Thomas shines in rebound game vs. Devils

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Thomas shines in rebound game vs. Devils

NEWARK Tim Thomas was mediocre in the loss to Tampa Bay, in the words of his coach Claude Julien.

Thomas is a lot of things an inspirational hockey success story, inarguably the best goaltender in the world and an interesting dude off the ice, to name but a few but mediocre really isnt one of them on a regular basis.

So the Bs coach went right back to the 37-year-old goaltender Thursday night in New Jersey, and Thomas repaid Juliens faith with 30 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Devils at Prudential Center. The win snapped a personal two-game losing streak for Thomas and washed away some of the sting from four goals allowed in Tampa Bay earlier this week.

The choice of Thomas or red-hot Tuukka Rask might have raised an eyebrow or two when the pick was dropped in Jersey, but there was little doubt about the correct decision when the Vezina Trophy winner was in the middle of stopping 13 pucks in the second period.

Tim is the kind of goalie that will bounce back from a mediocre game. It wasnt a bad game, but he knows and we know that it was a mediocre game against Tampa Bay for him, said Julien. Were used to seeing him being a stellar goaltender, and you understand the way he is. You give him an opportunity to get back in there as soon as possible, and show the kind of game that he can play.

That was huge for us. He played a solid game and made the huge saves when we needed him. The guys also played very well in front of him.
Thomas was beaten on one play in the first period when Petr Sykora poked a shot between his pads after a defensive breakdown around the net, but that was it for the Bs puck-stopper. He got stronger as the game advanced and was the beneficiary of much-better defense in front of him than the turnstile bunch that broke down multiple times against the Lightning.

Never was Thomas better than at the end of the second period with his team down 1-0 and New Jersey threatening for more. Kurtis Foster got Thomas moving with a mammoth slap shot from the left point, and the rebound went directly to David Clarkson in front of the Boston net. Clarkson let it fly as Thomas moved way out of the crease to challenge him, and the gritty Devils forward shook his head in exasperation when his scoring bid died in Thomas glove.

I was thinking if I couldnt hold the fort there in the second period that it would have been tough for us to come back and get two in the third period, said Thomas. We talked about needing to be better and needing to go out there and find a way to get the job done. But theres a big difference between talking about it and doing it. But the good thing about this team is we actually do it.

Theres no shame in that as four teams full of players were readily admitting after last seasons epic playoff run. For Julien the solid Thomas effort now frees the Bs coaching staff up to tap Tuukka Rask for the Saturday showdown against the New York Rangers, and a Thomas return to Philadelphia where hes routinely dominated over the years.

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

The bumps and bruises continue to pile up for Isaiah Thomas, adding a new one to the group during Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston. 
 
The 5-foot-9 guard said he strained his right groin in the second quarter, but added that the injury won’t force him to miss any games. 
 
“I’ll be alright,” Thomas told reporters after the loss. “I’ll get treatment. I’ll be fine for Wednesday (against Orlando).”
 
The injury appeared to have happened shortly after Houston’s Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer that put the Rockets ahead 55-45.
 
At the time it didn’t seem all that serious as Thomas, who had 20 points on the night, came down and drained a 3-pointer. 
 
But after the game, Thomas acknowledged his groin did bother him during the game in which he played 33-plus minutes. 
 
“A few drives I didn’t have the lift,” said Thomas, who finished with 20 points. “It is what it is. I’ll figure it out.”
 
Thomas, who played in all 82 regular season games last season in addition to each of Boston’s 21 games this season, has dealt with an assortment of injuries including but not limited to, a swollen middle finger injury on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
Thomas, an All-Star last season for the first time, has played at an elite level that should once again position him to be represent the Eastern Conference. 
 
Following Monday’s game, Thomas is averaging a career-high 26.0 points per game which ranks ninth in the NBA along with 6.1 assists. 

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

The fact that the James Harden of the Houston Rockets went to the free throw line 18 times which was more than the entire Celtics roster (12 free throw attempts total) certainly fired up conspiracy theorists among Celtics Nation. 
 
But what seemed to draw the most ire was what appeared to be a 3-pointer by Avery Bradley late in the fourth quarter that was initially called a long two-pointer. 
 
And after it was reviewed by the good folks in Secaucus, N.J., they allowed the ruling to stand because there wasn’t enough proof in the many replay angles for them to overturn the original call. 
 
The missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the closing seconds stand out, obviously. 
 
But the 3-pointer that wasn’t a 3-pointer was one of the more talked-about topics in the Celtics locker room afterwards. 
 
“From the angle we saw, it was a three,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told reporters after the game. “We definitely thought it was.”
 
Said Jae Crowder: “I thought it was a three. Nothing we can do about it now.”
 
It was that kind of game for the Celtics, one in which plays that could go either way more often than not, went against them. 
 
And while Bradley’s questionable two-pointer certainly was a factor in the game’s outcome, as was the free throw discrepancy and the late-game misses, ultimately the blame for Monday’s loss falls upon the Celtics players who were still in position to win despite all those setbacks.

They simply didn't get it done, when it mattered.
 
Smart, who had 13 points off the Celtics bench, understands that fans like to blame the officials when a game ends like Monday’s loss to Houston. 
 
“Officials, they did their job,” Smart said. “You can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game. We made some costly plays down the stretch. Give credit to the Rockets. They made plays and executed down the stretch.”