Celtics get royal beating from Kings, 118-96

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Celtics get royal beating from Kings, 118-96

SACRAMENTO The Boston Celtics capped off their West coast trip exactly how it began - with a loss.

And this one was arguably the worst of the bunch as the C's suffered a 118-96 defeat to the Sacramento Kings, one of the worst teams in the NBA.

And the blueprint for this defeat wasn't all that different than the previous two for a Boston (14-16) team that is now two games below .500 since opening the season with a pair of losses.

Boston got behind early. They mounted a slew of mini-comebacks, but failed to get that one big shot or make that one clutch defensive stand to swing the game's momentum in their favor.

Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas poured in a game-high 27 points. And the troubled DeMarcus Cousins, a player the Celtics are rumored to be interested in possibly making a play for, had his first career triple-double - 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Boston was led by Paul Pierce and Jason Terry who each had 20 points.

After a relatively close first half, the Kings began to pull away in the third quarter. Following a pull-up jumper by John Salmons that gave Sacramento a 72-63 lead, Doc Rivers had seen enough and called a time-out.

He may have temporarily stopped play, but it didn't do much to stem the game's flow which was clearly in Sacramento's favor.

The Kings soon pushed their lead to double digits and took a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter that was never threatened.

Even with Rajon Rondo returning to the lineup after missing Saturday's Golden State loss with a right hipthigh injury, it didn't matter.

This team, regardless of who is healthy and who isn't, consistently finds ways to lose.

Poor shooting was the culprit that put them in a deep hole on Sunday, as the C's missed 11 of their first 13 shots and soon found themselves down 14-7.

But these were the Kings, one of the league's worst teams despite having won five of their last six at home heading into Sunday's game.

A jumper by Brandon Bass followed by a pair of free throws by Jeff Green cut Sacramento's lead to 18-12 with 2:27 to play in the first.

Boston even went with a little full court pressure to keep the Kings from getting into their offense too quickly.

It was a good idea if the C's could have avoided fouling Thomas on a driving attempt.

The second quarter saw the Celtics do what Doc Rivers has been imploring his shooters to do all season - attack the rim.

And will you look at that?

Boston's 24-18 deficit to start the second quarter became a two-point lead with an 8-0 start fueled by drives to the basket and free throws.

The Celtics got a strong game from Green who was leading the Celtics' attacking style of play in the second quarter. Green along with a hot-shooting Jason Terry each had 14 first-half points for the C's while the Kings got strong first-half performances from Jason Thompson (13 points, five rebounds), John Salmons (11 points) and Thomas (10 points, two assists.)

The two continued to go back and fourth most of the second which ended with the Kings ahead 54-49.

But those moments of stellar play for Boston were so few and far between, reminding all of just how far the Celtics have truly fallen this season.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is trading for Paul George worth the risk?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is trading for Paul George worth the risk?

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0:41 - Michael Holley, Kayce Smith and Tom Giles recap their thoughts on drafting Jayson Tatum and trade rumors involving the Celtics.

6:21 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to discuss if it would be worth trading for Paul George as a one-year rental and if there would be a chance he could still around long-term if traded to Boston.

11:13 - Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Rick Porcello’s outing, the Red Sox offense coming to life, and Doug Fister being claimed by the Red Sox. 

15:10 - Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely look back at the Celtics/Nets trade, what the assets have turned into, and if Danny Ainge has done a good job turning those assets into players. 

Haggerty: Bruins playing it pretty safe at the NHL Draft

Haggerty: Bruins playing it pretty safe at the NHL Draft

CHICAGO – As opening nights go at the NHL Draft, Friday night was a bit of a ho-hum affair for the Boston Bruins at the United Center home of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Bruins went the safe route by drafting a smooth, defensive-minded defenseman with the 18th overall pick when they selected Finnish product Urho Vaakenainen, and in doing so left more dynamic forwards like Kristian Vesalainen and Kailer Yamamoto still on the draft board for other teams to claim as their own. It was a bit of a curious choice given how many defensemen the Bruins already have in the prospect pipeline, but the lack of strength in the draft class seemed to lead teams to carve their own paths looking for players.

MORE: Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder clearly has miles to go offensively despite his smooth skating and solid passing skills, but there’s also a consideration that the teenager has been playing in the men’s league in Finland for the last couple of seasons. It makes things a little more difficult to project for the Finn D-man, but the Bruins believe there is some upside to his offensive game given the skills, the hockey IQ and the considerable confidence that the player has in his own game.

“His gap control and skating ability are really good. He’s obviously played in the Finnish Elite League at a very young age for one and a half years now and he’s played on the big stage at the world juniors. We feel like there’s a lot of upside for a 200-foot player that gets back on pucks, and then can transition them back out. Being able to cover ice is an important part of the game, and it continues to evolve in that direction,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, who indicated Vaakenainen will play in North America in 2018-19 after fulfilling his contractual obligations in Finland. “We tracked what he did on offense at the junior league level prior to him jumping to the elite league, and it lines up pretty well with other elite players that made the jump to that level.

“It’s a valid question and whether he gets put into those [offensive] situations this year is what we’re excited about with his [Finnish] team moving forward.”

While Vaakenainen sounded surprised the Bruins selected him after only a single meeting at the NHL scouting combine, Sweeney said that Boston’s head scout in Finland has enough history with the family to vouch for the kid’s makeup.

So while it’s far from a sexy pick and the Bruins could have tried to hit a home run with an 18th overall selection in a mediocre draft, the B’s will also get some time before anybody is ready to label the Finnish blueliner a boom or a bust.

The rest of the draft night didn’t add up to much for the B’s, however. They made the selection of Vaakenainen after strongly considering dropping down in the first round, and in doing so lost one of the better trade chips in the form of their 2017 first round pick. There were discussions with Minnesota about Marco Scandella and a few trade feelers to other clubs that might listen on a D-man, but the Bruins now have to hit the reset button on trade discussions for left-shot defensemen or top-6 left wings.

Perhaps Scandella’s $4 million per season salary was an issue for the Bruins, or maybe the Bruins didn’t want to give up their first round pick for a 27-year-old D-man coming off a so-so season with the Wild. Either way, there wasn’t enough momentum for the Bruins to get a trade done with a bevy of defensemen rumored to be available if the offer is good enough.

“I was on the record saying that we’d be offering our first round pick for target-specific players, and we did do that,” said Sweeney. “I don’t blame teams for not necessarily wanting to go through with it, so we went ahead with a player we wanted with our own pick. We continue to build what we think is a good group of guys moving forward.

“There are a couple of areas we’d like to address and get better. We’re trying to help our team currently. Certainly Brandon [Carlo] jumped into our lineup and we hope Charlie [McAvoy] will carry over what he did, and we have other players that will push. We have six returning defensemen we feel good about and we’ll certainly push from underneath, but it’s an area we’ll continue to address. We have some forwards that we also hope will come online, but we’ll never stop exploring and trying to improve our club.”

So let’s sum it all up after a week of additions and subtractions from the Original Six organization: The Bruins added a decidedly vanilla defenseman in the first round of the NHL Draft that might be a simple stay-at-home guy, and they weren’t able to muster any kind of deals for a D-man or winger to enhance the NHL roster. On the other hand, they didn’t give up much over the week as well and they didn’t do much at all to harm a solid roster that looked like they were finally on the right track pushing into the playoffs last season.

The Bruins could be in store for an action-packed Day Two of the draft on Saturday full of promising prospects and bountiful trades, but it sure feels like the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago isn’t going to be a very memorable one for the Black and Gold.