Rask doesn't mask frustration at losing

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Rask doesn't mask frustration at losing

BOSTON -- It might have raised some eyebrows when Tuukka Rask was handed the plum assignment of facing the New York Rangers in a Saturday afternoon matinee at the Garden.

It was a clash of the Eastern Conference titans vying for the top spot, and it was the first impression game with three more scheduled clashes before the playoffs begin for a pair of teams that will be there in the end. So it was a marquee game to drop the Finnish understudy into against Swedish netminder Henrik Lundqvist, and Rask didnt disappoint even if he didnt wind up on the winning end of things.

Rask had a seven-game winning streak snapped in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Rangers on the Garden ice, but he also played marvelously at times in a head-to-head battle with the over heavyweight title fighter in the East.

It took three shots at Rask in rapid fire succession right at the end of the overtime session for Marian Gaborik to finally break through, and there really wasnt much else the Bs goaltender could have done to escape to the shootout.

They were great saves by him. I think it frustrates him because he thought he grabbed the puck, but it kept popping up in the same spot, said Rich Peverley. Three chances, and maybe four, and they finally got that last one.

But that didnt stop the excitable Rask from emotionally slamming his blocker down like a battle axe on the crossbar after the rebound goal had eluded.

Rask was still flapping his arms around animatedly as he skated off in the background behind a Rangers group slapping each other on the back following the victory, and was no less emotional in the postgame locker room.

Yeahit was two rebounds. It hit my glove twice, but ahthats what sucks the most. Three seconds? Expletive, said Rask. Somebody liked it, I guess. It was a pretty thrilling end. Not for me, though.

Well expletive, I mean three seconds left it sucks. Youre pretty riled when that happens. I broke my stick. I had success doing that. Sometimes I cant break em, but this time, I broke it. Thats something positive out of it.

So at least Rask has his stick-breaking ability going for him.

Claude Julien knew his goaltender had done enough to earn a win while making 30 saves against a heavy Rangers attack through 60 minutes and nearly the entire overtime session. Clearly Rask might have been able to stop Ryan Callahans blast to the short side as the first goal of the game, but the Finnish netminder had his team in a position for a shootout win.

That all changed when Andrew Ferences charging penalty handed the Rangers a five-minute man advantage during the overtime session, and Rask along with his Bs defenders were strictly in survival mode. They won the face-off in their own zone, but couldnt clear the puck to the other end of the ice in a move that might have saved their bacon.

Its a game of inches and we also won the draw, said Claude Julien. If that puck makes it down the other end of the ice, were probably going into a shootout. But they had a few whacks at it, and the guy who scored Gaborik usually knows in that area what to do with the puck.

So even if Rask is now second in the NHL with a 1.67 goals against average and found himself on the losing end of a Bs statement game, there are positives. He still leads the NHL with a .947 save percentage despite allowing three goals to the Rangers, and he can break sticks in a fit of pique with the best of them.

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

BOSTON – Wednesday’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks was the fifth time in the last six games that Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley was out because of a right Achilles injury.

Well, it appears the 6-foot-2 guard may miss a few more with this injury.

“I can see him missing a little more time,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said following Wednesday’s loss. “I just think maybe he came back a little bit too early, whatever the case may be.”

Bradley was expected to play against the Knicks, but was a last-minute scratch.

Celtics big man Al Horford said he didn’t find out Bradley was out until the team was on the floor doing pre-game warmups and he didn’t see him.

“He was really sore,” Stevens said of Bradley. “Went through our walk-through and then came on to the court and did some stuff and was more sore today than he has been. I think he did treatment the whole game.”

This latest setback for Bradley is part of a growing narrative that has dogged him throughout his career which has included him missing games to injury in each of his six-plus NBA seasons.

Bradley came into this season once again hoping to be as injury-free as possible, only to see that dream dashed with this right Achilles strain he's suffering with currently.

Still, there’s no downplaying the significance and value the Celtics have in the 26-year-old. This season, he is second on the Celtics in scoring at 17.7 points per game and leads them in rebounds with 6.9 per game with both being career highs. In addition, he averages just under 35 minutes per game which is also tops on the team.

Marcus Smart has been Stevens’ choice to replace Bradley in the starting lineup when Bradley has been unavailable, and that’s not likely to change between now and Saturday’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Horford on rough night vs. Knicks: 'They deserved to win. They played better'

Horford on rough night vs. Knicks: 'They deserved to win. They played better'

BOSTON – With the night’s outcome all but a foregone conclusion, Al Horford’s last basket of the night got a sarcastic round of applause and a few jeers from the few fans that decided to stick it out for the final few seconds of Boston’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks.

Horford finished with a season-low five points for the Celtics (26-16).

Connecting on just 2-for-14 (or 14.3 percent) of his shots also represented the worst shooting night percentage-wise in Horford’s nine-plus NBA seasons.

“I struggled bad offensively,” said Horford who still managed to dish out a game-high 10 assists. “I tried to do anything I could to help us. It just wasn’t going for me.”

But as poorly as Horford shot the ball, he was more bothered by his defense and for that matter the Celtics’ team defense.

New York came into Wednesday’s game having lost 11 of its last 13 games and spent most of the night playing like a team that’s thirsty for a win.

They shot 50.5 percent from the floor, 40 percent on 3’s and dominated the glass 57-33 which helped fuel New York’s 24-12 advantage in second-chance points.

“We have to do a better job of holding teams to one shot,” Horford said. “That’s the first thing. I have to do a better job at protecting the rim. I know I can recall a couple instances where I needed to be there and I wasn’t impacting the ball as much as I would like to. I know I have to be better on the defensive end.”

Horford’s struggles on many levels mirrored the problems experienced by the rest of the Celtics.

“They punked us,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who led all scorers with 39 points. “They were the harder playing team on both ends of the floor. That was the definition of this game; they played harder than us.”

For most of the night, the New York Knicks were making all the big plays defensively and clutch shots offensively while the Celtics consistently failed to get that one defensive stop or knock down the one jumper that could have at least shifted the game’s momentum closer to being in their favor.

Boston rookie Jaylen Brown believes the Celtics didn’t take the struggling Knicks as seriously as they should have.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Brown who came off the bench to score 12 points for Boston (26-16). “It’s a game we should have won. We underestimated our opponent. We are a better team than that even though we played bad we still had a lot of opportunities to win the ball game.”

Horford had a different take on how things went down on Wednesday.

“I don’t think we overlooked them,” Horford said. “But I think we kind of … consciously or not, we felt we were going to win this game like, ‘We’ll struggle a little bit, but we’ll figure it out and win it.’ It didn’t work like that. In the fourth, we were right there. They made a couple shots. They deserved to win. They played better.”

And as the Celtics found themselves on multiple occasions having a chance to tie the game or take the lead in the fourth, it would have been fool’s good if they somehow managed to squeak out a win on Wednesday night.

“We didn’t deserve it,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder who had 21 points. “When you don’t deserve it, the basketball gods don’t bless you.”

But there’s plenty of season left to be played, and the Celtics – as we saw on Wednesday – have plenty of room for improvement.

Especially Horford, particularly when it comes to getting back on track shooting the ball.

“It was at the point where I didn’t have it,” he said. “That was tough. So I tried to impact the game in other ways whether it was setting screens or giving people shots, stuff like that. That was definitely tough for me because they were good looks. They just didn’t go in.”