|Brad Stevens defends (sort of) his team’s lack of defense: ‘We didn’t play with any composure’||03.29.16 at 2:35 am ET|
All effort and no execution will make for a losing formula every time on the road in the NBA.
That was certainly the case Monday as the Celtics, fighting for playoff positioning at 43-31, allowed the Clippers to shoot a scorching 58.5 percent from the field in the first half while yielding a remarkable 7-of-11 from beyond the arc. Those two stats alone allowed Los Angeles to race out to a 67-50 halftime lead.
Everyone was hitting shots in a Clippers uniform Monday night, including four players off the bench who scored in double figured and led a season-best 67-point effort.
“I don’t how you would say it’s bench or starters, but it’s depth,” Stevens said, referring to the 16 points of Austin Rivers and 15 of Jamaal Crawford. “It’s the ability to bring Evan [Turner] off and be versatile at that spot and play him and Smart together with the skilled bigs is obviously we like to do. But we haven’t been able to do it. Hey, those guys in the last few games have been pretty good off the bench. I thought certainly, today wasn’t a bench or starters thing. It was a Clippers thing. Credit goes to them.
“They deserve a lot of credit for the way they made shots, the way they made plays,” Stevens told reporters after his team’s 114-90 loss that ended a four-game win streak. “I thought any time we got close, we didn’t play with any composure to get back over the hump. Part of that has to do with being competitive and trying to hit home runs all the time when you’re trying to mount a comeback.
“We’ve got to do a better job in those situations than we did tonight. Defensively, I actually felt like, especially on the perimeter, we were pretty locked in and pretty good, for the most part. I thought they obviously made some contested shots that you’re going to have to defend and make. We missed some opportunities to challenge them at the rim with some rotations. All told, their play is the reason they won the game.”
|Doc Rivers on Paul Pierce injury scare: ‘Of course, Laker fans, they were going to bring out a wheelchair’||at 1:43 am ET|
Doc Rivers could laugh about it after his team’s 114-90 win over the Celtics on Monday night, but the moment Paul Pierce went down in the second quarter clutching his right knee, joking was the last thing from his mind.
With just over two minutes left in the first half, Pierce drove to his left and lifted a finger roll to the basket that fell through for two points. But Pierce fell very awkwardly. He stayed on the floor for several minutes while trainers took a close look. He got up and limped off, later being diagnosed with a sprained ankle and just a bruise on his kneecap.
“It’s his ankle, which is the good news because when he went down, I thought it was his knee,” Rivers said. “Of course, the Laker fans, they were going to bring out a wheelchair at some point. They didn’t do that so that was good. He’s going to be out for a little bit. We don’t know how long. It’s one of those things.
“When he went down, I thought it was his knee because he grabbed his knee. He said he grabbed his knee because he got kneed and he hit [the floor]. The pain was there [in knee] but he twisted his ankle.”
Of course, the incident Rivers was referring to was Game 1 of the 2008 NBA finals when Kobe Bryant drove to the basket and scored in the third quarter. Kendrick Perkins came down on Pierce’s right leg and Pierce fell on the baseline, clutching his right knee. He left in a wheelchair, only to return in Willis Reed-style later in Game 1.
Rivers was relieved to find out from his staff in the second half that the Clippers had dodged a bullet. And while he may be out for the final two weeks of the regular season, Rivers and the Clippers sounded hopeful Pierce would return by the playoffs.
“For a second, when he grabbed his knee, I definitely thought, ‘Oh boy.’ Then I’m thinking, ‘Against the Celtics.’ I was thinking, ‘No.’ It didn’t happen, so that’s good,” Rivers said.
|Studs and Duds: Defenseless Celtics can’t stop Chris Paul; Paul Pierce injuries ankle, knee||at 12:48 am ET|
There was no dramatic comeback this time against the Clippers. Just a mismatch.
On Feb. 10 at TD Garden, the Celtics came back late in the fourth quarter to force overtime and win, 139-134. The Clippers repeated their offensive effort but the Celtics could not keep up Monday at Staples Center in a 114-90 Clippers’ win.
Austin Rivers (16 points) and Jamaal Crawford (15) led a potent bench effort that dominated the Celtics all night. The Clippers’ bench scored a season-high 67 points and outscored Boston’s reserves, 67-37. Chris Paul had 13 points and 14 assists while DeAndre Jordan dominated the glass with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Paul also had three steals in his 26 minutes. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics in scoring for a 13th straight game, pouring in 24 points.
In addition to seeing their four-game win streak come to an end, it was a costly loss for the Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings. The fifth-place Celtics fell to 43-31 and a half-game behind Miami (43-30) for fourth place in the East. They are now just a half-game ahead of sixth-place Charlotte (42-31) in the East.
In what could’ve been his last game against his former team, Paul Pierce escaped what appeared to be a serious knee injury when he drove to the basket for a made a finger roll layup with 2:07 left in the second quarter. He landed awkwardly on his right knee, which bent underneath him.
Pierce laid on the court for several minutes as the Clippers training staff tended to him. He got up and made his way to the locker room under his own power. He was ruled out for the rest of the game with a right knee contusion and a sprained right ankle.
Pierce was having a very solid game at the time of his injury, scoring eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, with three rebounds, two assists and a steal in 11 minutes. Clippers coach Doc Rivers was furious that no foul was called on the play and Rivers’ son Austin picked up a technical foul for continuing the argument during the injury timeout.
Thomas continued two impressive streaks. The diminutive guard has led the Celtics in scoring for 13 straight games, the best streak since Larry Bird accomplished it in 13 in a row in March 1988. In those 13 games, Thomas had also scored at least 20 points, the longest streak since Paul Pierce scored 20 or more in 16 straight games Feb. 4-March 16, 2006.
|Even with shots not falling, Marcus Smart still determined to ‘find a way to impact the game’||03.27.16 at 2:10 am ET|
This might be just the second year in the NBA for 22-year-old Marcus Smart, but he’s been around long enough now to know that you don’t have to score to help your team win important games.
Saturday night was such a night for the player who right know can’t buy a shot.
Smart finished just 2-of-7 from the field and missed all five 3-point shots in Boston’s 102-99 win over the Suns in Phoenix. But he made several key hustle plays down the stretch, including one offensive rebound with four minutes left where he grabbed the ball, spun it around his back to keep it away from the defender and managed to get the Celtics another 24 seconds on the shot clock.
Smart played 32 minutes off the bench, helping to take some of load off Avery Bradley (weak from an illness and a cross-country flight Saturday). He had eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and even a blocked shot.
“My main focus is try to, even though my shot’s not falling still, find a way to impact the game,” Smart told reporters after the game. “We have a lot of guys on this team that can do a lot of things. If my shot’s not falling, I try to pick us up some other way, especially when we have guys that are knocking down shots.”
There’s been almost constant talk about Smart’s inability to score, and for good reason. In the last three games, all Celtics wins, he’s made just 4-of-26 from the field and has missed all 11 attempts from beyond the arc. But his offensive rebound and his defensive intensity are just two things he did that helped the Celtics win their fourth straight.
“Those are the things that makes Marcus special,” coach Brad Stevens said. “Sometimes those go in a box score, sometimes they don’t but he does them every game. It’s why I don’t get too caught up in the box score stuff with him. He impacts winning and tonight was a good example of that.”
|Danny Ainge tells Paul Pierce Celtics have spot for him, possibly in front office||07.23.15 at 12:01 pm ET|
Pierce said he knew he was either going back to his hometown to play for Los Angeles, or he would return to the Wizards.
Thomsen wrote that Pierce watched the Clippers’ series with the Rockets and was “horrified” as they let slip a 3-1 lead in the series and allowed Houston to score 51 of the final 71 points in Game 6.
“No way — if I was in that locker room — I would have allowed that to happen,” Pierce told Thomsen. “You picture yourself being that voice or being that guy on the court that can help in those situations. I think I fill a pretty big need for them.”
His career with the Celtics in the books, as the 37-year-old is trying to “cement [his] legacy in both” L.A. and Boston, saying that helping win the Clippers’ first championship would be “storybook.”
“It’s going to be great, the accountability of it — not only the team, but with Doc and his coaching staff,” Pierce told Thomsen. “It made this whole process a lot easier, especially the position the team was in. If the Clippers weren’t a team that was contending, or if it wasn’t home for me, then this wouldn’t have been a destination for me. It’s all working out the way I want it to.”
Pierce also said that he ran into Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge recently, who told him, “When you’re ready, we have a spot for you.”
“I think he was meaning as a player, but maybe it was in the front office …” Pierce said to Thomsen.
He added that he could see a position for himself in the Clippers organization as well with Rivers because the coach “respects [his] basketball mind,” and also noted that being in Boston as a young player was probably better for him than if he had been in his hometown.
“You’ve got to know yourself,” he told Thomsen. “I know how difficult it would have been for me, being from here — a young immature kid playing at home. I wouldn’t want that. That would be a whole other monster, with all of the distractions and that. Things happen for a reason. This is all destiny, I believe.”
|5 things we learned as Clippers snap Celtics out of playoff picture||03.29.15 at 8:42 pm ET|
If the playoffs started today, the Celtics would be on the outside looking in.
They lost their hold on the eighth seed in the East thanks to a 119-106 beatdown from old friend Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite another furious fourth-quarter comeback that nearly cut a 35-point deficit to single digits, the Celtics never led.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s victory earlier in the day gave the Nets (32-40) a half-game lead over the Celtics (32-41) for the eighth and final playoff spot. The seventh-place Miami Heat (34-49) also won and moved two games ahead of the C’s, who face fellow Eastern Conference playoff contenders Charlotte and Indiana in the next three days.
Isaiah Thomas (19 points) led six C’s in double figures against the Clips. Tyler Zeller (16 points), Kelly Olynyk (14 points), Brandon Bass (13 points), Gigi Datome (12 points) and Jonas Jerebko (10 points) were the others. Chris Paul (21 points, 10 assists) and DeAndre Jordan (15 points, 14 rebounds) both had double-doubles for L.A., and Blake Griffin (21 points, 9 rebounds) came close.
For a complete box score, click here.
The Celtics submitted arguably the worst defensive quarter of the Brad Stevens era in the opening 12 minutes. The Clippers scored 34 points on 60 percent shooting — including 3-of-5 from 3-point range — and established a 14-point lead after one. It marked only the second time under Stevens the C’s had allowed 34 points in a quarter. The last time, according to Basketball Reference, came Dec. 3, 2013, when the Celtics outscored the Milwaukee Bucks 39-37 in the fourth quarter of a 108-100 victory. For an encore, the Celtics gave up another 34 points on 50 percent shooting in the second quarter and entered the break trailing 68-47.
|5 things we learned as Celtics remain winless against Doc Rivers||01.19.15 at 6:03 pm ET|
The Boston bench scored 59 points — including double-digit production from Brandon Bass (17 points), Marcus Thornton (15 points), Marcus Smart (14 points) and Kelly Olynyk (11 points) — but the Celtics never led after falling behind by double figures in the first quarter. At least the recently traded Austin Rivers (2 points) didn’t make much of a difference for L.A.
The loss marks the C’s third straight and 12th in their last 15 games. They currently own the fifth-worst record in the NBA, leading only the Knicks, Timberwolves, 76ers and Lakers in the wins department with 13.
The Clippers’ victory keeps them in the sixth seed out West, seven games out of the lottery — an important distinction, since the Celtics own their first-round selection in June as a result of Doc’s departure.
After Celtics center Tyler Zeller made a baby hook shot to tie the game at two apiece 63 seconds into the game, the Celtics missed their next 10 shots and committed a trio of turnovers over the next six minutes, digging themselves an 11-2 hole against a championship-caliber starting lineup.
Meanwhile, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan dominated on both ends of the floor in the first quarter, scoring 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting offensively while collecting five rebounds and a pair of blocks defensively in the frame.
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