|Even without Kyle Lowry, Raptors, Luis Scola present test for Celtics||03.23.16 at 8:17 pm ET|
The irony of the question was only apparent just before tipoff Wednesday night.
Longtime Celtics beat writer Bill Doyle asked Brad Stevens what made the Raptors backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan so effective. DeRozan came in averaging 23.9 points per game while Lowry average stood at 21.9.
“Really strong, physical, excellent athletes,” Stevens said. “Obviously, Lowry and DeRozan ability to hit really tough shots and get to the line at an elite rate. All those things combined is why they’re so difficult to defend. It’s easier said than done because they usually have a physical advantage on their position from a size standpoint and a strength standpoint. And then they don’t give up anything in athleticism and speed. So, it’s a really good duo but they’ve got other good players, too. It’s a heck of a team.”
Just before the start of the game, Lowry was scratched from the starting lineup as a precaution with a sore right elbow. He was dressed and available but expected to sit the game out.
One player the Celtics wish would sit out, at least in the first quarter, is Luis Scola. The 36-year-old veteran from Argentina hit a pair of threes in the first six minutes. In the last two games against Boston, Scola has 30 points in the first quarter alone, including 17 last Friday in Toronto’s win.
“He’s been really good in the first quarter of both of those games. I do think it’s one of those things where you have to go back and say, ‘OK, were we defending the right way? Why did he get his points? Are there things we can do different without overreacting and without saying, OK, those other two guys are critically important, too.’ Making sure you’re good on the glass is critically important and everything else.
“Scola is a good player. He’s been a good player for a long time. I think people and fans of international basketball knew it long before he came into the NBA. He’s given us fits the last two games, specifically in the first quarter.”
Even though Lowry sat out, the Raptors still have plenty to play for. They entered Wednesday’s game just 1.5 games behind Cleveland for the top spot in the East. The Celtics, at 41-30, are still in the mix for the No. 3 seed in the East, coming into play just .003 behind Miami. Problem is, the Celtics have lots of competition for that spot as they are tied with Charlotte and Atlanta. All three have 41-30 records.
“It’s hard to be naive to it but I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. I’ve got a general feel for where all the teams are. I don’t know the exact records. I don’t the exact tie-breakers and all that other stuff,” Stevens said.
“We’ve said all year the East is deep and the East has been good and you’re going to have to play well through 82 games to get into the playoffs. Here we are.”
|Studs and duds: Careless Celtics can’t overcome Kyle Lowry, Raptors, drop fourth straight||03.18.16 at 9:53 pm ET|
The Celtics had the heart but not the head Friday night.
Kyle Lowry went 5-of-8 from 3-point range and scored 32 points to lead the Raptors to a 105-91 win over the Celtics Friday night at the Air Canada Centre. The Celtics (39-30) faced a pair of 19-point first-half deficits and cut it down to five points twice in the third quarter before self-destructing in the fourth quarter.
Boston committed six turnovers in the opening five minutes of the fourth quarter and Lowry scored 15 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter to send the Celtics to their fourth straight loss, their longest skid of the season and their longest since losing four straight, Dec. 21-27, 2014.
The Celtics were again led by Isaiah Thomas, who scored 20 points. The only other Boston player in double figures was Evan Turner (12 points), who replaced Marcus Smart in the lineup.
Playing without Jae Crowder (missing his third straight game with a high ankle sprain) and Jonas Jerebko (missing his second straight with an Achilles injury), the Celtics had no answers for Luis Scola in the first quarter. The Raptors, playing their fourth game in five nights, took advantage of the front-court deficiency as Scola made 6-of-8 from the field and scored a remarkable 17 points in the first 12 minutes.
The Celtics didn’t help themselves with seven turnovers in the opening quarter that led to 11 Toronto points. The Raptors led 30-14 after one.
The Celtics appeared close to getting blown off the court by the Raptors in the second quarter, falling behind by as many as 19 points twice, 40-21 and 53-34. Stevens desperately searched his bench for any kind of answer, putting in R.J. Hunter, Terry Rozier and Jordan Mickey at one point. The Celtics took the best shot from Toronto and hung tough, making a bit of a run late in the second quarter, cutting the deficit down to 14, 55-41 at the half.
The Celtics made a big run at the Raptors late in the third quarter, cutting the lead all the way down to five, 74-69, before Terrence Ross hit a corner three. That was followed by a runner from DeMar DeRozan.
Hunter hit a corner three with 0.4 left in the third that capped a 31-point quarter for the Celtics and again brought the C’s within five, 79-74, heading into the fourth. But the Celtics couldn’t take care of the ball when it mattered most, committing six turnovers in the first five minutes of the fourth, two of which led directly to 3-pointers from Lowry.
The Raptors opened the fourth with six straight points and eventually raced out to a 93-76 lead. The Celtics fell to 0-44 when trailing by at least 19 points at any point in the three-year Brad Stevens era.
The Celtics play in Philadelphia Sunday night at 6 p.m. before returning home for a game against the Magic at the Garden Monday night.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
|Darrun Hilliard shows Celtics he has ‘right attitude’ in pre-draft workouts||06.11.15 at 8:55 am ET|
WALTHAM — The NBA pre-draft workouts are probably the best medicine for Darrun Hilliard.
The star shooting guard from Villanova visited the Celtics Wednesday for his 10th NBA pre-draft workout. He still has a bitter taste in his mouth from the way his season, and brilliant college career, ended in the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats finished the regular season and their conference tournament with a flourish never before seen in the rich history of Villanova basketball. They won 16 straight games, won the Big East tournament for the second time. They blew out Lafayette by 41 points in their first NCAA game. They were 33-2 and one of the very hottest teams in college basketball, ranked No. 2 in AP behind only undefeated Kentucky.
Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly for Hilliard and the No. 1 seeded Wildcats to make a deep run. Then it all came to a crashing halt against North Carolina State, losing in stunning fashion, 71-68. The dreams of a national title or even a run to the Final Four ended before the Sweet 16.
“It’s kind of sucks that loss overshadowed what we did in the regular season, going 33-3 is a pretty good record for anybody,” Hilliard told WEEI.com Wednesday. “It was a great run. Unfortunately, we lost but it was a great run. We got better every year we were there. I will miss playing with those guys forever. It was a great run and I definitely enjoyed it.”
“When we first lost, I thought about it every day, every single day, every single second. I put a lot on myself. I should’ve had 30 points. But that’s how it went. It just wasn’t our night that night. N.C. State was the better team that night. It happens in the game of basketball.”
|Raptors view Celtics as threat in Atlantic Division||11.06.14 at 9:40 am ET|
The Raptors flipped a 34-48 record and a last-place finish in the Atlantic Division in 2012-13 to a 48-34 ledger and a division crown in the third year of the Dwane Casey coaching era last year. With headstrong 28-year-old point guard Kyle Lowry and burgeoning young shooting guard DeMar DeRozan in the fold, they cemented themselves as the Atlantic favorites for years to come.
The Celtics are hoping to replicate Toronto’s turnaround behind their own headstrong 28-year-old point guard Rajon Rondo and burgeoning young shooting guard Avery Bradley in the second year of coach Brad Stevens‘ tenure.
The Raptors are recognizing their effort.
“They’re definitely very talented,” DeRozan said after scoring 23 points on 25 shots in a 110-107 win in Boston. “They’ve got a great coach. They’ve got a hell of a point guard in Rondo. They’re still learning and still growing. You’ve got a talented kid in [Marcus] Smart, so they definitely have a chance and we definitely have to look for them, especially in our division.”
Including the preseason, the Celtics and Raptors have faced each other three times, twice battling to the final possession. The C’s outplayed Toronto in almost every facet of Wednesday’s game — shooting 51.3 percent from the field, grabbing 31 more rebounds and leading by as many as 16 points — but committed 28 turnovers, most of which were unforced.
When asked if he viewed the Celtics as a threat in the Atlantic Division, Lowry didn’t hesitate.
“Yeah,” he said, even after dropping 35 points on 17 shots on their backcourt. “The way they play, they play so hard, man. You just have to tip your hat to how they play. They’re well coached, and they have some talented young pieces. They’ve got an NBA champion over there, so they’ve got some pieces and players who know how to get the job done.”
|Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: Celtics ‘going to look at everything’ regarding trade possibilities||01.28.13 at 12:03 pm ET|
Wojnarowski said the C’s prospects for the postseason haven’t changed that much. “This is still probably a first-round loser in the Eastern Conference playoffs,” he said.
However, the C’s could decide to make some changes to the roster. Rumors around the web have the Celtics interested in Magic sharpshooter J.J. Redick and Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. Wojnarowski said neither of those players would make much sense for the C’s, because Boston would have to give up too much — likely including first-round draft picks.
“They’re not giving away picks right now — maybe if Rondo was still around, possibly,” Wojnarowski said. “Danny [Ainge] said it to me yesterday, and it’s true: Picks are hard to come by. People don’t want to trade them anymore. ‘¦ I just don’t see Boston giving away picks right now — to do what? Maybe somebody could make them better, but you’re mortgaging your future a little bit if you start giving away picks for a player who might able to help you win a couple of regular-season games and at best maybe a playoff game, if even that. I’d be surprised if Boston started to do that and gave away pieces of their future for a stopgap for the rest of the year.”
“I think it’s possible and I think there is a chance,” Wojnarowski said. “And I talked to Ainge about this yesterday, I talked to Doc [Rivers] about it. It gets back to the fact of, you can’t just do it for the sake of doing it. People say let’s blow it up, get rid of KG, get rid of Pierce and ‘start over.’ But you’ve got to remember that you have owners who still see the place is full every night. And maybe they can get in the playoffs, and the [revenue from] playoff games. Versus dumping these guys for what might be very modest returns.
“It’s one thing when you have a Carmelo Anthony and a Dwight Howard and you do the deals Orlando and Denver did, where you got good young players, you got draft picks. ‘¦ KG and Pierce are aging All-Stars in the mid- to upper 30s. People in this league anymore aren’t giving you young players and picks for those guys. So, like Danny said, tell me what the offer’s going to be. We can’t just say, hey, we’re going to ‘blow this up’ and start over. What will the offer be? Tell me what we’ll have the opportunity to do and then we’ll look at it. But you can’t just go into it and say, ‘Well, this is definitely what we’re going to do,’ because there may not be a deal out there that’s worth doing for those guys.
“But there’s no question they’re going to look at everything; they’ve been looking at everything. Danny’s not afraid to have a discussion about all his players. He’s always done it, to see what they’re value is. But I don’t think there’s any big deal out there where Boston’s going to get a great young player or one or two good first-round picks for either of those guys.”
“I’ve heard about that deal for days, I’ve asked about it, and I haven’t found anybody who’s given yet any credence to it. ‘¦ For the Celtics, giving up Pierce to get Gasol? Obviously they have a problem in the middle, there’s no question he could help them go back to being a grinding low-post team. But it’s a lot of money for Boston to take on going forward by bringing in Gasol — two years, [$]40 million. I guess we’d have to see if ownership would be willing to take on that much money and if they think that would put them over the top. To me, that deal makes them a little different; I don’t know if it makes them significantly better.”
|Fast Break: Rockets shoot past Celtics||01.10.11 at 10:06 pm ET|
The Rockets came to Boston without the services of their leading scorer, as Kevin Martin was out with a sore right wrist. They had lost their last five and six of seven.
But the Celtics fell behind at halftime and couldn’t overcome the energy of Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola and the rest of the Rockets in a 108-102 loss to Houston Monday night at TD Garden. (Recap.) It’s the third straight win for Houston in Boston.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Defense: Quite simply, on a night when Kevin Garnett remained in street clothes, it wasn’t there in this one. Forget the fact that Houston shot 53 percent for the game — they made 11 of 19 shots in the third quarter alone to build a six-point lead heading into the fourth. Worse yet, every time the Celtics got a big lay-up from Paul Pierce or an offensive rebound or jumper from Glen Davis, the Rockets not only scored on the next possession, but got very open looks, including Aaron Brooks on a killer 3-ball with 4:26 left that put Rockets up, 101-90. Another three by Brooks with 3:10 left put Houston up by 12.
Glen Davis’ stamina: He worked hard but looked very, very tired in the third quarter. He had huge problems keeping up with Scola in the third quarter as the Rockets improbably built upon their lead by going inside and the Celtics didn’t play very good defense, allowing Houston to score 30 in the quarter on 58 percent shooting. Rivers was also on Davis early about the number of passes he was dishing out and the Celtics were guilty of shot clock violations on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter.
Not taking Kyle Lowry seriously: Yes, the Rockets didn’t have their leading scorer, Martin – out with a sore right wrist. But the Celtics apparently forgot that Lowry is very quick and developing as a legitimate two-way guard in his fourth year. Lowry played 18 minutes in the first half and had 11 points. But more than that, the former Villanova Wildcat brought the energy on both sides of the court. It continued into the third quarter as he took it to the basket just like he did when he played with Randy Foye and Allan Ray on the Main Line. Tough kid.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Marquis Daniels and the bench: After a rough showing on Saturday night in Chicago, the Celtics’ bench woke up Wednesday out of necessity as Daniels led the way, making 7-of-8 shots from the field and finishing with 19 points, tied with Allen for the team lead. He also chipped in with seven rebounds. He played practically the entire fourth quarter as Rivers held Nate Robinson and Jermaine O’Neal on the bench.
Domination in the paint: When they made the commitment to get there, the Celtics owned the paint, with mid-range jumpers, cuts and lay-ups. They finished with a 48-22 advantage over the Rockets.
Ray Allen takes a licking and keeps on ticking: The last thing – obviously – the Celtics need is another star to go down with an injury, and so the sight of Allen taking a vicious hit on a blindside pick early in the fourth quarter was troubling for Boston. But after Allen had his left shoulder examined briefly by trainer Ed Lacerte, he returned with five minutes to go. He drilled a 3-pointer with 2:10 left to bring the Celtics to within seven, 106-99.