Milestone victory for Coach K

589700.jpg

Milestone victory for Coach K

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Mike Krzyzewski will keep adding to his record victory total. There is no doubt about that. How long he stays on the Duke bench and how far he goes past No. 903 is anyone's guess. "I just play every game the same and they just kept adding up," Krzyzewski said after the sixth-ranked Blue Devils' 74-69 victory over Michigan State on Tuesday night in the State Farm Champions Classic. That win broke a tie with Bob Knight, his college coach and professional mentor, for the most in Division I. "I think it will mean a lot more when it's all over and I don't know when that will be. I want to win a championship with each team I coach." There were quite few of Krzyzewski's former players at Madison Square Garden to see him break the record. "I can't say I'm surprised because I saw firsthand the level of preparation, the level of passion he put into his program every single day," said Shane Battier, who won an NCAA championship with Krzyzewski. "I know if you gave him enough opportunity he'd give Bobby Knight a run for his money. It's just amazing to be here on this night to see the culmination of this work." Like many others, Battier doesn't think the 64-year-old Krzyzewski will be done adding to the win total for several years. "He's ageless. He looks great. He looks the same as when I was a freshman," Battier said. "There's no reason to think he won't be around for many years to come." With Knight sitting across the court at the ESPN broadcast table, Krzyzewski moved to the top of the list in front of a sellout crowd of 19,979 at Madison Square Garden. Duke is 26-15 all-time, including a 21-7 mark under Krzyzewski, at Madison Square Garden and the Blue Devils have won 12 of their last 14 there. "Setting the record at Madison Square Garden was truly special," Krzyzewski said. "To me this is hallowed ground and it just worked out." Krzyzewski went right across the court to hug Knight when the game ended. Krzyzewski, tears in his eyes, broke away, and Knight pulled him back, hands on his shoulders, then there was one final slap of the shoulder. "I just told Coach I love him," Krzyzewski said. "I wouldn't be in this position without him. It's a moment shared. I know he's very proud, and I'm very proud to have been somebody who's worked under him and studied him and tried to be like him. "I'm not sure how many people tell him they love him but I love him for what he's done for me and I thanked him. He said Boy, you've done pretty good for a kid who couldn't shoot.' I think that means he loves me, too. At least that's how I'm taking that." Junior guard Andre Dawkins had 26 points for Duke (3-0), which took control with a 20-1 run that gave the Blue Devils a 61-41 lead with 9:17 to play. Then it was just a matter of counting down the minutes -- except for a late run by Michigan State that made it a five-point game in the final minute -- until the celebration could get under way. "It means a lot. There's only going to be 13 guys that can say they played on the team that got the 903rd win. I mean, to be one of those 13 guys is an amazing feeling," Dawkins said. "To be honest, I'm not sure that I've really got a grasp of that yet. I'm sure down the road, looking back, when I look back on my career I can say, Wow, that's pretty amazing.'" Dawkins, who had six 3-pointers, and Ryan Kelly hits 3s to start Duke's big run. As Michigan State (0-2) kept missing shots down low, Seth Curry hit another 3 for Duke and then the Blue Devils closed the run by making 6 of 6 attempts at the free throw line. The Spartans kept Krzyzewski coaching to the final minute. They finally started hitting shots and forcing turnovers to close to 74-69 with 12.9 seconds left. Curry had 20 points while Kelly added 14 for the Blue Devils, who were 10 of 21 from 3-point range. Duke led 34-33 at the end of a sloppy first half. "It's a special moment," Krzyzewski said of his family and former players being there. "At halftime I wasn't sure we were going to have this moment. We beat a really good team, and I'm glad now we can just move on and just develop our team." Keith Appling had 22 points for Michigan State, and Brandon Wood added 15. The Spartans finished with 21 turnovers. "I was in a no-win situation," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I was either going to be the guy who threw the ball to Henry Aaron for the record breaker of the guy who shot Bambi." Krzyzewski moved to the top of the list in his 37th season, all but five at Duke. He also coached at West Point, his alma mater where Knight molded a point guard into a coach for the ages. Knight won his 902 games in 42 seasons, six at Army, 29 at Indiana and seven at Texas Tech. Krzyzewski has four national championships while Knight has three. Krzyzewski and Knight both led the United States to an Olympic gold medal, Knight in 1984 and Krzyzewski in 2008. Coach K will have a chance at a second gold when he leads the team of NBA players again in London next summer. Two members of that team -- Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul-- were at the game and both spent a moment with Krzyzewski outside the locker room. "The crowd here was great. Everybody wants to play in Madison Square Garden," Izzo said. "The back hallway full of his former players, there's nothing greater than that. I certainly respect that." Under Krzyzewski, Duke is 453-71 in non-conference games. "I know I'm a very good coach and I get really good guys and then it's up to us to fight like hell to win," Krzyzewski said.

Celtics overcome big game from George to beat Pacers, 109-100

Celtics overcome big game from George to beat Pacers, 109-100

BOSTON – Having already clinched a playoff spot prior to Wednesday’s game, no one would have been shocked to see them come out and play fat-and-happy basketball.

Especially against an Indiana Pacers team that’s hungry for a win to bolster their playoff position.

But the Celtics continue to show us that they are a different team than the one that far too often failed to stack strong performances on top of one another.

That was not the case on Wednesday as they pulled away in the second half for an impressive 109-100 win over the Pacers.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 25 points and five assists. His backcourt mate Avery Bradley was solid as well, scoring 18 points to go with eight rebounds. Jae Crowder and Al Horford each had 15 points while Kelly Olynyk had another strong showing off the bench with 11 points and eight rebounds along with four assists.

With the win, Boston (46-26) swept the regular season series 3-0. While it’s unlikely they will finish in a tie record-wise with the Pacers, there is the possibility that they could meet in the first round of the playoffs next month.

Knowing they haven’t lost to the Pacers all season could be a huge mental plus for Boston if in fact their first-round foe was Indiana.  

Wednesday’s game was the first between these two with most of their respective rosters at full strength.

And the Celtics at full strength, regardless of the opponent, have been pretty tough to beat.

But the Pacers (36-35) weren’t going to make this easy for Boston, even as they fell behind by as many as 17 points to the Celtics.

Paul George, who led all scorers with 37 points, began to lead the Pacers back into the game with a strong fourth quarter showing.

And when Boston’s defense tried to adjust to George’s jacuzzi-hot scoring, he got others like Jeff Teague involved.

Teague, who had 25 points, made a 3-pointer that cut Boston’s lead to 93-86 with 6:31.

That was enough for Celtics head coach Brad Stevens who called a time-out.

After a pair of Isaiah Thomas misses, the Celtics got a little more cushion following a mid-range jumper by Olynyk.

While Indiana continued to get timely offensive rebounds, the Celtics went into bend-but-don’t-break mode defensively down the stretch.

And while the Pacers certainly were in the game, there was never a moment down the stretch when Boston’s impending victory was in doubt.

Both teams set the tone defensively in the first half which was a relatively low-scoring affair.

That should not come as a surprise considering how well each team has played of late at that end of the floor.

Since the All-Star break, Boston has the third-best defense in the NBA while the Pacers aren’t far behind, coming in at No. 6.

A 3-pointer by Bradley to close out the second quarter gave Boston a 49-42 lead at the half.

Boston’s control of the game remained solid through most of the third, but an 8-3 spurt by the Celtics to close out the third put ahead 88-74 going into the fourth.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Strong defense standing out

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Strong defense standing out

BOSTON – Boston and Indiana know there’s a chance they could face off next month in the playoffs, with both teams delivering the kind of defensive performance on Wednesday that highlighted two teams playing with a heightened sense of urgency fueled by tough, physical defense.

It was indeed a “Both Teams Played Hard” kind of first half which ended with Boston ahead 49-42.

Avery Bradley drained a 3-pointer that just beat the halftime horn which gave Boston its biggest lead of the half.  

The tone was set by both teams with a low-scoring first quarter in which the defenses for both teams stood out.

It really should not have been that big a surprise considering how well both teams have defended since the all-star break.

Boston has the third-best defense in the NBA since the break, while the Pacers have proven to be no slouch coming in at No. 6.

After falling behind 37-36 in the second, Boston ran off eight straight to lead 44-37 which was their largest lead of the game at this point.

But the Pacers stayed within striking distance in large part because the Celtics’ unusually high number of turnovers.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Wednesday’s game between the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.

 

STARS

Paul George

A four-time All-Star, George was scoring but the Celtics made him work a lot harder than he would like. He leads all scorers with 14 points, but has done so on 4-for-11 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

Like George, the opposing team’s defense made for a rough first half. Thomas still managed to lead the Celtics with 10 points.

 

STUDS

Jeff Teague

He really went at Isaiah Thomas to start the game, and for the most part it was working for him. He had 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the first half.

Jae Crowder

Solid defense and timely shot-making made for a solid first half for Crowder. He had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting.

Avery Bradley

He did more than deliver a timely shot to end the half for Boston. He had nine points on 4-for-6 shooting in addition to grabbing four rebounds while being one of the main contributors defensively to Paul George not having an efficient night shooting the ball.  

 

DUDS

Celtics turnovers

By far the biggest concern Boston has heading into the second half. The Celtics average 13.2 turnovers per game. They had 14 in the first half, which led to 17 points for the Pacers. Boston’s season-high for turnovers is 24 which they racked up against Philadelphia on Feb. 15.