Celtics' worst performance of season in 93-77 loss

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Celtics' worst performance of season in 93-77 loss

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

HOUSTON Leave it to Doc Rivers to unearth a silver lining in an otherwise dismal 93-77 loss to the Houston Rockets.

"Well, we accomplished one thing," the Celtics coach said. "Minutes played by the regulars were low."

So were the Celtics' points, rebounds, assists, effort, energy . . .

It was a game that as lopsided as the final score was, the Rocket's dominance of the C's was even more decisive.

Boston fell behind by as many as 29 points, and seemed well on their way to suffering their largest defeat of the season which remains a 17-point loss at Phoenix on Jan. 28.

A Jeff Green lay-up with 29.5 seconds to play was just what the C's needed to avoid that dubious distinction.

Whether it was 16 points or 60 points, the Celtics were beaten badly in every way imaginable by a Rockets team that's fighting to move up to the eighth and final playoff slot out West.

"We just got our ass kicked; point-blank," said Boston's Glen Davis, who had 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench. "They just out-manned us. They beat us bad. We couldn't' get a stop. They were making every shot. When we needed a shot, they made a shot."

Fortunately for the Celtics (48-19), Friday's loss won't have any impact in their chase for the top record in the Eastern Conference as the Chicago Bulls (49-19) also lost on Friday which means the Bulls will maintain their half-game lead over the Celtics.

Regardless of where the loss put the C's in terms of the top record in the East, a disturbing trend is developing at a time when the C's need to string together as many strong performances as possible.

Friday's loss was Boston's fourth in the last six games, with all of those defeats coming against teams either out of the playoff hunt or fighting for one of the last playoff spots in their respective conference.

It's not a coincidence that the Celtics struggles come at a time when some players are returning to the lineup, others are trying to understand their changing role with the team, all the while game-planning for opponents who have far more at stake on most nights than the Celtics, evident by most playing with the kind of intensity and passion you expect a team that's trying to claw their way into the postseason will bring to the game.

"This component, you're dealing with a lot of different variables," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "Mixing in, putting things together we're not going to make any excuses. We gotta figure it out, and try to put it together as soon as possible and get back to winning."

While there have been a number of issues that have impacted the Celtics lack of success lately, on Friday it came down to their inability to make shots early in the game.

As much you the Rockets deserve credit for doing a solid job defensively, Rivers showed his team video at halftime of the many shots they took in the first half that should have been made.

"We showed them (at the half) seven, point-blank baskets that didn't go in," Rivers said. "I thought we got a little frustrated because we were missing shots."

That frustration offensively carried over into the way the C's defended, which is a recipe for defeat more often than not.

When asked about whether the offensive woes impacted the team's defense, Garnett said, "I want to say no because we are a defensive team and we can't let offense dictate defense. But it certainly seemed that way. They got into an early rhythm, and it was hard to turn them off."

Several Rockets players gave the Celtics problems, but none more than Houston's backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin who had 20 and 25 points, respectively.

Not only were the Celtics struggling to score and get defensive stops.

They couldn't even get into the heads of the opposing team's younger players, something the C's are one of the best at in the NBA.

When you look at the way the Celtics were struggling, it was just a matter of time before Garnett would get into it with one of Houston's young bigs, probably get a technical foul and just like that, the C's would start rolling.

That is indeed how things played out - sort of.

Garnett and Houston's Chuck Hayes had an exchange in the second quarter that resulted in both players being whistled for a double technical.

Moments later, Glen Davis was shoved from behind into the front row near the basket. He immediately got up and started to charge towards the man who pushed him, Jordan Hill.

But Rondo showed some heads-up thinking and came into between Davis before he reached Hill.

Hill was charged with a personal foul, while Davis was whistled for a technical foul.

Even when Martin made the technical foul free throw, you had the sense that, based on the past, the Celtics were about to go on a nice run and make this game competitive.

Oh, there was a run by the Rockets.

Boston retained the ball after Martin's free throw, but immediately gave it away when Hayes stole the ball from Garnett.

And moments after that, Garnett was whistled for a personal foul that sent Martin back to the line for two more free throws.

The Celtics continued to fall further and further behind, as Rivers emptied the bench in the fourth quarter with eye towards tonight's game at New Orleans.

"I know this team, and I know what type of competitors they are," said Paul Pierce. "We don't really worry about the record and how we play in back-to-backs. After a humiliating loss like this, I know we'll bounce back (against New Orleans)."

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

Isaiah Thomas still unsure whether hip will require surgery

Isaiah Thomas still unsure whether hip will require surgery

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Isaiah Thomas said it will be at least another month before he and the Boston Celtics will know for sure if he’ll need surgery on his right hip or an alternative means of treatment.

“Take it day by day and whatever happens in the next four to six weeks, then go from there and attack that as is,” Thomas said on Friday.

Thomas took a hard spill on his right hip against Minnesota on March 15, and re-aggravated the injury during Boston’s second-round series against Washington. The Celtics’ medical staff treated the injury for several weeks, but the pain began to increase and the potential risk of it becoming a long-term problem only grew.

In the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to Cleveland in the conference finals, the hip began to severely limit his play which was evident by him scoring two points in the first half of that game while missing all six of his shots from the field.

The Celtics medical team examined him at halftime and determined that in the best interest of his long-term health, he had to be shut down for the rest of the playoffs.

Needless to say, that did not go over well with Thomas.

“They had multiple people come in and talk to me about what’s more important,” Thomas recalled. “I definitely wasn’t trying to hear that at that point in time.”

Not only because of his competitive nature, but also because the Celtics were in the Conference finals for the first time since 2012.

“Conference finals, that’s the biggest stage I’ve ever been on,” Thomas said. “To not be able to go back out there in the second half … was painful; it hurt me.”

Now Thomas finds himself having to be patient and allow his body to heal up, realizing the big picture – his future – has to take precedence over what he’s accustomed to this time of year which is to take a couple weeks off and get right back in the gym to start working on his game and prepping for next season.

Not only is this a big summer in terms of him getting his body right, but he’s also eligible for a contract extension.

When asked about an extension, Thomas quipped, “That means more money? I’d love that.”

He added, “if it don’t happen, I'm the last person to be bothered by that. I know everything happens for a reason. So when my time comes, I know … God will bless me.”

The two-time all-star will earn just $6.26 million in the final year of the four-year, $27 million deal he signed in 2014 with Phoenix.

While being hurt isn’t ideal when talks center around an extension, Thomas isn’t overly concerned about his contract status and whether or not it changes this summer.

“That time will come. Whatever happens, happens,” Thomas said. “I’ve proved myself. The world knows what I bring to the table. I can’t do anything to control anything else. Whatever happens this summer with contracts, it happens. If not, we’ll wait until next summer and see where we go.”

While his contract status may be unclear, there’s no mistaking that Thomas wants to stay in Boston long-term.

“Boston has changed my career, changed my life,” said Thomas who came to Boston via trade in February of 2015. “I’d love to be here long-term and win championships here. As you guys know it’s a business; anything can happen. And I know that, I understand that. I would love to be here. This has been everything to me.”

Reports: Holt (concussion) shut down indefinitely; Red Sox’ concern goes beyond baseball

Reports: Holt (concussion) shut down indefinitely; Red Sox’ concern goes beyond baseball

After visiting a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh, Red Sox utility man Brock Holt will be shut down from baseball activity indefinitely, according to multiple reports.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox’ concern for Holt, who turns 29 June 11, goes well beyond baseball. 

Holt first suffered a concussion more than a year ago while diving for a ball against the Oakland A’s. He hasn’t played in the major leagues since April 20 when vertigo and post-concussion symptoms returned. His minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket the past month has been interrupted by the recurrence of vertigo.