Talking Points: Kings 120, Celtics 95


Talking Points: Kings 120, Celtics 95

SACRAMENTO, Calif. The Sacramento Kings couldn't miss - or at least it seemed that way.

Their ability to knock down a ton of shots, KO'd the Boston Celtics in surprisingly emphatic fashion, 120-95. The 120 points were the most the C's gave up this season.

DeMarcus Cousins (20 points, seven rebounds). Marcus Thornton (36 points). Isaiah Thomas (13 points, 10 assists).

If he had a Kings jersey on, chances were pretty good that he was making shots.

After a relatively close first half, the Kings blew the game wide open with a 41-point third quarter - the most points any team has scored in any quarter against the Celtics this season.

It was one of the few games this season in which the Celtics defense disappeared for the entire game.

One of the few brightspots for Boston was Ray Allen, who had a game-high 26 points and Rajon Rondo who led all players with 12 assists.

The jumpers that Thornton made for the most part were open or lightly contested.

The baskets around the basket scored by Cousins had little resistance as well.

It was so bad, Celtics coach Doc Rivers took his starters off the floor with more than six minutes to play, as clear a signal as any that this game was a wrap and that he wanted to preserve his core guys for Saturday night's game at Denver.

With the game so out of hand, the worst thing you want if you're Boston is for someone to get hurt. But that's exactly what happened to Paul Pierce, who suffered what team officials described as a mild ankle sprain. He did not return to the game, but considering its lopsided nature, he probably would have been on the bench even if healthy.

Hot shot: Quick, who is the Sacramento Kings' leading scorer? Don't feel bad. Most of the Celtics players didn't know when Doc Rivers asked them earlier. Well they know now, and so should you. It's Marcus Thornton, who torched the C's for a season-high 36 points which is twice his team-high scoring average of 18 points per game. "Because you don't see this team, you would assume (DeMarcus) Cousins because he gets most of the press," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "Cousins played well too, but Thornton was sensational."

In-n-out: Rajon Rondo is not one to put up big shooting numbers on a nightly basis, but he's a better shooter than the 2-for-9 performance he had on Friday night. Rondo, like the rest of the Celtics, never really instilled his will on the game despite finishing with a game-high 12 assists.

Super Sub: Bench play was not a major factor in Friday's game, but the Kings did get some solid production from Travis Outlaw who had 11 points along with four rebounds.

Turning point: When the players returned to the floor to start the third quarter, one team came to play. That would be Boston. The other came to win. That would be Sacramento, which opened the third with a blistering 17-1 run. And the point the C's scored was a free throw by Ray Allen after Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins was whistled for a technical foul.

By the numbers: 41: That would the number of points Boston gave up in the third quarter. It's the most points the C's have rendered in one quarter of play this season.

Quote to note: "Anybody can beat anybody. I think we proved that ourselves." - Celtics coach Doc Rivers, when asked about his son Austin's team, No. 2-seeded Duke, being upset in the NCAA Tournament by 15th-seeded Lehigh.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Nets

WATCH: Celtics vs. Nets

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Celtics' goal in season opener vs. Nets: 'Let's just be us'


Celtics' goal in season opener vs. Nets: 'Let's just be us'

BOSTON --  It’s almost impossible not to look at tonight’s Boston-Brooklyn game and not think about where each franchise is currently, and how their statuses are directly bound with one another.
The Brooklyn Nets are preaching patience with their fan base in part because of the 2013 multi-player trade they made with the Celtics that has included them sending a slew of picks Boston’s way.
Meanwhile, the Celtics are a franchise on the rise not only because of the talent it currently has on the roster, but also the potential to add even more difference-making players to the mix courtesy of picks that they will get from Brooklyn in the coming years.
Players for both teams aren’t thinking about their respective franchise’s futures.
Instead, their focus will be on tonight’s game, one in which the Celtics will be heavily favored.
“I’ve been ready [to play],” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “I’ve been ready for the preseason to be over and things to start counting.”
And the season begins with a familiar foe, one that the Celtics have already played twice in the preseason with another four matchups beginning tonight, during the season.
While the Nets are expected to be among the league’s worst teams while the Celtics are predicted to finish near the top of Eastern Conference standings, there’s at least one Celtic who isn’t convinced seeing the Nets so many times is a good thing.
“It’s hard to play teams . . . the more you play them it's like the tougher it is [to win],” Thomas said. “At the same time, they know what we like to do and we know what they like to do. You have to leave it all out there on the floor. Like [coach Brad Stevens) said, ‘Let’s just be us.’ ”
Being themselves more than anything else means delivering a devastating defensive punch, the kind that kept Boston among the NBA’s top defenses a year ago.
The Celtics finished the season with a defensive rating of 100.9 which was the fourth-best in the NBA.
And the mindset among several players is that as good as they were a year ago, the potential of this team defensively is even greater.
One of the keys to that optimism is Al Horford, the longtime Atlanta Hawk who signed a four-year, $113 million contract with the Celtics this summer when he became a free agent.
Horford is a four-time All-Star in part because of his versatility as a defender. Stevens envisions the 6-foot-10 Horford playing both power forward and center depending on the lineup he’s on the floor with at that time.
“He also improves are ability to play big or small,” Stevens said. “You can play him at the four (power forward) and play big, you can play him at the five (center). His mobility defensively and mobility to stretch the floor allows us to do both.”
And to think that as good as the Celtics are now, they are going to be able to add even more talent with a likely top-5 pick next year in the NBA draft courtesy of exercising their option to switch draft positions with the Nets.
Thomas has a lot on his mind heading into tonight’s game.
Increasing Boston’s chances of getting a high first-round pick from Brooklyn next year is not on the list, he says.
“I worry about scoring the ball, getting my teammates involved and winning games,” Thomas said. “I don’t know anything about those first-round picks.”
Thomas, the 60th and final player selected in the 2011 NBA draft added, “And I wasn’t a first-round pick so I don’t care about first-round picks.”