|Kevin Durant (shoulder) to miss Oklahoma City Thunder game against Celtics||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.
|Rajon Rondo will sit vs. Wizards, Celtics announce||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.
|Brad Stevens, Celtics still uncertain about Rajon Rondo’s status against Lakers||01.15.14 at 11:17 pm ET|
While Brad Stevens and his Celtics players, depleted backcourt and all, could simply be maintaining the mystery, they sure seemed sincere denying any knowledge about the All-Star point guard’s plans for Friday.
“He hasn’t told anybody,” said Avery Bradley. “We honestly don’t know.”
Rondo dressed and participated in the layup lines for Wednesday’s streak-busting win against the Raptors, but was never a consideration despite this week’s departures of Keith Bogans, Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks.
“Well, we were up three with no timeouts trying to get the ball inbounds and one of the best passers in the world was sitting right next to me, so no,” said Stevens. “He would not have been [available]. I told [assistant coach] Jay Larranaga he was next, and [assistant] Walter [McCarty] was right after him, depending on what we needed.”
The coach said he still hasn’t been told whether or not Rondo will be available to play against the Lakers. If so, “he’s only going to play 18-20 minutes.” Members of the organization contend the decision is entirely up to the point guard. He’s been practicing for weeks, has been cleared to play and faces no known hurdles in his rehab.
Yet, Bradley & Co. maintain: “I’m not sure if he is going to play. I’m not sure when he’s going to play.”
|Danny Ainge: The Wolf of Causeway Street||at 4:12 pm ET|
Danny Ainge has pulled the trigger on two trades in the span of 10 days, and the Celtics president of basketball operations likely isn’t done dealing before the NBA’s Feb. 20 trade deadline. Hence, The Wolf of Causeway Street.
|Celtics briefly send Rajon Rondo to D-League||at 1:07 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo‘s Red Claws tenure lasted less than two hours.
The All-Star point guard participated in a workout with the Red Claws in Boston and is still expected to make his return from ACL surgery on Friday against the Lakers.
“Rajon is progressing terrifically in his rehab and this is the next step,” Celtics president Danny Ainge said in a statement.
The Celtics backcourt against the Raptors on Wednesday will be thin. They excused Keith Bogans indefinitely for personal reasons on Tuesday, and then reportedly traded Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks a day later.
That leaves Avery Bradley and the newly acquired Jerryd Bayless as the likely starters against Toronto, with rookie Phil Pressey as the lone true backup guard.
|Breaking down the Celtics’ Jordan Crawford trade||at 12:56 pm ET|
Thus ends the Jordan Crawford era.
The Celtics traded Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Warriors in a three-team deal with the Heat that will bring Joel Anthony, a protected first-round pick and a future second-round pick to Boston, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The first-round pick comes by way of the 76ers and is lottery protected for this season and next. Should Philadelphia fail to reach the playoffs in either season, the Celtics will receive Philly’s 2015 and 2016 second-round selections. The second-round pick currently in place is reportedly Miami’s 2016 selection.
Regardless, Ainge traded one player who was out for the season (Leandro Barbosa) and another who was out of the league within two months (Jason Collins) for Crawford at the trade deadline last season, and turned him into at least two future picks. Pretty savvy on the Celtics president’s part.
Meanwhile, the Heat received Toney Douglas from the Warriors and managed to unload Anthony’s burdensome contract on the Celtics. The 31-year-old center, who has appeared in just 12 games for Miami, is making $3.8 million this season and will surely pick up his $3.8 million player option in 2014-15. That’s the downside, as Crawford is a restricted free agent at season’s end.
In Crawford and Brooks, the Warriors add backcourt depth behind the oft-injured Stephen Curry.
|The NBA’s big problem, according to Jeremy Lin||01.14.14 at 12:38 pm ET|
As if a game involving a team riding an eight-game losing streak and trailing by 20 points couldn’t have gotten any uglier, the Celtics began fouling Dwight Howard, over and over, midway through the fourth quarter.
Once Rockets coach Kevin McHale inserted his center into the final frame against his former team, the Celtics hacked a Howard seven times in 3:27, resulting in 14 mostly terrible free throw attempts for the viewing pleasure of the fans who remained until the bitter end. It wasn’t pretty, and that’s a problem for the NBA, because it worked.
“It freezes everybody,” Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin explained after his team’s 104-92 victory at the Garden. “We just don’t get rhythm. We don’t play offense for a while. We’re just watching. We get cold, and then there’s no flow. At that point, their goal is to freeze us, so they are accomplishing that.”
As Howard missed 8-of-14 from the line, the C’s slashed a 16-point deficit to seven and could’ve sliced it further had they not turned the ball over three times down the stretch. These are the Rajon Rondo-less Celtics, after all. Then, the two-minute mark hit, the C’s could no longer foul Howard off the ball and had to play real defense, which promptly resulted in a pair of Houston layups that mercifully brought their ninth straight loss to an end.
“I would probably support a change in the rule that would call it intentional or call it like it would be called int he last two minutes,” admitted Stevens. “But because it’s a rule and usually if a guy’s making one out of two, it makes you think twice. To his credit, he made one almost every time up to the foul line. But we were scoring, and so we were getting a plus-one in about 10 or 15 seconds off the clock for the better part of three or four possessions. And then we went dry, and that’s when the two-minute mark hit anyways and we really couldn’t do it anymore.”
To paraphrase: The Celtics, like most teams, Hack-a-Howard because they can, even if they don’t like it. And why should they? It’s ugly and cheap, like an inflatable doll, and nobody wants to see that. Especially fans.
So, what should the NBA do about it? Take a cue perhaps from Shaquille O’Neal himself, who once said of the Hack-a-Shaq technique, “The only thing I call cowardly is when you’re up by 10 and do it. That’s a coward move.” Adam Silver could make it his first order of business upon taking over for David Stern as commissioner: Off-the-ball whistles become intentional when a team is leading by 10 points. That way ugly basketball can’t get any uglier.