Battle rages for backup guard spot

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Battle rages for backup guard spot

BOSTON The Boston Celtics are clearly looking to get younger at a number of positions. Nowhere is this more apparent than the battle being waged now for the backup shooting guard job, behind Ray Allen.

While there are a handful of Celtics likely to see some action as Allen's backup this season, two of the younger contenders - rookie E'Twaun Moore and second-year guard Avery Bradley - certainly made a strong case for the job during Friday's intra-squad scrimmage at the TD Garden.

With the game undecided with seconds to play, Moore, playing for the Green team which was comprised primarily of backups, nailed a 3-pointer in the final seconds to put them ahead.

But Bradley, not to be outdone, countered with a baseline, game-winning jumper as the final horn sounded to lift the White team to a 52-51 win.

After the game, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers talked about how both players are very much in the mix for playing time behind Allen whose minutes, according to Rivers, will be cut back this season.

"Somebody will win it," Rivers said of the backup job behind Allen. "And we're going to let them. We're honest with guys. There's a spot there, and all of you aren't going to play it. So it's been a competitive camp because of that."

Of all the new faces, Moore has arguably been the biggest surprise thus far.

A late second-round pick in last June's NBA draft by the Celtics, Moore has been among the more consistent performers for the C's thus far in training camp.

That confidence and poise is in part because he spent four years in college.

"I was basically taking what they were giving us," Moore said. "Just having confidence can lead you a long way. And I had confidence to knock down shots when I was open."

Bradley's confidence seems to be on the rise as well.

It certainly was in the final moments of Friday's game.

But afterward, Bradley acknowledged that the game-winning play was not the one drawn up.

"It was supposed to be a lob," Bradley said. "I wasn't in it at all. I was a decoy. I was open and Quis (Marquis Daniels) passed it to me."

It was a great ending to a game that didn't get off to the best of starts for Bradley.

"Avery I thought struggled for the first three-fourths (of the scrimmage), just trying to do too much, went to fast," Rivers said. "That's where you see, what we see. But he does have the ability to get to the basket. He does have the ability to get fouled. And that last shot, that's just a great shot."

However, Rivers said he was more impressed with Moore's 3-pointer.

"That was a play when he had to make a decision," Rivers said. "Shoot it, or throw it to Ray. Most of the time, even though he's open, most guys would throw it to Ray. And he didn't hesitate. That's what I like about him. He can really shoot the basketball."

Which certainly bodes well in his quest to become Allen's backup this season.

"I guess, it's a wide open spot," Moore said. "I just have to keep coming to work everyday. Nothing is going to be given to me. I gotta earn it. I just have to keep working hard and hopefully get some playing time.

Bradley echoed similar sentiments.

"I know everybody is going to be working hard for that position," Bradley said. "I know I'm going to come in every day and work hard and do everything that Doc tells me to do. Whoever gets the position, gets it. But at the end of the day, I'm going to come in and I'm always going to grind and I'm always going to work hard."

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All-Stars, studs and duds: Westbrook's reign as MVP comes to an end

All-Stars, studs and duds: Westbrook's reign as MVP comes to an end

NEW ORLEANS – You don’t rack up triple doubles at a historically ridiculous rate the way Russell Westbrook does without being able to dish out an assist from time to time.

The biggest assist he made in the 66th annual NBA all-star didn’t make its way on to the stats sheet.

But it was historical in so many ways.

Westbrook’s advice to Anthony Davis on how to win the game’s MVP award was indeed taken to heart with Davis winning the award following the Western Conference’s 192-182 win over the East All-Stars.

Davis finished with a game-high 52 points, shattering the previous mark set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Davis won the MVP award after Westbrook had won it each of the two previous All-Star games.

Prior to the game, Davis said he did do a little lobbying among his fellow all-stars in the locker room.

“I stressed that, I think more than enough, to the guys in the locker room before the game that I wanted to get the MVP for this crowd, for this city, and I ended up doing it.”

Following the game, Westbrook acknowledged that he did speak with Davis about how to win the MVP award.

When asked about what he said, Westbrook replied, “I’m not going to tell you, but he did a good job and got it done.”

Despite not winning the MVP award, Westbrook had a dominant game of his own as he tallied 41 points which was one point shy of the previous record.

But after the game, it was clear that he was more pleased with the performance of Davis.

“It was great,” Westbrook said. “It’s definitely always a great thing to do, especially here where he plays in front of his fans, his family. It’s a great experience and definitely happy for him.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the 66th annual NBA all-star game.

 

STARS

Anthony Davis

The hometown team’s best player delivered a scoring night for the ages, finishing with an All-Star record 52 points on 26-for-39 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. The previous record of 42 points was set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Russell Westbrook

His All-Star reign as the game’s MVP came to an end after having won the award the previous two All-Star games. He finished with 41 points.

 

STUDS

Giannis Antetokounmpo

He was an above-the-rim monster, scoring 30 points primarily on a dozen dunks.

Kevin Durant

He was filling up the stat sheet in several categories for the West, finishing with a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Kyrie Irving

Arguably the best performer for the East, Irving had 22 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas

There were others who had a more prolific night shooting the ball, but Thomas’ impact off the bench was indeed felt. He led all East reserves with 20 points.

James Harden

The bearded one had a triple-double as well, although not the kind he would prefer. Along with scoring 12 points, and dishing out 12 assists, Harden also racked up a game-high 10 turnovers.

 

DUDS

None

There were some guys who didn’t do much statistically, but with this being such an exhibition-like event, putting too much stock in any player’s performance is a waste of time. They are among the top 24 or so players in the NBA. No amount of missed shots or turnovers will change that fact.