C's continue skid, lose again to Pistons

676254.jpg

C's continue skid, lose again to Pistons

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. And to think, this was supposed to be the "easy" game on this road trip for the Boston Celtics.

But the more we watch this Celtics team, the more nothing by them can be taken for granted - especially when it comes to winning games.

The struggles of the Green Team continue, as they stumbled and bumbled their way to yet another disappointing performance in losing, 96-81, to the Detroit Pistons.

Boston (15-15) has now lost three in a row, and five of its last six games.

Like most of the C's games this season, the night began with them being even more short-handed than expected.

Kevin Garnett, who did not play in last week's loss to the Pistons, was not with the team for Sunday's game to attend to a personal matter. Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said there was a chance that Garnett might re-join the team in time for Monday's game at Dallas.

In addition to Garnett, the Celtics were also without Brandon Bass (left knee) who isn't expected back on the floor until after the all-star break.

"It's tough, especially when you go on this road trip, and you just want to be healthy," Rivers said prior to the game. "And you just haven't had that opportunity. This is a road trip I've really been looking forward to. We thought a week ago, Kevin was going to be good and Brandon was going to be healthy and now you don't have either one for at least one of the games, maybe two. That makes it a tough trip."

And with all the injuries, it means some players are being called upon to play roles that frankly, might be too much for them to handle.

JaJuan Johnson has shown promise, but it's clear that he's just not ready to be a player who can give them quality minutes over an extended period of time.

And Greg Stiemsma, who has also shown promise, has been decent in spot duty. But when asked to play a prominent role which was the case on Sunday due to all the injuries and foul trouble it's going to make for a long, long night.

While the Celtics are quick to say that they don't want anyone feeling sorry for them, no worries about that.

Teams are showing them absolutely no sympathy.

Instead, they're simply attacking them in every way imaginable.

Detroit began the game on the attack, which led to them absolutely dominating the free throw game. At the half, they had 29 free throw attempts compared to just 10 by Boston.

It didn't matter that the Pistons missed 12 of those free throws.

The message was clear:

They were going to attack. They were going to be the aggressor.

And when those two things happen, it usually means that team is going to win.

Boston didn't do itself any favors in giving the Pistons multiple second and third-shot opportunities.

The Pistons had 40 points off of Boston's 24 turnovers, while the Piston's 15 turnovers led to 13 points for the C's.

So now the Celtics find themselves needing road wins at the defending NBA champions (Dallas) and the best team in the Western Conference record-wise (Oklahoma City), in order to avoid falling at or below-.500 for the first time since they were 9-10 following a loss on Jan. 29 to Cleveland.
HOT SHOT: Rodney Stuckey missed eight of his 10 shots from the field, but there was little doubt that he had the hot hand - from the free throw line. Stuckey finished with 16 points for the Pistons, which included him making 12 of his 15 free throw attempts. Just to put that in perspective, Stuckey's 15 free throw attempts was equal to the number of free throws the Celtics had as a team. "Just getting out on the break, attacking, getting into the bonus early really helped us and that's what we need to continue to do; keep attacking the basket and getting out on the break. It's really helping us right now."
IN-N-OUT: It was that kind of night for Rajon Rondo, who had five points on 1-for-6 shooting, to go along with 10 assists prior to being ejected - a first for him - in the third quarter. It remains to be seen if Rondo will have to serve some type of suspension for his actions in the third quarter that led to official Sean Washington kicking him out with three minutes to play in the third quarter.
SUPER SUB: Detroit's Jonas Jerebko was a force off the bench for the Pistons. He had 13 points, six rebounds and two steals in about 22 minutes.
TURNING POINT:Trailing Detroit 59-54 in the third quarter, Jermaine O'Neal was fouled with 6:50 to play in the quarter. A 72.4 percent free throw shooter this season, O'Neal missed both free throws. From there, the Pistons closed out the quarter with a 16-7 spurt and were able to maintain a double-digit throughout the entire fourth quarter.
BY THE NUMBERS: 40: That would be the number of points Detroit got off of the 24 turnovers made by the Celtics.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "We can't be a fragile team and get frustrated with the calls that they (officials) make. Some way, some how, we have to be mentally tougher than that."- Celtics forward Paul Pierce.

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.