Celtics

Celtics chemistry is too much for Magic

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Celtics chemistry is too much for Magic

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The faces were familiar and so was the end result.

With less than a minute on the clock and the game tied at 104-104, Doc Rivers stuck with the lineup of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Glen Davis.

It was a group that has been intact since the 2007-08 season. They won a championship together. And on Monday night, they won the game together.

Theyre just smart, Dwight Howard said after the Celtics' 109-106 victory over his Orlando Magic. They dont let a lot of things get to them. And thats how youre supposed to play. You never see those guys arguing with each other, mad about little things. And those are things we need to learn as a team -- just not get frustrated when teams make runs, just play through it.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers subbed Davis in for Shaquille ONeal with 5:23 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied at 93-93. Each player made a difference down the stretch, whether it was a basket, a rebound, a block, or an assist.

With 38 seconds to go, Pierce nailed a jumper (and drew a foul) with Jason Richardsons hand in his face. Garnett, playing in his first game back from a calf injury, picked off a pass by Jameer Nelson and got it down the court to Allen, who iced the game with free throws.

From one teammate to the next, each of the Celtics played a role in the win.

Theyve been together long enough, Hedo Turkoglu told CSNNE.com. They just know how to play and they know how to execute together offensively. And defensively, too. You have to be really in the same mind with them going into the game and just executing and reading the situation and making smart decisions. But like today, it was down to the wire and they made a good play at the end.

Between six lead changes and three ties, the victory was up for grabs until the final seconds. In a game of instability, the Celtics turned to their foundation - defense. Even without Kendrick Perkins, one of their biggest defensive weapons against Howard, they held the Magic to just two points in the final 51 seconds.

I told them the last three minutes we turned back to who we were, said Doc Rivers. We were a defensive team and became that, and thats why we won the game.

The Celtics' 31st win of the season was a testament to their team chemistry. The Magic, on the other hand, continue to build their own with new faces acquired just last month. Of the players on the court at the buzzer, Richardson was traded from the Phoenix Suns in December and Turkoglu re-joined his former team in the deal.

We dont look at it that way, 'cause this is our team now and we cant be making excuses like that, said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. Were like everyone else now. We got 41 games left to get ready to play at this level.

As for the Celtics, they proved they can already play there.

Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:www.twitter.comjcameratonba

Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

BOSTON – While it’s too soon to hit the panic button on the Boston Celtics’ season, Sunday’s 103-95 loss to Orlando is disturbing on multiple fronts. 

For starters, the Magic (14-32) have been in the NBA basement most of the season, so for them to see the light towards victory, on the road nonetheless, against the Celtics is bothersome for the Green Team. 

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Magic

Boston came into Sunday’s game with an impressive 17-3 record against teams with a sub-.500 record.

Making matters even worst, it was Boston’s third straight loss – a first for the Celtics this season - with all three defeats coming at the TD Garden. 

Celtics big man Al Horford said the team needs a “Fight for our lives’” mentality heading into Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

While no one wants to lose game, having to overcome some hurdles along the journey isn’t always a bad thing.

“Gotta have some adversity,” said Kyrie Irving who led all scorers with 40 points - the second time he has reached the 40-point plateau this season (47 points, Nov. 20 at Dallas). “We need it as a team. There’s a lot more adversity down the road. You have to be able to weather the storm no matter what.”

Aside from Gordon Hayward’s dislocated ankle injury in the season-opener, dropping three straight is probably the biggest adversity the Celtics have had this season. 

And this latest setback came against an Orlando franchise that the Celtics have absolutely owned at home. 

Prior to Sunday’s loss, Boston had not lost to the Magic at home since Feb. 7, 2010 with 14 straight wins.

"We didn't underestimate them," said Boston's Jaylen Brown who had 17 points. "They've been playing a lot better than they've been playing all year."

Al Horford echoed similar sentiments.

“You can’t underestimate any team,” Horford said. “I don’t think we necessarily did, but we need to have that sense of urgency like we started the game and be able to hold that throughout the game. That’s important.”

So is making the most of transition scoring opportunities which was an area of play in which the Celtics struggled mightily all game. 

Boston wound up with six, fast-break points on just 3-for-9 shooting. 

“We had some transition opportunities that we didn’t covert,” acknowledged Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. 

Failing to capitalize on those easy scoring opportunities came back to hurt Boston and in hindsight, proved to be one of the key differences in the game’s outcome. 

“Whether you’re doing things at an optimum level as you would like, that’s part of the game of learning one another,” Irving said. “Being able to figure out how to respond from that. Us as a group, we’ve come together in the last four months, five months, it’s new. We need to hit something like this in order for us to grow. It’s part of the game; part of being on a team, part of being a professional. Any team, any environment, you have to have stuff like this where you have to figure it out.”

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Celtics' losing streak reaches a season-worst three games with loss to Magic

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Celtics' losing streak reaches a season-worst three games with loss to Magic

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics’ defense had its moments on Sunday. 

Ditto for the offense. 

But overall, the sense of urgency that we saw when they reeled off 16 straight wins and skyrocketed to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, was nowhere to be found on Sunday against the Orlando Magic. 

And because of that, the Celtics now find themselves riding a season-worst losing streak that has reached three games. 

While it may not seem like that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, Boston understands all too well how momentum works. 

It is a catapulting force that can elevate teams for a stretch of games, or set them back which is exactly what’s happening now with the Celtics (34-13).

“In my eyes, I feel like we’re fighting for our lives,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “That has to be our mindset gong into Tuesday’s game (against the Los Angeles Lakers).

Horford added, “We have to understand that teams are coming for us. I felt that we’ve handled it okay this season. We have to do a good job of making sure we’re bringing the fire and them not bringing it to us.”

Lately, that has proven to be easier said than done. 

At the end of the day, Boston’s success comes down to one thing and one thing only – improving their play. 

“You know, you’ve got to play well,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “We haven’t played well consistently on both ends for a while now.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 103-95 loss to the Orlando Magic which snapped the Celtics’ 13-game home winning streak against Orlando. 

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving: The Celtics came up short, but that doesn’t diminish a strong bounce-back game for Kyrie Irving. Irving, who did not play in Boston’s loss to Philadelphia on Thursday, returned to the floor and dropped 40 points on 14-for-23 shooting. He also had seven rebounds and five assists with just one turnover.

 

STUDS

Elfrid Payton: By no means did he shut Kyrie Irving down, but his scoring off the dribble certainly provided a much-needed boost for Orlando. He had a team-high 22 points on 9-for-16 shooting along with six rebounds.

Evan Fournier: He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (8-for-19), but made some clutch baskets for the Magic in pulling off the upset win. 

Aaron Gordon: He tallied his 10th double-double of the season and second straight on Sunday, finishing with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Marcus Morris: Getting the starting assignment, Morris gave the Celtics a nice lift with 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting to go with five rebounds.

Jaylen Brown: Early on, Brown and Kyrie Irving were the only sources of offense for the Celtics as they combined to score 23 of Boston’s first 25 points. For the game, Brown had 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting to go with seven rebounds.

 

DUDS

Celtics third quarter: There were other less-than-stellar stretches of play for Boston, but this game was truly decided by Boston’s horrific play at both ends of the floor in the third quarter. That is when the Magic outscored Boston 32-12.

Celtics transition offense: Easily one of the keys to Boston’s inability to get over the hump once after spending most of the second half on the comeback trail. Boston had six, fast-break points while shooting a woeful 3-for-9 in those opportunities. The Magic had almost twice as many fast-break points (11) while doing so on fewer fast-break field goal attempts (8).

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