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Despite brutal call in loss to Chicago, Celtics show just how much they have moved on from Rajon Rondo 02.16.17 at 10:32 pm ET
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Feb 16, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) drives past Chicago Bulls guard Michael Carter-Williams (7) during the second quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas (4) drives past Chicago Bulls guard Michael Carter-Williams (7) during the second quarter at the United Center. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart keep coming up huge when it matters most. 

But unfortunately for the Celtics the officials decided Thursday’s game. 

Jimmy Butler hit two free throws with 0.9 seconds left when Marcus Butler was called for grazing the right elbow of the shooter by referee Zach Zarba on the baseline. The two free throws were the difference in Chicago’s 104-103 win at the United Center. TV replays showed Smart didn’t make contact. 

A brutal call by Zarba at the worst time. Butler and Thomas each finished with 29 points. 

After a timeout trying to inbound, Al Horford missed a 16-foot shot at the buzzer as the Bulls were bailed out. 

“We not going to be derailed by that,” a tight-lipped Brad Stevens told reporters after. Stevens was irate at the moment the call was made. 

“Yeah, we thought we won the game,” said Kelly Olynyk, who had 17 points and seven rebounds. “A rollercoaster of emotions. It’s tough.”

Thomas and Smart stayed on the court for nearly a minute after the final buzzer and stared down Zarba. Before the call, the Celtics were poised for another clutch win in the fourth. 

There was a mindset and thought as recently as three years ago in Brad Stevens’ first year in Boston that the Celtics still needed Rajon Rondo to be apart of their next charge at a title.

But in that 2013-14 season, he missed the first 40 games recovering from an ACL injury the year before. He was named the 15th captain in team history. One year later, the disenfranchised Rondo was traded away to Dallas and the Celtics haven’t looked back. The Celtics made the playoffs that year, Stevens’ second as head coach. After 48 wins last season, the Celtics are making a run at the No. 1 seed this year.

Rondo has played for Sacramento and now Chicago.

It’s somewhat appropriate that Thomas – the man that helped the Celtics move on from the Rondo era – set a new franchise mark with his 41st straight game of at least 20 points Thursday night in the loss to the Bulls at the United Center in the final game before the All-Star break. The Celtics head into the break with a 37-20 mark, three games behind Cleveland for the top spot in the East.

For a full box score and statistical recap of Thursday’s game in Chicago, click here.

Rondo twisted his left ankle badly with three minutes left in the second quarter but in the time he was on the court, he clearly was inspired to prove he could hang with and defend Isaiah Thomas. To an extent, he was successful, holding Thomas to just two points over the first 15 minutes of the game. Rondo, coming off Chicago’s bench, was held scoreless in 20 minutes, missing all five shots from the floor, dishing out eight assists with seven rebounds. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Isaiah Thomas, NBA
Studs and Duds: Balanced Celtics beat Bulls, brace for Warriors 12.09.15 at 9:53 pm ET
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Eight Celtics scored in double figures, overcoming 41.3 percent shooting and winning for the first time when allowing 100 points, beating the Bulls, 105-100.

Isaiah Thomas finished scoreless in the first half, and then totaled 20 points in the final two quarters to lead the C’s in scoring. Kelly Olynyk netted 15 points, Evan Turner and Jae Crowder each added 13, Amir Johnson and David Lee both dropped 12 and Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley totaled 10 apiece.

The Celtics improved to 13-9 and tied the Raptors for first place in the Atlantic Division. Only the Cavaliers (14-7) have more wins in the East. The Celtics will have a chance to snap Golden State’s 23-0 start at home on Friday night.

On Wednesday, Bulls guard Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 36 points.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, David Lee, NBA
Brad Stevens isn’t worried about ‘managing feelings’ anymore 01.17.15 at 9:33 am ET
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There comes a point in time where an NBA coach can’t worry about massaging the egos of his team. That time has come for Brad Stevens.

After another close-but-no cigar special Friday night at TD Garden, Stevens said that he’s seeing some signs of life from his now 13-25 squad. But not enough. The Celtics shot 60 percent in the first half, competed hard for three quarters and even led the Bulls by three at the half. But Boston, as it often has this season, ran out of gas in the fourth and fell, 119-105.

Asked if he’s concerned about his constantly changing roster and the impact it might have heading on a brutal six-game western road swing, Stevens was brutally honest.

“I’€™m not as worried about keeping them up,” Stevens said. “I think we need to get better off of that. I thought we didn’€™t have enough ‘€“ we weren’€™t as tight as we need to be against that level of talent. We were loose in our coverages and a little loose on the ball and it hurt us. They’€™ve got some great, great players that stepped up and made plays and really separated the game.

“But even when we were going back and forth I didn’€™t feel like ‘€“ I didn’€™t feel like it was sustainable at that rate, the way we were playing. So, yeah, I don’€™t know, hey’€¦we’€™re employed to do everything we can, to have everything we have, and to manage the ups and downs throughout a season. Players and coaches. And it’€™s on us as individuals to be up and ready. And certainly you have to help some guys through that and help manage some of that but, you know, we can’€™t spend our time managing feelings right now; we have to spend our time getting better.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Chicago Bulls, NBA
Jimmy Butler: ‘If I didn’t have [Joakim Noah] on my team I would hate him,’ understands why Kevin Garnett doesn’t like Noah at 1:55 am ET
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Joakim Noah didn’t play in Friday’s win over the Celtics, but he still managed to find his way into the box score with a technical foul in street clothes from the bench. The call sparked one of the loudest ovations of the night from the TD Garden crowd — a fan base that has despised Noah dating back to his battles with Kevin Garnett when he was wearing green.

Noah’s cockiness was something that Garnett and Celtics fans have come to hate over the years. So in typical fashion, Noah took credit for the Bulls run against the C’s, claiming it was his technical that sparked his team. Jimmy Butler was asked about Noah’s claim after the game.

“No comment, man. Jo always thinks it has something to do with him. That’s your guy. Look at him over there,” said a smiling Butler gesturing towards a laughing Noah on the other end of the locker room. “Something’s wrong with him.”

So, is Noah the type of player that you only love when he’s on your team?

“Yes, I always say that,” Butler said emphatically before the second half of the question was even posed to him. “If I didn’t have Jo on my team I would hate him. So hopefully he’s on my team for forever because I really would not like him if I was going up against him.

“He just talks too much. He gets on my nerves. I don’t know,” he continued while both smiling and shaking his head thinking he may have gone too far. “I love him because he’s on my team, but if we end up playing towards the end of each of our careers if we go separate ways we will end up fighting. I guarantee it.”

Butler’s honesty came as a little bit of a surprise. So this seemed like the perfect time to see if one of Noah’s own teammates could see things from Garnett’s point of view during the many altercations the two shared while the Big Ticket was still in Boston (and even during his time with Brooklyn).

“Oh yeah, definitely,” Butler said. “I think that comes with the game, you know, two fierce competitors that want to win. [They’re] really great at their position. That’s what your going to get. Especially out of that one,” he finished while gesturing towards Noah once again.

Even though Butler is open minded enough to see things from Garnett and the Boston fans’ point of view, he is very grateful to have Noah on his side.

“Jo makes everyone around him play harder, dive on the floor, take a charge, because when you see how emotional he is you know that he’s really into the game,” expressed a now more serious Butler. “You want to go to war, you want to battle with a guy like Jo.”

Look, Jimmy Butler does not dislike Joakim Noah, “Jo’s my guy,” Butler said multiple times in the locker room. But Celtics fans may just find it refreshing to know that someone in the Bulls locker room can justify that he too would hate Noah if he were an opponent. KG might even find it a bit gratifying as well.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah
Pau Gasol, Bulls outlast Celtics in overtime 01.04.15 at 12:43 pm ET
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Evan Turner fires a jumper against the Bulls in a Saturday night loss in Chicago. (Getty Images)

Evan Turner fires a jumper against the Bulls in a Saturday night loss in Chicago. (Getty Images)

Another good effort, another road loss for the Celtics.

Pau Gasol had 29 points, 16 rebounds and five blocked shots, and the Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 109-104 in overtime on Saturday night in Chicago.

Jared Sullinger forced overtime with less than three seconds left in regulation but the Celtics were outscored 10-5 in overtime for their fourth straight road loss.

“The last couple years, I had issues with my knees. I couldn’t really jump as much as I’m jumping now,” said the 34-year-old Gasol, who was coming off a career best nine blocks in Chicago’s previous game. “Not that I’m jumping super high, maybe an inch more.”

Evan Turner scored 24 of his 29 points after halftime, but Boston dropped to 2-6 since trading Rajon Rondo to Dallas on Dec. 18. Avery Bradley had 17 points for the Celtics (11-20).

Sullinger added 16 points for Boston, which returns home to play Charlotte Monday night at TD Garden.

Aaron Brooks added 19 points for the Bulls (24-10), who won for the ninth time in 10 games. Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose had 12 points apiece.

“They do what they need to do to win, obviously, even when they’re not playing well,” Turner said.

Saturday was Boston’s first game since the Rajon Rondo return with the Mavericks on Friday in Boston, a 119-101 loss to Dallas. The Celtics did not show serious hangover effects and played hard against a Bulls team missing starters Jimmy Butler (bereavement leave) and Mike Dunleavy (right ankle). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls,
Brad Stevens knows Celtics have ‘got to finish’ before they can even think about winning 11.28.14 at 10:27 pm ET
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Winners go for the jugular. Losers allow victory to slip through their hands.

Unfortunately, for Brad Stevens, he’s seeing much too much of the slipping and not enough killer instinct, with Friday’s 109-102 loss to the Bulls the latest example.

There’s a common, unsettling theme developing between Stevens’ rookie season of 25 wins and this season. The Celtics‘ coach watched Friday as a 16-point second-quarter lead evaporated. He then saw his team bounce back as they have so many times this season, taking an 81-72 lead late in the third quarter.

Was Friday finally going to be one of those rare days where the Celtics show the mental toughness to hang on for a quality win like they did on Nov. 8 in Chicago against these same Bulls?

Nope. Not when you shoot 5-for-26 (19.2 percent) in the final quarter, score 11 points, miss all eight 3-point attempts and convert just one of five free throws. The Celtics, like they did against Toronto, Oklahoma City and Cleveland just crumbled on their own parquet floor.

“I felt good coming into the game,” Stevens said. “I felt good about what we did at the end of the game. I’€™m not going to lose too much sleep over the ball not going in the basket. I’€™ll go back and re-watch the execution and the defensive possessions and those types of things, but I felt pretty good about it. Hey, we scored 102 points on Chicago and that’€™s with an 11-point quarter. So we’€™re doing a lot of good things, but we’€™ve got to finish. It’€™s the difference between winning and losing.”

After his team fell to 4-9 on the season, losing for the fifth time in six games, Stevens was asked if he’s starting to question what he’s doing based on all the losing.

“We can win by 30 and I’m questioning me,” Stevens said. “This has nothing to do with [score]. I don’t change game to game, as far as my own analysis or being overly critical or any of those types of things.”
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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Chicago Bulls,
Celtics go ice-cold in matinee loss to Bulls at 3:25 pm ET
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Another big first half lead. Another would-be win turned into a loss as the Celtics were outscored 24-11 in the fourth quarter and fell to the Chicago Bulls, 109-102, Friday afternoon in a matinee contest at TD Garden. Jimmy Butler hit four key free throws while the Celtics went ice cold from the field as Boston fell to 4-9 on the season. The Bulls, who outscored the Celtics, 55-42 in the second half, gained a measure of revenge for Boston’s stunning win in Chicago earlier in the month.

Jared Sullinger led the Celtics with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Avery Bradley added 18 points. Rajon Rondo finished just two points, three rebounds and one assist shy of a triple-double but missed two key free throws late as the Celtics lost for the fifth time in six games.

“I felt good coming into the game,” coach Brad Stevens said. “I felt good about what we did at the end of the game. I’€™m not going to lose too much sleep over the ball not going in the basket. I’€™ll go back and re-watch the execution and the defensive possessions and those types of things, but I felt pretty good about, We scored 102 points on Chicago and that’€™s with an 11-point quarter. So we’€™re doing a lot of good things, but we’€™ve got to finish. It’€™s the difference between winning and losing.”

The game was highly entertaining, with plenty of back-and-forth.

Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose (hamstring) both overcame nagging injuries to start the game but it was an aggressive Celtics‘ dose of Bradley and Sullinger that proved to be painful for the visitors early on. Bradley hit his first three shots while Sullinger connected on three of his first four as the Celtics built a 16-point lead (54-38) midway through the second quarter.

But the Bulls finished the first half on a 16-6 run to cut it to 60-54 at the half. Brandon Bass came off the bench to score 11 points and haul in six rebounds to power Boston while Pau Gasol had 11 points to lead the Bulls.

The Bulls continued their charge in the third quarter, Rose connected on a three just four minutes into the third to tie the game, 68-68. Jimmy Butler’s 15-foot pull-up jumper gave Chicago its first lead since 6-4, capping a 16-8 run to open the second half.

The Celtics regained a measure of control late in the third quarter, going on a 15-6 spurt. Bradley scored the final 10 points in the run for Boston, which led 83-76 on Bradley’s layup with 1:54 left in the period.

The Bulls closed the Celtics‘ lead to 91-85 heading into the fourth quarter. Boston would shoot just 5-of-26 (19.2 percent) in the final 12 minutes, scoring just 11 points.
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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Jared Sullinger
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