Terry, Lee starting to make it work together on court

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Terry, Lee starting to make it work together on court

BOSTON In the absence of Rajon Rondo, the Boston Celtics didn't find that one playmaker to run the team ... they found two in Courtney Lee and Jason Terry.

While the two have played together often this season, it wasn't until they had to play a couple Rondo-less games did each seem to figure out how to be an effective playmaker with the other on the floor.

"They've been together, but it was like neither one of them really wanted to run the position," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "And when they were forced to, they realized there were sets we can run where they don't have to be the point and be very effective. Now they're doing it."

And the impact it has on the C's can't be measured solely by assists and points, either.

One of the keys to Boston's 104-94 victory over Minnesota was their play in the second and fourth quarters.

They were the starting backcourt to begin the second quarter, and were instrumental in Boston erasing a three-point deficit and turning it into a three-point lead before Rondo returned.

After taking a seven-point lead into the fourth, the duo once again delivered early as Boston opened the quarter with an 11-3 run to go up by 15 points - their largest lead of the night at that point - before Rondo checked back into the game.

"We've built up some good chemistry, he (Lee) and I," Terry said. "It took a while but we've gotten there now."

Added Lee: "We're definitely getting a better feel for each other's game, and how to play off one another better."

Terry is a 6-foot-2 combo guard while Lee is a 6-5 combo guard who can also play some at small forward. That versatility has the potential to impact games on various levels; among them, being a reliable backup for Rondo.

"We both can handle the ball, we both can get us into our offense early and we both like to fly out in transition," said Terry who had a season-high 11 assists against Milwaukee on Saturday which was one of the games Rondo missed while serving a two-game suspension.

And while neither is a tradition bring-the-ball-up kind of point guard, it's clear that the league is gravitating more and more away from those type of playmakers as backups or key reserves.

That's why Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, has insisted that he's not seeking to add another ball-handler to the mix anytime soon.

And because both know each other's games better, Terry says it's easier to just play now rather than try to play and be the team's point guard, too.

"In Doc's system and in this system a multitude of ball handlers can be on the floor at any given time, so that's why our skillset plays right in for each other," Terry said. "If I see him (Lee) get the outlet, I'm gone. If he sees me, he's gone. So there's no hesitation. There's definitely a much, much smoother burden on each other."

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tyreek Hill had touchdowns receiving and on a punt return, Kansas City's defense made life miserable for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, and the Chiefs beat the Raiders 21-13 on a frigid Thursday night to take control of the AFC West.

Charcandrick West also had a touchdown run for the Chiefs (10-3). They moved into a first-place tie with Oakland (10-3) but holds the tiebreaker with two wins over their longtime divisional rival.

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