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Fast Break: Isaiah Thomas, James Young lead way as Celtics knock off Pacers 11.12.16 at 9:40 pm ET
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Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas reaches around Jeff Teague to make a pass during Saturday's win over the Pacers. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas reaches around Jeff Teague to make a pass during Saturday’s win over the Pacers. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)

Earlier this week, following back-to-back blowout losses, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas lamented the fact that the C’s had lost their “swag.” He put it on himself to find away to help the team regain its identity.

Mission accomplished.

Thomas overcame an off shooting night by hitting some big baskets in the fourth quarter as the Celtics put together a strong performance for a second straight night, leading to a 105-99 victory over the Pacers in Indiana, Boston’s first road win of the season.

Thomas shot just 4-for-13, but he hit 14-of-15 free throws to finish with 23 points. He joins Sam Jones (1965-66) and Kevin McHale (1986-87) as the only Celtics to score 20 or more points in each of the team’s first nine games of the season.

It was 99-94 with just over a minute left after Thomas hit two free throws. At the other end, Bradley snuck up on center Myles Turner at the 3-point line and stole the ball, then passed it to Smart in the middle of the court as he was falling out of bounds. Smart caught it in the air and, without coming down, fired it ahead to Thomas for a reverse layup under pressure that put the C’s ahead by seven with exactly a minute to play. Indiana never threatened thereafter.

For the second straight game, Brad Stevens elected to start Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart as Boston looked to avoid the disastrous starts that previously were a problem in embarrassing losses to the Nuggets and Wizards. The C’s did give up a lot of points in the opening nine minutes to the Pacers and trailed by seven after one period, but they led by three at halftime (48-45) and maintained that margin after three quarters.

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Brad Stevens on Donald Trump’s victory: ‘It wasn’t my vote’ 11.10.16 at 8:28 am ET
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Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

Celtics coach Brad Stevens, while saying he is hesitant to discuss politics, felt strongly enough about the results of the Tuesday’s presidential election to reveal his view of Donald Trump.

“It wasn’t my vote,” he told reporters Wednesday in Washington, where his team was preparing to be routed by the Wizards. “Let’s put it that way.”

The Celtics learned of Trump’s upset victory while in the nation’s capital, and Stevens said he had to address it in an attempt to refocus his team.

“I think you have to be able to compartmentalize,” Stevens said (via MassLive.com). “We talked about that this morning, and that’s a hard thing. Everybody is — because it’s such a passionate topic right now, every team’s going to be feeling that this morning. It’s not going to be one team and not another.”

“I think the whole world’s talking about it and has been talking about it for quite some time,” Stevens added. “I read somewhere last week that the campaigning is double what it used to be. The coverage is probably 10 times what it used to be. The predictions are probably worse than they used to be. So I think that there’s a lot of discussion about it, there’s a lot of talk about it, there’s a lot of empty space, empty minutes of your day, that you’re turning on whatever and it’s constantly being discussed. So everybody was talking about it. I don’t think that was just our locker room or just anywhere else.”

All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas also tried to keep his comments to a minimum, although he previously had made it clear via Twitter that he opposed Trump.

“It was a rough night,” Thomas said of watching the election results. “But hopefully he’s good. That’s all I’m going to say.”

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Isaiah Thomas laments Celtics’ lack of effort: ‘We’re in a bad funk right now’ 11.09.16 at 10:22 pm ET
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The Celtics’ latest embarrassment, a 118-93 rout at the hands of the previously struggling Wizards on Wednesday night, has left the team searching for answers.

Guard Isaiah Thomas said the bottom line is the C’s need to play harder.

“It’s tough. We’re in a bad funk right now. But we can’t hold our heads,” he told reporters in Washington. “One thing I think is, we’re not the hardest-playing team no more. I think that’s what made us special, that’s what made us good, is us playing harder than the other team, being more scrappier, getting all the loose balls. Rebounds don’t come to us no more because we’re not playing hard.

“I’ve got to watch the film, I’ve got to see what I’ve got to do better, see what we can do better. But that’s just the feeling I have right now, that we’re not the hardest-playing team. And that’s what made us special, what made us win 48 games last year and made teams not really want to play against us. We don’t have that swagger no more.”

The C’s biggest issues are with defensive and rebounding — they were beaten 54-31 on the boards Wednesday.

“It’s playing hard, leaving it all out there on the floor,” Thomas said. “That’s who we were. That’s what made us one of the best defensive teams in the league. That’s what made us win 48 games last year. We have to find that swag. We’ve got to find that … that. We’ve got to get that back. Because if we don’t, it seems like we’re going off talent, which we really don’t have that much talent, including myself. I think if we get that hard hat back where we’re the hardest-playing team, we’re going to be in every game. Last year we didn’t get blown out like this. Even though it’s early, it’s been two really bad games for us. But we didn’t have these types of games last year. Just half the battle was us playing that hard, which we were in most of the games.”

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Fast Break: Celtics dominated by Otto Porter, Wizards 11.09.16 at 9:30 pm ET
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Otto Porter heads to the basket for two of his 34 points Wednesday. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Otto Porter heads to the basket for two of his 34 points Wednesday. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Following Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Nuggets, Celtics coach Brad Stevens lamented his team’s lack of physicality. He undoubtedly was hoping the C’s would show some fight in Wednesday’s night’s game against the Wizards, who came in at 1-5.

No such luck.

Boston was outscored 34-8 in the first quarter — the biggest first-quarter deficit in franchise history — never mounted a serious comeback bid, and for the second straight game watched an opposing player turn in a career night as they lost 118-93. Three days after Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay exploded for 30 points at TD Garden, the Celtics watched as Wizards forward Otto Porter erupted for a career-high 34 points on 14-of-19 shooting to go along with a career-high-tying 14 rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks — one of them on a Jaylen Brown dunk attempt in the third quarter.

Porter, who scored 20 points in the first half as his team took a 58-43 lead, said the struggling Wizards wanted this game badly.

“This, to us, was like  must-win,” he told CSNNE’s Abby Chin before leaving the court. “We had to get this one. Whatever it takes.”

Meanwhile, with Al Horford (concussion) and Jae Crowder (ankle) still sidelined — but with Kelly Olynyk making his first appearance (2 points, 6 rebounds in 26 minutes) — the C’s were again hammered on the boards, as Washington held a 54-31 rebounding advantage.

The C’s (3-4) were led by Isaiah Thomas (23 points, 10 assists), Avery Bradley (21 points) and Marcus Smart (20 points).

Smart also was involved in an incident with John Wall. With 5:24 remaining and the Wizards comfortably in command, Wall inexplicably tackled Smart around the head and threw him to the ground — ostensibly while trying to steal the ball. Smart got up and immediately started an animated conversation with the Wizards star, although he showed remarkable restraint considering Wall’s seemingly unprovoked attack.

Wall was given a flagrant-2 foul and ejected — for the second straight game — while Smart was given a technical foul.

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Jaylen Brown meet-and-greet canceled after police disperse ‘aggressive’ crowd at Cambridge mall 11.08.16 at 12:47 pm ET
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A Monday night event at the CambridgeSide Galleria featuring Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown had to be canceled when crowds became unruly, forcing police to evacuate the mall, according to police and media reports.

Police said a crowd estimated at more than 1,000 people had gathered for a meet-and-greet with Brown and rapper Desiigner. When a group of fans in line surged forward and knocked over other people and barriers shortly before 6 p.m., police were called in to clear what they termed an “aggressive crowd.”

A police spokesman said fans threw glass, bricks and other objects, and police were forced to use pepper spray. Six juveniles were arrested for disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and trespassing.

Brown tweeted a photo of himself down the street from the mall and indicated he had not yet made it inside when the incident occurred.

Brown and the Celtics, coming off a disappointing loss to the Nuggets on Sunday night, next play the Wizards on Wednesday night in Washington.

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Fast Break: Celtics defense exposed again in blowout loss to Nuggets 11.06.16 at 9:54 pm ET
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Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay drives past Avery Bradley during the Celtics' loss Sunday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay drives past Avery Bradley during the Celtics’ loss Sunday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Celtics coach Brad Stevens, addressing Boston’s issues on defense this season, told reporters after Saturday’s practice that the team has “slipped in some defensive areas.” In Sunday’s 123-107 loss to the Nuggets, the C’s slipped, skidded, fell off a cliff and crashed into smithereens.

Denver (3-3) had its way from start to finish, shooting 52.4 percent in handing Boston (3-3) its first home loss of the young season.

Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay scorched the Celtics for 24 points in the opening 12 minutes and finished with 30 on 11-of-17 shooting. Wilson Chandler added 22 points, making 8-of-14 shots.

Isaiah Thomas also scored 30 points, but he had to work a lot harder for his, hitting 9-of-17 shots and making 11-of-12 free throws. Avery Bradley contributed 14 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

Denver was playing its fourth road game in seven days and was coming off a 17-point loss in Detroit the night before. No matter. The Nuggets scored 77 points in the opening half, taking a 25-point lead and sending the Celtics to the locker room amid a smattering of boos from the home crowd. The Nuggets hit 64.4 percent of their shots and outrebounded the Celtics 22-15.

Stevens tried everything, including playing all 12 players on his bench. Jordan Mickey provided a brief spark, getting open underneath for three dunks.

The C’s finally showed signs of life to open the second half, picking up full court, playing their man far more aggressively and boxing out with a purpose. That led to an 8-0 run that included three Denver turnovers, and a spurt that cut the deficit to 15 midway through the period. However, the Nuggets pushed the lead back to 20 heading into the final quarter (103-83) and cruised home from there.

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Fast Break: Celtics come up short vs. LeBron James, Cavaliers 11.03.16 at 10:49 pm ET
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Jaylen Brown defends against Tristan Thompson during Thursday's game. (Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports)

Jaylen Brown defends against Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson during Thursday’s game in Cleveland. (Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports)

Cleveland’s sports fans were in need of a pick-me-up following the Indians’ Game 7 loss to the Cubs, and on Thursday night the Cavaliers gave it to them, jumping out to a big lead and holding on for a 128-122 win over the short-handed Celtics to remain unbeaten on the young season.

The defending NBA champions (5-0) rained down 3-pointers — 11 of their 13 coming in the first half as they took a 68-51 lead into the break — and loaded up on transition baskets as the C’s struggled to stay close most of the night. Boston (3-2) managed to whittle a 20-point deficit to five points midway through the final quarter after a Jaylen Brown 3-pointer.

The C’s rookie, who made his first career start in place of the injured Jae Crowder and drew the assignment of guarding LeBron James, impressed with 19 points (8-of-16 field goals, including 3-of-6 treys) and was a team-best plus-15.

“I thought he played really hard, obviously made shots and did a lot of good things,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Brown in his postgame press conference. “You never expect a guy to make 50 percent of his 3’s every day, right? But I think at the end of the day, if he can bring that same tenacity and that same focus, especially defensively, he can just keep getting better. That’s what you want. So I thought today was a good step in the right direction, for sure.”

Avery Bradley had a big night, scoring 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds. Isaiah Thomas netted 28 points, although he missed all six of his 3-point attempts.

James (12-of-22 field goals) scored a game-high 30 points as he closed in on 10th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He now sits at 26,945, one point behind Hakeem Olajuwon. James also had seven rebounds and 12 assists.

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