Celtics-Lakers review: Pierce fuels Boston

993551.jpg

Celtics-Lakers review: Pierce fuels Boston

BOSTON Paul Pierce seemed to have a little more pep in his step Thursday night which isn't all that surprising when you consider it was the Boston Celtics facing the Los Angeles Lakers.
Pierce, the longest-tenured Celtic, embraces this heated rivalry more than any of his teammates.
And his play backs that up, as Pierce scored a team-high 24 points in Boston's 116-95 blowout win.
"I like these type of games," Pierce said. "You know, a game that has a playoff feel to it, you can feel the energy every time the Lakers come into the building."
But C's coach Doc Rivers believes there's even more to Pierce's knack for getting amped up in games against the Lakers.
"Well, he's from L.A.," Rivers said. "So he has the double whammy; he's with the Celtics playing the Lakers, and he's from LA. And he lives in LA in the off-season. So its' probably really important for him to play well and win, so he can walk the streets and talk, as Paul probably does."
While there's likely some -- OK, a lot -- of truth to that, there's no mistaking the respect Pierce has for the rivalry that exists between two of the more storied franchises in the NBA.
"It's never going to change," he said. "You walk down these hallways and when you come in here you see the whole rivalry, pictures, you see throughout the decades how it goes, regular season, playoffs, championships. It mean it's always going to have that extra little edge to this game."
And the C's certainly played with an edge on Thursday with an emphatic victory that snapped a three-game losing skid to the Lakers.
Here are some key factors outlined prior to tip-off, and how those keys played out during the game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Boston will try to make Kobe Bryant do what Kobe does best and that's score. When he's being a facilitator as well, the Lakers become an extremely difficult team to beat.
WHAT WE SAW: Bryant was in his element on Thursday, scoring a game-high 27 points on an efficient 9-for-15 shooting performance. However, most significant was the fact that he did not have a single assist -- the first time that has happened since a Jan. 1 home loss to Philadelphia.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. Earl Clark: Bass has become a more reliable rebounder as well as facilitator ... yes. "No Pass" Bass does in fact pass the rock every now and then. As for Clark, he'll have his hands full trying to do his job in addition to that of Pau Gasol who is out for at least a month with a foot injury.
WHAT WE SAW: This was a virtual wash statistically, although the edge in terms of impact had to go to Bass. He had eight points on 4-for-5 shooting along with four rebounds in 25 minutes of action.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jason Terry was one of the few Celtics players that didn't put up impressive numbers at Toronto on Wednesday. The C's will need a lift from someone not named Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce. This would be a good night for the Jet to take off and have a big game.
WHAT WE SAW: Terry had a solid game off the bench for Boston with 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting. The Celtics' second unit combined to score 46 points compared to just 40 for the Lakers.

STAT TO TRACK: The 3-point shot has been a part of both Boston's and the Los Angeles Lakers' success of late, but in a different way. In the last five games, Boston has limited opponents to 5.2 3s made per game, the fifth-best mark in the league during that span. The Lakers have connected on 8.2 3s in the last five games, which is the fifth-highest mark in the league during that span of time.
WHAT WE SAW: The Celtics didn't give the Lakers too many good looks from the perimeter, limiting them to just 5-for-23 shooting on 3s.

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


 

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
 
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
 
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
 
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
 
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
 
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
 
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
 
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
 
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
 
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”