 shots and 28 minutes to tally his eighth straight 20-plus point game. Anthony left his mark on the game in other aspects with nine rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Rondo: Boston’€™s point guard continued the rusty start to his season with another shaky performance. Rajon Rondo used 13 shots to score just seven points, and he turned the ball over four times in 26 minutes of play. It was evident that the requisite chemistry and cohesiveness required for a player like Rondo to possess with his teammates was lacking. Multiple times Rondo whipped a pass past a Celtic big who was staring at the basket in anticipation of a shot. This is not unexpected as Rondo has played just six games this season with a completely different supporting cast than what he thrived with in his heyday. But his first five games are tough to look at statistically: 6.6 points, 5.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 turnovers per game on 29.9 percent shooting.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE CELTICS

CJ: Johnson earned his second 10-day contract with the Celtics before the game Tuesday, and he continued to show he belongs in the league with another strong outing. Johnson scored 12 points from the bench, all on 3-pointers, and provided a rare burst of energy to a lethargic Boston team. The former Grizzlies guard is averaging 10.4 points per game for Boston.

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Jeff Green’s 39 points lead shorthanded Celtics past Wizards in OT 01.22.14 at 9:47 pm ET
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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.

Wallace and Pressey’s promotions came after news that the Celtics‘ top three guards Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless were unavailable.

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.

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