Lee wears many hats against Blazers

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Lee wears many hats against Blazers

BOSTON For weeks, Courtney Lee has been the last man off the floor for Boston following practices.

During his post-practice time, you can often find him working with assistant coaches on his ball-handling, seemingly aware that he just might have to play some point guard for the C's in the very near future.

With Rajon Rondo serving a two-game suspension beginning with Friday night's game against Portland, Lee was back in the starting lineup in the backcourt.

And while Lee is a much different kind of playmaker than Rondo, it didn't hurt that he had a Rondo-like night in helping the Celtics to a 96-78 win.

Lee spent the second half trending towards a triple-double before finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

"Defensively he did a good job on his man," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "He's out there getting four or five assists tonight, he just shows you flashes of what he's capable of."

Said Lee, who has had only two double-digit scoring games this season with both coming when Rondo was out of the lineup: "That's what you gotta do. Rondo is a great playmaker, the guy's gonna rack up a lot of assists, so we just have to play within the offense, move the ball around, and you see the assists were spread out throughout the whole team."

Filling the void left by Rondo was just one of the many hats worn by Lee against the Blazers.

Defensively he spent time chasing around Portland's point guard Damian Lillard, shooting guard Wes Matthews and small forward Nicholas Batum who each present a different challenge that Lee proved he was up to handling. Those three combined to shoot 6-for-25 from the field.

"It's tough, man," Lee said of juggling so many different assignments. "You have to be in good shape. I take it as a challenge. Anytime Doc tells me to guard somebody, it's my personal challenge. That's one thing I can look at individually, if I can keep my man from scoring it's going to better the team defense. I accept those challenges."

Following the game, there were plenty of players that Rivers praised for their play, a group that included Lee.

"Courtney was great," Rivers said. "You could see Courtney is getting better and better at what we're asking him to do. He's bought in completely, which you can see that."

The one area that Lee has surprisingly struggled at is shooting the ball.

A career 38.2 percent shooter on 3s, Lee is connecting on just 21.7 percent of his 3s thus far this season.

When the C's traded for Lee, they added him in part because of his ability to shoot 3s. Only former Celtic Ray Allen was a better corner 3-point shooter than Lee last season.

"His shot will fall," Rivers said. "I feel like with him, with Avery (Bradley) last year, where I kept telling you guys 'Avery can shoot' and you guys were looking at me like I was a Martian. And then he started making them. And Courtney is proving he can. He's getting wide open ones, and eventually they'll fall."

Regardless of whether his shot is falling, Lee says his approach to every game has to be the same.

"I just gotta go in there with the mindset of being aggressive at all times," he said.

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

BOSTON – The Bruins have won seven of eight games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy and are fortifying their position as the third playoff team in the Atlantic Division with each passing victory.

The 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden on Tuesday night probably shouldn’t be all impressive based on the Yotes standing as the second-worst team in the NHL, but it was a classic trap game coming off a long West Coast road trip. Instead of falling for the trap the Bruins exploded for three goals in the second period, energized by a shorthanded Riley Nash strike, and continue to extend the winning stretch they need in order to punch their playoff ticket.

The postseason clincher is still a long way away from reality, but Cassidy said the B’s are starting to achieve the elevated level of play they’re aiming for while finally getting the full potential out of their team.

“I just want the guys to make sure that they play confident, solid hockey and believe in themselves. And play to a [higher] standard,” said Cassidy. “We’re trying to set a standard where we’re one of the better teams in the National Hockey League. They’ve been there before, the leadership group here. That’s where we’re striving to get through in the end.”

They haven’t exactly shied away from the competition either, twice beating the first-place San Jose Sharks and shutting out the first place Montreal Canadiens in the final straw that saw Michel Therrien axed in favor of Claude Julien.

The B’s have now opened up a three-point cushion over the Maple Leafs for their playoff spot and they’ve averaged 4.13 goals per game (33 goals in eight games) while allowing just 2.13 goals per game (17 goals in eight games) in the eight games going from Julien to Cassidy. 

The challenge now is to maintain that level of play over the final 19 games of the regular season to drive home their playoff bid and finish strong at a point where in each of the past two seasons they’ve utterly imploded.


 

Wednesday, March 1: Bruins okay with not dealing

Wednesday, March 1: Bruins okay with not dealing

Here are all the links from around the hockey world as NHL trade deadline day is upon us with no promise of fireworks in Boston.

*As referenced above, there’s a good chance the Bruins won’t be doing much today and they’re perfectly okay with that.

*Craig Custance grades every move made ahead of the trade deadline with plenty of action out of the way early.

*The Vancouver Canucks will not be trading Ryan Miller, which is smart given the normal market for No. 1 goaltenders.

*The New York Rangers lost out on the Kevin Shattenkirk rental sweepstakes at the deadline, so they’ve opted for Brendan Smith instead.

*The Florida Panthers may make a move at the deadline (which they did in acquiring Thomas Vanek) but they will not make or break their team with deadline deals.

*Doug Armstrong says that Shattenkirk was frustrated by his role with the St. Louis Blues, and that played into his trade to the Capitals.

*For something completely different: It’s a national holiday in Canada as Jay and Dan will be returning to their natural habitat.