Boston Celtics

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.

Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

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Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

Gordon Hayward wanted to go to Boston to play with Isaiah Thomas.

Of course, that's not going to happen. The Celtics traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a package for Kyrie Irving. Hayward explained what it was like for him to learn he and Thomas would not get the chance to hit the court together in Celtics' green.

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"My first reaction was to text I.T., and wish him the best," Hayward wrote in a blog post which he published Thursday. "That was a really strange moment because I’d really been looking forward to playing with him. He didn’t just help recruit me to Boston—he was a big piece of that recruitment. He had talked a lot about city and how it was different to be a Celtic. He talked about the intensity of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing at the Garden in the playoffs, and how much fun it was, and how much fun he had playing in Boston.

"All of that ultimately helped win me over. And by the time of the trade, I had already started to build a little bit of a relationship with him.

"But that is just how the business works. I have spent enough years in the NBA to realize that things can change like that, in an instant. Still, even though we didn’t necessarily get to be teammates, I’m definitely going to be watching him as a fan. In this league, I think we are all rooting for each other in some way or another—just to try to stay healthy, to try to be the best we can be."

Hayward may be genuine about rooting for Thomas -- except perhaps when he faces off against the Cavaliers in the season-opener on Oct. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena. Thomas is uncertain to play due to a hip injury. But the two teams are expected to see each other in the Eastern Conference Finals again after the 2017-18 season. This preview will be an opportunity for Thomas and Irving to get their first shot at revenge against their previous team.

The trade wasn't all bad for Hayward, he explained. He was pleased at the prospect of playing with Irving. Hayward cited Irving's abilities in 1-on-1 situations and clutch moments. He appreciated Irving's scoring ability, because Hayward knows the point guard will open up space for Hayward to knock down open shots. Above all, Hayward seemed to value Irving's unique experience.

"And then getting a chance to play with LeBron James, and going to the Finals three straight years—those are experiences that are invaluable and that you really can’t teach," Hayward wrote. "Having that experience of playing in those big moments, dealing with the circus of the media, dealing with expectations, those are all things that I think he can help us with. Because most of us, myself especially, have never been through that."

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