|Mike Petraglia, Sam Packard explain how Kevin Durant, Thunder manhandled Celtics||03.17.16 at 12:10 am ET|
In an overpowering display, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook helped the Thunder score 42 points in the third quarter, build a lead of 30 points before coasting to a 130-109 win over the undermanned Celtics on Wednesday night at TD Garden. Durant had 28 points while Westbrook added 24 for the Thunder (46-22). The Celtics (39-29) lost their third straight and fell to fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics were led by Isaiah Thomas, who had a game-high 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field. But the Celtics lost their second straight without the injured Jae Crowder.
|Isaiah Thomas says Celtics ‘punked’ by Thunder, ‘soft as tissue’ in embarrassing loss||03.16.16 at 11:58 pm ET|
Isaiah Thomas was embarrassed.
Even though he scored a game-high 29 points and made 11-of-19 shots from the floor, he was embarrassed by his team’s 130-109 loss to the Thunder at TD Garden before a national TV audience.
The Celtics gave up 42 points in the third quarter, the most points they’ve surrendered in any 12-minute period this season. The 130 points were the most they’ve allowed in regulation this season and the most any Celtics team has allowed in regulation since 2004.
Kelly Olynyk’s returned from a 12-game absence due to a shoulder injury didn’t overcome the loss of Jae Crowder (ankle) for a second straight game. Not even close.
At one point of the third quarter, it got so bad, the Celtics trailed by 30.
“They punked us. We played soft as tissue,” Thomas lamented. “That third quarter, they took advantage of every little thing they could have. With a good team like that, you can’t have that happen. So, whoever is playing, whether Jae’s out, Kelly’s back, they punked us. That was basically what it was. They were the tougher team, no question.”
After 12 games on the sidelines, it appears Kelly Olynyk finally is ready to return to action.
Olynyk is expected to return from his partially separated right shoulder just in time to take on Kevin Durant and the Thunder on Wednesday at TD Garden.
“Kelly told me at shootaround that he thinks he’s going to give it a go, but we’ll wait till he gets through all this stuff, but it sounds like he’s going to try to give it a go,” coach Brad Stevens said an hour, 45 minutes before tipoff Wednesday. “We’ll see how much he plays. Obviously he hasn’t done much other than our practices the last five-plus weeks.”
Olynyk injured the shoulder in the first half of the game against the Clippers on Feb. 10 at the Garden. It appeared that he would be ready to go Tuesday in Indiana after taking part in a full contact practice on Sunday. But he was held out after indicating to coaches that he wasn’t quite ready.
“I think [confidence] is a big deal,” Stevens said. “That’s depending on how much pain you’re having. There’s only one person that can answer that question and that’s him. That’s why he’s been smart about it. We didn’t want him to come back until he was ready to roll and didn’t feel tentative. He’s going to have some pain there and that’s part of it. But I think at the end of the day he feels more comfortable today than he has before.”
The Celtics could use Olynyk’s 3-point prowess. He leads the team at 41.3 percent. The Celtics have converted just 16 of 63 from beyond the arc in the last two games, both losses.
“If you’re going to play small, you better be able to shoot,” Stevens said. “You better be able to make shots or you better be able to get out in transition and really run because otherwise the lane’s clogged. We’re going to have to continue to find better shots than we did last night. I thought we guarded about as well as we could have last night. That’ll be significantly tested again. Hey, this is a tough stretch of games for us. I’m conscious of that. At the same time, I think we need to play better offensively to beat a team of this caliber.”
|Kevin Durant on Boston: ‘I like the city a lot’||at 4:04 pm ET|
In Boston for a nationally televised showdown with the Celtics on Wednesday night, impending free agent Kevin Durant said exactly what every C’s fan wanted to hear.
“I like the city a lot,” the Oklahoma City forward told The Boston Globe from shootaround in the hours before tipoff. “It’s cold, but they love sports here. It’s a family atmosphere I feel when I walk around the city, so yeah, I like it a lot.”
As the Globe’s Gary Washburn noted, injuries have prevented the 2013-14 NBA MVP from playing at TD Garden since Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were still starting for the Celtics during the 2012-13 season. But that hasn’t kept Durant from keeping an eye on the rebuilding efforts of coach Brad Stevens in Boston.
“I’ve been watching this team a lot,” he added. “They’re scrappy. They play hard. They love their coach. They love their system, and especially in this building, they play with a lot of energy. So it’s going to be a tough test.”
|Brad Stevens on playing without Jae Crowder in loss: ‘Our worst fears were realized’||03.15.16 at 11:34 pm ET|
The Celtics hung tough for the first three quarters Tuesday night in Indianapolis. Then it appeared not having their most versatile player finally caught up with them.
That’s the way Brad Stevens saw it as the Celtics lost their first game this season without Jae Crowder. The Celtics actually led 77-76 with just over eight minutes left. But they couldn’t make a shot when it counted and they had no answer for Paul George and Jordan Hill off the bench in a 103-98 loss to the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Without Crowder, the Celtics shot under 40 percent for a second straight game (36-for-94) 38.3 percent. They were again ice cold from 3-point range, 8-for-32 (25 percent). With no Crowder, the Celtics struggled to find an offensive rhythm. They had a 20-13 lead early, fell behind 43-33, and made a run late in the first half. But the consistency just wasn’t there without Crowder.
“First and foremost, I think this is a hard game to win, no matter who’s on your team,” Stevens told reporters afterward. “This is a good team. They’re playing really well. Minus the Atlanta loss [Sunday], they’ve had a bunch of games in a row where they’ve really played well before that. I’m not that discouraged about it.
“What I am discouraged by is I think we could play with better purpose and give ourselves a better chance late. You’re going to give up points because of size at times, or height. But I think we can get a little bit better playing the way we play with the guys we play.”
Evan Turner scored just six points on seven shots in 27 minutes off the bench. Jonas Jerebko had a season-high 17 points off the bench. But the Celtics got just nine points from Tyler Zeller, Coty Clarke and Terry Rozier.
“Obviously, we had those moments, that stretch where we couldn’t score in the first half, got down ten,” Stevens said. “But then I thought we were playing great all the way up until the end of the third quarter, when we were still playing pretty well.”
The Pacers did their best to give the short-handed Celtics a shot. But on this night in Indianapolis, the Celtics couldn’t convert.
Paul George scored 25 and Monta Ellis added 14 as the Pacers held on for a 103-98 win over the Celtics on Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Celtics (39-28), who lost their second straight, were playing their first game of the season without Jae Crowder (high ankle sprain) and their 12th straight without Kelly Olynyk (shoulder). The Celtics lost consecutive games for the first time since losing at Dallas and at Toronto on Jan. 18 and 20.
The Celtics were led by Isaiah Thomas with 21 points while Jared Sullinger had another double-double, with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Coach Brad Stevens went with a three-guard look in his first game this season without the injured Crowder in the starting lineup. Marcus Smart got the call, along with Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas. Amir Johnson and Jared Sullinger were the only big men in the game.
Thanks to an early steal from Smart, the Celtics showed energy with the small lineup, shooting out to a 20-13 lead. But the Pacers, behind Paul George, scored the final seven points of the quarter to forge a 20-20 tie after 12 minutes.
The Pacers used a 23-13 run to open a 43-33 lead before the Celtics closed it to four at the break on a 6-0 run before the break. The Celtics stayed in the game thanks to 10 Indiana turnovers.
|Jordan Mickey recalled in time for Celtics’ trip to Indiana||03.14.16 at 6:01 pm ET|
Before taking off for their trip to Indianapolis and a Tuesday meeting with the Pacers, the Celtics recalled forward Jordan Mickey from the Maine Red Claws of the D-League.
The move is likely just depth at the 3/4 position as the Celtics cope with the loss of Jae Crowder for at least two weeks with a high ankle sprain to his right foot.
Mickey has turned into a shot-blocking phenom, blocking four shots (three in the first quarter) against Grand Rapids on Sunday in the Red Claws’ 129-123 victory.
Mickey also tallied a double-double with a team-high 28 points, 11 rebounds, one assist and a steal in 32 minutes of action. He has played in 23 games for Maine this season and is averaging 17.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 4.4 blocks per game in that span.
Mickey blocked three shots in a span of five seconds last Wednesday in a win over Memphis at TD Garden.
Coach Brad Stevens said the team would likely consider a number of options to replace Crowder’s minutes, most likely involving Evan Turner and James Young.
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