Celtics hold off Magic in overtime, 116-110

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Celtics hold off Magic in overtime, 116-110

The Celtics were up by ten points when Paul Pierce essentially dared Magic rookie Moe Harkless to take a three-pointer at the start of the third quarter.

Harkless drained it. Doc Rivers called a timeout.

The message was pretty clear: Don't let Orlando back in the game by easing off the gas pedal. The Celtics didn't get the message right away, but they shaped up enough to squeak out a 116-110 overtime victory over the Magic.

"It's a big win especially after coming off an emotional win against Oklahoma," Pierce said to CSNNE.com's A. Sherrod Blakely. "We let our guard down in the third quarter and we can't do that. We can't have those mental lapses when we have a team on the ropes and we have a chance to put them away. But even in a win it's a learning experience, you can learn from games like these and build on them."

The Magic clawed their way back into the game in the third quarter, scoring 34 points while only giving up 22. That ten-point cushion the C's had was no more. Orlando led by two points by the end of the third quarter, and it was the game's "other" point guard Jameer Nelson who was the biggest reason why.

Nelson, who finished with 20 points, scored the last eight points of the quarter in the final 1:23, and momentum had shifted 180-degrees in favor of the Magic.

They'd go up by a few more points before the Celtics finally hunkered down on the defensive end in the 4th quarter, holding Orlando to just 20 points, five of which came in the last 5:35 of the fourth. A Paul Pierce (23 points, 8-of-17) step back jumper fell short in the final seconds of regulation, leading to overtime.

It was pretty clear early on that Rajon Rondo was going to continue his 10-plus assists streak after registering six in the first quarter alone. Rondo did what Rondo does once again, getting the C's out in transition as much as possible. But it was a huge layup late in overtime that ended up being the final blow for the Magic. Rondo ripped down a defensive rebound and went coast to coast to put the C's up by two possessions. He finished with 15 points, 16 assists, and nine rebounds.

The win makes it two hard-fought wins in a row for Boston, a good sign for them.

"It means that we're building," Pierce said. "We're starting to build on some of these wins, try to get some momentum, and that's what it's going to take in this league. Anybody is vulnerable on any given night."

Leandro Barbosa didn't fill up the stat sheet the same way Rondo did, but played just about as good as it gets in 11 minutes, scoring 15 points (6-for-8 from the field) himself in the win. Barbosa racked up four fouls, but not before taking over late in first quarter and into the second quarter.

Jared Sullinger was another force off the bench for the C's Sunday night, as he showcased his soft touch around the rim with numerous tip-ins and a flashy up-and-under play with the left hand in the third quarter that went down and drew a foul. Sullinger finished with 11 points and six rebounds -- all on the offensive glass.

He matched up well with Glen Davis at times, who had a rocky start to the game. Davis, now taking on a leadership role with the Magic, didn't hit his first shot until the 1:30 mark of the second quarter. He finished the game with 15 points on 3-of-12 shooting, including a bricked three-pointer in the final seconds of overtime.

Brandon Bass scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against his old team, while Jeff Green came back down to earth, finishing with just one point on 0-of-9 shooting from the field.

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

BOSTON -- Compared to most high draft picks, Jaylen Brown doesn’t log a ton of minutes for the Boston Celtics.
 
Playing on an experienced team with legit hopes of making a deep playoff run, rookies seeing limited minutes is a given.
 
Knowing playing time will come in a limited supply, Brown understands all too well the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity he gets on the floor.
 
He did just that on Saturday in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia, and he hopes to do more of the same on Monday when the Celtics take on the Houston Rockets.
 
When you look at Brown’s stat line, nothing about it looks impressive. He played 15 minutes, scored two points with one rebound and one blocked shot.
 
But beyond the stats was the fact that he was on the floor for seven minutes in the fourth quarter in a close back-and-forth game on the road. Rookies on the floor in crunch time is not the norm in the NBA.
 
“It means a lot,” Brown told reporters after Saturday’s win. “I try to be as best I can be for my team; try to put my best foot forward every night out.”
 
And he did just that on Saturday.
 
In the fourth quarter with the Celtics leading 87-83, Brown blocked a Gerald Henderson shot that wound up in the hands of Jae Crowder. Moments later, Jonas Jerebko hit a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics their largest lead of the game, 90-83.
 
And just two minutes prior to the blocked shot, he was out in transition following an Isaiah Thomas steal and threw down a dunk that pushed Boston’s lead to 86-83 with 7:11 to play.
 
Brown acknowledged making the most of those opportunities bodes well for him and the franchise.
 
“It’s great for our team in general; not just for me,” Brown said. “Those plays helped us to pull the game out in the end. So I’m glad we got the win. I think we should have played a little better than we did.”
 
The continued pursuit of self-improvement is a hallmark of what Brown’s focus and desire are at this stage of his pro career. He has talked often about not wanting to be just one of the best in this draft class but also one of the best in the NBA overall.
 
But he’s also learned that to get there takes time and experience developing both physically and mentally. Part of that mental growth entails having the right approach to games.
 
“Usually you try to tell yourself not to mess up,” Brown said. “Now that I’m getting more comfortable, it’s just play basketball, bring energy, things like that; come out and do what you’re supposed to do. A lot of times you try to tell yourself to not mess up and it’s counteractive; just come out and play basketball and have fun.”
 
And by doing so the minutes will come.
 
“You can’t control that. I just have to control what I can control,” Brown said. “I trust coach (Brad Stevens); I trust my coaching staff. I have to come out and in the minutes I get, play my hand as best I can and take advantage of what I do get and impact this team as much as possible.”
 
This season, Brown is averaging 4.8 points, 2.0 rebounds while shooting 41.9 percent from the field.

Zolak: Bennett helps with Gronk loss, but Pats need to manage him

Zolak: Bennett helps with Gronk loss, but Pats need to manage him

Scott Zolak said on Pregame Live Sunday that the Patriots are better-suited to survive a season-ending injury to Rob Gronkowski than they were a season ago. 

Zolak said that given the health of Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and the signing of Chris Hogan, the offense has more stability at other positions to make up for the loss of Gronkowski, whose season is over due to back surgery. As for the tight end position, Zolak said he feels the Patriots traded for Martellus Bennett to protect themselves against scenarios like the one they currently face. 

“This offseason they [acquired] Martellus Bennett, I think for this very reason: to prepare for what really happens year after year, is some sort of issue comes up with Rob Gronkowski and you have to play without him,” Zolak said.

Bennett was questionable with an ankle injury for this week’s game, but is expected to play. Asked about the health of Bennett, Zolak said that he believes the tight end is good to play, but that his importance to the team with Gronkowski out means the Pats will need to be careful. 

“I think he’s healthy enough to get through about 30-35 snaps,” Zolak said. “They’ve got to balance him now moving forward.”