'Bizarre' performance gets C's past Hornets, 89-85

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'Bizarre' performance gets C's past Hornets, 89-85

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW ORLEANS The Boston Celtics are in the midst of their own brand of March Madness these days, as they turned in one of the more bizarre performances this season.

Bizarre?

A thing of beauty?

It doesn't matter what you call it.

The Celtics have one word for it a win.

And Saturday's 89-85 win over the New Orleans Hornets in the Big Easy, ways about as tough a victory as the Celtics have managed to pull out this season.

Ray Allen, who had 20 points, put the game away with a pair of free throws with 2.8 seconds to play.

Boston

Bosto trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half and fell behind by 15 early in the third, before rallying for the victory.

"To come back the way we came back; to start out the third quarter poorly, I thought it meant a lot to the guys to come back," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "They wanted this win and I thought they liked it because a lot of people pitched in."

Among the Celtics contributing to the victory was Glen Davis.

Davis, who grew up in nearby Baton Rouge and starred at LSU, looked very much at home most of the night.

He finished with 20 points off the bench, which included eight during a decisive third quarter surge by the Celtics (49-19) who are now tied with the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

"We haven't got real good wins lately," said Davis. "So this is a good win for us."

While there has been some debate of late about the Celtics being too offensive-minded, their strong showing in the third quarter was fueled in large part because of their ability to take the Hornets out of doing what they wanted to do.

New Orleans' Marco Belinelli had 23 points, with only seven coming in the second half.

And after shooting a shade under 61 percent in the first half, Boston put the defensive deadbolt on New Orleans in the third quarter by limiting them to just 6-for-21 shooting, or 28.6 percent.

"Give the Celtics credit. they picked up their presssure, we couldn't' run a play and they hit some big shots," said New Orleans coach Monty Williams. "Their defensive presence in the third quarter hurt us."

And to some degree, healed some of the wounds that the Celtics were still licking after a dismal 16-point loss the night before at Houston.

While it wasn't Boston's largest margin of defeat this season (that was a 17-point loss at Phoenix on Jan. 28), it was arguably the worst.

Against the Rockets, the Celtics trailed by as many as 29 points.

But Saturday was a different opponent, a different kind of game and fortunately for the Celtics, a different outcome.

"We won this pure defense, man," said Kevin Garnett, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. "Pure defense."

And that defense led to a slew of easy scores for the Celtics, especially in the third quarter.

Following a 3-pointer by Allen that cut New Orleans' lead to 58-47, the Celtics went to work defensively.

The net result was a 20-6 run to end the third, essentially wiping out all the momentum that the Hornets had built up over two-plus quarters.

And in the fourth, Boston continued to display its defensive swagger by forcing 24-second violations, jump-balls and turnovers.

It was a much-needed win for a Boston team that came in having lost four of its last six games.

While much of the attention during Boston's recent skid has focused on Rajon Rondo and the problems he has had, Rondo's role has been just part of the team's overall poor play.

On Saturday, Rondo was actually one of the few bright spots for the Celtics in the first half, when he scored eight points which included a buzzer-beating jumper to end the half that cut New Orleans' lead to 51-40. He suffered a hand injury in the third quarter and missed some action, but was able to return to the floor.

Rondo finished with nine points and five assists on 4-for-8 shooting from the field.

"They were cool. It felt good to hit a shot, more than one," Rondo quipped. "More than one. It was a relief."

The same could be said for the Celtics, getting a much-needed road win - a rarity for them this season when it's a back-to-back set and the second game is on the road.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

According to multiple reports, Blake Griffin has opted out of his contract with the Clippers, making him a free agent. 

Griffin is considered one of the top free agents in a class that will also include Utah’s Gordon Hayward. The Celtics have been reported as possible suitors for both players. 

The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, the 28-year-old Griffin is a five-time All-Star, though injuries have limited him over the last three seasons. 

Over 61 games, the 6-foot-10 power forward averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season. Between numerous injuries and a suspension for hitting a member of the Clippers’ equipment staff, Griffin was limited to just 31 games in the 2015-16 season. 

Adrian Wojnarowski said recently that Boston’s reception for Clippers teammate Paul Pierce made a very strong impression on Griffin. Though there might not necessarily be a connection between the two, Griffin said on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” that Boston is on his Mt. Rushmore of NBA cities. 

Tatum's sick final workout seals the deal for Celtics

Tatum's sick final workout seals the deal for Celtics

BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum was excited about working out for the Boston Celtics. 

But he knew that, health-wise, he wouldn’t be at his best. 

TATUM SPEAKS

 
He could have easily pulled out like others had, or just told the Celts in advance so they could take it into account when they were deciding on who to take with the No. 3 pick. 
 
Instead, he kept it to himself until after his workout, focused on doing what the best in the NBA do on a nightly basis -- finding a way to play their best when at their worst physically. 
 
“I wasn’t feeling well, but you can’t make excuses,” Tatum said during an interview with CSN’s Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely. “There can be times in the future where there’s a game or playoff game where you’re not feeling well. Nobody is going to care. You have to produce.”
 
Did. He. Ever. 
 
The workout didn’t just go well.  It ranked among the best Danny Ainge had seen, which made the decision for Boston to select the 6-foot-9 forward from Duke with the No. 3 pick an easy call. 
 
Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, had an eye on Tatum all season and acknowledged he had high expectations for him to perform at during his workout in Boston. 
 
“He was better than I actually thought,” Ainge said during the CelticsTalk Podcast with Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely. “Which was hard to do, because we thought highly of him before.”
 
During the workout, Ainge saw a young man who had worked on improving his perimeter shooting to the point where it was actually one of his stronger qualities. 
 
 “As I watched him play earlier in his life  . . . what he lacked was his range shooting,” Ainge said. “He was a very good mid-range player and good passer off the dribble. But the range shooting, what he showed us in the workout here was very impressive. We had two workouts with him. And in both of them, he was one of the best shooters in this whole draft at any position, and one of the best shooters we’ve had in here for any draft.”
 
Making Tatum’s workout all that more impressive was it came with him far from at his best health-wise, something the Celtics didn’t learn of until afterwards. 
 
“He wanted to be here from the very beginning, even before we got the number one pick,” Ainge said. “He wanted to be here. He came in here and showed it. He came on his workout and was sick. He was on antibiotics, nose was dripping and he didn’t complain. And he still played and played well. That was impressive, how much he showed, how much he wanted to be here.”
 
Tatum said his mindset coming into his workout was simple.
 
“I knew the draft pick was on the line,” Tatum said. “I had to really perform and I think I did really well.”