Lee's return to Houston will come with little emotion


Lee's return to Houston will come with little emotion

BOSTON First it was Jeff Green, then Jason Terry. On Friday Courtney Lee will be the third member of the Boston Celtics to face his former team for the first time this season when the Cs take on the Rockets in Houston Friday night.

Unlike his teammates, though, Lees reunion will not have as many emotional ties. Green was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Celtics halfway through the 2010-11 season and pulled away from some of his best friends. Terry played eight years with the Dallas Mavericks and won a title with the organization. Lee, on the other hand, played just two seasons with the Rockets and joined the Celtics this offseason in a multi-team sign-and-trade that was all part of the business.

I feel nothing, Lee said following the Celtics win over Terrys former team on Wednesday. Its just another game. My situation, it was business so I left there. JETs with Dallas, hes been there for years playing, being one of their go-to guys and with the contract situation they didnt want to extend him, so this game was more personal for him than Houston will be for me.

The New Jersey Nets traded Lee to the Rockets in the summer of 2010 in four-team deal that included the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Hornets. Trevor Ariza, Darren Collison, Troy Murphy, and James Posey were also moved in the trade.

Lee spent the previous two seasons in Houston, averaging 8.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists off the bench in 2010-11 and 11.4 points, 2.7 boards, and 1.5 assists last season during which he started in nearly half of his games.

Lee, unlike Terry, didnt leave Houston with a championship the Rockets did not make the playoffs during his time on the team but he took a very important relationship with him when he relocated to Boston. He developed a very close bond with Kevin McHale during his first year as Rockets head coach last season.

McHale recently rejoined the Rockets after suffering the loss of his 23-year-old daughter in November due to complications from Lupus. Lee had spent time with the McHale family and was unaware of Sashas health condition. He reached out to his former coach when he heard the news.

Im happy I get to the chance to go and speak to Coach McHale because me and him were pretty close and what happened with his daughter, we exchanged text messages actually when It happened, Lee said. It was a great relationship, kind of like the one I have with Doc (Rivers). Off the court we would text and talk. We lived in the same building so wed always see each other.

Lee will also say his hellos to his former teammates who are still on the Rockets roster this season. Then it is time to get to work. He doesnt have any ill will toward the Rockets organization, just a desire to help his new team win.

Im happy I get to see Coach McHale and some of the other guys I played with, Lee said. Other than that, theres no real feelings.

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

BOSTON – Facing Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook with a fully healthy squad is tough. 
Doing so without your leading scorer makes the challenge all that much greater. 
That is where the Celtics find themselves heading into Sunday night’s game against the Thunder without Isaiah Thomas, who did not travel with the team when they left for Oklahoma City today. 
Boston’s leading scorer this season with 26 points per game, Thomas suffered a right groin injury against Houston on Dec. 5 and has missed the Celtics’ past two games because of it. 
He was hoping to convince Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to let him travel with the team, but Thomas acknowledged convincing Ainge was a long shot. 
“He’s not really in favor of me going,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “I’m trying to convince them to let me go. If I’m there, they know I’m going to try and play. I’m shooting for Wednesday [at San Antonio] for the most part. That’s more realistic than Sunday. Hopefully I can play on Wednesday.”
Boston has split the two games with Thomas out, beating the you-know-what out of Orlando 117-87 on the road, but dropping one at home 101-94 to Toronto on Friday night. 
As disappointed as Thomas is with not being able to play – it’s the first games he has missed since the 2014-2015 season – he understands the potential problems that could surface with an injury like this if he and the Celtics aren’t careful. 
“They keep wanting to be very patient with this,” Thomas said. “They don’t want to re-injure it. It is an injury that can get re-injured and be a problem the rest of the season. I don’t want that. On top of that, it gives me time to heal all the other injuries I have.”
Among the other injuries Thomas was referring to, is a still-swollen finger on his left (shooting) hand. 
The injury was believed to have happened on Nov. 12 against Indiana. 
While it was painfully sore, it didn’t seem to be an issue in Boston’s next game against New Orleans when he scored a season-high 37 points. He followed that up with a 30-point performance in a 90-83 win over Dallas.

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins mixed things up with their roster a bit on Saturday after dropping a couple of games in a row to Washington and Colorado. 

Fourth-line energy winger Noel Acciari and playmaking forward Danton Heinen were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday night. 
Acciari went to Providence the past couple of days to get some game action in after missing the past month with a lower body injury, but clearly showed he’s ready to go. 

So, Acciari is back to provide the same hard-hitting and energy he showed before he was hurt and Heinen is looking to show off a little more offense than in his first stint with the Black and Gold this season. He’ll be featured in a top role as left wing with David Krejci and David Backes and with marching orders to shoot the puck like he never shot it in his previous stint in Boston. 

For the Bruins, it’s about getting another look at a candidate to play left wing beside Krejci with both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller, with limitations to their respective games, unable to fully grasp that same opportunity. 

“My hope is that Heinen can come in and give us some good hockey. He’s a skill player and he’s been down there for a while, and he’s back up again because he’s been playing well,” said Claude Julien of the Bruins rookie, who had four goals and seven points in his past five games with Providence. “Hopefully he can play well here also. It’s about getting some confidence. When he went down to [the AHL] the pace of his game had to get a little bit better, and in the battles coming up with the puck along the walls. Those are the kinds of things we thought he could work on down in Providence.”

Heinen knows he needs to shoot the puck a bit more to show off his offense after a seven-game stint with the Bruins where he went scoreless, was a minus-2 and had just six shots on net.

“Being hard on the walls, playing fast and shooting the puck, those were all things I was working on [in Providence],” said Heinen, who has seven goals and 13 points in 13 games for the P-Bruins after being assigned to Providence. “I was doing what they told me to do [in Providence] and that’s shoot the puck. They were going in, and I was getting some good opportunities on the power play. It’s seriously tough to get chances [at the NHL level], so you can’t pass them up when you have chances. That was kind of my focus down there.”

Fellow fourth-line energy winger Anton Blidh has been shipped to Providence after three solid games with the Black and Gold. 

Julien said Blidh goes back to Providence having adequately shown that he can play in the NHL. He clearly showed the Bruins that he understands his role as a player that stirs things up a bit and gets his nose dirty on a regular basis.

“[Blidh] was fine. No issues there. He does his job. He plays with lots of energy and obviously he’s getting more experience. He’s a lot better at understanding his positioning within the game and what he has to do,” said Julien. “I thought he helped us out for the time that he was here.”

With Heinen and Acciari both in the lineup and Blidh back in Providence, that means Jimmy Hayes will be scratched after dressing for three of the past four games for Boston.