|Celtics start fast, hold off Nuggets||12.06.13 at 9:59 pm ET|
This time, the Celtics found a way to hold their 27-point first half lead.
Jordan Crawford scored 22 while Avery Bradley and Kris Humphries each added 18 to lead a balanced attack as the Celtics raced out to huge first half lead and held on for a 106-98 win over the Denver Nuggets Friday night at TD Garden. Jeff Green scored 15 while Brandon Bass added 14.
The win improves the Celtics to 9-12 on the season, which is still good for first place in the underwhelming Atlantic Division.
The Celtics couldn’t have asked for a better start than the one they got Friday night against the Nuggets.
Led by six points from Bradley, the Celtics raced out to a 14-0 lead to open the game. Bradley finished the first quarter with 13 points and the Celtics made 17-of-26 shots (65.4 percent) to open a huge 39-15 lead over a Nuggets team that entered the game 11-7 and in third place in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference.
The Celtics built their lead to 27 when Vitor Faveriani hit a three to open the second quarter.
From that point, the Nuggets began to claw their way back into the game, outscoring Boston 29-25 in the second quarter. Still, thanks to back-to-back dunks from Humphries and Bradley to close the first half, the Celtics led by 20 at the half, 64-44.
Randy Foye hit a three to start a 9-0 Denver run to open the second half. JJ Hickson converted a layup that cut the lead down to 11, 64-53, in the first two minutes of the half. Ty Lawson drilled a pull-up jumper with 7:42 left in the quarter as Denver capped a 20-4 spurt that cut Boston’s lead down to four, 68-64.
Denver would draw to within three twice in the third, the last time coming on a Timofey Mozgov dunk with 3:31 left in the quarter that cut Boston’s lead to 76-73.
Crawford’s three with 39.5 seconds remaining and the shot clock winding down gave the Celtics a 106-96 lead and sealed Boston’s ninth win of the season.
The Celtics avoided repeating last season’s epic 27-point collapse in Atlanta. On Jan. 25, 2013, the Celtics led the Hawks, 48-21, in the second quarter but couldn’t hold on in the second half, losing 123-111, in double-overtime. That was also the last game Rajon Rondo played, as he tore his right ACL late in the game and has been out of action since.
|Blazers blow by defenseless C’s||11.15.13 at 9:49 pm ET|
Before Friday’s game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said any success on the upcoming road trip would rely on his team’s ability to play defense against some of the elite teams of the Western Conference.
If Friday night is any indication, they could be in for a long trip.
Nicolas Batum connected on 4-of-9 from 3-point range and finished with 18 points while LaMarcus Aldridge added a team-high 27 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Blazers to a 109-96 win over the Celtics Friday night at TD Garden.
The Celtics held Portland to just 8-of-22 shooting in the first quarter but still trailed, 23-21, heading into the second quarter.
But the second quarter was a different story as the Blazers started extending the Celtics defense and took 10 3-pointers, making four. The Celtics stayed close, shooting 64.3 percent, making 9-of-14 from the field. Vitor Faverani had all nine of his points in the quarter as the Celtics trailed 57-51 at the half.
Another huge factor in the game was the early foul trouble of Kelly Olynyk. The rookie was whistled for his third personal foul with 4:39 left in the second quarter and picked up his fourth just 29 seconds into the third quarter.
“Unfortunately, Kelly got the Sully treatment tonight,” joked Sullinger after the game, referring to the foul trouble Sullinger had in his rookie season last year.
The rough defense continued in the second half as the Blazers outscored the Celtics, 33-27, in the third quarter, led by 11 from Aldridge. Portland scored the last six points of the quarter to take a 90-78 lead into the final quarter.
The Celtics made it a seven-point game early in the fourth on back-to-back threes from Jared Sullinger and Courtney Lee but could get no closer. Sullinger led Boston with 26 points and eight rebounds in 36 minutes off the Boston bench.
Jeff Green (14) and Jordan Crawford (11) were the only other Celtics in double figures.
After winning four straight to even their record at 4-4, the 4-6 Celtics have lost their last two – both at home – and now head out on the road for a three-game road trip that begins Saturday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. They play Tuesday in Houston before wrapping up the swing on Wednesday in San Antonio against the Spurs.
The Blazers improved to 7-2 on the season.
|Brad Stevens’ reaction to first NBA win: ‘Winning’s more fun than losing’||11.07.13 at 1:41 am ET|
After starting his NBA coaching career 0-4, Brad Stevens stepped up to the podium Wednesday night after a 97-87 win and asked Celtics longtime public relations director Jeff Twiss if he should make an opening statement. Without missing a beat, Stevens showed his dry sense of humor and his ability to understate the obvious.
‘Winning’s more fun than losing,” Stevens said. “But at the same time, I think we played two pretty good games back to back, so that’s the most positive thing moving forward. And hopefully we feel better about ourselves as we move forward.’
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck marked the occasion of Stevens’ first NBA win by getting the basketball at the end of the game and presenting it to Stevens in front of the team.
‘Wyc was nice enough to grab the ball for me, so that was really nice,” Stevens said. “You know, I’m going to celebrate for a whole 12 minutes and then I’m going to start watching Orlando and trying to figure them out. Obviously they’ve had a great start to their season, and they’ve got good young talent. And we’ve got a couple more road games ‘ I feel like we’ve already toured half the NBA this week ‘ so just a couple of more road games this week.’
The Celtics started in a 16-3 hole but all of that seemed to change when Stevens went to his bench and brought in the likes of Jared Sullinger, Phil Pressey, Gerald Wallace and rookie Kelly Olynyk.
‘I told Gerald this today: I thought the Sully/Kelly ‘ with their ability to pass and stretch the floor, would open up some driving lanes for him,” Stevens said. “And some plays for him. Those three guys complement each other pretty well. So, I kind of made up my mind [Tuesday] night that we were going to go with Gerald off the bench, and then went from there. And then I thought Phil gave us a spark. To me, the best teams I’ve been a part of have had sparks off the bench. The energy level has actually gone up, or at least in a really good night, stayed the same. And I think that that’s what happened.’
|Report: Jay Larranaga in the running for 76ers head coaching gig||07.17.13 at 8:06 pm ET|
Another Celtics assistant is drawing interest from one of Boston’s arch rivals.
Jay Larranaga, who was considered as a candidate to replace Doc Rivers before Brad Stevens was hired, has been contacted by the Philadelphia 76ers to interview for their vacant head coaching position.
Before joining Boston for the 2012-13 season, Larranaga spent the previous two seasons as head coach of the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League. In two seasons with the BayHawks, Larranaga led his squad to consecutive playoff appearances while posting a regular season record of 60-40. He also established team records for all-time wins (60) and wins in a season (32).
In Larranaga’s two years in Erie, eight different players received NBA call-ups. Prior to arriving in Erie, Larranaga served as an assistant coach at Cornell, and before that he was head coach of the Irish National team for two years. Larranaga spent the summer of 2012 as an assistant for the Ukraine National team under former NBA coach Mike Fratello before joining Rivers’ staff last season.
Yahoo! NBA writer and insider Adrian Wojnarowski was first with the story.
Boston Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga met with Sixers management to discuss head coaching job on Tuesday, league sources tell Y!
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 17, 2013
Larranaga, who reportedly met on Tuesday with the Sixers, is one of a list of candidates the 76ers are considering to replace Doug Collins, who resigned” after the team’s 34-win season that resulted in Philly missing the playoffs one season after losing a Game 7 to the Celtics in the Eastern semis.
Larranaga’s father, Jim, was the AP college coach of the year this past season, leading the Miami Hurricanes to its first-ever tournament title, an ACC win over North Carolina and an appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16.
|Paul Pierce can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to Boston and its fans||07.16.13 at 5:15 pm ET|
Paul Pierce was always at the leading edge of social media among Boston athletes in his 15 years in Boston.
He showed again why on Tuesday, taking to Instagram, creating an account [paulpierce] with a similar handle to his Twitter account of @paulpierce34, to say thank you to the city of Boston and its fans for their support over his time with the Celtics.
He created a hastag of #THANKYOUBOSTON for those on Instagram wishing to surface all of the photos he has collected over the years.
His home page features a photo of him with a youngish Tom Brady (circa the 2001-02 season).
Pierce was formally traded on July 12 to Brooklyn along with fellow future hall of famer Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry for Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace and Kris Joseph and three first-round picks. In one of his first acts as a member of his new team, he wanted to show Tuesday that he hadn’t forgotten all that was accomplished with the team that brought him into the NBA.
|Kris Humphries is confident of a ‘good relationship’ with Rajon Rondo||07.16.13 at 10:56 am ET|
WALTHAM — Kris Humphries knew the moment he was traded to Boston he would have to face the question.
How will he get along with Rajon Rondo?
On Monday, it took just three questions before Humphries was asked if he thinks bygones will be bygones and if he can actually work in harmony know with the Celtics tempestuous point guard.
“I knew it was coming; it just took a few questions to get there,” Humphries joked before offering a serious answer.
“I haven’t talked to him but I think we’ll have a good relationship,” he said. “I think things happen within the game. Looking at it, it really was nothing. The media tends to blow things out of proportion. Obviously I just have to do my part to earn his respect in terms of playing hard and contributing to the team and just go from there.”
Humphries was given two technical fouls and ejected from the game on Nov. 28, 2012, won by Brooklyn, 95-83. Brooklyn forward Gerald Wallace was given one technical for joining in, but since it was his second of the game he was also ejected. Garnett was given one technical foul but was not ejected.
The only Celtics player ejected was Rondo, who with only three assists, saw his streak of 37 consecutive games with at least 10 assists end that night due to the ejection. That mark tied him with John Stockton for second-longest in NBA history.
The fracas started when Humphries fouled Garnett, pushing him to the floor as he shot from the right baseline. Rondo shoved Humphries, sending the melee into the stands.
|Danny Ainge: Nets wanted ‘Dream Team’ at ‘any cost’||07.15.13 at 5:10 pm ET|
That’s why, according to the Celtics president of basketball operations, he pulled the trigger earlier this month on a deal that sends the two stars to Brooklyn for Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans and Kris Humphries.
“Brooklyn showed a great deal of interest in putting the ‘Dream Team’ together, with expense not [a factor], at any cost it seemed like,” Ainge told reporters at an introductory press conference Monday. “And the opportunity to acquire a lot of young assets and get younger and move onto a different phase presented itself. We felt like, where we were as a team, it was going to be very difficult to be a championship contender [had] we kept Paul and KG.
“The opportunity presented itself. It’s a situation we needed to do. It’s a situation that Brooklyn should do and could do, adding Paul and KG to a roster with already three All-Star type players. It’s a pretty special opportunity for them, even though it’s very expensive.”
“You don’t really want to trade to a division rival but no, there were no other teams that were even close,” Ainge admitted. “As a matter of fact, it was interesting that the offers we got for Paul and KG were greater than we got for them in years past. It was an opportunity we felt we had to jump at.”
Was it hard for Ainge to pull the trigger in the end?
“Absolutely,” Ainge said when asked. “I think it pretty much goes without saying, and there’ll be many opportunities to talk about their legacies, and I know this is not my decision alone to make, but if it were my decision alone, their numbers will be hanging from the rafters some day. Their legacy has been made here in Boston. They still have basketball left in them but at the same time, we’re going to want to beat them. But those guys were great for the city of Boston, great for the Boston Celtics franchise and great for all of us who were associated with them.
“But this is a good deal for us. We’re excited about the players we’re getting and we’re excited about the opportunity for us to start fresh and start over, not completely over because we have a lot of good players returning and a lot of good players acquired in teh trade but start over in terms of a new coaching staff, new players and a new identity.”
A fifth player the Celtics received in the deal – Kris Joseph – was waived on Monday.
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