|Stud and Duds: DeRozan’s 34 points leads Raptors past Celtics||01.20.16 at 10:30 pm ET|
After the Raptors opened up a 13-point lead in the first half, Celtics coach Brad Stevens turned to his bench, but it wasn’t enough to counter DeMar DeRozan who scored 22 second-half points en route to a 115-109 Rapors victory.
The Celtics closed the first half on a 10-2 run and took a 62-56 lead into halftime. Led by Kelly Olynyk’s 18 points, the Celtics bench combined for 47 points. Yet, DeRozan erupted for 18 third-quarter points and set the tone offensively for the Raptors as they outscored the Celtics 40-28 before heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final frame, the Raptors led by four points when Isaiah Thomas committed a costly turnover on an inbound play out of a timeout with 41 seconds left. The Celtics were able to regain possession but Avery Bradley‘s missed 3-pointer with 14.8 seconds left, sealed the Raptors win. It was the fifth missed 3-pointer of the quarter and further prevented the Celtics from having a chance to regain the lead that they saw slip away after halftime.
The Raptors did an excellent job of getting to the hoop while knocking down good looks from the perimeter — they outscored the Celtics 54-38 in the paint and shot 55.4 percent on 46-of-83 shooting. Although the Celtics shot 50.6 percent from the floor, it wasn’t enough to impede DeRozan’s second-half scoring outburst. The Raptors never led by more than six points in the fourth quarter but were able to pull away in the final minutes.
Isaiah Thomas‘ (21 points, 10 assists) double-double led the Celtics and Avery Bradley finished the night with 19 points. DeMar DeRozan (34 points) shot 52 percent on 13-25 shooting to lead the Raptors and Jonas Valanciunas (19 points, 12 rebounds) notched a double-double.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan gave the Celtics one of the best individual performances they’ve seen from an opponent this season and did it in a number of different ways. He drove the ball to the hoop, stroked it from the mid-range, got to the free-throw line (8-of-9) and lit up the C’s — scoring 30 points in three quarters. Who does that? Not a lot of players in the NBA do. DeMar was ridiculous. He finished the night with 34 points and six assists.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger had an ugly outing up in Toronto. He couldn’t find his offense and was bullied in the paint by Jonas Valanciuas and Luis Scola. Sullinger went scoreless on 1-for-7 shooting, committed two turnovers and was a team-low minus-19 on the night.
VINE OF THE NIGHT: #Stud
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Three-point shooting
The Raptors entered the game as one of the league’s worst teams in defending 3-pointers and it showed. Celtics shot 46.2 percent from deep on 12-of-26 shooting but needed a few more down the stretch when they counted most. The Celtics utilized their 3-point shooting throughout the game to keep themselves within striking distance but couldn’t hit the big ones at the end of the fourth. As the saying goes: “You live and die by the 3,” well the C’s lived by it for 36 minutes as the 3-ball certainly kept them close up until the last quarter where they went 1-for-6 and ultimately suffered their second straight loss.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 54 points in the paint
The Celtics have to do a better job at defending the post. In a game where Jared Sullinger only played 12 minutes, the Celtics had no other big men to count on for interior defense. Amir Johnson and Tyler Zeller struggled to keep up with Jonas Valanciunas (19) and Luis Scola (18 points) nor could they get stops against Toronto’s perimeter players as they were able to get to the hoop with little resistance.
@ OF THE NIGHT:
DeRozan is a superstar. Damn.
‘ Justin Condo (@JustinCondo) January 21, 2016
|2016 Celtics Mock Draft Pick Power Rankings v3.0||01.07.16 at 11:28 am ET|
The Celtics own as many as eight draft picks in June 2016 — only one of which is their own — and the unprotected selection from the Nets is legitimately one of the most fascinating storylines in the entire NBA this season. We’ll regularly update the status of those selections, speculating when and who the Celtics will pick.
3. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn): Jaylen Brown.
Just as there will be what-ifs when it comes to the C’s end-of-season record, the same will be true for the Nets. Now that their season series is complete, we can surmise how vital those two Boston losses to Brooklyn will prove to be come April. Currently, had the Celtics swept the Nets (10-25) rather than split their four-game set, Boston would have as many wins as the No. 2 seed and Brooklyn would have as few wins as the Lakers.
Regardless, Jarrett Jack‘s season-ending ACL injury likely ensures the Nets will finish no worse than third in the lottery, which means the C’s should have a 15.6 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick. And if they aren’t lucky enough to win the Ben Simmons sweepstakes, Brown or Brandon Ingram are the next-best wings.
|Studs and Duds: Kobe Bryant delivers one last dagger to sink Celtics||12.30.15 at 10:26 pm ET|
After exacting NBA Finals revenge against the Celtics in 2010, Kobe Bryant has softened on Boston, and for the first time since the infamous 2007 “MVP” chants, the city returned the sentiment, offering a standing ovation during the starting lineup role call before playfully booing him on his first few possessions.
It was exactly the sort of reaction Boston reserves for its most worthy adversaries – Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and, yes, Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and one of the greatest players ever to play the game of basketball.
The Boston brass presented Bryant with a piece of the parquet before his final game in the Garden, and then the Celtics gave him more ground on the floor, as the 17-time All-Star sunk a 28-foot dagger of a 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining in a 112-104 victory.
Bryant finished with a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) in 33 minutes, as the Lakers won for just the sixth time all season. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 24 points and seven assists. Evan Turner (20 points, 8 assists), Jae Crowder (17 points) and Avery Bradley (13 points) also reached double figures for the Celtics, who fell to 18-14 and had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Marcus Smart was benched for the first quarter after missing the team’s walk-through due to a flat tire, Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. Smart scored four points in 11 minutes.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
|Kevin Garnett on Celtics vs. New York fans: ‘Bostonians all day’||12.21.15 at 7:36 am ET|
As Kevin Garnett arrives with the Timberwolves for what could be his last visit to Boston as a player, he’s coming off a 15-point victory against the Nets on Sunday in Brooklyn — his third of three NBA homes. So, the Minneapolis Star Tribune took the opportunity to ask the former Celtics superstar if he preferred Boston or New York fans.
“Bostonians all day,” said Garnett. “And they know that.”
While Garnett conceded he enjoyed his “living experience” in New York City and “playing before the crowd in Brooklyn was dope,” nothing tops winning a title in Boston, where he also made a second trip to the finals and a third appearance in the conference finals. “Every time I go to Boston I’ll have that sentimental feeling,” he said.
Garnett grabbed seven boards over 10 minutes in the 100-85 win against the Nets. The Celtics host his Wolves at 7:30 p.m. on Monday night. He is signed through 2017 for another $8 million, but there’s some speculation that as his minutes dwindle while he approaches age 40 that salary could be folded into a front-office gig in Minnesota.
Interestingly, Celtics coach Brad Stevens compared Jae Crowder’s tireless approach to the grit and balls that Garnett famously brought to the locker room whether it was practice time or Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
“I’m far from that. I can say that,” Crowder told reporters gathered at Sunday’s practice. “That’s a guy I look up to and I heard a lot of stories about him and that’s what I try to mold myself into being. I mean that’s an honor for him to say that, but I’m far from that. That’s a goal of mine to become a guy like him. That’s my approach is to try to become the most vocal leader at practice and when the cameras and stuff aren’t around.”
And how would Stevens know Garnett’s work ethic so well? Well, funny story about the two 39-year-olds …
“I was playing an AAU tournament with him on the court next to me,” Stevens told the media. “I don’t think I could be playing right now, physically, let alone as well as he does. But it’s pretty impressive what he’s done.”
|Studs and Duds: LeBron James, Cavaliers win ugly over Celtics||12.15.15 at 9:50 pm ET|
After taking a 46-40 lead into halftime, the Celtics were outscored by 18 in the second half, and the final outcome of an 89-77 loss to LeBron James and his Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers should have been a lot worse.
Cleveland (16-7) shot 51.3 percent to the C’s 26.2 percent after the break, turning what initially was a hard-fought playoff rematch into an ugly laugher of a game. The Celtics fell to 14-11 and seventh in the East with the loss.
Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 17 points, but required 15 shots to get there. Likewise, Jae Crowder scored 14 points on 13 attempts and Isaiah Thomas netted 12 points on 15 shots. They were the only three C’s in double figures.
For the complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: David Lee?
Even if he wasn’t much help on defense, at least Lee did some work in the post offensively. He collected eight points on 4-of-8 shooting, adding four rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes off the bench. He finished the night as the C’s only player with a positive plus/minus.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Take your pick.
|A call for Adam Silver to increase Rajon Rondo’s suspension||12.14.15 at 7:06 pm ET|
In a disturbing anecdote detailed in Yahoo Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski’s report on NBA referee Bill Kennedy’s public revelation that he is gay, former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo allegedly directed multiple anti-gay slurs at the longtime ref after he was ejected in the Kings’ 114-97 loss to the C’s in Mexico City on Dec. 3.
Following an investigation, the NBA suspended Rondo one game without pay for “directing a derogatory and offensive term towards a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner.” Rondo’s use of anti-gay slurs is reprehensible, and it’s even worse when you consider he may have suspected Kennedy was gay following disgraced referee Tim Donaghy’s 2010 allegations against Doc Rivers on CLNS Radio. Here’s that exchange, courtesy of Red’s Army.
Question: One of the referees I’ve been annoyed with over the years is Bill Kennedy. Every time he has a Celtics game, I almost know that we’re not getting calls. Is his relationship with Doc Rivers or the Celtics organization as a whole something you know about?
Donaghy: That’s a difficult question for me to answer, because I certainly don’t want to offend anybody. … I’m just gonna come out and say it like it is. It’s no secret on the staff that Bill Kennedy is a homosexual. … I don’t have any ill will towards gays or lesbians, but it was no secret that he’s a homosexual. It was known around the league. It was obvious during a game Doc Rivers questioned his sexual orientation, and I think that has stuck with Kennedy over the years — and he has no love for Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics.
Rivers denied Donaghy’s claim that he directed homophobic language at Kennedy.
Doc Rivers denies using anti-gay slur against Bill Kennedy
‘ Dan Feldman (@DanFeldmanNBA) December 14, 2015
Rondo was a 2012-13 teammate of Jason Collins in Boston the season before the 7-footer became the first active openly gay male athlete in major U.S. sports history, and Collins credited Rivers in the April 2013 Sports Illustrated article announcing his sexuality, saying, “Doc Rivers, my coach on the Celtics, says, ‘If you want to go quickly, go by yourself — if you want to go farther, go in a group.’ I want people to pull together and push ahead.” While Rondo declined to speak with media Monday, he addressed the matter on Twitter.
They absolutely do not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone.
Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for directing an anti-gay slur at an official in 2011, and Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 for doing the same later that season. Rondo’s admission shows at least some players haven’t evolved since. Even if we take Rondo at his word — that he didn’t “mean to offend or disrespect anyone” and he acted “out of frustration and emotion, period” — that doesn’t excuse his behavior.
Whether or not he suspected Kennedy was gay, Rondo was quick to use an offensive term out of frustration, and the fear is that speaks to a locker-room culture where anti-gay slurs are on the tip of a player’s tongue. That needs to change, as it should in any workplace, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver would be wise to increase Rondo’s suspension in order to send that message. Then again, Silver should have sent that message before Wojnarowski’s detailed report, because reissuing a harsher penalty now might open the league up to all sorts of issues with the players’ association.
The NBA may have feared a harsher penalty would have risked indirectly outing Kennedy before he was ready, since the discipline was handed out prior to the Yahoo Sports report. The question then would be whether it matters if Rondo directed the homophobic slur at a gay man or a straight man. Either way, we as a society should not tolerate what amounts to hate speech, and the NBA could help set the tone in that regard.
The league has been on the forefront of cultural progression, particularly compared to other professional sports leagues and especially under Silver, so perhaps it’s time to take another stand.
|Studs and Duds: Celtics bounce back, beat Hornets||12.12.15 at 9:49 pm ET|
Brad Stevens has to have the best cure for hangovers.
A night after an emotional double-overtime loss to the undefeated Warriors, the Celtics defeated the Hornets, 98-93. The win marks the C’s 10th straight when playing on the road on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Celtics struggled to find their legs in the first half, scoring only 38 points on 35 percent shooting from the field and converting a putrid 1-of-10 attempts from the 3-point line. But the Hornets, who came into the game with one of the league’s best offenses, couldn’t capitalize, as they too missed open shots.
The entire pace of the game changed in the third quarter, as the C’s hit seven of their first eight attempts from beyond the arc and built a 12 point lead. Despite a 35-point quarter, the Celtics squandered the double-digit 12-point lead, as Nic Batum (21 points) led Charlotte on a 10-2 run that closed the deficit to four.
The C’s clung to a narrow lead in the fourth quarter and escaped Charlotte with a five-point victory. Avery Bradley led all scorers with 23 points, while Isaiah Thomas (21 points), Jae Crowder (16 points), Evan Turner (10 points) and David Lee (10 points) also reached double figures.
The win pushes the Celtics to 14-10 on the season, just a half-game back of the Hornets (14-9) for second place in the Eastern Conference. The C’s will host LeBron James and the Cavaliers on Tuesday. The Cavs swept Boston in the first round of the playoffs last season.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
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