Celtics outlast Bulls, 71-69

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Celtics outlast Bulls, 71-69

BOSTON Boston and Chicago pride themselves on being grind-it-out teams that like to keep the score relatively low.
But you have to wonder if both teams were thinking more about their next Mai Tai's during All-Star break than going into the break with some momentum that a quality win could provide.
There's low scoring and there was Wednesday's slugfest -- and we stress the word 'slug' because that's about as quick as both teams scored points -- that ultimately ended with the Celtics winning, 71-69.
Once again Boston's "defensive stopper" Jason Terry came up with a huge play defensively -- seriously! -- in the final seconds to preserve the Celtics win when he blocked a shot with just a few ticks remaining on the clock.
It was Terry's defense in the closing moments of Boston's triple overtime win over Denver that helped preserve the game for the Celtics (28-24), who head into the All-Star break having won eight of their last nine games.
But this game was about more than Terry's defense or that of any other player specifically.
It was a hard fought, down-to-the-wire battle that was either team's for the taking when it counted most.
And it was the kind of win that provides a much-needed jolt of confidence for the Celtics as they try to continue finding ways to win despite being significantly undermanned.
As has been the case throughout this recent run, the Celtics got big games from their big-game players in the closing moments.
Both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce had struggled most of the game with their shot-making, only to come alive in the fourth quarter.
Garnett had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the game, with eight of those points coming in the fourth quarter. His eight points in the fourth equaled the entire scoring output of the Celtics in the third quarter.
Pierce, who missed 10 of his first 11 shots, drilled a 3-pointer in the fourth that put the C's ahead 65-60.
Boston, which tallied its fewest points of the season, did not look like a team that would struggle to score considering how the game began.
After a slow start by both teams, the Celtics went on a 14-3 run to lead 20-9 in the first quarter.
Boston went into the second with a 24-15 lead, but the Bulls opened with a 17-6 run capped off by a 3-point play by Jimmy Butler to lead 32-30.
After a series of stops by both teams, Boston eventually went back ahead on a 3-pointer by Terry with 1:33 to play in the second quarter.
But the lead didn't last long as the Bulls took a slim 36-35 lead into the half.
The 11 points scored by the C's in the second quarter were a season-low that was previously 12 points, set against Milwaukee on Nov. 2.

Jerebko shoots, and shoves, and will get a chance to do both in Game 4

Jerebko shoots, and shoves, and will get a chance to do both in Game 4

CLEVELAND -- Back in 2009, a team official with the Pistons was trying to sell me on the idea that Jonas Jerebko, selected by Detroit in the second round that year with the 39th overall pick, was different. 
 
Big men from Europe back then had a reputation for being more finesse than forceful when on the floor, guys who would rather shoot than shove. 
 
“This kid, he’s different,” the official told me at the time. “He doesn’t mind mixing it up.”
 
While he is often praised for his ability to help stretch the floor with his long-range shooting, Jerebko’s desire to be physical at both ends of the floor is one of his strengths. 
 
As for those who don’t know that’s a big part of his game, Jerebko says, “They probably haven’t seen me play enough.”
 
That may change beginning with Game 4 against Cleveland. 
 
Boston’s Amir Johnson suffered a right shoulder injury after Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson appeared to have tugged on it while both were going for a rebound in Game 3. Johnson told CSN that he will meet with medical officials sometime today, and is questionable for Game 4.
 
If Johnson is unable to play, coach Brad Stevens will likely consider putting Jerebko in the starting lineup. 
 
Stevens made a similar move in the first round of the playoffs last season against the Atlanta Hawks, and the Celtics went 2-2 with Jerebko starting. 
 
 “I like to compete. I hate to lose, I love to win,” Jerebko told CSN. “So whatever it takes. If you have to play hard, you play hard. You got a lot of tough players out there. You gotta be one of them.”
 
He was just that in Game 3 as he came off the bench to score 10 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting display that included a go-ahead basket in the final minute of play.
 
“My job is to stay ready,” Jerebko said. “That’s all I can do; control what I can control and stay ready, be in the gym on a day like this and try to get better. Just stay in the gym and always be ready.”
 
His preparation in advance for big moments made the final minute of Game 3 just another game for him. 
 
Coming out of a time-out with 36.3 seconds to play, Avery Bradley penetrated deep into the paint, which sucked in four Cleveland defenders. 
 
At the last second, he kicked it out to a wide-open Jerebko, whose 22-footer with 30.3 seconds to play put the Celtics ahead 108-106.
 
“I wasn’t the first option but I knew I was going to be open,” Jerebko said. “I saw Avery looking at this corner and I saw my defender go in so I knew I would get a good shot. I was hoping Avery would kick it out and he did. It felt good.”
 
And his play has been good for the Celtics, seemingly whenever he has been called upon. 
 
Johnson has seen first-hand how Jerebko has handled his inconsistent role on the eve of him becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer. 
 
“You just have to do nothing but salute him,” Johnson told CSN. “Of just being professional, staying ready and that’s what veterans do; they stay ready and he gave us a big game in this playoff series. You have to respect his professionalism. I’m proud of him.”

Report: C's first-rounder Yabusele expected to miss Summer League

Report: C's first-rounder Yabusele expected to miss Summer League

It’s early for Celtics fans to be looking ahead to summer league play, but the C’s know at least one of their prospects likely won’t be there. 

Guerschon Yabusele, the second of Boston’s three first-round picks in the 2016 draft, recently had surgery to remove bone spurs from the top of each of his feet, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg. As such, Yabusele is not expected to play this summer.

A 6-foot-8 power forward from France, Yabusele was taken 16th overall in last year’s draft. He began this season playing in China before finishing the season with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League.