Celtics win wild one in OT, 97-92 over Rockets


Celtics win wild one in OT, 97-92 over Rockets

BOSTON Courtesy of a last-second gaffe in regulation, the Boston Celtics needed a few extra minutes to finally put away the pesky Houston Rockets, 97-92, in overtime.

The Celtics (20-17) seemingly had the game put away with an 84-82 lead with less than 20 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.

Houston's Luis Scola's shot was off the mark, Paul Pierce grabbed the rebound and tossed it down court to Rajon Rondo who had nothing between him and the rim but air.

And then . . . he missed the lay-up.

Houston made the most of its late- game reprieve, as Goran Dragic tied the game with a long jumper with three seconds to play.

Boston had a chance to win it in regulation, but Ray Allen's off-balance jumper rimmed in and out as time expired.

In the overtime period, the Celtics led by as many as five points but committed more end-of-the-game mistakes that gave the Rockets life.

Kevin Garnett, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds, missed a pair of free throws in the final minute.

And after Houston's Kyle Lowry missed a running shot in the lane, Paul Pierce was called for an eight-second violation courtesy of some tight defense by Courtney Lee.

But another missed shot by the Rockets resulted in another rebound for the Celtics.

Moments later, the ball found its way into the hands of Ray Allen who put the game away with a pair of free throws with 18 seconds remaining.

The two went back and fourth in the first half, but Boston began to pull away in the third and led, 57-47, after Paul Pierce made a pair of free throws with 7:58 to play in the quarter. However, Houston responded with a 21-6 run to close out the quarter.

HOT SHOT: Paul Pierce goes off for a game-high 30 points which included seven of Boston's 13 points in overtime. For Pierce, it was the second straight game he has scored at least 30 points. Pierce made no secret about wanting to take over down the stretch. "I was, especially in the fourth quarter, trying to give us some life with the crowd and everything," he said.

IN-N-OUT: Kyle Lowry shared team-high scoring honors with 18 points, but he shot 4-for-17 in doing so. In addition to the poor shooting, he also turned the ball over six times.

SUPER SUB: Boston rookie Greg Stiemsma is not in the regular rotation, but that hasn't stopped him from being ready when called upon. With Brandon Bass re-aggravating an ankle injury from Sunday against the New York Knicks, coupled with Chris Wilcox being in foul trouble, Stiemsma was on the floor for 13 minutes and produced in a big way with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field.

TURNING POINT: Leading 95-92 with 30.3 seconds to play in overtime, the Houston Rockets were looking to tie the game after Paul Pierce turned the ball over on an eight-second violation. Kyle Lowry pass was stolen by Pierce with 24.9 seconds to play. The ball wound up in the hands of Ray Allen soon afterward. Allen made a pair of free throws with 18 seconds to play that would be the game's final points scored.
BY THE NUMBERS: 79: That would be the number of minutes played by Kevin Garnett in Boston's last two games, way more than the C's would like to see him play this season.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "We're starting to play good basketball and we're starting to win basketball games when we don't play good basketball, and that may be more important." - Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf


Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”

Patriots acquire linebacker Kyle Van Noy from Lions


Patriots acquire linebacker Kyle Van Noy from Lions

The Patriots acquired Kyle Van Noy, who was the Lions’ 2014 second-round pick and starting linebacker this season, on Tuesday. 

Why former Pats executive Bob Quinn would send a starter East for what is reportedly just a conditional draft pick is something we’ll try to ferret out.

The Patriots were no doubt interested because they lost Jonathan Freeny to IR with an injury, rookie Elandon Roberts is an undersized thumper (Van Noy is 6-3, 252) and Shea McClellin is well, just… there so far.

Van Noy has two years remaining on his rookie deal so -- provided he shows something -- he could be around awhile. The move -- one week before the trade deadline -- is a familiar one from the Patriots who added players like Jonathan Casillas and Akeem Ayers in 2014 prior to their Super Bowl run.

This story from last season indicates that Van Noy’s lack of production in his first two seasons with the Lions was merely a matter of circumstance. 

Perhaps. We’ll find out soon enough. Meanwhile, the name Van Noy made me perk up because I remembered him as having a central role in the excellent book The System by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian.

Read the excerpt on Van Noy here. It will give you a better understanding of the road he’s traveled.