Blakely: Bass, Celtics continue to rebound from rough start

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Blakely: Bass, Celtics continue to rebound from rough start

BOSTON As Brandon Bass lay on the sideline near the Boston Celtics bench, clutching his left knee, clearly in pain, Celtics Nation feared the worst.

The way this season has gone, with one fluke injury after another, it seemed a given that Bass would be just another one to add to the list.

"I felt like a little kid," Bass said. "I was scared. I didn't know what had happened. It hurt so bad."

A few minutes later, Bass was back on his feet and able to finish out the game as the Celtics squeaked out an 88-86 overtime win against the Hawks.

Bass' injury (he said he hyperextended the knee), and his ability to bounce back up and keep playing, was symbolic of the kind of season this has been for the Boston Celtics.

Just when you're ready to write them off because of a seemingly cataclysmic setback, they shock you with their resiliency.

Boston (34-24) is 10 games over .500 for the first time this season, and are riding a four-game winning streak which includes all four wins over playoff-caliber opponents.

"We have great character," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Tough-minded group. They really are. You could see they wanted to win that game so bad, and you could see the way we played."

And no player better symbolized that fight than Bass, who had his seventh double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

When he went down in overtime, C's coach Doc Rivers feared Bass had suffered some type of injury to the ligaments in his left knee.

"I've had that injury -- we know the one I'm talking about?" said Rivers, who suffered a torn ACL injury to his left knee during the 1993-1994 season when he played with the New York Knicks. "I don't even like saying the word. And where he was grabbing. I didn't think it was going to be a good thing."

But it turned out better -- much better -- than Rivers expected, which in many ways, is shaping up to be the theme of the Celtics' season.

Prior to the All-Star break, Boston seemed to be caught somewhere between bound for the NBA lottery, or a playoff team headed for an early exit.

But since the All-Star break, the C's have not only distanced themselves from the mediocre, but they are trending towards becoming one of the NBA's elite teams. This current run of success will only strengthen the case that the Celtics are a legit playoff contender that teams need to be concerned about when the playoffs begin in a couple weeks.

Some would attribute the turn-around to Rivers, while others will credit the players.

Truth be told, it's a combination of the two.

"They're playing at a very, very high level," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said after the Celtics defeated the Pacers on Saturday. "They have a championship coach and a championship core."

Shots don't fall for Celtics in frustrating 114-98 loss to Hawks

Shots don't fall for Celtics in frustrating 114-98 loss to Hawks

BOSTON – You hear coaches and players often refer to the NBA as a make-miss league.

When summing up what happened in Boston’s 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, sadly it was that simple.

Dennis Schroder led the six double-figure scorers for the Hawks with 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting.

Boston got many of the shots that they have been getting throughout this run in which they came into Monday’s game having won 11 of their previous 14 games.

The Celtics (38-22) have now lost three of their last four games. Life won’t get any easier for them with defending NBA champion Cleveland coming into town on Wednesday.

We have seen the Celtics make some miraculous comebacks under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens, but Celtics fans understandably began hitting the exits with more than three minutes to play and Boston looking up at a 108-84 deficit.

Credit the Hawks defense which played with a greater sense of urgency, the kind you would expect from a team that had come in riding a three-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, Boston looked like the team that we have seen most of this season which relies heavily on their perimeter shooting to win games.

That’s not all that surprising against the Hawks whose interior defense is anchored by Dwight Howard.

Howard, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds, also had a pair of blocked shots and altered many others.

But the Celtics spent a good chunk of the second half with Howard out of the game.

Howard, an absolute unstoppable force for the Hawks all game, picked up his second technical foul (an automatic ejection) for hanging on the rim following a put-back dunk with 4:03 to play in the third and Atlanta ahead 74-65.

He had picked up his first technical foul for shoving Al Horford earlier in the game.

But with Howard out, the Celtics still couldn’t take advantage of an Atlanta team that was much more vulnerable to dribble-drive penetration.

In fact, Atlanta began to pull away and took their biggest lead up to that point of the game, 84-69, following a 3-pointer by Tim Hardaway Jr. late in the third quarter which ended with the Hawks ahead 84-71.

And Boston’s struggles stemmed from their inability to make open shots.

For the game, the Celtics shot 39.1 percent from field which is a somewhat inflated figure considering the mini-run Boston's backups went on in the final minute or two of play.

Not even the usual high-scoring exploits of Isaiah Thomas could save the day.

The NBA’s leading scorer in the fourth quarter, Thomas had another sub-par night in the game’s final quarter of play.

He led the Celtics with 19 points, but only two came in the fourth quarter. And by failing to reach 20 points, Thomas’ franchise-record of consecutive games with 20 or more comes to an end at 43 straight.  

Reports: Blues trade Kevin Shattenkirk to Capitals

Reports: Blues trade Kevin Shattenkirk to Capitals

The Kevin Shattenkirk-to-Bruins rumblings are done for the remainder of the season.

Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Dispatch is reporting that the Blues have traded defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals.

According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the “main parts” the Blues will receive in the deal are 2017 first-rounder, a second-rounder in 2018 and Zach Sanford 

More to come. . .