Rozier-Jennings dust-up provides spark for Celtics in win vs. Wizards

Rozier-Jennings dust-up provides spark for Celtics in win vs. Wizards

BOSTON – With the score tied at 37-all in the second quarter, the first significant dust-up between Boston and Washington players happened.

It was Boston’s Terry Rozier and Washington’s Brandon Jennings getting into a shoving match that ultimately led to both being whistled for technical fouls and Jennings also charged with a personal foul.

Up to this point, neither team had shown any signs of pulling away.

But from the time the dust cleared and play resumed, the Celtics weren’t the same.

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They were more physical, feisty, more locked in to doing anything and everything to beat a Wizards team that had won two of their three previous matchups.

And Washington couldn’t match that effort or intensity as Boston continued to pull away and lead by as many as 20 points before settling for a 110-102 victory.

“It sparked us a little bit,” Boston’s Jae Crowder said of the incident involving Rozier and Jennings. “We were able to play with a little more aggression.”

Boston scored six straight after the Rozier-Jennings technical, closing the half out with a 21-10 run to lead 58-47 at the half.

“When the emotions got high," Crowder said. "We kept the course and played great team basketball.”

And the emotions that Crowder spoke about, that has been an issue with the Celtics at various points this season.

Whether it’s losing their cool with other players, officials or one another, finding that balance that exists between playing with a fiery edge while not losing control, is one that that has tripped them up at times.

Not tonight; not against this team.

But players acknowledged after the game that there’s still room for improvement in that area.

“We gotta get better at that,” Boston’s Isaiah Thomas told CSNNE.com following the win. “Coach (Brad Stevens) is really on us about that and we’re on each other about that.”

On Monday, the Celtics were called for a total of four technicals – one against Rozier, Thomas, Amir Johnson and Marcus Smart – compared to the Wizards who were whistled for just the Jennings technical.

“In the playoffs, we’re not going to get anything,” Thomas said. “We just can’t continue to argue and continue to make us not play as well. We’re trying to get better. And today was one of those games where we held our composure a little bit better other than the technicals."

Stars, studs and duds: Al Horford scores season-high but disappears in 4th

Stars, studs and duds: Al Horford scores season-high but disappears in 4th

Not having Isaiah Thomas inevitably meant a lot more Al Horford offensively. 

And the 6-foot-10 big man didn’t disappoint, tallying 27 points – the most he has scored as a Celtic – through three quarters of play. 

But in the pivotal fourth quarter, Horford was a non-factor offensively in Boston’s 105-99 loss at Philadelphia. 

It seemed that the Celtics gravitated away from doing the things that helped them pull ahead by as many as 13 points, chief among them was playing almost exclusively through Horford who also had eight rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots along with his 27 points. 

Celtics guard Avery Bradley acknowledged that they should have made getting Horford the ball a bigger priority in the fourth, especially how well he had played through the first three quarters of the game.

 “It was like we were playing 1-on-1 basketball,” Bradley told reporters after the loss. “We weren’t sharing the basketball. We had a lot of guys who stepped up; we just stopped playing the right way. They came back, they started hitting shots. … we dug ourselves a hole and couldn’t get back.”

And while Horford is quick to credit opponents win or lose, he was asked about what happened in the fourth when he was scoreless despite having already scored 27 points. 

“I don’t think it was so much them,” Horford told reporters. “We probably got away from running some of the offensive stuff we ran earlier in the game. We just did some different looks. That’s how we lost.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. 

STARS

Al Horford: He was Mr. Do-It-All for the Celtics, tallying a season-high 27 points on 11-for-16 shooting with eight rebounds and six assists. 

Dario Saric: Lots of big plays down the stretch were made by Saric who is looking more and more like this year’s rookie of the year award winner. He had a team-high 23 points on 10-for-20 shooting with six rebounds and four assists.

STUDS

Robert Covington: Lots of big shots to start the game, with a few more in the end. He finished with 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting with eight rebounds and a blocked shot. 

Terry Rozier: He pushed the pace early and often, and finished with one of his better games this season. He had a double-double of 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting along with 10 rebounds. 

Sixers Bench: It seemed whoever they turned to, became a major problem at some point for the Celtics. They combined to score 49 points, but even more significant washow their backup bigs Richaun Holmes (11 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots) and Shawn Long (eight points, three rebounds) made huge contributions at both ends of the floor.

DUDS

Celtics’ 3-point shooting: There were plenty of good looks for Boston, but we’ve seen how bad those looks are if Isaiah Thomas isn’t on the floor. After making at least 10 3’s in 26 straight games, Boston has failed to do so each of the last two games which just so happens to be games in which Isaiah Thomas (knee) did not play. Coincidence? Of course not. With or without Thomas, shooting 20.7 percent (6-for-29) isn’t going to be good enough to beat many teams.

Report: Celtics passed on giving up Rozier in potential Ibaka deal

Report: Celtics passed on giving up Rozier in potential Ibaka deal

The Raptors acquired forward Serge Ibaka from the Magic, but the Celtics passed on a potential Ibaka deal because of a reluctance to part with second-year guard Terry Rozier, according to CelticsBlog.

Orlando sent Ibaka to Toronto for Terrence Ross and a 2017 first-round pick. The Raptors (32-23) have fallen to the fifth spot in the East, four games behind the No. 2 Celtics (36-19), who trail the East-leading Cavaliers (37-16) by two games. 

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The knee injury to the Cavaliers' Kevin Love, who'll be out at least six weeks after surgery, has convinced Toronto to go all in, according to the CelticsBlog report. 

The Celtics, according to the report, are not interested in giving up assets, including first-round picks and prospects such as Rozier (averaging 5.6 points, 1.7 assist, 3.1 rebounds and 18.0 minuutes per game), for short-term acquisitions (the 6-foot-10 Ibaka is a potential free agent) that do not clearly put them over the top for title contention.