Boston Celtics

Celtics win blood match in New York, 96-86

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Celtics win blood match in New York, 96-86

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK You had spilled blood on the floor, belonging to both Boston and New York players.

The Celtics and the Knicks staged a physical, grind-it-out kind of game - just the kind of game the Celtics like to play.

Why?

Because more often than not, they find a way to win those games.

And Monday's game wasn't any different, as the Celtics rallied for a 96-86 win.

The Celtics (50-19, still tied with the Bulls for the best record in the East) trailed by as many as 15 points, but closed out the game with a 10-0 run to continue their dominance over the Knicks.

"You have to give the Celtics credit," said Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. "They get into you and they make it tough to find a good shot; that's why they're competing for a World Championship and that's what they do."

Boston has now won all three meetings with the Knicks (35-35) this season, and seven of the last eight, which is a cold splash of reality for those who believe the Knicks and their revamped roster now all of a sudden are one of the Celtics' rivals.

There's no question the Knicks are a better team since they added Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to a roster that featured Amar'e Stoudemire.

But the Celtics, as they have done time and time again this season, proved that having a trio of great players doesn't necessarily make you a great team, or at least a team good enough to beat Boston.

And on Monday, the C's did it by fighting through a rough second quarter, beating the Knicks to a slew of 5050 balls and in the end, having Paul Pierce deliver the knockout punch with a step-back jumper with less than a minute to play that gave the Celtics a six-point lead.

The physical nature of Monday's win was apparent even before Ray Allen suffered a cut near his right eye that required seven stitches, or the cut that Carmelo Anthony suffered in the fourth quarter that he said afterward led to him having difficult seeing.

"It was a good win. It was a blood bath," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, a former player for the Knicks who is well-versed in how physical games between the C's and the Knicks can be. "I thought that was beautiful."

It certainly didn't begin that way for the Celtics, who found themselves starting at a double-digit deficit in the second quarter.

But those first-half woes were nowhere to be found in the second half, in part because of Rivers' openly questioning his team's toughness - or at that point, lack of toughness - at the half, which ended with the Celtics trailing. 51-37.

"I haven't used the word 'soft' in, maybe four years, but at halftime, that word came out a lot," Rivers said. "We just played in the second half . . . with a sense of urgency. We were more physical. And we made some shots."

Still, Rivers' halftime message clearly resonated with all the Celtics players.

"After Doc got our attention at halftime, we all settled in to who we are and went from there," said Kevin Garnett, who had a game-high 24 points along with 11 rebounds for his 24th double-double this season.

For the Knicks, losers of three straight and six of their last seven games, Monday's game served as yet another reminder that there still lies a huge gap between them and the NBA's elite.

New York's Chauncey Billups, who had 21 points on Monday, said going through games like this are part of the Knicks' growth.

"This is what building camaraderie is all about," Billups said. "Times like this where you can't get over that hump and come together as a team to get better."

The Celtics know this all too well, which is why there was never a sense of panic or concern even when the Knicks seemingly had the game under control.

"We've been in a lot of big games," Pierce said. "We've been in these type of atmospheres, these type of wars. We know how to handle ourselves. We don't really get rattled. We know how to respond when it gets testy, gets physical."

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

Marcus and Markieff Morris assault trial began on Monday

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Marcus and Markieff Morris assault trial began on Monday

PHOENIX - NBA players Marcus and Markieff Morris go on trial Monday on felony assault charges stemming from a beating outside a Phoenix recreation center more than two years ago.

The twin brothers could face a maximum of nearly four years in prison if they are found guilty. A conviction would also result in discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10 games of suspension.

Opening arguments begin Monday following the selection of an eight-member jury panel last week in what is expected to be a 10-day trial.

The trial threatens to disrupt the start of their 2017 NBA season with training camp set to begin for both players on Sept. 26. The Boston Celtics acquired Marcus Morris from Detroit in the offseason as part of an overhaul of their roster, while Markieff was a solid contributor for the Washington Wizards last year.

The Morris brothers are accused of helping three other people beat 36-year-old Erik Hood on Jan. 24, 2015. They were indicted by an Arizona grand jury that year on felony aggravated assault charges. Two of the other co-defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday to the same charges.

Police say Hood was leaving a high school basketball game when he was approached by a friend of the Morris brothers. Hood told Phoenix police the man was speaking to him when he was punched in the back of the head.

Hood ran to his car but fell down, before five men, including the Morris twins, punched and kicked him repeatedly, authorities say. All five left in a Rolls Royce Phantom as bystanders began to appear. Police say Hood was assaulted for sending an inappropriate text message to the Morris brothers' mother.

Hood told police he suffered a fractured nose, abrasions and a large bump on his head because of the incident.

Hood is an acquaintance of the Morris brothers and reportedly had a falling out with them in 2010.

At the time of the attack, the 6-foot-9 Morris twins were teammates on the Phoenix Suns. They starred at the University of Kansas.

Marcus Morris averaged 14 points last season in Detroit, where he was a mainstay in the starting lineup. He joins Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward as a group of new acquisitions for Boston this year. Markieff also averaged 14 points per game for the Wizards.

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30 teams in 30 days: Spurs remain in title conversation out West

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30 teams in 30 days: Spurs remain in title conversation out West

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The San Antonio Spurs

There is no finer organization in the NBA than the San Antonio Spurs, a franchise that seems to always be in the title-contending conversation regardless of who is – and who isn’t – on the roster.

For years, conventional wisdom was that the San Antonio dynasty would take a major step back once Tim Duncan FINALLY retired.

Instead of taking a step back, the Spurs continued to do what they did with Duncan – win a lot of games and scare the bejesus out of any and every team they saw in the playoffs.

To read A. Sherrod Blakely's 2017-18 team-by-team NBA previews, click here

One of the forgotten subplots in Golden State’s run towards a title last spring, was the ankle injury Kawhi Leonard suffered when he landed on the foot of Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia.

For those who don’t remember, the Spurs were beating the crap out of Golden State in Game 1 of their second-round series with Leonard getting anything and everything he wanted at both ends of the floor.

Prior to him landing on Pachulia’s foot (something that was debated for weeks as a dirty play), the Spurs were ahead 78-55.

After Leonard’s departure, Golden State went on an 18-0 run and eventually wound up edging the Spurs 113-111 before going on to sweep the series to become the first team in NBA history to open up the playoffs with 12 straight wins.

Well, Leonard’s back and will once again be on the short list of league MVP candidates due to his ability to dominate games at both ends of the floor.

For years his defense has been at an unmatched level. But it is the growth of his game offensively that has made him such a difficult and at times, dominant performer.

Leonard has finished in the top-3 of the league’s MVP voting the past two seasons.

Last season, he averaged a career-high 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game which was also a career high.

But the Spurs have proven through time to be more than just a one-man operation even when the face of the franchise (Tim Duncan) received a lot of credit for the franchise’s success.

San Antonio brings most of its core guys back, but recognized the need to add at least one more legitimate scorer to the mix.

In comes Rudy Gay, an 11-year veteran who has averaged 18.4 points per game throughout his career.

Golden State remains the team that everyone, including the Spurs, is chasing this season.

But the depth of San Antonio’s roster coupled with the addition of Gay, means the Spurs will once again be in the title-contending conversation.

Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Rudy Gay (Sacramento); Joffrey Lauvergne (Chicago).

Key losses: Jonathan Simmons (Orlando); Dewayne Dedmon (Atlanta); David Lee (free agent); Joel Anthony (free agent).

Rookies of note: Derrick White.

Expectations: 56-36 (2nd in the Southwest Division, 3rd in the West).

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