Blakely: Celtics in the market for bigs . . . badly

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Blakely: Celtics in the market for bigs . . . badly

LOS ANGELES For the Boston Celtics, rebounding has been an issue all season.

It becomes an even greater concern with Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) not expected back, and Chris Wilcox out indefinitely while waiting to have additional tests performed sometime this week on his heart after the findings from an earlier cardiac test raised a red flag that warranted further testing.

Without those two, the C's best (and only) big man off the bench is Greg Stiemsma.

And with the NBA trading deadline at 3 p.m. Thursday, it's no secret that the Celtics are indeed in the market to add another big man.

Rivers acknowledges the need, adding that he hopes a big man can be added without disrupting the team's current roster.

"You don't want to do anything silly, you really don't," Rivers said. "We're building for this year and the future. We're not going to do anything that's going to hurt either one of those. Obviously, we're looking to grab a big from somewhere; hopefully by not giving away a player, doing it another route."

The Celtics have a pair of first-round picks to dangle out there as possible trade bait. Boston may also dangle out a player or two off their bench, such as Keyon Dooling or Marquis Daniels who both have expiring contracts and have limited (Dooling) to non-existent (Daniels) roles off the Celtics bench currently.

Rivers has already said that the team is working under the assumption that O'Neal won't be back, and if he does return it would "be a bonus."

As for Wilcox, who has been one of the team's top reserves the past couple of weeks, his uncertain status has made it difficult for the C's to figure out what their next move should be, roster-wise.

"We don't know if he's coming back or not, and the (trading) deadline is coming up," Rivers said. "So the quicker we find out, obviously that helps us."

But even if Wilcox were healthy, the need for size remains.

"We need another one, regardless," Rivers said. "So we'll be out there. But I don't think there are a whole bunch of teams out there lining up to help the Celtics."

Rivers and Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, have said tapping into the D-League is also under consideration.

"Of course, they're in the D-League and there's probably a reason for that," Rivers said. "And usually there aren't a lot of bigs floating around the D-League. But we're going to look everywhere, wherever we can."

Sunday's game only reinforced how badly the Celtics need help on the boards if they are to have any shot at making a strong surge during the second half of the season and potentially make some noise in the playoffs.

The Lakers had an eight-rebound edge, which was a key to Los Angeles enjoying a 17-8 advantage in second-chance points.

Boston tried to counter the Lakers' size with speed, and at times it worked.

But late in the game, a time when the game tends to slow down and half court offense is the norm, Boston's greatest weakness - lack of size - shined brightly.

Even Kobe Bryant, who is as clutch a player to ever play the game, looked to 7-footer Andrew Bynum in the game's closing seconds instead of getting shots for himself.

To see Bryantlook for Bynum did not come as a surprise to Rivers.

"Listen, they looked at our team and saw our size," Rivers said. "I think they knew exactly where they were going before the game. They won't say it, but the two places they wanted to go was Bynum and (Pau) Gasol. Kobe's going to get his, regardless."

Thomas excited for reunion with Green

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Thomas excited for reunion with Green

WALTHAM, Mass. -- When the phone rang this summer, Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas had to do a double-take when he saw the name on the caller ID.

It was Gerald Green, his ex-teammate in Phoenix.

Although they only shared a locker room for 45 games in Phoenix, the two became quick friends.

On the court they developed instant chemistry while coming off the Suns bench. And that bond spilled off the court as Green would later spend time with Thomas in the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. area in the summer months.

They were cool with each other, cool enough to where Thomas knew it wasn’t in Green’s nature to pick up the phone and call just to say hi.

“Gerald doesn’t call anybody,” Thomas said. “When he called I knew something was up.”

Green said Boston, the team that drafted him in 2006 straight out of high school, was interested in bringing him back for a second stint with the club.

“I tried to put my two cents in and he got here,” Thomas said.

There were several factors that led Green back to Boston, with a chance to reunite with Thomas being high on that list.

Green, already in Phoenix at the time the Suns signed Thomas in 2014, was impressed with the way the 5-9 guard carried himself.

“He was a genuine guy, came in really humble,” Green said. “I saw the talent was there. I knew he had the potential to be one of the best point guards in this league.”

Thomas certainly made a case for such lofty praise with how he performed last season, good enough to earn his first all-star selection.

What really stuck out to Green was that Thomas’ mentality and approach to the game was almost a carbon copy of his own.

“When we stepped on the court we had the same mentality,” Green said. “By any means necessary, get a bucket and play harder than the next team; just try and push the first team, make the first team better every day.”

Thomas was coming off the bench, showing lots of potential and promise that he could carry a heavier load if given an opportunity to do so.

He averaged 15.2 points, 3.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 25.7 minutes off the Suns bench in 46 games. Even more significant was that when Thomas did play for the Suns, they were 26-20.

In the games without him, they were just 13-23.

Green was admittedly disappointed they traded away Thomas, believing that season would have had a very different outcome had they not sent him to Boston.

And just like Green recognized Thomas’ skills and how much his team could have benefited from keeping him around, Thomas speaks in glowing terms about Green and what his return to Boston means for the team.

“We needed someone like him; a guy that could shoot the ball, a guy that could space the floor; instant scorer whether he starts or comes off the bench,” Thomas said. “Where the he starts or come off the bench. He’s going to really help us.”

Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7

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Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7

CINCINNATI -- For most of the game, A.J. Green piled up more yards than the entire Miami Dolphins offense in a virtuoso performance. As an encore, he thrilled the crowd by juggling some Florida citrus.

The Bengals receiver followed his disappointing game with a dominating one - 173 yards and a touchdown - and a Cincinnati defense that was inspired by Vontaze Burfict's return clamped down on the Dolphins for a 22-7 victory Thursday night.

The Bengals (2-2) rebounded from a 29-17 home loss to Denver on Sunday with a solid all-around game against a depleted team.

Green led the way, beating the Dolphins (1-3) on every type of route . He was upset with himself after he dropped a pivotal third-down pass and failed to make an impact against the Broncos.

"I hold myself to a very high standard," said Green, who had 10 catches. "I know what I'm capable of. Last week I didn't perform to that level. I had to refocus on a short week."

During the first three quarters, Green had 166 yards on catches while Miami had 152 total yards. The Bengals' season-long problem of stalling out near the goal line forced them to settle for Mike Nugent's season-high five field goals.

Afterward, Green and Andy Dalton appeared on the postgame show, and the receiver entertained the dozens of Bengals fans who stayed around by smoothly juggling three oranges at the interview desk.

"Any time he was one-on-one, he was able to make the play," Dalton said.

The Dolphins were missing four starting offensive linemen, two linebackers, running back Arian Foster and tight end Jordan Cameron. They had one big play - Ryan Tannehill threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills - but couldn't do anything else on offense.

"We've got to get it fixed and quick, and by that I mean Monday," Tannehill said. "We're kind of in a dark spot right now. It's squarely on our shoulders."

The Bengals' defense expected to get a lift from Burfict's return. The volatile linebacker was suspended by the NFL for the first three games because of his illegal hits. He got a loud ovation when he ran onto the field during introductions wearing a baseball cap. Burfict knocked down a pass and had three tackles.

"He's amazing," end Carlos Dunlap said. "Did you see the plays he made? Those aren't plays you can coach. He came off his couch and played great. It's good to have him back."

Mostly, it was Green's show. He caught a 51-yard pass off Dalton's scramble in the first half, and had a 43-yard catch that set up another field goal in the third quarter for a 19-7 lead.

REMEMBERING FERNANDEZ

A large fan banner in the upper deck at Paul Brown Stadium honored Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died with two friends in a boat crash early Sunday near Miami Beach. The banner read: "Jose 16 Heaven's Bright."

STILL CAN'T RUN

The Bengals rushed for 77 yards and only a 2.1-yard average against the second-worst run defense in the league, one missing two starting linebackers.

SLOPPY DOLPHINS

Miami had seven penalties for 68 yards. The most egregious was by Terrence Fede, who pushed Kevin Huber to the ground after he punted in the third quarter. The penalty gave Cincinnati the ball, and the Bengals got a field goal out of it.

INJURIES

Dolphins: LT Branden Albert and C Anthony Steen were inactive with sprained ankles. Also missing were LBs Koa Misi (neck) and Jelani Jenkins (groin). C Mike Pouncey has missed all four games with a hip injury.

Bengals: TE Tyler Eifert was inactive again, contributing to the Bengals' trouble close to the goal line. He's recovering from offseason ankle surgery and returned to practice on a limited basis last week. CB Dre Kirkpatrick was inactive with a hamstring injury suffered Sunday. G Clint Boling sat out most of the fourth quarter with an injured left shoulder.

ANTHEM STATEMENTS

Stills and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas knelt with their hands over their hearts during the anthem.

FANTASY IMPACT

Tannehill was 15 of 25 for 189 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble and five sacks. Dalton was 22 of 31 for 296 yards with a touchdown and a sack.

UP NEXT

The Dolphins begin a stretch of four straight home games against Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Jets.

The Bengals have a tough two-game stretch, playing Dallas and New England on the road. They're 1-5 in Dallas, dropping their last three. They've dropped their last six at New England, last winning in 1986.