|Brad Stevens knows Celtics have ‘got to finish’ before they can even think about winning||11.28.14 at 10:27 pm ET|
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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|Celtics go ice-cold in matinee loss to Bulls||at 3:25 pm ET|
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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|D.J. Augustin leads Bulls past pesky, inspired Celtics||03.30.14 at 9:23 pm ET|
D.J. Augustin scored a career-high 33 points and drilled the go-ahead 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining to lift the Bulls over the Celtics, 107-103. Rajon Rondo led a balanced attack for the Celtics, with 17 points and 10 assists as six Boston players scored in double figures. Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger each had 16 for the Celtics, who fell to 23-50 on the season.
In a game inspired by the memory of two Boston firefighters who perished in last week’s fire on Beacon Street, the Celtics and Bulls put on one of the most entertaining games of the season.
Before the game, the Celtics wore warmup shirts with the Boston Fire Department insignia on them. The coaches and non-uniformed staff wore the department patches on their suits.
As for the game, it featured 18 ties and 14 lead changes.
Green‘s 3-pointer with 2:40 left in the fourth quarter drew the Celtics to within two, 95-93. After a free throw gave the Bulls a three-point lead, Green’s three with 2:18 left tied the game for an 18th time.
Augustin’s three with 1:19 left put the Bulls up for good, 99-96. After a Celtics turnover, Augustin added a pair of free throws with 34.8 seconds left to seal the victory for the visitors.
The two teams will meet again Monday night, this time in Chicago, as the 41-32 Bulls look to improve their playoff standing in the Eastern Conference.
|Sunday notes: Celtics need a way to feed Kevin Garnett, get more out of Jason Terry, bench||04.21.13 at 2:08 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The Celtics didn’t practice Sunday. Instead, they hunkered down in a suite inside the Four Seasons Hotel in midtown Manhattan to go over the ugly details of their 85-78 loss to the Knicks in Game 1 Saturday afternoon.
Specifically, what happened in the final 13 minutes, 40 seconds when they scored exactly eight points.
‘I thought, from an offensive standpoint, I didn’t have a lot of different opportunities,” Garnett said. “Obviously, I had shots and stuff. Some went down, some didn’t. But I try not to let that predicate things or my level of play. I thought I moved the ball very well, got other guys open, was able to rebound obviously, trying to be as much of a force as I can on defense. In Game 2, I’d like to be a little more aggressive, obviously, but being consistent with the overall game.’
For the first time in his career, Jason Terry was held scoreless in a playoff game. But Terry was far from alone on an unproductive Boston bench. To Rivers, it was a case of something he likes to call “hero-ball” – where the ball stagnates and teammates watch as one player tries to generate something all by himself.
‘We didn’t do a good job with Terry [Saturday], especially in the second half, there were so many [isolations] that Jason has nothing to do with,” Rivers said. “In the first half, Jason didn’t score, but we ran that play with the pick-and-roll with him and Paul. We scored five times in a row because of Jason Terry’s involvement, so I don’t actually look at if he scored. I look at the points he created, and in the first half he created 12 points. In the second half, it was all ISOs. I mean, it’s not us. We’re not built that way.’
Courtney Lee provided the only four points (all on free throws) as Boston’s reserves were outscored by New York’s bench, 33-4. Boston didn’t get a single field goal from their bench in the entire game.
‘I’m looking for a better overall effort, whether it’s the bench, whether it’s the starters,’ Paul Pierce said. ‘The starters, you look, me and Jeff [Green] had 12 turnovers ‘ just us two. We have to be better, regardless of our bench. Overall as a team, we have to be better.’
Rivers acknowledged that he might look to shake up a bench rotation was limited solely to Terry, Jordan Crawford and Lee. Rivers said he would consider adding a big man to the rotation, either Shav Randolph or Chris Wilcox. Crawford played just 10 minutes, 46 seconds, including just over three minutes in the second half.
“I thought Jordan should have played more in the second half,” Rivers said. “It’s funny, he didn’t score, but he created baskets. And, I’ll tell you, he’s buying in defensively and if he can continue to do that, then he has a chance to help us.”
Speaking of the Four Seasons Hotel, that’s also where Rivers’ old friend Tom Thibodeau and Chicago Bulls are spending their weekend in the Big Apple. Their Saturday was even worse in Brooklyn as they were down by 25 at halftime and lost Game 1 at Barclays Center. They will play Game 2 Monday night in Brooklyn.
‘It’s not a good hotel today,’ Rivers said in dark humor. ‘Two losing teams, I think one should leave. This was a quiet, dark hotel last night. The New York area teams didn’t treat the guests very well.”
While Rivers expects the Celtics to execute better in Game 2 Tuesday night, he expects the same of the Knicks, who shot just 40.5 percent and had two starters (Tyson Chandler and Chris Copeland) who went scoreless. J.R. Smith, who torched the Celtics for 32 in late March at TD Garden, made just 7-of-19 shots and finished with 15.
‘They’re going to play better, too,’ Rivers said. ‘J.R. Smith missed a couple open 3s. [Steve] Novak didn’t get involved. So we have to anticipate them playing way better, and then we have to play way better. And that’s what, in the playoffs, you just have to anticipate that.’
The Celtics didn’t practice Sunday but will on Monday at Madison Square Garden in advance of Game 2.
|Fast Break: Celtics win ugly entering All-Star break||02.13.13 at 10:00 pm ET|
Thanks to another all-out effort by the few healthy players left on the roster, the Celtics outlasted the visiting Bulls 71-69 to win ugly, earning their eighth victory in nine tries since the first of the injury dominoes fell two weeks ago.
The Celtics (28-24) equaled their highest point above .500 as four C’s reached double digits, led remarkably by Brandon Bass (14 points, 9 rebounds). Kevin Garnett (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Paul Pierce (8-6-6) scored the C’s final nine points as they held off a Chicago charge to close the final quarter.
The Celtics’ 19 combined points in the second and third quarters marked the team’s lowest point total in consecutive quarters of a game during the shot clock era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Likewise, their 71 total points was the third-lowest point total in a C’s victory since the inception of the shot clock.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Defense: The Celtics held the Bulls to 15 points in the first quarter and 13 in the third. Chicago’s five starters — Luol Deng (4-10 FG), Carlos Boozer (5-14 FG), Joakim Noah (3-8 FG), Richard Hamilton (1-6 FG) and Nate Robinson (2-7) — shot a combined 33.3 percent. It’s a good thing, because the C’s actually shot worse until …
Heart beats: As they’ve done since the injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa, the Celtics never quit. Playing their third game in four nights, shooting miserably and trailing by as many as seven in the first few minutes of the final quarter, the C’s found life. Capped by back-to-back buckets from Jason Terry (12 points) and Jeff Green (8 points) off the bench — both assisted by Garnett — the Celtics put together a 12-0 run, holding the Bulls scoreless for a stretch of 5:44 midway through the fourth quarter and capturing a 59-54 lead.
Bass finishing: In desperate need of offensive help, the Celtics found an unlikely hero. Beginning to emerge from a season-long funk, Bass scored his highest total (14) since Nov. 28. He also grabbed more rebounds (9) than he has since Nov. 25. Bass and Garnett combined for 26 points and 20 rebounds, forming a formidable frontcourt that limited a sizable advantage by the bigger Bulls, who got 27 rebounds from Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.
|Joakim Noah says Kevin Garnett full of ‘cheap shots’ and ‘bulls***’||01.19.13 at 1:48 am ET|
Joakim Noah, who scored 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, got into several times in the second half with Garnett under the Bulls’ basket.
Afterward, he claimed Garnett continued his strategy of throwing “elbows” and “cheap shots” at the Bulls big man. Noah and Garnett were called for double technicals with 2:20 left in a game that the Bulls led, 84-83. Garnett did not address it after the game but Noah did.
‘Just trying to throw elbows,” Noah said. “Cheap shots, just trying to get you off your game. But he’s a vet, he’s been doing this a long time, but it’s all right.’
Noah was asked how he held Garnett to just 5-of-16 shooting from the field.
“Just playing defense,” Noah said. “Just playing sound defense, just contesting his shots. He’s a hell of a competitor. He’s always on some bulls***. Always on some bulls***.”
|Rajon Rondo not enough to stop charging Bulls||01.18.13 at 10:16 pm ET|
Marco Belinelli‘s jumper from 14 feet as he was falling to the ground with 3.1 seconds left in overtime lifted the Bulls to a stunning 100-99 win over the Celtics Friday night at TD Garden. Courtney Lee‘s desperation shot off the glass missed as time expired. Jason Terry hit a wide open jumper with 12.5 seconds left in overtime to put Boston on top before the circus shot fell through for the Bulls, who improve to 23-15 on the season.
Rajon Rondo finished with a season-high 30 points before fouling out in overtime. Rondo appeared to have given the Celtics the biggest shot of the night when he hit a wide open 20-foot jumper with 36.6 seconds left to put the Celtics up, 86-84. But Kirk Hinrich drained a jumper with 2.0 seconds left to force overtime.
Kevin Garnett had 11 of his 16 points in the fourth to lead a second-half comeback. Before fouling out late in overtime, Jared Sullinger had 15 rebounds off the bench for the Celtics, who lost their second straight after a six-game winning streak. Boston finished its season-long homestand 3-2. Rip Hamilton had 20 points while Carlos Boozer (19 points, 19 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (14, 13) each had double-doubles to lead the Bulls.
Chicago came out and took control early, leading 17-7. The Celtics responded with a 10-2 run but still trailed 23-19 after 12 minutes. The Bulls led 45-39 at the half. Rondo carried the Celtics through three quarters, making 9-of-14 shots and scoring 21 points. Pierce and Garnett were ice cold through three quarters, combining to shoot 4-for-22.
Entering the fourth, the Celtics trailed, 68-62, as Carlos Boozer had 17 points 15 rebounds while holding Kevin Garnett to 1-of-10 shooting.
But Garnett made his first shot of the fourth quarter to keep the Celtics within six, 70-64. Garnett drilled his next shot, a jumper from the top of the circle with just over 10 minutes left to draw the Celtics to within two, 70-68, capping a 6-0 spurt to open the period. With 7:03 remaining, Rondo hit a layup to tie the game, 74-74 as the Celtics opened the fourth on a 12-6 run.
But Hamilton responded immediately with a jumper from the top of the key to put the Bulls back on top. Kirk Hinrich followed with a three with just over six minutes left to expand Chicago’s lead to five. But Rondo responded with four of the next five points, tying the game, 79-79, with two free throws with five minutes left. Read the rest of this entry »
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