Rivers' postgame comments after Bulls loss motivate C's

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Rivers' postgame comments after Bulls loss motivate C's

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics have won their last two games by a combined total of 38 points and have held their opponents to an average of just 75.5 points.

Their commanding victories in back-to-back contests against the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers have made their disappointing loss to the Chicago Bulls last Thursday seem like weeks ago.

But Doc Rivers comments after that game are still fresh on the Celtics minds.

I think it kind of woke us up and let us know, man, we were bull-expletive-ing, said Brandon Bass, who scored 18 points in Sundays 103-79 win over the 76ers. Thats what it was. After that, everybodys just been locked in. I wasnt surprised by Rivers comments because that wasnt even bad to me, I didnt think. Not with the way we played.

After the Celtics blew an 11-point halftime lead, Rivers deemed the 93-86 defeat the worst loss of the season. He said the Derrick Rose-less Bulls were too tough for his team, who he thought played like "the cool Boston Celtics," that night. Rivers called the game "unacceptable" and, when asked about the postseason, said the playoffs were the "furthest thing from my mind right now."

Just four days later, the Celtics (32-24) have a three-game lead in the Atlantic Division and are seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference with 10 games left in the regular season. They were not pleased with their loss to the Bulls, or their one-point defeat to the San Antonio Spurs the previous night at home, and are motivating themselves even when Rivers isn't speaking out.

He was frustrated, but we all were frustrated, said Paul Pierce (17 points, five rebounds, 3 assists against the 76ers). Of course we were frustrated from losing a game that we all feel like was a very winnable game. As veterans, we know how to respond, we know how to take our game up another level. You felt the frustration from the coach, but we felt it ourselves. Even if Doc didnt express it, I think we would have come out and played the way we played the last couple nights.

This weekends bounce-back wins were critical as the Celtics begin one of the most challenging stretches of their season on Tuesday with upcoming opponents including the Miami Heat (twice), Atlanta Hawks (twice), Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, and Milwaukee Bucks.

They will play their final 10 games, including two awayhome back-to-back series and a back-to-back-to-back series on the road, of the regular season over the next 17 days.

We all were disappointed, said Greg Stiemsma (2 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks against the 76ers). We all kind of felt like we let the San Antonio one kind of go before that. In the Chicago one, we just didnt have it. We know weve got to be better than that. Weve played at such a high level at times that weve got to stay at that high level all the time to finish this stretch out. Everybodys got a tough stretch left. Ours is really tough. So we cant make excuses, weve just got to go out and play our games.

We all kind of felt that he (Rivers) was just resonating how we were feeling. He didnt have to say a whole lot, but what he said was meaningful enough to get us going.

Brown and Rozier seize opportunity, provide spark off Celtics bench

Brown and Rozier seize opportunity, provide spark off Celtics bench

There was Terry Rozier, delivering dizzying crossover dribbles that set up open jumpers, soon followed by defenders he then beat to the rim for easy scores. 
 
“I felt like I was in college a little bit,” Rozier told reporters Wednesday night. 
 
The second-year guard is a long way from his days at Louisville, but make no mistake about it.
 
His basketball education is ongoing, but on Wednesday it was Rozier and rookie Jaylen Brown teaching the Orlando Magic a lesson as Boston pulled away for a 117-87 victory.
 
Playing without Isaiah Thomas (right groin), Rozier came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points. 
 
And Brown, whose hustle and above-the-rim play energized the Celtics most of the night, had 13 points which included a powerful, poster-worthy dunk over an unsuspecting Nikola Vucevic. 

"I didn't expect to dunk, nor did I expect him to jump," Brown told reporters after the game. "When it happened, I was just as surprised as everyone else."
 
The Celtics (13-9) were pleased with the victory which included contributions from several players. 
 
But there was added pleasure for the veteran Celtics in watching their youthful teammates step up and play well.
 
“It’s hard as a young player to come in and find yourself on a team,” Boston’s Al Horford told reporters after the win. “And those guys are really hard workers. As the season goes on, they’ll become more comfortable with what we’re trying to do.”
 
We have seen Brown put in positions where he was given an opportunity to make a major impact. 
 
His first NBA start came against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. 
 
Boston lost 128-122 to the Cavs, but Brown had a career-high 19 points, five rebounds and three steals. 
 
Brown said when he’s on the floor with Rozier, the two have a very specific agenda. 
 
“Me and Terry get in, we talk to each other and say, ‘we gotta run,’” Brown said. “That’s our focus; we’re young. We try to get up and down the floor. It makes the game easier for us.”
 
The Celtics' second unit has been in a constant state of change most of this season due to the number of injuries sustained by the preferred starting five. 

So getting more consistent play from the team’s youngsters like Rozier and Brown is huge for this team going forward especially if they will be without Thomas for multiple games which is a possibility. 
 
“It was a great opportunity; they seized it,” Horford said. “Moving forward, if they play like they did tonight; defense first, confident, I feel like there will be plenty of more opportunities to show what they have.” 

Capitals lose 3-goal lead, recover to beat Bruins in OT

Capitals lose 3-goal lead, recover to beat Bruins in OT

WASHINGTON - Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:36 into overtime, helping the Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 after blowing a three-goal lead Wednesday night.

Justin Williams scored twice and Daniel Winnik also had a goal to put Washington ahead 3-0 about six minutes into the second period.

After Winnik's tally, Washington went over 26 minutes without a shot on goal. Boston dominated the final five minutes of the second period, when Dominic Moore and David Pastrnak beat goaltender Braden Holtby. Colin Miller's power-play score 8:19 into third tied it at 3.

Boston arrived in Washington 4-0-1 over its last five games with three wins in a row, including a 4-3 overtime triumph against Florida on Monday night.

Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists for the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin got his first point since Nov. 26.

Boston outshot Washington 34-20. The Capitals have won two straight following a three-game losing skid.