Celtics cut down Nets in fourth quarter, 94-80


Celtics cut down Nets in fourth quarter, 94-80

By JessicaCamerato

BOSTON - Doc Rivers had his concerns about Wednesdays game against the New Jersey Nets.

It wasnt because the Boston Celtics were hampered by injuries or the fact that the Nets pulled off an upset last season at the TD Garden.

Rather it was because it was February 16 - their final contest before the All-Star Break.

I always call this the one individual game of the year, because its the game before All-Star Break and both teams have just too much stuff, he said prior to the game. The Nets probably have plans, guys are leaving out tonight or tomorrow, and our guys are doing the same thing so its a single-game focus. Im more concerned about that.

The Celtics' 94-80 victory wasnt pretty but it wasnt expected to be, given the circumstances. Paul Pierce led all players with 31 points and Kevin Garnett recorded a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds). Brook Lopez led the Nets with 18 points.

Listen, every games not going to be beautiful, said Rivers following the win. You would love to blow every team out - thats not going to happen. Its the NBA. We just want to win the game.

The Celtics starters kicked off the game like they were ready to quickly wrap up a win. Pierce, who scored just one point against the Miami Heat on Sunday, recorded 10 points in the first 11 minutes. The Celtics led by 15 with 2:29 to go before the Nets began to fight back. They went on a 10-2 run in the final two minutes to trail, 27-22, at the end of the first quarter.

The first quarter we came out very explosive, said Kevin Garnett. You could tell right away that we were trying to get this game out of the way.

After a poor shooting performance by the Celtics in the second quarter (37.5 FG), they were outscored 24-19. Brook Lopez, who made just one basket in the first quarter, finished the half with 10 points. The Nets tied the game, 46-46, at halftime.

The offensive woes continued for the Celtics in the third quarter as they shot 7-for-21 from the field. While they tied the game up three times, they failed to connect on go-ahead baskets and found themselves tied, 70-70, heading into the fourth quarter.

With their shots inconsistent, the Celtics turned to their foundation - defense.

I was upset at halftime because I thought our starters came out with unbelievable spirit to start the game, and then our second unit - and it happens - our second unit watched how much we were scoring and they forgot that the reason we were scoring was because we were playing such great defense, said Rivers.

The entire team was on the same page to finish up the game. Even with Pierce and Rajon Rondo playing less than five minutes in the fourth quarter, the Celtics held the Nets to only three field goals.

The Cs, on the other hand, began knocking down three-pointers and getting to the line - 10 of their 24 points in the final 12 minutes came from free throws. The Celtics outscored the Nets by 14 in the final quarter for their 40th win of the season.

They improved to 25-5 at home, passing last season's win total at the TD Garden.

We realized how close the game was and we needed to get it done, said Glen Davis. We cant play like that. Being the last game of the first half of the season, we needed to leave a better impression on what we have to do, because this next half, we need to go. We cant slip up in game we need to win. We need to win them.

The Celtics next game is February 22 against the Golden State Warriors in California.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win


Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win

BOSTON –  This is not where Al Horford thought he would be right now.
Back in May, the Atlanta Hawks had just been swept out of the playoffs by the soon-to-be NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Disappointed with the outcome obviously, Horford was a free agent-to-be who was confident that he would be back in Atlanta and the Hawks would retool by adding to their core group which he was a major part of, and they would be back to making another run at it this season.
First there was the draft night trade of point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers. 
And during Horford's negotiations with the Hawks in July, they were also negotiating with Dwight Howard and ultimately signed the Atlanta native to a three-year, $70.5 million contract. 
Before the Howard deal was complete, the Celtics had already made a strong impression on Horford during their presentation to him. 
So the choice was pretty clear.
Return to Atlanta and potentially have a major logjam up front with himself, Howard and Paul Millsap, or join a Celtics team that’s on the rise where his five-tool skillset – passing, rebounding, defending, scoring and making those around him better – could be put to great use on a team that’s clearly on the rise. 
Horford chose the latter, giving both himself and the Celtics exactly what they wanted – stability and a chance to win at the highest of levels.
The first shot to see how this basketball marriage looks on the floor will be tonight when the Celtics kick off the 2016-2017 season at the TD Garden against the Brooklyn Nets. 
The preseason isn’t the best indicator of what’s on the horizon now that games count, but Horford’s presence was undeniable.
Boston’s starters which includes Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson, each finished with a positive, double-digit plus/minus in the preseason. 
“He just makes the game so much easier for all of us,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He can do so many things out there at both ends of the floor. He’s going to be big for us this season.”
And his impact can be felt both on the floor and inside the locker room, similar to what he brought to the Atlanta Hawks.
“With the way that I go about it is, I’m trying to win,” Horford told CSNNE.com. “I’m gonna work, put in my work, try to help guys get better not only on the court but off the court as well. That’s how I carry myself.”
 And it is that approach to the game that has made his transition to the Celtics a relatively seamless one. 
Horford holds many fond memories of his time in Atlanta, a place that will always be near and dear to his heart. 
But he’s a Celtic now, coming in with the same single-minded focus that drives this organization to continue pursuing the only thing that truly matters to them – an NBA title. 
"Even though I’m leaving a lot behind, as a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”

Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation


Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation

BOSTON – You’ll have to pardon Terry Rozier if he doesn’t have that deer-in-the-headlights look about him when he takes to the floor tonight for what should be the first of many meaningful stretches of playing time.
You see, being harassed with the defensive pressure of Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart while trying to become a pest to Isaiah Thomas (which I’m told Rozier is frequently in practice), has instilled in Rozier the kind of confidence that’s not easily shaken.
That’s one of the main reasons why the Celtics aren’t freaking out about the departure of Evan Turner to Portland this offseason and more recently the sprained left ankle injury to Marcus Smart that’ll keep him out for a few games.
When it comes to filling those two voids, all eyes will be on Rozier.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next guy has to step up,” Thomas said. “Terry has shown he’s ready for that opportunity. He’s worked very hard this summer. I’m proud of him. I’ve been in that position before. He’s been waiting for that opportunity. He’s ready.”
Rozier had an impressive run during summer league as Boston’s best player. And in training camp, he hasn’t let up in being one of the standout performers.
It has led to the second-year guard being exactly where he thought his hard work in the offseason would take him to, and that’s a prominent spot in the Celtics’ rotation.
And in doing so, Rozier knows it’ll likely mean taking some minutes from his veteran teammates like Isaiah Thomas who he credits for always being there to help him grow as a player.
“I’m trying to get better, but I want to play too,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “Getting his (Thomas’) minutes, anybody’s minutes, I’m going for it. But I know he’s not going to lighten up and make it easy for me. I know that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
It certainly looks like it for Rozier who has shown growth in just about every phase of his game since he was selected by Boston with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
There were many who questioned Danny Ainge’s decision to draft a guard so high when he already had Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart in the fold.
But Rozier has shown the promise that Ainge saw in him coming out of Louisville.

Now it’s just a matter of Rozier getting the kind of minutes and producing, that will ultimately validate the trust and faith Ainge and his coaching staff showed in selecting Rozier.
For Rozier, not being looked upon all that favorably is just par for the course when it comes to his basketball career.
“I’ve been doubted all my life,” Rozier said. “It ain’t hurt me. I always tell myself, ‘they’re gonna fall in love with me because I play hard and they’re gonna fall in love with my intensity level. People didn’t know who I was when I came here; that’s fine. They’ll fall in love with me and my game sooner or later.”