Celtics clinch division, best Magic 102-98


Celtics clinch division, best Magic 102-98

BOSTON Rajon Rondo (sore back) was not at the TD Garden for Wednesday night's game against Orlando, but you would have sworn he somehow managed to take on the form of Paul Pierce.
But when the game was on the line, Pierce played like, well, Paul Pierce.
The Captain delivered a very Rondo-esque performance in leading the Celtics to a 102-98 win over the Magic, but it was his clutch jumper with 7.6 seconds to play over former teammate Glen Davis and a pair of clutch free throws with 2.9 seconds to play, that ultimately propelled the C's to victory.
Pierce finished with a game-high 29 points in addition to a career-high 14 assists.With the win, Boston (37-26) clinched their fifth straight Atlantic Division title. And depending on how they fare in their final three regular season games, the C's may very well clinch home court advantage in the first round, too.
In addition to Rondo, who took a hard spill and landed on his tailbone in Boston's loss at New York on Tuesday, the Celtics were also without Ray Allen (ankle) and Mickael Pietrus (knee).
C's coach Doc Rivers expects both Allen and Pietrus not to play in Friday's game at Atlanta.
With so many players out, much of the burden for carrying the C's fell on the shoulders of Pierce, who had a season-high 43 points against the Knicks.
Instead of playing his customary role as the Celtics' primary scorer, Pierce became the C's primary facilitator -- a role usually held by Rondo.
And the result was a career-night for the veteran, with many of his assists going to Avery Bradley, who may be gaining some momentum for the league's Most Improved award with his play of late.
In addition to playing solid defense, Bradley also had 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field. It was the second time he has eclipsed the 20-point barrier in the last three games, and third time this season.
For Orlando, which was playing without their best player Dwight Howard (back), picking up the slack in his absence was former Celtics big man Glen Davis.
Davis, who came into the game averaging 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds for Orlando in the month of April, he led all Orlando scorers with 23 points.

Red Wings' Vanek, Nielsen score in 6-5 SO win over Bruins


Red Wings' Vanek, Nielsen score in 6-5 SO win over Bruins

DETROIT - Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen scored in a shootout, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a comeback 6-5 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

The Red Wings rallied from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits in the first period, and with 3:04 remaining in regulation, Gustav Nyquist scored to pull them into a tie.

In the shootout, Tuukka Rask and Petr Mrazek stopped the first shots they faced before Vanek scored for the Red Wings and Brad Marchand countered with a goal for the Bruins. Nielsen, who like Vanek joined the team last summer as a free agent, scored on the team's third attempt and Vatrano missed the net with a chance to extend the 1-on-1 duels.

The Bruins were dominant early before blowing a chance to keep Detroit at a distance in the Atlantic Division standings.

No late-game heroics for Celtics as they lose to Knicks, 117-106

No late-game heroics for Celtics as they lose to Knicks, 117-106

BOSTON – Lately, shots seemed to fall for just about every player the Boston Celtics put on the floor. You knew sooner or later, Boston would have one of those nights when those same shots wouldn’t fall.

And then there’s the New York Knicks at the opposite end of that spectrum, a team that was overdue for a good night of basketball after having lost 11 of their previous 13 games.

Both worlds collided on Wednesday night, resulting in a 117-106 loss for the Celtics.

Not even the usual late-game scoring heroics of Isaiah Thomas could save the Celtics this time. He led all scorers with 39 points but only eight came in the fourth.  

Trailing 88-83 going into the fourth quarter, Boston (26-16) had been within striking distance on a number of occasions earlier in the night, only to have the Knicks (19-24) rebuff them with a made basket, or a rebound or a rebound that led to a made basket.

It was that kind of game for the Celtics, seemingly playing uphill most of the night.

No player exhibited Boston’s struggles more than Al Horford.

The four-time All-Star had arguably his worst game as a Celtic, scoring just five points while missing 12 of his 14 field goal attempts.  

Even though Boston spent most of the game trailing, it was hard to not think the Celtics would do what we’ve seen them do time and time again of late and that’s find a way to win in the fourth quarter.

After all, the fourth quarter has been good to the Celtics – especially Isaiah Thomas.

He leads the NBA in fourth quarter points at 10.1 per game, the kind of fourth quarter scoring the league has never seen before.

But Thomas never found any kind of late-game rhythm, a similar experience felt by most of his teammates.

It wasn’t just bad shooting that ultimately sunk the Celtics.

Rebounding, which has been a problem for them all season, was a major factor in Wednesday’s outcome as well.

For the game, New York out-rebounded Boston 57-33. Many of those boards were on the offensive glass which was a major factor in the Knicks holding a 24-12 advantage on second-chance points.

And as impressive as Thomas has been in elevating his game in the fourth quarter this season, the Knicks were being led by an equally determined Derrick Rose.

The former league MVP looked like his old self instead of just old, dribble-driving his way in and out of the paint, raising up for stop-on-the-dime jumpers. He would finish with a team-high 30 points.

The Celtics led 34-31 after the first quarter, but spent most of the night afterwards playing catchup to a New York Knicks team that came in having lost 11 of its previous 13 games.


Both Boston and New York were missing key players with a sore Achilles injury. For the Celtics, they were without Avery Bradley (right Achilles) and the Knicks were missing Kristaps Porzingis (left Achilles).