Celtics defense shuts down Thunder, 108-100

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Celtics defense shuts down Thunder, 108-100

BOSTON Kendrick Perkins called it.

Prior to Friday's game against his former team the Boston Celtics, Perkins predicted that all the concerns and questions about the C's defense would not be sooner rather than later.

"They'll pick it up," Perkins said. "They'll pick it up. New guys, chemistry, they'll get it together."

Boston certainly did in their 108-100 win over Perkins and the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was Boston's first win this season when giving up 100 points.

The Celtics (7-6) were led by Paul Pierce's 27 points along with strong games from Kevin Garnett (18 points) and Jason Terry (16 points).

Boston went ahead in the third quarter and spent the rest of the game taking one body shot after another from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

And there they stood, tall as ever.

Even a last-minute scoring barrage by Kevin Durant could not derail the C's from this hard-earned win.

Boston led 101-89 following a 3-pointer by Terry. From there, the Thunder reeled off nine points in a row to make it a one-possession game with less than two minutes to play.

The Thunder had a chance to even up the score, but Kevin Durant's 3-pointer rimmed in and out.

Boston got the rebound, force-fed Garnett at the other end of the floor which led to Garnett being fouled.

He sank both free throws with 1:01 to play. But it wasn't until three straight misses by the Thunder - followed by another Terry 3-pointer with 36.7 seconds to play - did the C's feel as though this game was a done deal.

Oklahoma City called a time-out, but it didn't matter.

There was just too much ground to make up and not enough time.

Boston had to withstand a late surge by Durant, who came to life in the fourth with 14 of his game-high 29 points.

The Thunder seemed to have the game going at a pace of their choosing early on, tallying 28 first-quarter points.

But the game's momentum soon swung in Boston's favor shortly after Kevin Durant was whistled for his third personal foul with nearly five minutes remaining in the first half.

At the time, Oklahoma City was ahead 36-32. With Durant on the bench, Boston closed out the half with a 16-9 run capped off by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Terry that lifted the Celtics to a 48-45 halftime lead.

Durant was on the floor to start the third quarter but it didn't matter. He was for the most part a non-factor at that point in the game.

However, the Thunder have been one of the best teams in the NBA in recent years and it has not been solely because of Durant.

Oklahoma City also features one of the league's most dynamic guards in Russell Westbrook who did his part to keep the Thunder within striking distance.

For Boston, the contributions came from many most of the night.

Among them was Jeff Green who was playing against his former Oklahoma City teammates for the first time since being traded to Boston in 2010. Green had 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting.

Before the game, Green talked as though this game wasn't anything significant other than being "one of 82" this season.

Yeah. OK. Right.

Green had one of his more solid all-around games at both ends of the floor, getting it done with an array of lay-ups, dunks and jumpers.

But as the Thunder continued to keep the game close, the Celtics found themselves relying more and more on an old friend who hasn't been around much this year - their defense.

Key rebounds, important shots contested mixed in with an occasional offensive foul drawn, were all part of a Celtics performance that has to rank among their better ones this season.

And it wasn't necessarily because of how well they played, but how they handled adversity and when pushed they showed the kind of perseverance and fight that has been missing most of this season.

Bradley steps up to lead Celtics to 117-87 blowout win over Magic

Bradley steps up to lead Celtics to 117-87 blowout win over Magic

It was one of Tacoma, Washington’s finest carrying the scoring load most of Wednesday night for the Boston Celtics. 
 
But it wasn’t the Celtics’ leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. 
 
It was his backcourt mate and fellow Tacoma, Wash. native Avery Bradley picking up the slack in Thomas’ absence as Boston pulled away in the second half for a 117-87 blowout win over the Orlando Magic. 
 
Wednesday’s victory was Boston’s first in Orlando since Nov. 8, 2013. 
 
Bradley led seven double-figure scorers for Boston (13-9), with a team-high 23 points.
 
Thomas missed his first game of the season with a right groin injury that will sideline him for a yet-to-be-determined period of time. 
 
The 5-foot-9 guard ranks among the NBA’s leaders in scoring (26.0) in addition to leading the Celtics in assists (6.2) per game. 
 
But Bradley was up to the challenge of filling the void left by Thomas, which isn’t all that surprising when you consider the game was away from the TD Garden. 
 
Bradley has been good this year, but has really stood out in road games where he has averaged 19.0 points on 51.4 percent shooting from the field compared to 15.8 points on 41.3 percent shooting at the TD Garden. 
 
The first half was a tightly contested game with neither team leading by more than eight points. 
 
After Orlando scored the first basket of the third quarter, the Celtics went on a furious 18-2 run to lead 67-54 which had five different scorers for Boston that spoke volumes about the balanced offensive attack the Celtics came with to make up for Thomas’ absence. 
 
Boston’s defense picked up its intensity in the second half, but just as important was the renewed emphasis on ball movement that was simple, crisp and highly effective. 
 
And it came against an Orlando team that came in having won four of its last five games – all on the road – which included beating the always-challenging San Antonio Spurs on their home floor. 
 
But as important as it was for Bradley to help fill the enormous scoring void that exists without Thomas, Boston also needed a strong game from their bench. 
 
That’s exactly what they got, and it wasn’t just one or two guys, either. 
 
Jaylen Brown had arguably the best game of his still-young NBA career coming off the Celtics bench, finishing with 13 points which included a powerful, rim-rattling dunk over Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic
 
Boston also got great play out of Terry Rozier (career-high 16 points, five rebounds) who saw a few more minutes than usual because of Thomas’ injury. 
 
Not only was the victory important to pad the win total, but it also provides a nice boost of confidence for the Celtics as they hit what will be arguably the most difficult stretch of the season in terms of quality opponents. 
 
The Celtics have 12 games remaining this month, with the teams having a combined record of 152-105, or a winning percentage of .591.

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu are back together.

The two Cuban natives were teammates in 2012 when they played for Cienfuegos in Cuba, and now they'll be in the same dugout once again — this time in Chicago.

"To get the opportunity to play with him right now in the United States, it's an honor for me," Moncada said through a translator on a conference call Wednesday. "I'm thrilled with that."

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