B's hope to kick off second half with win

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B's hope to kick off second half with win

The Bruins are ready to kick off the traditional second-half of the year with a Northeast Division tilt against the Ottawa Senators. The B's had turned into something of a .500 team just before the All-Star break as a seven games in 11 days stretch - with six of those games on the road - had begun weighing down the team.

Five days off can work wonders for hockey players in the middle of their season. That's what the Bruins - aside from Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin - have headed into a game against a young, hungry Sens team coming off the momentum of hosting NHL All-Star weekend.

"Most of the young guys went to South Beach; I went to Palm Beach where all of the old people hang out," said Chris Kelly of his activities during the All-Star break. "I don't care who you are, if you're a hockey player you can use that break in the middle of the season."

"It's the toughest part of the year. The points are just as important in the middle of the season as they are for the first 10 games of the season and the last 10 games of the season. We need to go out and bring that consistent effort now that our break is over."

The second half starts against a Senators team that surprised many in the first half of the season, but Ottawa will truly have to prove their playoff mettle now that February has arrived. The NHL trade deadline is right around the corner, and points become much more difficult to come by over the final two months of the season.

The Bruins have three games at home to start their stretch run up, but have one eye trained on an 11-day, 6-game road trip this month and a West Coast trip to face each of the California teams in March.

First things first, however.

The B's need to shake off the post-Christmas malaise that hit its crescendo in Florida two weeks ago, and entrench themselves into the best possible playoff position. That begins at home vs. Ottawa, and it begins without Nathan Horton (concussion) and Andrew Ference (suspension) in the lineup on Tuesday night.

"We've been looking for that consistency since Christmas," said Claude Julien. "We've played some good games since then, but we really haven't consistently played the way we did over that two-month stretch.

"We know we're capable of it, and it's up to us to get the proper rest, eat the right things, take care of our bodies and get ready for a difficult stretch of the schedule. We're in a grind here going forward, and we need to treat it that way."

The Bruins hope their 34-game grind kicks off with a win tonight against the Ottawa Senators.

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights from the TD Garden as Devin Booker had a historic performance where he scored 70 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win over the Celtics.

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

BOSTON – Stacking wins on top of wins is the mindset of the Boston Celtics right now, so the players who did speak to the media following Friday’s 130-120 win over Phoenix drove that point home emphatically.

But inside the locker room, it was unusually quiet, the kind of silence you expect following a loss.

Considering how the Celtics’ defense was absolutely thrashed by Devin Booker’s franchise record 70 points, there’s no question at a minimum the Celtics’ pride overall was stung.

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And when Suns coach Earl Watson began calling time-outs and having his team commit fouls at the end of the game, there’s no question it rubbed a few Celtics the wrong way.

“I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15. But I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him (Booker) the most points possible. Hat off to to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

Following the game, Watson defended his late-game decision making.

“Calling time-outs at the end kept the game close,” he said. “It’s basketball; I’m not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don’t like us while we build … so what? Do something about it.”

The Suns (22-51) never came any closer than 10 points, which was the final score margin.

Al Horford acknowledged that there was some aggravation following the game.

“You can be frustrated when somebody is doing that to you,” he said. “It’s not to one guy, it’s to the team so I think we’re probably more aggravated at ourselves, at least personally I feel that way. I probably could have done a little better, maybe done some different things to prevent it. We got to give him credit, 70 points, I don’t care it’s 70, he got 70. It’s impressive.”

But there will be some inside the Celtics locker room and among their fan base, who were bothered by the Suns’ late-game actions which seemed more focused on Booker getting numbers than anything else.

When asked about being disrespected by the Suns’ late-game strategy, Thomas wanted no part of that conversation.

“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery.”

 Boom!