Notes: Celtics hear boos from L.A. crowd


Notes: Celtics hear boos from L.A. crowd

By A.Sherrod Blakely

LOS ANGELES In the Staples Center, no one expected the Boston Celtics' All-Star foursome to get a standing ovation or even a noticeable round of applause when introduced.

But the loudest jeers seemed to be directed at Paul Pierce, who grew up just a few miles to the south of Los Angeles, along Interstate-110, in Ingelwood, Calif.

"Well, you know, the L.A. fans, that's them," Pierce said. "I'm not from L.A., so I expect it."

The boos were especially noticeable when Doc Rivers, who coached the East squad, inserted all four players into the game at the 6:37 mark of the first quarter.

As the public-address announcer introduced each player, Pierce was clearly the Celtics player they booed the loudest.

One of the few times Rivers cracked a smile came when the four players - Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo - entered the game to a chorus of boos.

"I thought it was beautiful," Rivers said. "You knew they were. That's why I put them in together. The fact that it was L.A., you knew they would not get a rousing ovation. But that was fine. Our guys expected it and it was fun. Our guys got a good laugh about it."

Kobe Bryant won his fourth All-Star MVP with 37 points.

But none stood out more than the two he got in the first half when he dunked the ball on LeBron James, and then tapped James on his backside afterward.

"That was funny," said Bryant, who also added 14 rebounds to his game-high point total. "I saw it coming and I wanted to see if I could avoid the LeBron chase down. But I told him afterwards, if I had tried to go over the rim, like get up, he probably would have blocked it with his armpit. I just tried to be quick and just tried to time it up just the right way and I managed to do it. I kind of snuck it by him."

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook played in their first All-Star Game together on Sunday.

Chances are pretty good that it won't be their last.

They are part of a new wave of NBA greatness that's starting to take shape.

"Our chemistry continues to just get better and better every day," said Durant, who had 32 points. "That was one part that I think back over the weekends, we were always together, people were always seeing us together."

And it wasn't just on game day, either.

Durant talked about how even after they did various events and public appearances this past weekend, "we always came back together," Durant said.

Westbrook is a Los Angeles native who played at UCLA. Durant was especially pleased to see his teammate get a chance to showcase his skills in front family and friends.

"I'm so happy for Russell," Durant said. "For him to come out and play the way he played tonight, I felt proud. Hopefully this is the first of many more and we continue to just keep working as a group, our whole team, and continue to keep getting better."

Durant wasn't too shabby, scoring 34 points on 11-for-23 shooting from the field.

"Shots felt good," Durant said. "Hopefully the next couple of days, they will feel good as well."

Ray Allen led all Celtics All-Stars on Sunday with nine points. That included a pair of 3-pointers, which gives him 22 made 3s in all-star games which is more than any player in NBA history. Trailing Allen is Kobe Bryant, who made a pair of 3s on Sunday and now has 19 made 3s in all-star games.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

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 “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 “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 “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.”