Warriors crush Celtics, 101-83

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Warriors crush Celtics, 101-83

OAKLAND, Calif.  Getting beat soundly by the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night was bad.

A change of venue and opponent didn't do the Boston Celtics much good as the Golden State Warriors delivered the C's a second straight loss, 101-83.

Boston (14-15) is now below-.500 for the first time since Nov. 9.

After falling behind by as many as 20 points, the Celtics mounted an unexpected rally at the end of the third quarter.

Capping off the run was a put-back basket by Jared Sullinger following a missed free throw by Brandon Bass.

Sullinger's basket cut Golden State's lead down to just 76-67 going into the fourth quarter which was as close as the C's had been since the early moments of the second quarter.

Boston continued to hold their own early in the fourth, but could never get any closer than eight points as the Warriors (21-10) gradually pushed their lead back to blowout status.

Adding to the degree of difficulty on Saturday and possibly going forward is the status of Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo who did not play against the Warriors due to what team officials deemed a right hip injury.

Even with Rondo, the C's would have been hard-pressed to win based on how red-hot the Warriors were in shooting the ball throughout most of the game.

Starting in place of Rondo was Courtney Lee, who continued to deliver some of his best scoring games of the season in a Rondo-less lineup.

He finished with a season-high 18 points along with five rebounds.

But this game was all Warriors who snapped a three-game losing streak to the Celtics in Oracle Arena.

And their success on Saturday was similar to how they have won all season, with contributions coming from many.

Early in the game it was rookie Harrison Barnes who scored seven of the Warrior's first 11 points. His seven points at that time equalled the offensive output of the entire Celtics team.

Making matters worst for the C's was that Paul Pierce was in the throes of a horrible start shooting the ball. He didn't make his first basket until the 2:57 mark of the third quarter after having missed his previous eight shot attempts.

Filling some of the scoring load with Rondo out and Pierce struggling, was Sullinger who had 10 of his 12 points in the first half.

Even with Sullinger off to a strong start, it wasn't enough to make up for the poor play defensively by the Celtics who trailed by as many as 20 points in the first half before Golden State wound up with a 57-40 lead at the half.  

The C's made a mini-run in the third which cut Golden State's lead to 13 points, it was soon back to 20 points with few signs of the Celtics doing enough at both ends of the floor to rally for the win.

Curran: Patriots are likely to finish unbeaten this season

Curran: Patriots are likely to finish unbeaten this season

FOXBORO -- Resistance is futile. 

You see this team out there scampering around from drill to drill on a cloudy, late-July day, not a lollygagger to be seen, everything moving with military precision, and you know what it looks like? 

It looks like 80-something players and a coaching staff starting NFL training camp. 

What is it really? It's the first day of work for the NFL's greatest dynasty as it embarks on what will likely be a historic campaign. 

Never mind "may." Never mind "has a chance." It is LIKELY the Patriots will be the first team to ever win 19 games in a single NFL season. 

They don't want to hear that and are already dousing the thought of perfection by labeling it stupid, ridiculous, or disrespectful.

Between now and the start of the season, a parade of indignant former players, coaches and executives will snort and chortle at how absurd the conversation is. 

Frankly, they don't know what the hell they're talking about. 

That won't stop all of them from scoffing at the prospect of 19-0 the same way Curtis Strange scoffed at Tiger Woods back in 1996 when Woods said coming in "second sucks and third is worse." You'll learn, Strange said. 

Strange learned. Everybody learned. Maybe the experts should have seen it coming with Tiger. Maybe not. 

But with the 2017 Patriots, a failing to see what's likely to happen means willfully ignoring facts to do it. The Patriots went 17-2 last year. They lost to Buffalo because their third-string quarterback's thumb was dangling. They lost to Seattle on a night they handed the ball to the Seahawks repeatedly and still were at the Seattle 1-yard line with 30 seconds left with a chance to send the game to overtime but came away with nothing. 
 
They played poorly in the AFC Divisional Playoff against Houston and won by 18. They played "meh" against the Steelers in the AFC Championship and led 33-9 after three quarters. (Don't "But Le'Veon Bell" me. Would Le'Veon Bell have been covering Chris Hogan? No? Okay. Pay attention). 

In the Super Bowl, they spotted Atlanta -- a team being favorably compared to the Greatest Show on Turf Rams -- 25 points, and they wiped out that 25-point deficit in 23 minutes of play. 

Since they walked off the field in Houston, they added a Pro Bowl corner named Stephon Gilmore to play opposite their other Pro Bowl corner, Malcolm Butler. They added a wide receiver named Brandin Cooks, who caught 162 passes the past two seasons for 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns. And they will also unveil once again the best tight end of his generation, Rob Gronkowski. 

They have a head coach who is definitely the best of the free agency era, probably the best of the Super Bowl era and arguably the best of all time. Their quarterback has even fewer qualifiers around his greatness and legacy. 

The crème de la crème of the rest of the league is sludge. Smug Aaron Rodgers is tethered to the moon-faced buffoon in Green Bay, Mike McCarthy, a head coach who could overcomplicate ordering coffee. In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger is fat and fresh off an offseason spent contemplating retirement and Ring Dings. The Cowboys' maturity issues start with their 70-something owner and cascade right down to their enabled superstars Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant. Denver? Trevor Simien. Atlanta? Their motto this year is "Embrace the Suck." What does that even mean? That they enjoyed the Red Wedding that was the second half of the Super Bowl so much, they just want to roll around in humiliation for another year? Dear God. 

My point with all that is that there is no Peyton Manning out there to be the Frazier to Brady's Ali. And while there may be a coach out there with gray matter who could battle Belichick, that coach hasn't spent 18 seasons collecting assistants and coordinators and creating a program where they can tell a player to shit in the corner and the player asks, "What color?"

Don't fight it. Don't scoff at it. Don't be like those people who, in 2001 and 2002 were still saying Tom Brady was a product of the system and that the Patriots would rue the day they traded Drew Bledsoe within the division. Open your eyes. Think critically. What do you see.