Celtics close strong to edge out Nets 100-97

Celtics close strong to edge out Nets 100-97

The preseason is all about learning for the Boston Celtics which is why head coach Brad Stevens didn’t hesitate to put most of his younger players on the floor in closing minutes of a nail-biter Thursday night against Brooklyn.

And to their credit, they made the most of being on the floor during crunch time as the Celtics’ youngsters (with the one ‘old head’ being Gerald Green) rallied for a 100-97 Celtics win.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-2 run which included big plays by rookie Jaylen Brown.

In addition to a nifty behind-the-back pass (with his left hand) to Jordan Mickey for a go-ahead dunk, Brown capped things off with a pair of free throws.

Brown finished with 10 points, three assists and two rebounds for Boston (3-1).

As clutch as Brown’s plays were down the stretch, the Celtics got plenty of contributions from other bench players.

Jonas Jerebko, who started the final four games of last season for Boston, delivered the kind of performance that reminds us all as to why head coach Brad Stevens turned to him down the stretch last season.

He had 12 points in just 16 minutes of court time along with grabbing five rebounds and doling out three assists.

The play of Jerebko and the rest of Boston’s bench was needed on Thursday as the starters played limited minutes and in those minutes were not nearly as effective as we have seen in the past.

Al Horford had another strong game with a near double-double of 13 points and 9 rebounds in 21 minutes on 5-for-8 shooting. But the rest of Boston’s starters shot a combined 8-for-30 from the field.

The Nets were led by a pair of players with double-doubles: Luis Scola (14 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) and Trevor Booker (11 points, 12 rebounds). Former Harvard star Jeremy Lin had 12 points and 7 assists.

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

File photo

Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

© 2018 by The Associated Press