Rozier-Jennings dust-up provides spark for Celtics in win vs. Wizards

Rozier-Jennings dust-up provides spark for Celtics in win vs. Wizards

BOSTON – With the score tied at 37-all in the second quarter, the first significant dust-up between Boston and Washington players happened.

It was Boston’s Terry Rozier and Washington’s Brandon Jennings getting into a shoving match that ultimately led to both being whistled for technical fouls and Jennings also charged with a personal foul.

Up to this point, neither team had shown any signs of pulling away.

But from the time the dust cleared and play resumed, the Celtics weren’t the same.

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They were more physical, feisty, more locked in to doing anything and everything to beat a Wizards team that had won two of their three previous matchups.

And Washington couldn’t match that effort or intensity as Boston continued to pull away and lead by as many as 20 points before settling for a 110-102 victory.

“It sparked us a little bit,” Boston’s Jae Crowder said of the incident involving Rozier and Jennings. “We were able to play with a little more aggression.”

Boston scored six straight after the Rozier-Jennings technical, closing the half out with a 21-10 run to lead 58-47 at the half.

“When the emotions got high," Crowder said. "We kept the course and played great team basketball.”

And the emotions that Crowder spoke about, that has been an issue with the Celtics at various points this season.

Whether it’s losing their cool with other players, officials or one another, finding that balance that exists between playing with a fiery edge while not losing control, is one that that has tripped them up at times.

Not tonight; not against this team.

But players acknowledged after the game that there’s still room for improvement in that area.

“We gotta get better at that,” Boston’s Isaiah Thomas told CSNNE.com following the win. “Coach (Brad Stevens) is really on us about that and we’re on each other about that.”

On Monday, the Celtics were called for a total of four technicals – one against Rozier, Thomas, Amir Johnson and Marcus Smart – compared to the Wizards who were whistled for just the Jennings technical.

“In the playoffs, we’re not going to get anything,” Thomas said. “We just can’t continue to argue and continue to make us not play as well. We’re trying to get better. And today was one of those games where we held our composure a little bit better other than the technicals."

Blakely: Celtics' success lies in balancing big-money deals with bargains

Blakely: Celtics' success lies in balancing big-money deals with bargains

BOSTON – When it comes to stockpiling talent, few in the NBA have done it better in the past couple of years than the Golden State Warriors, as evidenced by them winning two of the past three NBA championships.
 
In 2015, Andre Iguodala was the NBA Finals MVP but it was the play another reserve, Festus Ezeli, who in the third quarter of the decisive Game 6, scored eight of his 10 points and helped extend a two-point halftime edge into a 12-point lead going into the fourth in what eventually was an eight-point series-clinching victory.

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 We have seen the Cleveland Cavaliers make deep playoff runs led by their Big Three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but the contributions of youngsters such as Matt Dellavedova (now in Milwaukee) also helped.
 
Indeed, often lost in the success of title-contending teams is how they manage to have enough max-salaried talent on the roster, while also augmenting the lineup with contributions from younger players or inexpensive veterans on team-friendly contracts.
 
Balancing the best of those two worlds is among the many reasons why the Celtics are considered a legit contender to get to the NBA Finals this season out of the East.
 
A lot has been made of the team’s signing of Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $127.8 million contract.

But what really makes the Celtics so special is how they have been able to add a max-salaried player each of the past two seasons (Al Horford and Hayward) at a time when the contributions of Isaiah Thomas ($6.26 million this year) and Jae Crowder ($6.8 million this season) are significant not only in terms of what they do on the floor but even more so in how little they make salary-wise relative to those contributions.
 
Boston getting the most out of talent playing on low-salary deals will be instrumental in their ability to build off the success of last season when the Celtics reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2012.
 
And while the Warriors have achieved this by adding veterans on the cheap (David West), Boston has been more traditional from the standpoint of getting as much bang as they can from players on their rookie deals.
 
Boston currently has 16 players with guaranteed contracts.
 
Of that total, nine (Marcus Smart; Terry Rozier; Jaylen Brown; Ante Zizic; Abdel Nader; Jayson Tatum; Semi Ojeleye; Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele) are on their rookie contracts.
 
“You always need young guys,” Austin Ainge, the Celtics' director of player personnel, told CSNNE.com. “Your veteran guys make a lot of money and so you need some guys on rookie contracts to fill out your roster.”
 
This is especially true for teams that are in the hunt to win an NBA title.
 
Ainge recalled how the use of players on rookie deals was instrumental in Boston bringing home Banner 17 in 2008.
 
“We had [Rajon] Rondo and Kendrick Perkins and Leon Powe and Big Baby [Glen Davis] in 2008,” Ainge said. “You need guys like that. You look at the teams in the finals the past few years, they’ve got some young guys on lower money contracts contributing. That’s important.”