Chara named All-Star Game captain

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Chara named All-Star Game captain

TAMPA Zdeno Chara was alreadylooking forward to a returnto his former NHLstomping groundin Ottawa for this months All-Star game festivities, and now hell do it in the familiar roleas a captain.

The NHL named the Bs captain and Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson as the acting captains for the two All-Star squads set to play against each other at Scotiabank Place on Jan. 29.

That means Chara and Alfredssonwill be selecting individualplayers at the second annualAll-Star fantasy draft three days prior to the event, and the B's defenseman said hell take the responsibility seriously. Theres no salary cap and its all for fun, but Chara will get to step into the shoes of Peter Chiarelli and 29 other NHL GMs making moves and evaluating players for "Team Chara".

Its gonna be interesting. Its another honor on top of being selected as an All-Star. I found out this morning, so Im a little bit surprised, said Chara. Im going to at least try to see how it is to be in the position that some GMs are in, or people that are making those decisions. In thegroup of players that are being selected I dont think you can make a wrong choice.

Im not going to do too much research, but Im going to do the best job I can to build the best possible team.

It should be asatisfying homecoming for Chara going up against his former Ottawa teammate in Alfredsson, and playing in front of a Sens fan base that's treated him like an enemy since his free agent departure. It should also be interesting to see if the big defenseman gives Phil Kessel a mercy pick this season. It was Kessel, after all, who was the final player selected last year in the memorable first edition of the fantasy draft. It wasan All-Starmoment that could only be defined as "awkward" while Alex Ovechkin snapped pictures of him on the stage, and Kessel appeared to be searching for the nearest rock to crawl under.

Chara and Kessel had their run-ins overNo. 81s toughness and commitment to hard work while Phil the Thrill was in Boston, but the 6-foot-9 defenseman appeared tohave no qualms taking him on his All-Star team. And if Kessel turns about to be the NHL All-Star game version of Mr. Irrelevant again, then hell get another new car out of the deal.

I dont know. Well see how it goes. Somebody has to go last, said Chara with a smile on his face. I dont know if theyll have a car for him or something else . . . well see how it goes.The B's defenseman is, of course, referring to the new Honda car and 20,000 donated to charity that Kessel received last season for being the last player tapped in the All-Star draft.

If Chara and Kessel are All-Star teammates, one thing is certain: it will be a relief to the Toronto sniper as he finally wont have the gargantuan Bs defenseman knocking him all over the ice.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Wizards shoot ridiculous 65 percent from field

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Wizards shoot ridiculous 65 percent from field

After Boston’s last game against Portland – a loss – Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said he was encouraged by some of the things his team did defensively.

It’s safe to say Stevens won’t be singing that tone if the Celtics continue along the path they’re on defensively right now as the Washington Wizards went into the half with a 66-59 lead.

Washington, donning all-black clothes when they arrived at the Verizon Center, were very much looking as though they were digging a basketball grave for the Boston Celtics who allowed the Wizards to shoot a ridiculous 65 percent from the field in the first half and 61.5 percent (8-for-13) from 3-point range.

The Wizards scored the first four points of the game and spent all of the first half playing with a lead.

But the Celtics showed some fight late in the second quarter, going on a 14-6 run to cut Washington’s lead to 55-52 with 3:39 to play in the quarter.

Boston would later have a chance to tie the game, but Marcus Smart’s 3-pointer was off the mark.

And the Wizards, as they had done all game, made the Celtics pay as Bradley Beal drained a jumper that made it a two-possession game.

Here’s a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half.

 

STARS

Bradley Beal

It was his idea to go with the all-Black look, and he backed up his talk with a strong first half of play. He has a team-high 14 points at the half along with five assists.

Isaiah Thomas

Thomas delivered yet another all-star caliber scoring performance in the first half for Boston. He led all scorers with 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting along with a game-high eight assists.  

John Wall

After scoring just nine points when these two met on Jan. 11, Wall has 13 points at the half on 6-for-9 shooting to go with five rebounds and three assists.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

It was an extremely efficient game offensively in the first half for Horford. He had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting with three assists.

Markieff Morris

He’s one of four double-digit scorers in the first half for the Wizards. In addition to his 10 points, he also has five rebounds and three assists.

 

DUDS

Celtics defense

At this end of the floor, the Celtics were absolutely atrocious in the first half. The Wizards shot a ridiculously high 65 percent from the field, and were just as lethal (8-for-13, 61.5 percent) from 3-point land. They have no shot at competing let alone winning tonight’s game, if they don’t turn things around and do so soon!

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Just about every part of Isaiah Thomas’ game offensively has seen tremendous growth this season.

But what has really separated him from earlier versions of himself, has been his 3-point shooting.

He comes into tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards shooting a career best 38.4 percent from 3-point range.

When asked about how he has elevated his game this season, the answer isn’t that simple.

“I don’t know” he told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “The game is slowing down for me. My teammates put me in position, my coach does … and I’m just knocking down shots.”

Because of his shot-making, Thomas has made it difficult for defenses to give him a steady diet of any style of play in trying to limit him.

And because they have to change things up with regularity, that has created more scoring opportunities.

“Sometimes they forget what they want to do (defensively) and leave me open for a three,” Thomas said. “Those are the the types of shots I need to knock down and I’m being aggressive.

He added, “I need to get to the free throw line, trying to make plays for my teammates. It’s one of those things where I’m in a really good zone now; a really good rhythm.”

A good rhythm?

According to NBA statistics guru Dick Lipe, Thomas is the first Celtic ever to make at least four 3-pointers in five straight games. Taking it a step further, he has made at least three 3-pointers in seven straight games which equaled Antoine Walker’s streak in 2001.

Thomas has also attempted 11 three-pointers in five straight games which is a franchise record. There have only been three longer streaks in NBA history - Golden State’s Stephen Curry (7 straight games, 2016); Washington’s Gilbert Arenas (7 straight games, 2005) and Dallas’ George McCloud (6 straight games, 2006).

He’s also averaging 3.1 made 3’s per game which would be a franchise record that’s currently held by Antoine Walker who averaged 2.7 during the 2001-2002 season.

And all those 3’s have added up to Thomas scoring at least 27 points in seven straight games, something that hasn’t been done by a Celtic since Larry Bird had eight such games in March 1988 as well as the 1987-1988 season.