Celtics fired up by trash-talking Suns

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Celtics fired up by trash-talking Suns

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON No one is ever going to mistake what exists between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns as a rivalry.

But one thing is very clear: These are two teams that don't like each other.

At all.

We saw that disdain on display in Boston's 115-103 win over the Suns on Wednesday night.

Even though the Celtics (44-15) dominated play most of the night, that didn't stop things from getting a bit chippy.

Usually it's the players you worry about with that stuff.

But on Wednesday, Boston's Kevin Garnett got into a spat spectacle with the Phoenix coaches.

"If you got a suit and tie on and actually can't play, I don't think you should be doing a lot of talking to the players on the floor," said Boston coach Doc Rivers

Garnett, who was whistled for a technical foul, delivered a postgame verbal jab at the Suns, who are currently ninth in the Western Conference standings.

When asked about his exchange with Suns coach Alvin Gentry, Garnett replied, "Alvin Gentry was asking me for tickets to the first round of the playoffs. I told him I'd hook him up, so that's what that was."

Garnett is in his 15th NBA season, and seen and done just about everything you can imagine on the floor.

But even he was a bit surprised by having a war of words with the opposing team's head coach.

"It's very uncommon," Garnett acknowledged. "But they're an uncommon team."

The fact that there was so much talking did not come as surprise to players like Rajon Rondo.

"We knew, coming in, to expect a little trash talk," Rondo said. "They beat us last time."

And in that loss, Garnett was ejected after picking up two technical fouls.

Also in that game, Garnett connected with a below-the-waist blow to Channing Frye, which prompted some harsh criticism from Gentry after the game.

Gentry said a number of things about Garnett, which included him losing some respect for Garnett because of Frye incident.

"I don't regret anything I say," Gentry said. "I've never had any regret from anything I say. The guy is a great player. He's going to be a Hall of Fame guy. Like I said, at that moment, everybody is a competitor. In the heat of the moment, I'm going to protect my guy and Doc Rivers is going to protect his."

But there was no shielding his Suns from the Garnett onslaught that awaited them.

Garnett had a season-high 28 points along with 11 rebounds, delivering the kind of emphatic domination that spoke volumes about how badly the C's wanted this one.

Making the dominant performance even more unexpected was it came in the first game back from a long road trip, the kind of game that usually trips up a team.

But the C's had the kind of focus that can make them a difficult team to beat, let alone compete with.

The Suns fell short on both of those fronts, as they fell behind by as many as 29 points before rallying to make the game relatively competitive.

However, Phoenix never really got close enough where the concern level takes a major spike.

"It was an intense game, but it wasn't," said Rondo. "We had a pretty good lead the entire game. They made a run at it, but the game . . . we had it in control the whole game."

And in a weird kind of way, Boston can thank the Suns to some degree for the victory.

All that in-game chatter seemed to fire up the C's.

"We were definitely alert," Rivers said. "You could see it in shoot-around. You know, it's rare that I say, 'Well, we're going to play well' before a game. Half the time when I say it, I'm wrong. So I was right today."

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

Celtics can't complete comeback, fall to Bucks, 103-100

Celtics can't complete comeback, fall to Bucks, 103-100

BOSTON – Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks wasn’t the first time during their impressive run at home that the Boston Celtics found themselves playing from behind most of the game.

But as hard as the Celtics fought, putting together one mini-run after another, it just wasn’t enough to knock off the red-hot Milwaukee Bucks who came away with a 103-100 win. 

The Celtics (48-27) had their four-game winning streak snapped while the Bucks (39-36) have now won 13 of their last 16 games as they continue to climb the Eastern Conference standings and pose a legit threat to any team they face in the first round of the playoffs. 

Boston, which trailed by as many as 14 points, rallied to tie the game at 93 in the fourth, but back-to-back baskets by Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon put the Bucks ahead 97-93. The Celtics soon found themselves back to within one possession after Jae Crowder split a pair of free throws making it a 99-96 game. 

But the Bucks did as they had done all game, responding to the moment with a big play of their own. This time it was Brogdon finding Greg Monroe under the rim after Al Horford slipped, for an easy dunk that made it a 101-96 game with 1:06 to play. 

A Celtics' time-out led to an Isaiah Thomas lay-up, making it a 101-97 game. Boston’s defense stiffened up, forcing a 24-second violation which led to a 20-second time-out by Boston with 36.9 seconds to play. The Celtics got another quick basket from Thomas who led all scorers with 32 points. 

Boston seemed on the verge of forcing a Milwaukee miss, only for Brogdon to step up with a clutch, tightly contested jumper that made it a 3-point game with 3.9 seconds to play. He finished with 16 points, nine assists and four rebounds.

Following a Celtics time-out, desperate for a 3-pointer to force overtime, Boston’s in-bounds pass was deflected. Marcus Smart was able to corral it before time expired, but his desperation was nowhere close to hitting the rim let alone going in. 

This game had the feel of a down-to-the-wire battle from the outset.

The Celtics were tied at 24-all after the first quarter, and trailed by six points at the half. Boston had good stretches in the third quarter, but once again found themselves trying to cut into Milwaukee’s lead which stood at 80-77 going into the fourth. But like each of the three previous quarters, the Celtics saw the window to close the gap slammed shut in their face as the Bucks opened the fourth with an 8-3 run to lead 88-80.

Boston’s uphill battle was fueled in part by a Milwaukee Bucks defense that didn’t give the Celtics many good looks at the rim. And offensively, Milwaukee’s ball movement was solid all game, generating lots of good looks at the rim. 

Despite all that, the Celtics were down just 90-87 following a 3-point play by Tyler Zeller. Boston had a chance to tie the game, only for Terry Rozier’s 3-pointer to hit the back of the rim and roll out. Bucks coach Jason Kidd knew he had to do something to slow the growing momentum by Boston, leading to him calling a time-out with 5:35 to play with it being a one-possession game. 

Boston continued to fight its way back into the game, and were within two (93-91) after Marcus Smart made the second of two free throws. 

He wasn’t done. 

Smart, who had his second double-double of the season with 11 points and a career high-tying 11 rebounds, scored on a driving lay-up to knot the game at 93-all with 2:46 to play. From there, the Celtics could not make the necessary plays to get the victory. 

Stars, studs and duds at halftime: Isaiah Thomas opens with efficiency

Stars, studs and duds at halftime: Isaiah Thomas opens with efficiency

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics found themselves in an unfamiliar place for most of the first half against Milwaukee. The Celtics were playing from behind as the half ended, and were trailing the Milwaukee Bucks 55-49.

The Bucks opened the game with a 14-4 run, only for Boston to respond with 10 straight to tie the game at 14. Boston would take the lead but couldn’t put much distance between itself and Milwaukee, with their lead in the first quarter peaking at just four points.

After a 24-all tie to end the first, Milwaukee opened with an 8-0 run and played with the lead for the remainder of the second quarter in which their lead grew to as many as 14 points. 

But the Celtics chipped away at the Bucks' lead, getting it down to as little has four points on multiple occasions before the Bucks wound up taking a six-point lead into the half. 

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Wednesday’s game against the Bucks. 

STARS

Khris Middleton: Milwaukee’s ball movement created lots of open looks, and nobody seemed to benefit more from this than Middleton. He had 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting with four rebounds and two assists. 

Isaiah Thomas: He didn’t take a lot of shots, but made the ones he did take count. He had 20 points at the half on 5-for-7 shooting from the field. 

STUDS

Giannis Antetokounmpo: The Greek Freak was solid in the first half with 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting. 

Mirza Teletovic: He gave the Bucks a nice offensive spark to the second quarter, finishing with eight points on 3-for-5 shooting.

Avery Bradley: He managed to get some easy looks on cuts to the basket, finishing with eight points on 4-for-9 shooting and three rebounds. 

DUDS

Celtics composure: Both Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas picked up technical fouls in the second quarter, letting their emotions get the better of them. And on top of that, they turned the ball over 11 times which led to five points for the Bucks but even more important, took away potential scoring opportunities for the Celtics.