Stars, studs and duds: Amir Johnson has sneaky big impact in win

Stars, studs and duds: Amir Johnson has sneaky big impact in win

BOSTON – Amir Johnson didn’t put up huge numbers, but his impact on Friday’s 117-116 win over Orlando was undeniable. 

The veteran forward came up with a late steal and a game-saving block of an Elfrid Payton lay-up attempt in the closing seconds to help secure a hard-to-come-by win for the Celtics. 

“Amir did a great job of trying to stay in front of him and challenge that shot,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “That’s easier said than done.”

And the play of Johnson is easier to look past by fans, rather than embrace for its value when it comes to winning games. 

“He’s a guy that does a lot that’s not on the stat sheet other than rebounding,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “He’s very vocal on the defensive end. He’s a guy that can guard multiple positions, so he helps us in numerous ways and he did a lot (against Orlando).”

Maybe too much, actually. 

Johnson suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter against the Magic when he rolled the ankle after being fouled while attempting a 3-pointer. 

“I never thought the day would come I would roll my ankle on the three-point line,” said Johnson who added that the injury would not prevent him from traveling with the team to New York for their Sunday afternoon matchup against the New York Knicks.

Despite having some discomfort due to the ankle injury, Johnson refused to use that as an excuse to not come through for his teammates when they needed him most down the stretch. 

“Just knowing my role, playing off of guys,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of great scorers on this team. You just have to find a way that you fit in and make things work. Just being the vet I am, I just find a way.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic.


Isaiah Thomas: When the Celtics needed him, Thomas was able to deliver be it a big basket or a timely assist. He led all scorers with 35 points on 10-for-23 shooting, in addition to dishing out seven assists and registering a blocked shot. 

Aaron Gordon: His growth into being more than just an above-the-rim dunker was on full display Friday night. He led the Magic with 32 points – one short of tying his career high in addition to grabbing 16 rebounds.


Jae Crowder: He continues to be that No. 2 scorer the Celtics desperately need to take some of the offensive burden off Isaiah Thomas. Crowder had 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field in addition to grabbing five rebounds on Friday. It was Crowder’s eighth straight game reaching double figures scoring, averaging 17.4 points and 6.9 rebounds in that span.

Evan Fournier: Although Gordon certainly had it going offensively for the Magic, they got a nice game out of Fournier who came up with some big shots in the fourth quarter that was part of his 20-point night.

Terry Rozier: This was one of the best games Rozier has had offensively in a while. He scored 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting along with grabbing six rebounds while dishing out three assists with just one turnover. 


Celtics transition defense: Boston had too many possessions where they would score and not get back quick enough defensively as to prevent the Magic from getting a good look at the rim. Orlando point guard Payton controlled the tempo of the game for far too many stretches of play, a key to him finishing with a double-double of 12 points and a career-high 15 assists.

Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

With Kyrie Irving undergoing a “minimally invasive procedure” on Saturday, the Boston Celtics may look to add a player via the “hardship roster exception” that only teams that are significantly impacted by injuries, are eligible for. 

MORE - Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

The Celtics won’t have a clear sense of what the timetable will be for Irving’s return until after his procedure is performed. 

But it’s likely to be at least a couple weeks which at the earliest would put Irving’s return just before the playoffs. 

In order to qualify for the NBA’s hardship roster exception, at least four players must miss a minimum of three consecutive games, and later be deemed to be out for an additional two weeks. 

Gordon Hayward (dislocated left ankle) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus, left knee) are out for the season, and Marcus Smart (right thumb) recently underwent surgery that will keep him sidelined for at least another five weeks. 

An independent doctor will determine if the extent of the aforementioned injuries as well as the recovery time for Irving, meet the two-week criteria to be eligible for the hardship roster exception. 

Once that’s determined, Boston will be given a hardship roster exception to use on a player for the remainder of the regular season but won’t be eligible for the postseason. 

If Boston does add a player, look for him to come from the Gatorade League, possibly their G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. 

Boston has a collection of guards who have helped fill the void left by Irving’s absence, but Boston has not been able to address the loss of Daniel Theis. 

Keep an eye on former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 16.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Red Claws this season. 

MORE - Hayward gives update on rehab

Boston has a 45-day cap on the use of its two-way players with the parent team, but that limitation ends tomorrow which means guard/forward Jabari Bird and guard Kadeem Allen can earn the league minimum for every day they are with the Celtics going forward in the regular season. That can provide some depth to a Celtics team that because of injuries, can use every healthy body they can find.


Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Kyrie Irving could be back on the court in time for the Celtics to begin the playoffs.

Or not.

Irving will have what the Celts are describing as a "minimally invasive procedure" on his injured left knee Saturday. NBC Sports Boston talked to Dr. Christopher Chihlas from Southcoast Health -- who has not examined Irving but is familiar with his type of injury -- about how long Irving may be sidelined.

"A minimally invasive procedure is basically an arthroscopy," said Dr. Chihlas. "His return to play is mostly dependent on what is done . . . If it's just a cleanout, as we're being told, then -- best-case scenario -- we could see him back playing in three to four weeks."

But, he added, "it could be double that . . . depending upon what exactly is found . . . 

"The key here is the patella fracture (which Irving suffered during the 2015 playoffs). My feeling is that he's suffering a bit of the consequence of the patella fracture, which is a fracture into the knee joint . . . [He] may need to have this done periodically to get him through the rest of his career."