Rivers on Dooling: 'He's just coming on'

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Rivers on Dooling: 'He's just coming on'

MINNEAPOLIS Keyon Dooling is an 11-year veteran, but he might as well be a wet-behind-the-ear rookie when it comes to gaining the trust of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers to put him on the floor during critical moments.

Dooling's presence has been a huge plus for the C's locker room, but multiple injuries along with a condensed schedule have afforded him few opportunities to prove his worth on the court.

Now that he's healthy, the 6-foot-3 guard is starting to string together the kind of play the Celtics envisioned him providing.

And the timing could not be better, with the C's (28-22) in a tightly contested race for the Atlantic Division crown all while once again dealing with injuries.

There were a number of players who stepped up in Boston's 94-82 win over Utah on Wednesday, but few delivered as big a shot as Dooling's 3-pointer in the fourth quarter that broke open a 66-all tie after the C's squandered an 18-point lead.

"Keyon, he's just coming on," said Rivers.

Boston came into the season planning to play Dooling at both guard positions off the bench, although more time would be spent as Rajon Rondo's backup at the point. That would have allowed Avery Bradley to come off the bench and play the bulk of his minutes behind Ray Allen.

But a sore right knee injury kept Dooling out for seven games in January. Less than a week after returning from that injury, he suffered a hip pointer injury that kept him out for another nine games.

With him out, Bradley played more at the point and has since blossomed into a reliable role player off the bench, or a last-minute fill-in as a starter.

Bradley, a second-year guard who played sparingly as a rookie, has indeed come a long way in gaining Rivers' trust.

And he did it the only way it can be done, and that's making the most of every opportunity to play.

Dooling is starting to follow a similar path with the C's now.

"At the end of the day, everybody's banged up this time of year," Dooling said. "But I'm starting to earn Doc's trust a little more; starting to find my niche and role on this team. I want to continue to try and execute it every night."

That means coming into the game, providing solid defense, steady play in the backcourt and when given an opportunity to make a difference, not shying away from the moment.

Dooling did just that in Wednesday's win.

In addition to the 3-pointer he hit to break a 66-all tie, Dooling would later drill a 20-foot jumper that put the C's up by five points. Boston was able to maintain a two-possession lead or greater for the rest of the night.

Boston went into the fourth clinging to a five-point lead. To see it wiped out less than a minute into the fourth, Rivers would have been justified in yanking the backups and bringing more starters back on the floor.

But Rivers stuck with the second-unit guys like Dooling, and they rewarded him with some clutch plays that went far in extending Boston's home winning streak to seven in a row.

For Dooling, it was just another example of the ebb and flow in his first season with the Celtics.

"Just because you're not a young player means you're exempt from the emotions of the game," Dooling said. "You ride the highs, and sometimes you feel the lows. We're at a point now where a team makes a run, you don't get snatched out. You being out there being able to make plays is a gratifying feeling."

Tiger Woods arrested for DUI in Jupiter, Florida

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Tiger Woods arrested for DUI in Jupiter, Florida

Tiger Woods, recovering from his fourth back surgery in the last three years, was arrested on DUI charges Monday morning in Jupiter, Fla.

Woods, 41, is the winner of 79 PGA tournaments in his career (including 14 majors). He was stopped this morning at around 3 a.m. and booked at 7:18 a.m. He was released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m.

Physical problems have plagued Woods in recent years, but he said last week "unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again." However, he will need months to recover from his most recent surgery.

Get the latest on this story from golfchannel.com

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

BOSTON –  Terry Rozier was having a rough stretch where his minutes were limited and when he did play, he didn’t play particularly well.
 
Among the voices in his ear offering words of encouragement was Avery Bradley who knows all too well what Rozier was going through.
 
For all his time as a Celtic, Bradley has let his work on the floor do the talking for him.
 
But as the most tenured Celtic on the roster, his leadership has to be about more than just getting the job done, but servicing as a vocal leader as well.
 
For a player whose growth from one year to the next has been a constant, being a more vocal leader has been the one dynamic of his game that has improved the most during this past season.
 
And it is that kind of leadership that will carry into the summer what is a pivotal offseason for both Bradley and this Celtics franchise which was eliminated by Cleveland in the Conference finals, the first time the Celtics got that deep in the playoffs since 2012.
 
He is entering the final year of the four-year, $32 million contract he signed in 2014. And it comes at a time when his fellow Tacoma, Wash. native and backcourt mate Isaiah Thomas will likely hit free agency where he’s expected to command a max or near-max contract that would pay him an annual salary in the neighborhood of $30 million.
 
At this point in time, Bradley isn’t giving too much thought to his impending contract status.
 
Instead, he’s more consumed by finding ways to improve his overall game and in doing so, help guide the Celtics to what has to be their focus for next season – a trip to the NBA Finals.
 
While Celtics players have said their focus has always been on advancing as far into the playoffs as possible, it wasn’t until this past season did they actually provide hope and promise that Banner 18 may be closer than you think.
 
It was an emotional time for the Celtics, dealing with the unexpected death of Chyna Thomas, the younger sister of Isaiah Thomas, just hours before Boston’s first playoff game this season.
 
And then there were injuries such as Thomas’ right hip strain that ended his postseason by halftime of Boston’s Eastern Conference finals matchup with Cleveland.
 
But through that pain, we saw the emergence of Bradley in a light we have seldom seen him in as a Celtic.
 
We have seen him play well in the past, but it wasn’t until Thomas’ injury did we see Bradley showcase even more elements of his game that had been overlooked.
 
One of the constant knocks on Bradley has been his ball-handling.
 
And yet there were a number of occasions following Thomas’ playoff-ending injury, where Bradley attacked defenders off the dribble and finished with lay-ups and an occasional dunk in transition.
 
Among players who appeared in at least 12 playoff games this year, only Washington’s John Wall (7.9), Cleveland’s LeBron James (6.8) and Golden State’s Stephen Curry (5.2) averaged more points in transition than Bradley (4.7).
 
Bradley recognized the team needed him to be more assertive, do things that forced him to be more front-and-center which is part of his evolution in Boston as a leader on this team.
 
“It’s weird but players like Al (Horford) definitely helped me get out of my shell and pushed me this year to be more of a vocal leader,” Bradley said.
 
And that talent combined with Bradley doing what he does every offseason – come back significantly better in some facet of his game – speaks to how he’s steadily growing into being a leader whose actions as well as his words are impactful.