Celtics left behind by Bulls, 97-81


Celtics left behind by Bulls, 97-81

By A.Sherrod Blakely

CHICAGO There are times when no amount of words can do justice to what takes place on the basketball court.

But in describing Boston's 97-81 loss to the Chicago Bulls, coach Doc Rivers and the Celtics players were to the point in describing their pummeling at the hands of the Bulls.

"Keep it real," said Kevin Garnett. "We got our butt kicked tonight."

Said Rivers: "They were far more physical and better prepared than we were."

Added Jeff Green: "Look at the scoreboard. They outplayed us in every aspect of the game."

Coming into the game, the Celtics (54-24) had a slim chance of still landing the No. 1 seed in the East.

But with the loss, Chicago (58-20) would have to lose all four of its remaining games and the Celtics would have to win their final four - both scenarios highly unlikely to happen - in order for the C's to finish tops in the East.

Finishing with the best record in the East is the least of Boston's concerns right now.

The Celtics have to be worried about becoming a more consistent team, which has become a major issue in the past couple of weeks.

Throughout this final stretch of the season, the Celtics continue to play well in spurts, woeful in others.

On some nights, they time it just right and come away with a victory that usually takes more out of them than it should.

But far too often lately, it has resulted in disappointing play and even more disappointing results.

Aside from a short-lived lead to start the game and another one early in the third quarter, this game was all Chicago.

Derrick Rose delivered what may have been a signature performance in his MVP campaign on Thursday, as he had his way with Boston's Rajon Rondo.

Rose finished with 30 points to go with eight assists and five rebounds, while Rondo had seven points and just six assists - only one coming in the second half.

Chicago's Luol Deng also had a big game, scoring 23 points to go with six rebounds and two blocked shots. In addition, Carlos Boozer tallied a double-double of 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

"It was one of our better games," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, a former Celtics assistant.

And for the C's, it was yet another game in which the intensity and effort of their opponent was far greater than what they brought to the game.

With the playoffs only a couple weeks away, this is when teams are fine-tuning their rotations - not trying to figure out how to play harder.

Rivers recognizes his team isn't bringing as much fight to games as they need to.

But he remains steadfast in his belief that when the time is right, the C's will be ready.

"It doesn't matter at what point in the season it is," Rivers said. "It could be Game 1. It could be Game 82. You still have time. There's no panic button you're pushing, or anything like that."

Maybe not a panic button, but the concern meter has to registering some unusually high numbers about now when you consider how the Celtics were so thoroughly outplayed in such a big game.

"We need a better sense of urgency," said Rondo. "We have to play with a greater sense of urgency, and knowing our stuff better."

While that may be true, the Celtics were also hurt by missing a slew of lay-ups that could have kept the game closer, or in some instances, allowed them to take the lead or increase it.

Regardless, those missed shots can't explain away the lethargic effort put forth by the Celtics far too often on Thursday against a Chicago team that has established itself as the team to beat in the East this year.

"They outplayed us," Rondo said.

And if the Celtics aren't careful, they'll be saying the same thing in the playoffs, on their way home for the summer without Banner 18.

"It better be a wake-up call," Rondo said of the dominating fashion in which they lost on Thursday. "If not, we won't make it far."

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

Magic Johnson named Lakers president of basketball ops, Kupchak fired

Magic Johnson named Lakers president of basketball ops, Kupchak fired

Magic Johnson was named the Los Angeles Lakers' president of basketball operations after longtime Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and vice president of basketball ops Jim Buss were fired, the team announced.

"Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights [late owner] Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” Jeanie Buss, Jerry Buss' daughter, Jim Buss' brother and Lakers president and co-owner, said in a statement. “Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”

Johnson, the Hall of Famer guard who led L.A. to five NBA titles, said in the same statement: “It’s a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family. Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”

Johnson, part of a group that owns MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers, returned to the organization as an adviser earlier this month. Johnson coached the Lakers briefly in the 1993-94 season, going 5-11. 

Johnson's new job with the Lakers won't change his role with the Dodgers, according to the L.A. Times.

The current Lakers have the third-worst record in the NBA at 19-39 after finishing with the second-worst mark in the league (17-65) last season. Kupchak was named an assistant GM under Jerry West in 1986 and in 2000 took over for West as GM. 


Drummond to Boston? Pistons big man's tweets fuel speculation

Drummond to Boston? Pistons big man's tweets fuel speculation

BOSTON -- Two of the NBA’s biggest names on the trade market, Serge Ibaka and DeMarcus Cousins, changed zip codes (Ibaka to Toronto from Orlando, Cousins to New Orleans from Sacramento) without the Celtics showing much interest in swinging a deal for either player.


Could it be because they had their sights set on Detroit’s Andre Drummond all along?
Pistons general manager/head coach Stan Van Gundy has made no secret about talking with lots of teams about his players leading up to the trade deadline, well aware that his team has been one of the league’s biggest underachievers.

Detroit (27-30) is eighth in the Eastern Conference, trailing first-place Cleveland by 13 games.
Drummond was reportedly offered to Sacramento as part of a deal for Cousins, so it should not come as a surprise that his name has found its way into the rumor mill.
Still, Drummond only added fuel to the rumor mill fire by re-tweeting the eyeball emojis posted by the Celtics' Isaiah Thomas, something Thomas did shortly before Boston added Al Horford to the mix last summer.

And then Drummond followed that up by posting his own set of eyeball emojis on Tuesday, which adds to the speculative nature of a trade-deadline season that ends Thursday at 3 p.m.

Drummond, a former UConn standout, is an easy-going, fun-loving guy, so the emoji stuff isn’t all that out of character for him. But he also changed his Twitter profile picture to him waving goodbye. after removing Pistons information from his bio.

Is he pulling our leg, or giving a heads-up that the Celtics are close to pulling off a trade?
A league source tells CSNNE.com that while no deal is imminent, Boston is a possible landing spot for Drummond if the Pistons are, in fact, planning on trading him. That, says the source,"is not a definite. [Van Gundy] knows he has to do something significant with that team, if not at the deadline [then] definitely this summer.

"So he’s looking to find out the value for all his guys, Drummond included.”