Celtics fall to youthful Clippers, 108-103

191544.jpg

Celtics fall to youthful Clippers, 108-103

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Boston Celtics' plan was a simple one: Limit the highlight-reel plays generated by Los Angeles Clippers All-Star and rookie phenom, Blake Griffin.

There's just one problem with that.

They forgot the other four guys on the floor with him can make plays as well.

The C's know that now after the Clippers dominated the Celtics -- yes, those Clippers -- from the beginning until the bitter end of a 108-103 loss for Boston (46-16).

After struggling for three-plus quarters, Boston mounted a furious last-second rally.

Trailing 104-100 with possession of the ball and 25.3 seconds remaining, the C's called a time out.

Out of the time out, Paul Pierce took a contested 3-pointer that was off the mark. DeAndre Jordan grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled with 15.6 seconds to play.

Jordan sank both free throws, but the Celtics weren't ready to roll over just yet.

A 3-pointer by the 3-point king, Ray Allen, made it a one-possession game with 10.5 seconds to play.

Following a Clippers time out, Randy Foye was fouled with 9.1 seconds to play. He made both of his free throws to make it a 108-103 game to secure the win.

The ending was symbolic of the kind of night it was for the Celtics. Every big play by Boston was met with an even bigger one by the Clippers.

With the loss, Boston's five-game winning streak is over, while the Clippers (25-40) continue to surge ahead by winning their fourth straight game.

So much of the attention leading up to the game was on Griffin, who had 12 points and seven rebounds to go with five assists.

But it was Griffin's less-heralded teammates that inflicted most of the damage.

DeAndre Jordan had 21 points, most of which came on Blake Griffin-esque dunks.

However, the Clippers and the Celtics are at opposite ends of the winning spectrum this season.

And in the third quarter, we saw why.

Boston, which fell behind by as many as 20 points in the first half, cut the Clippers lead to just 11 points following a 3-pointer by Pierce.

They had a chance to make it a single digit game, but Jeff Green missed a lightly contested jumper.

Still, the C's were feeling pretty confident going into the fourth down 76-66.

With more than five minutes to play, the C's were very much back in the game, but the energy Boston exerted to get back in the game started to catch up with them, as players started missing a number of the shots that they had made earlier during fourth quarter surge.

Former Celtic Ryan Gomes delivered one of the biggest shots of the night, a 3-pointer in front of the Celtics bench, with four minutes to play that gave the Clippers a 10-point lead.

That was one of many baskets made by the youthful Clippers down the stretch, as they snapped a three-game losing skid to the Celtics at the TD Garden.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Terry Rozier believes he can build off his postseason opportunity

celtics-roziers.jpg

Terry Rozier believes he can build off his postseason opportunity

BOSTON – If you look at Terry Rozier’s basketball odyssey, it is filled with moments in which the 6-foot-2 guard got a shot to make an impact and more often than not, he did.

During Boston’s first-round playoff series against Atlanta, Rozier went from a seldom-used reserve into a viable option off the bench that head coach Brad Stevens turned to a lot.

In fact, Rozier’s playing time in the playoffs more than doubled (19.8 minutes) from the minutes he logged per game (8.0) during the regular season.

“With this business, how it works, it’s all about opportunity,” Rozier said. “And my opportunity just happened to come (in the playoffs).”

And Rozier for the most part made the most of it.

It was an opportunity Rozier believes he can build on during the offseason with a goal being to cement a spot for himself in the team’s regular rotation.

He understands all too well that his opportunity to play more was due in large part to Avery Bradley suffering a right hamstring injury of the fourth quarter of Boston’s Game 1 loss at Atlanta.

The increased playing time naturally brought about a bump in his overall stats as his scoring (4.8 points versus 1.8), rebounding (3.4 versus 1.6) and effective shooting percentage (.478 versus .302) all underwent a significant increase.

“I try to take advantage of it as much as I can,” Rozier said of his increased role. “Whether it was rebounding, whatever the coach needed me to do. Like I said, I was happy to be out there just to enjoy the time with a lot of my teammates. It’s been a great year. I had a lot of fun.”

But as Rozier will soon find out, past success doesn’t necessarily correlate with improved play going forward.

In addition to putting in the necessary work to improve physically, Rozier knows he has to step his game up mentally, too.

The best players in the league have a certain swagger, an elite level of confidence about them that often separates them from the masses.

Rozier isn’t quite there yet, but having been given an opportunity to see his most action in the postseason can only help.

“I’m gonna feel more confident,” he said. “Not too many rookies can say they played in the playoffs. It’s definitely going to give me a boost for summer league. I’ll have the ball in my hands a lot. It’s definitely going to be a confidence booster.”

Among the areas that Rozier sees as an absolute-must for him next season is being more vocal with his teammates.

“This year was more learning, watching it and all the veterans,” he said. “Next year, I think I can take on a bigger role.”

Boston’s Evan Turner agrees.

“He’s going to be a good player in this league,” Turner told CSNNE.com. “He already defends at an NBA-level, a high level, so that’s half the battle right there. He just has to get more comfortable with his game, with his teammates and he’ll be fine.”

One thing that hasn’t been a problem for Rozier thus far in the NBA is rebounding.

This past season, he averaged 9.7 rebounds per 48 minutes which ranked 8th in the NBA. And his offensive rebound average per 48 minutes (3.7) was tops among players who logged at least 300 minutes this past season.

“It goes back to me just the way I grew up,” Rozier said. “Rebounding was always my thing. It’s something you can’t teach; it’s part of toughness. That’s something, I don’t think it’s ever going to leave me.”

Rozier said his goal next season is to average at least five rebounds per game which would put him in some pretty exclusive company.

This past season, only 12 guards averaged at least five rebounds who logged more than 300 minutes per game.

But as Rozier has shown us thus far, he can be an impactful player when given an opportunity – something he believes he will get more of next season.

“I can’t wait until next season,” Rozier said. “I felt (our season) was cut a little short. But unfortunately, things come to an end. We’ll be back next season. We’ll be better; I’ll be better. That’s the most important thing.”

Ingram, not Simmons, set to attend NBA Combine

slide6-brandon-ingram.jpg

Ingram, not Simmons, set to attend NBA Combine

BOSTON – The list of players who will be in attendance at the NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago next week has been released.

And not surprisingly, there are some projected near the top of the NBA draft board who will not be in attendance.

LSU’s one-and-done stud Ben Simmons, projected to be among the top two players selected, will not be in attendance.

Joining Simmons among the more notable players who won’t be in Chi-town is Croatian big man Dragan Bender whose current team Maccabi Tel Aviv is still in the middle of their season. He is projected by most as being the third overall pick. 

Providence star guard Kris Dunn, projected as a top-10 pick, will be among those in attendance, as well as his Friars teammate Ben Bentil.

The Celtics usually cast a pretty wide net at the combine, but this year it’ll likely be even wider due to the fact that Boston has eight picks that represents 13.3 percent of the draft.

Boston has three first-round picks, with the first to be determined during the draft lottery later this month. The pick comes from Brooklyn, and will be no worse than the sixth overall selection.

The Celtics also have the 16th and 23rd overall picks in the first round, along with five (31st, 35th, 45th, 51st and 58th) in the second round.

Here's the full list of prospects attending the NBA Combine:

Player College/Club
 Ron Baker Wichita State
 Wade Baldwin Vanderbilt
 Cat Barber North Carolina State
 Malik Beasley Florida State
 DeAndre Bembry St. Joseph's
 Ben Bentil Providence
 Jaron Blossomgame Clemson
 Joel Bolomboy Weber State
 Malcolm Brogdon Virginia
 Jaylen Brown California
 Robert Carter Maryland
 Marquese Chriss Washington
 Elgin Cook Oregon
 Isaiah Cousins Oklahoma
 Deyonta Davis Michigan State
 Cheick Diallo Kansas
 Kris Dunn Providence
 Henry Ellenson Marquette
 Perry Ellis Kansas
 AJ English Iona
 Kay Felder Oakland
 Dorian Finney-Smith Florida
 Michael Gbinije Syracuse
 Daniel Hamilton Connecticut
 AJ Hammons Purdue
 Josh Hart Villanova
 Nigel Hayes Wisconsin
 Buddy Hield Oklahoma
 Brandon Ingram Duke
 Demetrius Jackson Notre Dame
 Justin Jackson North Carolina
 Brice Johnson North Carolina
 Damian Jones Vanderbilt
 Skal Labissiere Kentucky
 Dedric Lawson Memphis
 Jake Layman Maryland
 Marcus Lee Kentucky
 Caris LeVert Michigan
 Thon Maker Orangeville Prep/Athlete Institute
 Patrick McCaw UNLV
 Isaiah Miles St. Joseph's
 Jamal Murray Kentucky
 Malik Newman Mississippi State
 Georges Niang Iowa State
 Chinanu Onuaku Louisville
 Marcus Paige North Carolina
 Gary Payton II Oregon State
 Jakob Poeltl Utah
 Taurean Prince Baylor
 Zhou Qi Xinjiang (China)
 Malachi Richardson Syracuse
 Wayne Selden Kansas
 Pascal Siakam New Mexico State
 Diamond Stone Maryland
 Caleb Swanigan Purdue
 Melo Trimble Maryland
 Tyler Ulis Kentucky
 Jarrod Uthoff Iowa
 Denzel Valentine Michigan State
 Isaiah Whitehead Seton Hall
 Troy Williams Indiana
 Kyle Wiltjer Gonzaga
 Stephen Zimmerman UNLV

Is Danny Ainge or Larry Bird a better NBA GM?

angeorbird505_1280x720_680385091972.jpg

Is Danny Ainge or Larry Bird a better NBA GM?

Danny Ainge and Larry Bird were both hired as NBA general managers in 2003. Ainge was back with the Celtics, where he spent the prime seasons of his playing career. And Bird went back to the Pacers, where he coached for three seasons.

There's no question that Bird was the better player. But who has been the better GM?

Trenni Kusnierek has a very interesting argument for why Ainge gets the edge. Watch the video above for her reasoning.