Celtics cut down Nets in fourth quarter, 94-80

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Celtics cut down Nets in fourth quarter, 94-80

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Doc Rivers had his concerns about Wednesdays game against the New Jersey Nets.

It wasnt because the Boston Celtics were hampered by injuries or the fact that the Nets pulled off an upset last season at the TD Garden.

Rather it was because it was February 16 - their final contest before the All-Star Break.

I always call this the one individual game of the year, because its the game before All-Star Break and both teams have just too much stuff, he said prior to the game. The Nets probably have plans, guys are leaving out tonight or tomorrow, and our guys are doing the same thing so its a single-game focus. Im more concerned about that.

The Celtics' 94-80 victory wasnt pretty but it wasnt expected to be, given the circumstances. Paul Pierce led all players with 31 points and Kevin Garnett recorded a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds). Brook Lopez led the Nets with 18 points.

Listen, every games not going to be beautiful, said Rivers following the win. You would love to blow every team out - thats not going to happen. Its the NBA. We just want to win the game.

The Celtics starters kicked off the game like they were ready to quickly wrap up a win. Pierce, who scored just one point against the Miami Heat on Sunday, recorded 10 points in the first 11 minutes. The Celtics led by 15 with 2:29 to go before the Nets began to fight back. They went on a 10-2 run in the final two minutes to trail, 27-22, at the end of the first quarter.

The first quarter we came out very explosive, said Kevin Garnett. You could tell right away that we were trying to get this game out of the way.

After a poor shooting performance by the Celtics in the second quarter (37.5 FG), they were outscored 24-19. Brook Lopez, who made just one basket in the first quarter, finished the half with 10 points. The Nets tied the game, 46-46, at halftime.

The offensive woes continued for the Celtics in the third quarter as they shot 7-for-21 from the field. While they tied the game up three times, they failed to connect on go-ahead baskets and found themselves tied, 70-70, heading into the fourth quarter.

With their shots inconsistent, the Celtics turned to their foundation - defense.

I was upset at halftime because I thought our starters came out with unbelievable spirit to start the game, and then our second unit - and it happens - our second unit watched how much we were scoring and they forgot that the reason we were scoring was because we were playing such great defense, said Rivers.

The entire team was on the same page to finish up the game. Even with Pierce and Rajon Rondo playing less than five minutes in the fourth quarter, the Celtics held the Nets to only three field goals.

The Cs, on the other hand, began knocking down three-pointers and getting to the line - 10 of their 24 points in the final 12 minutes came from free throws. The Celtics outscored the Nets by 14 in the final quarter for their 40th win of the season.

They improved to 25-5 at home, passing last season's win total at the TD Garden.

We realized how close the game was and we needed to get it done, said Glen Davis. We cant play like that. Being the last game of the first half of the season, we needed to leave a better impression on what we have to do, because this next half, we need to go. We cant slip up in game we need to win. We need to win them.

The Celtics next game is February 22 against the Golden State Warriors in California.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

BOSTON – The last 2 1/2 games for the Celtics have come without Isaiah Thomas (right hip) and it has certainly been a factor in Boston trailing Cleveland 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals heading into tonight’s must-win for the Celtics to keep their season alive.
 
There have been rumors that if the series with Cleveland were closer, maybe that would lead to a return to the floor for Thomas.
 
“No. No way. He’s done [this season],” Danny Ainge, Celtics president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s "Toucher & Rich" show this morning.
 
Ainge said there’s still swelling in the hip, and it probably won’t go down enough for doctors to make a determination whether surgery is needed for another couple weeks.

Thomas was in New York City earlier this week visiting a hip specialist. He's expected to consult with at least two more before making a decision as to what's the best course of treatment.
 
“Everybody agrees if there’s anything that needs to be done to it surgically, it helps...if the inflammation goes down,” Ainge said. “The recovery [time] would be quicker.”
 
The injury initially occurred on March 15 against Minnesota.
 
Ainge said he didn’t become too concerned about it until after Thomas re-aggravated it in Game 6 of the second-round series against Washington and was questionable to play in Game 7.
 
“I was worried going into the Cleveland series that he was nowhere near himself in Game 1 or 2,” Ainge said. “And Game 2 in the second quarter it was clear he was in a lot of pain. No way we could go out and allow him to play the second half.”
 
Boston was blown out 130-86 in Game 2. In the first half, Thomas had two points and six assists, while missing all six of his shots from the field.
 
Ainge said there was “a lot” of irritation and inflammation around the affected joint in Thomas' right hip.
 
“It had gotten worse from the MRIs he had before,” said Ainge, who added that it would have been “irresponsible to allow him to play anymore.”
 

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

BOSTON -- Like most NBA executives, Danny Ainge loves to get as much intel on players before picking them as he can.  
 
And with the No. 1 overall pick, Ainge knows he has to do all he can to absolutely get this one right.
 
That’s why any thoughts he had of drafting Lonzo Ball are likely out the window after the talented UCLA guard refused to work out for the Celtics.
 
“We tried to get him in for a workout and he politely said no,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show.
 
Lonzo Ball’s desire (or his dad Lavar Ball’s desire; hard to say who in the Ball camp wants him in L.A. the most) to play for the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the worst-kept secrets leading up to next month’s NBA draft.
 
And with the Lakers holding the No. 2 pick in the draft, turning down the Celtics only increases the likelihood of  Boston passing on him and instead drafting University of Washington star Markelle Fultz.
 
“It’s not ideal,” Ainge said of Ball's decision to decline working out for Boston. “Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. It’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them. Sometimes players don’t want to come in, not because they don’t like you, they see our roster. They think they would prefer to go to another team.”
 
The Celtics, like most teams, have been mum publicly as to who they would take in the draft. But all indications at this point in the process are pointing towards them selecting Fultz with the top overall selection.
 
And the fact that Ball, the projected number two pick even before the draft lottery order was established, refuses to work out for Boston will only increase the likelihood that Fultz will be a Celtic and Ball and his camp will get their wish which has always been to don a Los Angeles Lakers jersey.