Celtics waive Joseph, Varnado; position selves for multiplayer trade

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Celtics waive Joseph, Varnado; position selves for multiplayer trade

NEW YORK In the first of what will likely be more moves by the Boston Celtics, the C's have waived rookies Jarvis Varnado and second-round pick Kris Joseph.

Varnado's departure was expected with the Jan. 10 deadline for contracts to be guaranteed and the C's not seeing him as a player that fit into their plans.

But Joseph being waived caught many - including his agent Chris Luchey - off guard.

"I wasn't totally shocked, because you know this is part of the business," he told CSNNE.com. "But yeah, it's definitely disappointing."

Although the Celtics have shown improvement of late, it is clear that the front office believes they still need a piece or two to add to the mix in order to play at the level they believe they should be at.

That more than anything is why Joseph's agent believes his client is no longer a Celtic.

"There are certain organizations like the Celtics, like the Los Angeles Lakers, that have a certain expectation every year," Luchey said. "When they aren't there, they look to make changes or position themselves to make changes. You might say Kris is a sacrificial lamb because the team he's with, isn't doing as well as they were expected to."

And the improvements that the Celtics are looking to make won't likely come by picking up players waived by other teams.

Two league sources contacted on Sunday said that the Celtics will look to bolster their roster via a multi-player trade.

And now that the C's are starting to play better, the C's will have more attractive trading pieces to work with.

While it's unlikely the Celtics will look to move any member of their big Three - Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett - league sources confirmed that there's "growing" interest in Courtney Lee who might become more expendable with the return of Avery Bradley.

Brandon Bass is another possible Celtic on the move, one league source said.

"But it's not like the Celtics are shopping those guys," the second source said. "They have some good players who haven't played as well I think as those players would want or what the Celtics expected."

As for Joseph, Luchey told him to get away for a couple days and then the two will sit down and figure out what his next step will be.

And while Luchey acknowledges he doesn't know specifically what the C's next move will be, they are positioning themselves to handle any kind of trade whether it be small or a blockbuster one.

"In this business when you're talking trades, sometimes you need a roster spot or two to make it happen," Luchey said. "And clearly the Celtics are able to do that now."

NCAA TOURNAMENT: South Carolina headed to Final Four, beats Florida 77-70

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NCAA TOURNAMENT: South Carolina headed to Final Four, beats Florida 77-70

NEW YORK - It's only right that South Carolina's first trip to Final Four was earned through its defense.

A team known for a swarming zone used it effectively down the stretch to beat Florida 77-70 on Sunday and win the East Regional at Madison Square Garden.

Sindarius Thornwell scored 26 points for the seventh-seeded Gamecocks (26-10) against the fourth-seeded Gators (27-9) in the all-Southeastern Conference matchup.

South Carolina will face Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed from the West Regional, in the Final Four on Saturday at Glendale, Arizona.

"Gamecock Nation, we heard you loud and clear," coach Frank Martin roared as the team prepared to cut down the nets. "We'll see you in Phoenix."

The game was as close as expected until the final minute. There were 14 lead changes and 10 ties. The last lead change came on two free throws by Thornwell with 2:24 left that made it 65-63. Florida managed just three field goals over the final 3:55.

Thornwell, the regional MVP, followed the deciding free throws with a nice assist to Maik Kotsar for a 4-point lead. It seemed Thornwell, who scored eight straight points for the Gamecocks, was always where he needed to be including making a steal with 40 seconds left that turned into a 73-68 lead.

"I just made plays," Thornwell said. "Plays needed to be made down the stretch and I stepped up and made plays."

"Thornwell was just being Thornwell," Florida coach Mike White said of the SEC player of the year. "He's one of the best players in the country."

PJ Dozier added 17 points for the Gamecocks, Chris Silva had 13 and Kotsar 12.

It all totaled to a Final Four trip for Martin, he of the booming voice and terrifying faces.

Justin Leon had 18 points for the Gators who managed a 40-33 halftime lead on 7-for-12 shooting from 3-point range. But that was it. Florida was 0 for 14 from beyond the arc in the second half, a lot like the 0-for-17 effort the Gators had in their first meeting with South Carolina this season.

South Carolina, which forced Florida into 16 turnovers, finished 23 for 31 from the free throw line, including a 9-for-10 effort from Thornwell.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.