Celtics take down the Magic, 91-80


Celtics take down the Magic, 91-80

By A.Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON Sometimes the greatest inspiration comes about in moments of tragedy.

We saw that on Sunday afternoon.

The Boston Celtics showed no signs of life against the Orlando Magic until one of their own, Marquis Daniels, went down because of a neck injury.

As he laid motionless, face-down on the floor, his teammates slowly gathered nearby, one by one to offer support.

In a season in which the Celtics have been challenged in so many ways on and off the court, here was yet another moment in which that tougher-than-teflon bond that Celtics players talk about, was put to the test.

And once again, they collectively rose to the occasion in rallying for a 91-80 win over Orlando.

Rajon Rondo led the way with a season-high 26 points, to go with game-high seven assists.

But maybe the biggest assist of the night came from Daniels, whose injury seemed to light a fuse in his teammates.

Paul Pierce has seen plenty of teams go into a funk when a teammate goes down, essentially using that as an excuse to lose.

But the Celtics once again proved they're mental make-up is different from most teams.

"I think we kind of fed off Daniels' injury," Pierce said. "It was kind of like, 'Let's do this for 'Quis.' I was on the bench at the time, but it was like our energy went up. That's what started the run."

With the victory, Boston (38-12) has now won the head-to-head series with the Magic, a nice little card to have in hand in case these two finish with an identical record.

For Orlando (32-20), it was another loss that draws the Magic closer to the middle of the Eastern Conference pack, and pads even more distance between them and the top teams in the East like Boston, Miami and Chicago.

Of course, the Magic were short-handed without power forward Brandon Bass, who is out because of an ankle injury.

But the last team with whom you can have a pity party when it comes to injuries, is the Celtics.

Even before Daniels' injury, it, appeared the Celtics were going to have to finish out Sunday's game with fewer players than they began it with.

Glen Davis suffered a head bruise in the second half, and appeared as though he might not be able to return.

After heading back to the locker room in the second quarter for further examination, he was deemed fit enough to return and was on the floor in the second half.

Prior to the game, coach Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com that Shaquille O'Neal (right Achilles tendon) would not play on Sunday. Rivers later told a group of reporters that O'Neal might be sidelined until the All-Star break.

Even with all the banged up bodies, the Celtics refused to let Sunday's game get away from them.

And when all was said and done, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was once again placing the blame for his team's struggles squarely upon himself.

"I just could not find anything for us to run to get a decent shot," Van Gundy said. "I didn't know who to play, I really did a poor job today."

Orlando, one of the NBA's better 3-point shooting teams, missed 21 of its 24 3-point attempts.

When the Magic struggle like that from the perimeter, that puts their chances of winning squarely upon the broad shoulders of Dwight Howard.

He did his part, scoring a game-high 28 points to go with 13 rebounds.

The C's had no problem with Howard having a big night offensively.

"We felt Dwight couldn't beat us by himself," Pierce said.

And as it turned out, the C's probably could not have beaten the Magic without Daniels' injury providing a much-needed emotional lift.

"We're happy that he's OK. He probably gave us a spark," Pierce said. "Thanks, 'Quis."

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

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf


Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”

Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice

Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice

WALTHAM, Mass. – At the end of Tuesday’s practice, the Boston Celtics donned a new-look jersey that was, well, quite colorful compared to the green-and-white clad uni-tops they usually wear.
It was in support of longtime NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager, who is currently fighting the good fight in a three-year-battle with leukemia, as well as the SagerStrong foundation.
The NBA on TNT, Nike and the Golden State Warriors will honor the 65-year-old Sager on opening night with Sager-inspired t-shirts, shirts that the Celtics wore on Tuesday followed by a team picture in which all the players as well as Boston’s coaches and support staff, yelled "Sager strong."
“A guy that means a lot to this game of basketball, a guy that means a lot to the NBA, the NBA family,” said Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas in describing Sager. “We wish him well, praying for him and his family daily.”
The shirts were inspired by the outfit he wore when he accepted the Jimmy Valvano Award at the ESPYs this past summer.
“The shirts are nice; look like something he would wear,” Thomas said with a grin. “I wouldn’t wear it, but I know he would.”