Celtics

Celtics survive fourth quarter to beat Jazz, 107-102

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Celtics survive fourth quarter to beat Jazz, 107-102

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

SALT LAKE CITY It's been a tumultuous week for the Boston Celtics.

One of their leaders, Kendrick Perkins, was traded to Oklahoma City.

Coach Doc Rivers left the team briefly to be with his ill mother in Chicago.

Delonte West was finally getting comfortable with his now-healed broken right wrist, but then he suffered a right ankle sprain that kept him out of Monday's game against Utah.

Even with all the setbacks, the C's continued to show the kind of resolve that has made them one of the NBA's elite teams this season.

It certainly came in handy on Monday as the Celtics were able to fend off the scrappy Utah Jazz and escape with a 107-102 win.

"I appreciate every time we play, with all the stuff we have going on," said Rivers. "Injuries, the trades . . . I appreciate this team. They just tend to find a way to win games. That has to bode well for us later, when we get everybody together."

For now, the Celtics will continue to cut and paste together lineups that, regardless of the opponent, somehow manage to make enough plays when needed.

"This has been very satisfying," said Paul Pierce. "Coming in, it's been a long trip, especially for the guys that were in the All-Star game. It's been a very challenging trip, mentally, physically, so this is a big win."

Pierce added, "It's one of our biggest road wins of the year so far."

Coming up with big wins, home or away, has been among the many reasons why the Celtics (43-15) have been atop the Eastern Conference standings for most of this season.

Even though they have a totally new look, both in terms of their players and their head coach, beating the Jazz on their home floor is never an easy task.

Although Utah spent most of Monday trailing, there was never a point in the game when the Jazz seemed out of it.

They gave the Celtics all they could handle, especially down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

Boston went into the fourth with a four-point lead, but the Jazz went ahead 84-83 following a dunk by newly acquired big man Derrick Favors.

The Jazz faithful were up cheering their team, only to be quieted 19 seconds later when Rajon Rondo scored on a driving lay-up.

Favors, who had nine points off the bench, put Utah ahead with 7:36 to play.

That lead didn't last long, as Glen Davis made a pair of free throws just 20 seconds later to put the Celtics back on top.

It was clear that this game was going to come down to the wire, with 8 of the 10 lead changes coming in the fourth quarter.

Pierce, who had 21 points, put the game away with a pair of free throws with 11.8 seconds remaining.

And with those free throws, the C's capped off their four-game West Coast trip with a 3-1 record.

You can count Kevin Garnett, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds, among those pleased with the way the Celtics responded to what was one of the more trying weeks since he arrived in Boston in 2007.

"It's been a crazy week. Know what I mean?" Garnett said.

Even though Garnett has welcomed his new teammates, it's clear that it's going to take him some time to get past not having Kendrick Perkins around anymore.

"People don't really think about the emotions, the connections you make in this game, the friends you make on this journey in which you're in the league," Garnett said. "It's difficult at times, to be honest. But you have to separate the two, come out and perform at a high level and you have no excuses."

Even with all the injuries and issues on and off the court, the Celtics have refused to allow those to get in the way of what really matters: winning games.

And Monday's victory over Utah was the latest example of this.

"We just found a way to win," Pierce said. "It wasn't the prettiest win. But we'll take it."

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

Isaiah Thomas likes video of Jalen Rose calling Paul Pierce 'petty'

Isaiah Thomas likes video of Jalen Rose calling Paul Pierce 'petty'

Just when all the video tribute controversy between Isaiah Thomas and Paul Pierce seemed to be dying down, Jalen Rose heated it right back up.

Live on ESPN's "NBA Countdown," Rose called Pierce "petty" for his comments on the Celtics potentially holding a video tribute for Isaiah on Feb. 11 when Pierce gets his jersey retired.

Jalen Rose called Paul Pierce petty right to his face... 😳

A post shared by DIME on UPROXX (@dimemagazine) on

Thomas tweeted on Tuesday that he (again) declined the Celtics' offer to hold the tribute for him so it wouldn't interfere with Pierce's night. But if you look at the likes on the Instagram video above, posted by dimemagazine, you'll see Thomas appears to agree with Rose on the matter.

It doesn't look like the video tribute drama is going to end until the Feb. 11 matchup between the Celtics and Cavaliers is over with.

Horford: Fighting in NBA 'needs to stop'

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Horford: Fighting in NBA 'needs to stop'

WALTHAM, Mass. – Three Houston Rockets players entered the Los Angeles Clippers’ training room before being stopped by security but not before a profanity-laced exchange that’s sure to result in fines and possibly some suspensions.

Orlando’s Arron Afflalo threw a punch – and barely missed – hitting Minnesota’s Nemanja Bjelica which led to both players being ejected and for Afflalo will likely result in a suspension of some kind.

Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons got into it with Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, resulting in both players being tossed and apparently leading to Simmons signaling to Lowry that they could continue having their “discussion” in the hallway.

That hallway encounter never happened (Lowry said he was there, Simmons said he didn’t see Lowry so you believe who you want to), but the fact that it was even a possibility speaks to this being one of the more bizarre weeks in recent memory when it comes to potential fighting in the league. 

And remember … it’s only freakin’ Wednesday!

I asked Boston’s Al Horford about this.

“It’s very, very bizarre,” said Horford, now in his 11th NBA season. “I don’t think I remember any period of time, (with) all this chippiness going on. You want to compete, you want to play hard; that’s fine. But all the extra stuff, I think needs to stop. At the end of the day you need to focus on basketball. We’re here to play.”

Horford added, “I’m sure the NBA will address those things and fix them.”

No one was shocked that things got a little testy in the Houston-Los Angeles Clippers game which was played on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It was the first time Chris Paul, now with the Rockets, returned to Los Angeles to face his former team. 

The Clippers won 113-102, a game filled with trash talk from both sides. But apparently the chatter soon turned to chippy play with hard fouls delivered and taken in the latter stages of play with a total of five technical fouls called, two of which were on Blake Griffin which is an automatic ejection. 

Talking trash gone bad was a factor in the Simmons-Lowry bruhaha with the Sixers emerging with the victory. 

And on Tuesday, Afflalo and Bjelica had already been assessed a technical for an earlier run-in. Soon after, there was a collision between the two which pissed off Afflalo who swung with great force at Bjelica’s face. 

“We’re professionals,” Horford said. “We can’t get caught up in that stuff.”

Horford plays around the basket and is no stranger to banging around with the big, bad angry bodies. 

But as much as there will be times when he’ll want to snap, Horford has consistently resisted the urge. 

“It’s hard; it’s hard,” he said. “But we have to remember what we play the game for; I play to win. I’m playing for my teammates and sometimes you need to take a step back before you do something you regret. That’s the way I look at it.”

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