Celtics

Celtics run away from Suns, 115-103

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Celtics run away from Suns, 115-103

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Boston Celtics are a team in transition - literally and figuratively - these days.

They certainly were on Wednesday night as they ran away with a 115-103 win over the Phoenix Suns.

A big part of Boston's success was the C's ability to score in transition, which is surprising when you consider Phoenix is one of the NBA's better teams when it comes to scoring on fast-break opportunities.

On Wednesday, it was the C's getting out and running as they outscored the Suns 24-7 in fast-break points.

"We said if we can get stops, we can run," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "We felt that we could really beat them down the floor."

And the key to Boston's transition game is Rajon Rondo, who had his 25th double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 assists.

"One of the things we told Rondo is to think of this as a coast-to-coast game," Rivers said. "Every time you got the ball, think about going from rim to rim until they stop you. And if they stop you, that means someone's open."

For most of the game, that someone was Kevin Garnett who tallied his 22nd double-double of the season with a season-high 28 points and 11 rebounds.

That was just part of a Boston (44-15) team that's still adding pieces to the puzzle - Wednesday was Troy Murphy's first game with the Celtics, and the C's will add another player, Sasha Pavlovic, as early as Thursday - but still good enough to put together a much-improved effort after losing 88-71 at Phoenix on Jan. 28.

In that game, Kevin Garnett was ejected after picking up two technical fouls. It was also a game in which Garnett connected on a below-the-belt-shot on Channing Frye that prompted some reacting to the incident by labeling Garnett as a dirty player.

"I don't really care," Garnett said.

More than anything, Garnett seemed bothered by comments about him that he doesn't believe are true.

"Don't make stuff up, stuff that's not true," Garnett said. "I don't fall from dirty. I play the game really hard. I play with my heart. I'm never going to make any excuses about that, so who cares what they're talking about."

There would be no questionable below-the-waist shots from Garnett on Wednesday.

Every shot Garnett tossed on Wednesday was above and more often than not, through the rim.

Garnett was smacking the Suns around - Frye in particular - most of the game.

He led all scorers with a season-high 28 points, with his play being a big part of the Celtics pulling ahead by as many as 29 points.

But the Suns, about as streaky a team as you'll find in the NBA, got hot at the start of the fourth and had Boston's lead down to just 10 points with more than eight minutes to play.

Just like that, the Celtics' runaway victory was now a game again.

A pair of free throws by Glen Davis with 8:17 to play pushed the C's lead to 93-81. He would later leave the game because of a strained patella tendon in his left knee.

Davis said he was planning to have an MRI done today, and go from there as far as when he would return.

Phoenix eventually cut Boston's lead to single digits following an Aaron Brooks jumper with 7:14 to play.

The Suns had to play a good chunk of the fourth without starters Vince Carter (mouth laceration) and Frye (eye contusion) who collided with one another.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

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Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

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Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

When it comes to the top backcourts in the NBA, you seldom hear about Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.

That may soon be changing if they have more games like the one they delivered on Saturday as Boston put together a solid second half to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks, 110-99.

Irving had a game-high 30 points which was his second game with at least 30 points scored – both against Atlanta.

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And Brown, who had a strong 22-point performance in Boston’s win over Golden State on Thursday, was even better against the Hawks in tallying a career-high 27 points.

We all know about Irving who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top guards.

But is Brown on the way?

One thing Brown won’t have to develop going forward is, confidence.

He has long maintained that he believes he’ll be among the best in the league. It’s just a matter of him performing at a high level at both ends of the floor, consistently.

“I’ve always had that confidence, I can play with the best in the world,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the win over Atlanta which extended Boston’s winning streak to 15 in a row. “It’s just a matter of coming out, doing it. My teammates found me tonight. We had a good team win tonight.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

Back in his home state of Georgia, Jaylen Brown delivered another monster game for the Celtics by scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting with four 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving

Irving had his most efficient game this season for the Celtics, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting to go with four rebounds and five assists.

Dennis Schroder

Atlanta’s best scorer delivering a strong 23-point, 9-assist performance for the Hawks.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He only had 14 points, but they all came in the third quarter and they included a few crowd-quieting dunks.

John Collins

He came into the league with the reputation of being a high motor player, and he has not disappointed. His hustle and energy led to him tallying 18 points and seven rebounds.

Marcus Morris

When the offense struggled mightily in the first half, it was Morris’ scoring that kept them within striking distance. He finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter.

Kent Bazemore

He was Atlanta’s number two scoring option most of the night, and finished with 19 points.

 

DUDS

Boston’s first quarter defense

The Celtics can’t keep digging themselves these early holes, expecting they will turn it on and find a way to climb out of them. The Hawks led 35-20, fueled in large part by shooting 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in addition to out-rebounding Boston 8-6.

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