Bobcats end Celtics' winning streak, 94-91

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Bobcats end Celtics' winning streak, 94-91

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The fatigue that typically comes with a triple-overtime game caught up with the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter, dropping a 94-91 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.

A mid-range jumper by Ramon Sessions put the Bobcats ahead 92-91 with 25.7 seconds to play.

After a Kevin Garnett miss, former UConn star Kemba Walker made a pair of free throws to give the Bobcats a three-point lead with less than 15 seconds to play.

Following a Celtics time-out, Paul Pierce and then Avery Bradley each missed potential game-tying 3s.

Charlotte grabbed the loose ball and ran time out.

The C's may have lost more than just a game on Monday. Leandro Barbosa went down late in the third quarter with a left knee injury. He could not put any weight on the injury and had to be carried off the court by teammate Fab Melo and team trainer Ed Lacerte.

Barbosa's injury makes an already short-handed roster that much thinner with his injury coming on the heels of the Celtics losing Rajon Rondo (torn right ACL) and Jared Sullinger (back surgery) for the season.

Compounding the matter was that head coach Doc Rivers came into Monday's game wanting to limit the minutes of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett who logged 54 and 47 minutes, respectively, in the C's triple overtime win over Denver Sunday night.

Pierce and Garnett didn't spend a ton of time on the floor in the first half as they played about half of the first quarter and the second half of the second quarter before tallying six and eight points, respectively. Pierce finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists while Garnett tallied 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Even with them seeing limited action, Boston still managed to take a 48-42 lead into the half.

Well aware that the C's dynamic duo of Pierce and Garnett would be limited, it afforded Jeff Green to be a more featured part of the Celtics game plan.

And to his credit, Green delivered.

At 6-foot-9, the Bobcats struggled to find a matchup that limited his effectiveness.

When they put 6-5 Gerald Henderson on him, Green took him on the block and scored in the post.

Charlotte tried to go with more size and that didn't work, either. He just beat them down court or off the dribble in half court sets.

It all set the stage for an 11-point first half for Green who has now scored in double figures in eight of the C's last nine games. He finished with a team-high 18 points.

But the Bobcats are known for being a competitive bunch, and Monday was no exception.

Early on, it was Byron Mullens (11 first-quarter points) keeping them afloat. It didn't take long before their leading scorer, former UConn star Kemba Walker got going. Mullens led all scorers with 25 points while Walker chipped in with 18 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Anthony: Despite trade whispers, 'I'm committed' to staying with Knicks

Anthony: Despite trade whispers, 'I'm committed' to staying with Knicks

BOSTON -- When most of Carmelo Anthony’s elite NBA brethren were looking for max-money deals with the flexibility to bounce to another team from one year to the next, the perennial All-Star signed a five-year, $124 million deal in 2014, which was one of the many ways he showed that he’s all-in on being a New York Knick. 
 
And as the Knicks continue to drop one game after another, 'Melo once again finds himself having to answer questions as to whether he wants to be in New York for the long haul. 
 
He acknowledged prior to tonight’s game against the Boston Celtics that he recently met with Phil Jackson, New York’s president of basketball operations. He declined to talk specifics about the meeting, but he was asked whether he felt a need to reiterate his commitment to a Knicks team that finds itself -- for now at least -- on the outside of the playoff picture. 
 
”I think it was just a . . . yeah, I mean, I'm committed,” he said after the team’s shootaround this morning prior to tonight's Celtics-Knicks game. “I don't have to prove that to anybody. I don't think I have to prove that to anybody. I don’t think I have to keep saying that. I don't think I have to keep talking about that. I know for a fact people know that; people see that. And right now my focus is on playing ball and staying with these guys. Because a lot of these guys have never dealt with all of this stuff before. Especially being in a market like New York and dealing with the articles and everybody has a different opinion on different situations. So a lot of these guys have never dealt with that. So for me it's just, it's all about being there. Moreso than ever right now during this time for them.”
  
Since he arrived via (forced) traded from Denver, 'Melo has seen his share of ups and downs in New York -- probably more downs in terms of the team’s success.
 
But even with that familiarity, Anthony acknowledged that this season’s problems do have a different feel than previous ones. 
 
“I've had this a couple times over the past couple seasons so I kinda know what this feeling is like,” Anthony said. “I think now it's a little bit different being the fact that the guys we have on this team, the talent level that's on this team, and for us to still kinda be losing these games, close games, non-close games . . . that's a different feeling.”
 
New York traded for Derrick Rose, a former league MVP, and signed Joakim Noah via free agency. 
 
With those former Bulls, coupled with Anthony and an emerging star in Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks were expected to provide a nucleus for success that would position them to be a playoff contender. The season is still young, but they've have been one of the bigger disappointments in the NBA this season. 
 
After a 16-13 start, their slide began with a Christmas Day loss to Boston that put them in a tailspin that they’re still trying to play their way out of. They come into tonight’s game having lost 11 of their last 13 games and sit six games below .500 at 18-24.
 
And as far as Anthony's future with the Knicks, if he leaves it will be his decision. 
 
But he's maintained -- throughout the peaks and valleys in his time with the Knicks -- that he has no desire to play for any other franchise, which is why the no-trade he has is so important. 
 
Simply put, he ain’t leaving New York unless he wants to. 
 
“I think as players you always want to protect yourself,” Anthony said. “I didn't think it would get to this point, but I think as a player if you can get that (no-trade clause), you have a right to protect yourself and take care of yourself when it comes to that. It's very hard to get . . . So, I have it and that's that.”

Celtics are living by the 3-pointer at a historic level

Celtics are living by the 3-pointer at a historic level

BOSTON – It has been well-established that the Celtics are a three-point shooting, bombs away kind of team and nothing seems like it’ll deter them from continuing along that path.
 
But as we prepare for the second half of the season, beginning tonight against the New York Knicks, we come to realize Boston’s launching of 3-pointers isn’t just unusually high.
 
This group of Celtics rank among the league's all-time leaders in 3-point attempts by the halfway mark of the season.

And when you look at the company they’re keeping when it comes to 3-point shooting, it speaks to how important it has become in this NBA to have as many long-range shooting threats on the floor as possible if you're trying to win at a high level.
 
Boston’s 494 3-point attempts thus far this season ranks fourth all-time by the halfway point of a season. But this season, that’s just good enough to be third behind Houston and Golden State with 617 and 505 three-point attempts, respectively.
 
The other team in the top four all-time is last season's Golden State squad, which took 519 three-pointers by the midway point of the season.
 
And all those 3’s by the Celtics have included an NBA-record six straight games in which they made at least 15 3-pointers.
 
That has allowed the Celtics to score at least 100 points in 15 consecutive games, the franchise’s longest such streak since they reached the 100-point plateau in 19 straight games in 1991.
 
Of course Isaiah Thomas’ 3-point shooting stands out, particularly when you see how dominant he has been this season in the fourth quarter with a league-best 10.1 points per game.
 
But his offense, while potent, is aided heavily by the shot-making snipers coach Brad Stevens surrounds him with on a nightly basis.
 
That’s why you didn’t see Stevens or president of basketball operations Danny Ainge freak out earlier this season when the Celtics were struggling.
 
Kelly Olynyk, who shot better than 40 percent on 3’s a year ago, was still on the mend after offseason shoulder surgery.
 
Jae Crowder, whose 3-point shooting has steadily improved throughout his career, had some minor injuries that set him back and maybe more important, didn’t allow him to get into the kind of shooting rhythm we see now which has allowed him to shoot a team-best 42.6 percent on 3’s.
 
Al Horford, Thomas, Amir Johnson … they all missed some time due to injuries this season, which has impacted the team’s chemistry and timing.
 
But the past couple of weeks have seen the Celtics healthier than they’ve been most of this season, and it has allowed them to play with the kind of space they want which has allowed Thomas and his cohorts to take lots of lightly contested to open 3’s most of this season.
 
“We’ve got pretty good shooters on this team where you’ve got to pick your poison,” Thomas said. “We’re shooting at a high level, and I got to say, you just have to pick your poison who you want to stop and my job is just to make the right play each and every time down.”