Boston Celtics

Celtics dont stand up to Rockets backcourt


Celtics dont stand up to Rockets backcourt

By Jessica Camerato

BOSTON -- Aaron Brooks looked up at the numbers hanging in the rafters.

Then he stared across the court at the names on his opponents jerseys.

He soaked it all in . . . and attacked.

Brooks scored 24 points on Monday night against the Boston Celtics, bringing his total at the TD Garden to 54 over the past two seasons. The offensive spark is no coincidence.

Theyve got all those numbers up in the rafters, he said. Sooner or later, theyre going to add 9, 34, 5, and 20. So I want to be able to say, Hey, those guys up there, I beat them at least once or twice.

The Rockets beat the Celtics, 108-102, extending their streak in Boston to three straight wins.

They were led by Brooks and Kyle Lowry (17 points), who teamed up to pester the Celtics with a backcourt duo that both got in the paint and found the open man on the wing.

By the end of the night, the undersized guards had made a major impact.

They always looked to attack, said Nate Robinson. As small guards, youve got to play with chips like that. Youve always got to use your ability to your advantage, and they did that.

Rather than trying to beat the Celtics with individual efforts, Brooks and Lowry played off each other and formed a two-headed monster of sorts.

Weve got two guys in their creating and shooting the ball, said Brooks. As long as Kyle can guard the two-man, that makes us really dangerous because Kyle can rebound the ball down there . . . We just wanted to get in the middle and kick it out to our shooters. I think we both did a good job of finishing in the paint so they have to respect that.

Brooks knocked down five three-pointers while Lowry shot a perfect eight-for-eight from the free-throw line. When they werent scoring, the pair was getting their teammates open looks. Lowry dished eight assists and Brooks added five.

This ball movement helped the Rockets shoot 50 percent (10-for-20) from 3-point range and score 30 points from behind the arc, including three treys by Chase Budinger. The Celtics entered the game holding their opponents to 34.4 from three-point range.

The Celtics are one of the best defensive teams out there, so youve got to pick your spots and when you get an open look, you have to take it, said Budinger, who scored 24 points (6-for-8 3PG) against the Celtics last season. You cant second-guess yourself. You cant try to create for another person because they only will give you that one opportunity when youre open. I think we did a good job of that tonight at finding our spots and everybody took spots when theyre open.

Ray Allen agreed. The Celtics defense struggled to challenge the Rockets looks at the basket.

They just moved the ball, Allen said. They moved the ball and they got to their spots. I dont think at any time we made them kind of veer off of the path that they were set. Offenses are designed to you cut here, go here, you have your shot, screen, whatever. The whole time we kind of let them go to their spots.

There are a handful of backcourt match ups dubbed as the ones to watch every season, headlined by stars like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose. Brooks and Lowry arent exactly at the top of the list, but after teaming up to tackle the Celtics, they showed they should have been watched more closely.

Weve got a good backcourt, Lowry told Weve got an awesome backcourt, to me. I think we have one of the top backcourts in the NBA.

Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:www.twitter.comjcameratonba

NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety


NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

NEW YORK - NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season's playoffs.

Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden's attempts after he swings his arms into contact.

The new rules interpretations are being unofficially called the "Harden Rule" and the "Zaza Rule". The Washington Wizards accused the Celtics' Al Horford of a dangerous closeout on Markieff Morris that injured Morris and knocked him out of Game 1 of their playoff series two weeks before the Pachulia-Leonard play.

Leonard sprained his ankle when Pachulia slid his foot under Leonard's in Game 1 of Golden State's victory in the Western Conference finals. After calling a foul, officials will now be able to look at a replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant, or a technical if there was no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

"It's 100 percent for the safety of the players," NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said Thursday.

The NBA had made the freedom to land a point of emphasis for officials a few years ago, because of the risk of injuries. 

Officials can still rule the play a common foul if they did not see a dangerous or unnatural attempt by the defender upon review. Borgia said Pachulia's foul would have been deemed a flagrant.

With the fouls on the perimeter shots - often coming when the offensive player has come off a screen and quickly attempts to launch a shot as his defender tries to catch up - officials will focus on the sequencing of the play. The player with the ball must already be in his shooting motion when contact is made, rather than gathering the ball to shoot such as on a drive to the basket.

"We saw it as a major trend in the NBA so we had to almost back up and say, `Well, wait a minute, this is going to be a trend, so let's catch up to it,"' NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.