C's get big win, rest before trip

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C's get big win, rest before trip

BOSTON The Boston Celtics got the one thing that every team - old or young - would want on the eve of a long road trip - a blowout win.

The C's 104-86 win over Portland was a game in which the final score does not do justice to how dominant the Celtics (21-18) were in winning at home for the fifth straight game.

Boston led by as many as 43 points, the kind of lead that afforded the Celtics' veterans to spend the entire fourth quarter on the bench, cheering on the backups who saw more action than usual.

C's Captain Paul Pierce was one of the more vocal Celtics at encouraging the team to not let up so that he and the rest of the core players could spend the fourth quarter on the bench.

"You just have to focus on concentrating and execution," said Pierce, who had 22 points. "You don't want to go out there and start getting sloppy."

It's easy to imagine a letdown with a halftime lead (65-30) that more than doubled the opponent's point total.

"We were up so much at the half, we said we were going to come out here and execute our stuff, you know be sharp in everything we do," Pierce said.

The Celtics were guillotine-like sharp in chopping down the Blazers, as they increased their lead to as many as 43 points.

It was the kind of performance the Celtics would love to have more often.

But on the eve of heading out on an eight-game road trek?

The timing for a game like this could not have been much better, especially with it providing his guys additional rest.

"It's a long road trip, but I do think there's rest in it," Rivers said. "The first two games (at Los Angeles Lakers and at Los Angeles Clippers) are tough because of the long flight, you play (early) and then you play the next day. But then after that, there's days off in between."

Still, heading out on the road with some momentum sure beats the alternative.

While the Celtics maintain that all games are important now, there does appear to be some games where they seem more locked in to what they have to do to win.

Friday night was one of those times.

"We needed this, and put a lot of focus into this game," said Boston's Sasha Pavlovic, who had a season-high 10 points off the bench. "If we play like this on the road, we'll be fine; we can beat anybody with this type of mentality."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Should Paul George or Gordon Hayward be Celtics' priority?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Should Paul George or Gordon Hayward be Celtics' priority?

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0:41 - Should Paul George be the priority over Gordon Hayward? Is trading for one year of George better than signing Gordon Hayward long-term? Curran, Holley, Giles, Smith discuss.

4:45 - Could a Tom Brady extension be in the works? Phil Perry joins BST to discuss Dan Graziano’s article about QB contracts in the NFL. 

9:13 - Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni join from Fenway Park to talk about the message John Farrell sent to Hanley, how the bullpen was used after Chris Sale was taken out, and the rumor that the Red Sox are interested in Sonny Gray. 

15:09 - Tom Giles and Tom Curran discuss how the Suns GM Ryan McDonough might have “tampered” with Josh Jackson to prevent him from going to the Celtics. 

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

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Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

NEW YORK - Russell Westbrook was voted NBA MVP on Monday night after setting a record with 42 triple-doubles last season.

Westbrook's victory ended the first NBA Awards show, which included two wins apiece for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

Westbrook joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for the season, and he broke Robertson's single-season record set when he had 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62.

The point guard beat out Houston's James Harden and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard to succeed Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards.

Earlier, Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon became the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common draft era.

Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection out of Virginia. The common draft era began in 1966.

"I think it's an example for guys that are told they are too short, they are not athletic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shooting guards," Brogdon said. "I just think it's an important message for people to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player award.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni won his second Coach of the Year award, and the Rockets' Eric Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year after setting a record for most 3-pointers off the bench in his first season as a reserve.

The NBA formerly gave out its individual awards at various points throughout the postseason before switching to the awards show this season and presenting them all at once in front of the league's top players and stars from the entertainment world.

Two of the best moments came during segments that didn't include the NBA's six individual awards.

Bill Russell was presented the first Lifetime Achievement award, welcomed on stage by fellow Hall of Fame centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The 11-time champion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys."

Former Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed after his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a colorful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports reporter who died of cancer this past season.