Notes: Celtics hustle plays beat the Knicks


Notes: Celtics hustle plays beat the Knicks

By A.Sherrod Blakely

NEW YORK Late in Monday night's game, Kevin Garnett forced a jump ball with Amar'e Stoudemire.

The two jumped and it was no contest -- Garnett won the tip, easily.

Earlier in the game, Delonte West out-hustled the Knicks and was fouled near halfcourt, resulting in a clear path foul against New York.

Rajon Rondo hustling down loose balls, Glen Davis grabbing offensive rebounds . . . the Celtics defeated the Knicks 96-86 for a lot of reasons.

Their ability to make all the necessary hustle plays was among the most important.

"That's who we are," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

But there are times when the C's, for whatever reason, tend to forget or get away from what they do best which on many nights, which is to simply out-work and out-hustle teams.

"We did a pretty good job of that in the second half," Delonte West told "It was good enough to win tonight, but we can't just play Celtics basketball for one half and expect to win."

For the second straight game, the Celtics struggled in the first half before surging in the second for a victory.

While pleased with the victory, players understand they can't rely on winning games this way.

Part of the problem on Monday was the second unit's inability to limit the Knicks primary scorer that quarter, Carmelo Anthony.

Rivers says he was to blame in large part for the second unit's struggles against New York.

"I screwed that up," Rivers said. "Delonte has been running point guard for the last week. And then I put Carlos Arroyo in at point and move Delonte to 2 shooting guard. That was all me. I screwed that up completely."

Rivers' gaffe only highlights what continues to be an issue for the Celtics -- integrating the new guys into the regular playing mix.

It's not all that surprising that in the second quarter, easily the worst played by the C's on Monday, it was primarily their second unit guys who struggled.

"This is a new team than the team we had at the start of the season, so we have to get back to putting together four quarters as a unit," said Ray Allen. "Whoever's coming off the bench, understanding exactly what we're doing."

One of Monday night's biggest difference-makers for the Celtics was Rajon Rondo.

The right pinkie finger injury that has bothered him for the past couple of weeks, was not an issue against the Knicks.

Rondo had 13 points and 12 assists, his first double-double since a 15-point, 16-assist effort against Phoenix on March 2.

Despite his recent struggles, his teammates never lost confidence that Rondo was simply going through one of those stretches that all great players endure at some point.

"You have to understand, no one's perfect in this league," Garnett said. "We're all going to have some bad games. Lord knows I know. Rondo just had some difficult games. This is not an easy game to perfect. Every night, hit or miss. Tonight he was really good."

Quotes to note:

"I haven't used the word soft in, maybe four years, but at halftime, that word came out a lot." - Rivers.

"Everything you do over the course of a game, it adds up." - Celtics forward Paul Pierce.

"We got on the floor and got grimy. We made it a dirty game." - Garnett

"They get into you and they make it tough to find a good shot. That's why they're competing for a World Championship and that's what they do." - Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni.

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

Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder


Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Klay Thompson made a playoff-record 11 3-pointers and scored 41 points, and the defending champion Golden State Warriors forced a seventh game in the Western Conference finals with a 108-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

Stephen Curry bounced back from a slow start to finish with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

The Warriors, who set the league's regular-season record with 73 wins, will host Game 7 on Monday. The winner will play Cleveland in the NBA Finals.

Oklahoma City dominated Games 3 and 4 at home, but the Warriors made 21 of 44 3-pointers on Saturday, while Oklahoma City was 3 of 23.

Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Russell Westbrook added 28 for the Thunder. But Durant made just 10 of 31 shots and Westbrook was 10 of 27.

Trying to become the 10th team to overcome a 3-1 deficit, the Warriors trailed much of the game and trailed by eight going to the fourth quarter.

Thompson kept them in it with four 3-pointers in just over seven minutes to start the period. Curry then hit two 3s, the second of which tied the game at 99 with 2:47 to play.

Thompson's 3 with 1:35 to play put the Warriors up 104-101.

The Thunder, who blew a number of fourth-quarter leads during the regular season, fell apart in the final minutes after Golden State had finally gone ahead for good.

Westbrook lost control of the ball, and after Thompson missed a 3, Westbrook turned the ball over again. Curry's layup with 14.3 seconds to play put the Warriors up by five, the Thunder turned it over again, and the Warriors were in the clear.

The Thunder led 23-20 after one quarter, then seized momentum early in the second. Steven Adams' powerful one-handed dunk on Draymond Green drew a roar from the crowd and gave Oklahoma City a 37-28 lead. Green, who had hit Adams in the groin area twice during the series, was a constant target for the vocal Thunder fans.

Thompson opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Warriors a 54-53 edge, but the Thunder closed the quarter strong and led 83-75 heading into the fourth.

Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed


Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed

By Kurt Helin, NBC Pro Basketball Talk

This is a sad and stunning development.

Bryce Dejean-Jones, the rookie guard of the New Orleans Pelicans, has died, the Dallas, Texas, County Coroner has confirmed to NBC Sports. Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune broke the news.

Dejean-Jones was just 23.

The coroner’s office would not give a cause of death, but Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports had the tragic detail.