Celtics survive fourth quarter to beat Jazz, 107-102

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Celtics survive fourth quarter to beat Jazz, 107-102

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

SALT LAKE CITY It's been a tumultuous week for the Boston Celtics.

One of their leaders, Kendrick Perkins, was traded to Oklahoma City.

Coach Doc Rivers left the team briefly to be with his ill mother in Chicago.

Delonte West was finally getting comfortable with his now-healed broken right wrist, but then he suffered a right ankle sprain that kept him out of Monday's game against Utah.

Even with all the setbacks, the C's continued to show the kind of resolve that has made them one of the NBA's elite teams this season.

It certainly came in handy on Monday as the Celtics were able to fend off the scrappy Utah Jazz and escape with a 107-102 win.

"I appreciate every time we play, with all the stuff we have going on," said Rivers. "Injuries, the trades . . . I appreciate this team. They just tend to find a way to win games. That has to bode well for us later, when we get everybody together."

For now, the Celtics will continue to cut and paste together lineups that, regardless of the opponent, somehow manage to make enough plays when needed.

"This has been very satisfying," said Paul Pierce. "Coming in, it's been a long trip, especially for the guys that were in the All-Star game. It's been a very challenging trip, mentally, physically, so this is a big win."

Pierce added, "It's one of our biggest road wins of the year so far."

Coming up with big wins, home or away, has been among the many reasons why the Celtics (43-15) have been atop the Eastern Conference standings for most of this season.

Even though they have a totally new look, both in terms of their players and their head coach, beating the Jazz on their home floor is never an easy task.

Although Utah spent most of Monday trailing, there was never a point in the game when the Jazz seemed out of it.

They gave the Celtics all they could handle, especially down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

Boston went into the fourth with a four-point lead, but the Jazz went ahead 84-83 following a dunk by newly acquired big man Derrick Favors.

The Jazz faithful were up cheering their team, only to be quieted 19 seconds later when Rajon Rondo scored on a driving lay-up.

Favors, who had nine points off the bench, put Utah ahead with 7:36 to play.

That lead didn't last long, as Glen Davis made a pair of free throws just 20 seconds later to put the Celtics back on top.

It was clear that this game was going to come down to the wire, with 8 of the 10 lead changes coming in the fourth quarter.

Pierce, who had 21 points, put the game away with a pair of free throws with 11.8 seconds remaining.

And with those free throws, the C's capped off their four-game West Coast trip with a 3-1 record.

You can count Kevin Garnett, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds, among those pleased with the way the Celtics responded to what was one of the more trying weeks since he arrived in Boston in 2007.

"It's been a crazy week. Know what I mean?" Garnett said.

Even though Garnett has welcomed his new teammates, it's clear that it's going to take him some time to get past not having Kendrick Perkins around anymore.

"People don't really think about the emotions, the connections you make in this game, the friends you make on this journey in which you're in the league," Garnett said. "It's difficult at times, to be honest. But you have to separate the two, come out and perform at a high level and you have no excuses."

Even with all the injuries and issues on and off the court, the Celtics have refused to allow those to get in the way of what really matters: winning games.

And Monday's victory over Utah was the latest example of this.

"We just found a way to win," Pierce said. "It wasn't the prettiest win. But we'll take it."

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

Celtics like Butler, but Bulls not making him easy to acquire

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Celtics like Butler, but Bulls not making him easy to acquire

BOSTON – It’s no secret that the Boston Celtics are among the many teams that would love to swing a deal to acquire Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.

Well for now at least, it appears the Bulls aren’t willing to budge off moving their all-star small forward.

A league source tells CSNNE.com that the Bulls, while still open to listening to offers for Butler, are telling teams that are inquiring about his availability that their plan for now is to keep him in the fold.

And while there was some thought that a top-3 pick coupled with a few decent players might be enough to entice the Bulls to pull the trigger on a deal to trade Butler, CSNNE.com has been told such an offer would have to include at least one “legitimate, NBA starter” for the Bulls to even possibly consider trading him.

“And that might be a stretch,” the source indicated.

Any deal involving Butler to Boston from Chicago’s perspective, would most likely have to include Jae Crowder who is one of the best bargains in the NBA – and will be so for years to come.

With the increased salary cap on the horizon this summer for teams, the five-year, $35 million deal Crowder signed last summer is looking like an absolute steal on the Celtics’ part.

Meanwhile, Butler just completed the first year of a five-year, $92.3 million contract which raises questions if you’re the Celtics as to whether the difference in their salaries makes doing such a deal worth it.

If you’re the Celtics, such a deal would be a significant bump in paid-out salaries but it would also better position Boston to acquire a second superstar a la Kevin Durant who will be a free agent this summer.

There are a number of options for the Celtics to consider in their current rebuilding process, with one possibility being to fall back on the ‘07 “blueprint for success.”

Boston used the No. 5 overall pick (Jeff Green) as part of a trade with Seattle (now Oklahoma City) that helped the Celtics land Ray Allen.

A couple of months later, Boston was able to engineer a trade for Kevin Garnett who played for Minnesota at the time.

And the rest was Banner 17 history.

Without acquiring Allen, there was no way the Celtics were going to land Garnett.

And if the goal for the Celtics is to catapult itself to being a title contender sooner rather than later, they’re going to have to acquire an elite, all-star caliber talent before they have a serious shot at Durant.

Could Butler be this year’s Ray Allen?

At this point, the Bulls have no intention of allowing that to happen.

More likely than not, the Celtics will have to go in a different direction which may result in Boston pulling off a deal for Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins.

Like the Bulls, the Kings are saying all the right things now about not wanting to trade him.

Celtics work out Finney-Smith, five others on Wednesday

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Celtics work out Finney-Smith, five others on Wednesday

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Boston Celtics brought in six players for workouts on Wednesday. Here’s a glimpse at each player, all of whom are considered potential second-round selections or prospects likely to go undrafted.
 

Dorian Finney-Smith

6-8, 220, Florida

Position: Forward

Summary: Was second-team All-SEC by coaches and third-team all-conference by the AP. Led Gators in scoring (14.3) and rebounds (8.3) for the second and third consecutive seasons, respectively.

Projected draft status: Second round.

 

Quincy Ford

6-8, 225, Northeastern

Position: Guard/Forward

Summary: Averaged 16.4 points, 7.0 rebounds while shooting 34.8 percent on 3s. Underwent season-ending back surgery that sidelined him for the 2013-2014 season. Bounced back with a pair of solid seasons, the last of which earned him a spot of on the NABC All-District Second team as well as the All-CAA Second team.

Projected draft status: Late second, undrafted.

 

Marcus Georges-Hunt

6-5, 216, Georgia Tech

Position: Guard

Summary: Averaged 16.7 points, shooting 45.4 percent from the field while dishing out a team-high 3.3 assists per game. Has a knack for getting to the free throw line, evident by him ranking 13th in free throws made and 18th in free throw attempts.

Projected draft status: Undrafted, maybe late second round.

 

Sheldon McClellan

6-5, 200, Miami

Position: Guard

Summary: A transfer from Texas, McClellan averaged 16.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists for Miami this past season while shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 40.6 percent on 3s. Has a lot of tools that are intriguing to the NBA, but consistency and decision-making are areas of uncertainty about where he’ll eventually land.

Projected draft status: Second round pick.

 

Mike Tobey

7-0, 260, Virginia

Position: Center

Summary: Turned a few heads during Portsmouth Invitational when he averaged 12 points per game. Appeared in all 37 games this season with Virginia, but only had seven starts. Shot a team-best 60.1 percent from the field and was second on the team with 22 blocked shots.

Projected draft status: Undrafted.

 

Jameel Warney

6-8, 260, Stony Brook

Position: Power forward

Summary: The best player in Stony Brook history, Warney was a double-double machine this season in which he averaged 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds to go with 3.0 blocked shots. An Honorable mention All-American, Warney was the America East Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Does not have much of a face-the-basket game but does provide a nice strong presence defensively.

Projected draft status: Second round to undrafted.

Draper: Better financial option for Durant to stay in OKC one more year

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Draper: Better financial option for Durant to stay in OKC one more year

A. Sherrod Blakely and Kyle Draper discuss the chances the Boston Celtics land Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler or DeMarcus Cousins.