CSN Insiders notebook: Anthony Davis to Celtics?

CSN Insiders notebook: Anthony Davis to Celtics?

Welcome to another edition of the CSN Insiders notebook, the most comprehensive gathering of NBA news and nuggets on the planet,  compiled by our coast-to-coast Insiders.
Drum roll please …
At the top of the alphabetic CSN Insider food chain is A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England, who covers the Boston Celtics. Up next is Jessica Camerato of CSN Philadelphia, who covers the no-longer-winless Philadelphia 76ers, followed by Vinnie Goodwill of CSN Chicago, who covers the Bulls; James Ham of CSN California, who covers the Sacramento Kings; J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic, on the Washington Wizards beat; Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area, who covers the Golden State Warriors, and Jason Quick of CSN Northwest on the Portland Trail Blazers beat.
We start this week with a really good item from Jason Quick on Evan Turner, Portland’s prized offseason free agent pick-up who signed a four-year, $70 million contract after spending the previous two seasons with the Celtics.
Having covered him in Boston, I had a chance to see both the strengths and weaknesses to his game, a player who can be a special player for your team in the right situation, or a complete bust if that situation isn’t present or significantly limited.
Is that what he has in Portland?
Hear what Turner had to say on the matter.

These are frustrating times for Evan Turner, whose transition from the Boston Celtics to the Trail Blazers has not gone smoothly.
Through 10 games, Turner has the NBA’s worst plus/minus by a longshot, and with every head-scratching pass and every flat shot that bangs off the front rim there is growing unease among the fan base: What exactly did the Blazers spend $70 million on this offseason?
Turner is averaging 6.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in just less than 24 minutes a game while shooting 38 percent from the field. Hailed as a playmaker when the Blazers signed him, Turner has 24 assists and 20 turnovers.
What is even more confusing than his play has been Turner’s recent assessment of his role. To hear the Blazers talk in July, Turner would be riding shotgun with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in directing this team. But after three weeks, it appears Turner feels like he belongs in the back seat.
In the past week, there has been a noticeable step-back from Turner in terms of his engagement within the offense. During his first six games, Turner averaged 7.8 shots; over his last four he is averaging 3.7 shots.
“What can you possibly do?’’ Turner asked after the Blazers’ overtime win Friday against Sacramento, when he had two points, four rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes. “When you get three shots and play 27 minutes . . . that’s not a knock, because we have the best guards in the league, but I mean, what can I possibly do besides be accountable to defense, take care of the ball, rebound and play the floor? Where I just came from, I had the ball in my hands tons of times to make plays.’’
Lillard is averaging 30.6 points on 19 shots a game and McCollum 22.2 points on 17 shots a game. Turner is averaging six shots.
“Obviously, everybody is paying attention offensively, and I mean, I think I’m playing the best I possibly can for the situation,’’ Turner said. “It’s not even ‘I’m only getting three-or-four shots’ . . .  It is what it is. We’ve been winning, and that’s pretty much it. I think I’m helping rebounding, defending, and I think I’ve gotten better taking care of the ball.’’
Coach Terry Stotts has become defensive amid growing questions about Turner’s play.
“I think everybody is kind of targeting Evan and I don’t think that is necessarily very fair,’’ Stotts said. “The game against (Memphis) he didn’t take a shot and played very well. He’s playing good defense, he’s adapting . . . It’s a process. He’s a smart basketball player, has high basketball IQ and he is only going to get better.’’
As the grumblings at home games become louder, and the questions after games become more frequent, Turner says he has become used to scrutiny, dating back to 2010, when he was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. 
“This isn’t my first rodeo with this kind of stuff,’’ Turner said. “It doesn’t shock me. The gun is going to be left in my lap whether I have something to do with it or not.’’
At the forefront of the criticism is his plus/minus rating, which is a league-worst minus-110. That's 35 points more than the next closest player, Phoenix’s Brandon Knight.
“Whoever is on court with Dame is going to have a positive plus minus,’’ Turner said, chuckling. “I don’t really know what else to say. I could counter and be like ‘Hey, whoever scores on  . . . ’,  but that don’t look good. I’ve always been in situations where I’ve been a positive. I started out last year as having one of the best (plus/minus) in the league.
“I mean, when it rains it pours,’’ Turner said. “There’s more to make sense of and more to complain about, but what do you want to do? I mean, if you want to point blame or whatever, I’ve been I’ve been blamed numerous times before so I don’t really dive too deep into it.’’
Turner was never angry or defensive Friday when talking about his season. Instead, he seemed uneasy talking so much about himself, because he wanted the focus to be more on the Blazers’ 6-4 record than his struggles or dwindling role.
 “What can you knock if you are winning?’’ Turner said. “These dudes are making the right plays, the right reads, and you fit in where you fit in. The contract is going to draw attention, but even if I didn’t have a big contract I’m an easy target, so that doesn’t keep me up. As long as we are winning, it’s not about me.’’ – by Jason Quick

The Boston Celtics have played most of this season with at least one starter out due to injury, but even at full strength they’re going to struggle rebounding the ball.

That is why they will forever -- or at least the next three-plus months, whichever comes first -- be linked with any and every big man who 1) wants to be traded or 2) is on the trading block.
But I’m told the Celtics at this point are only interested in potential “game changers” on the trade market.
One name to keep an eye on is New Orleans’ Anthony Davis.
The only way Davis will come into play is if Davis wants out, something that isn’t that far-fetched when you consider the steady run of injuries he’s enduring on a team that’s going nowhere fast.
The Celtics have draft picks galore, young talent with very team-friendly contracts and being in the East, that would mean the Pelicans would only see Davis twice a season.
But again, it all depends on whether Davis wants out of New Orleans.
That doesn’t appear to be his desire  . . . for now at least. – by A. Sherrod Blakely


If there were an award for the most surprising team in the NBA, early-season division, the Lakers would be the favorites to win it.

Projected to win 25 to 30 games, first-year coach Luke Walton has coaxed his group to five wins in its first nine games, including victories over the Warriors, Hawks and Rockets.
A win over the Kings last week snapped a seven-game losing streak to Sacramento. More significant, it was the first time in nearly two years that the Lakers won consecutive road games -- and the first time three years they won four of five.

One of the biggest reasons behind the rise has been an effective bench, led by veteran guard Lou Williams, who leads and team in scoring. – by Monte Poole


We have seen a rise in professional athlete chiming in on the political state of things. 

But Detroit head coach/president of basketball operations couldn’t stay silent any longer, not seeing how the presidential vote weighed so heavily on his mind as well as his players. 

He wasn’t alone, with San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Golden State’s Steve Kerr chiming in as well. 

But Van Gundy’s response was by far the most powerful among the coaching ranks.

“I don't think anybody can deny this guy (Trump) is openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic,” Van Gundy told reporters. “We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking this is where we are as a country.”

He wasn’t done. 

“Martin Luther King said, 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.' I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today,” Van Gundy said. “What we have done to minorities . . .  in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. This isn’t your normal candidate. I don’t know even know if I have political differences with him. I don’t even know what are his politics. I don’t know, other than to build a wall and 'I hate people of color, and women are to be treated as sex objects and as servants to men.' I don’t know how you get past that. I don’t know how you walk into the booth and vote for that.” – by A. Sherrod Blakely


First in pace, last in defense. It’s a recipe for disaster for a young and very talented club. The big three of Eric Bledsoe, T.J. Warren and Devin Booker are a nice base, but they need to commit on both ends of the floor. Brandon Knight continues to struggle as a sixth man. He’s shooting just 33.9 percent from the field and 23.5 from long range. The Suns early season schedule is filled with the who’s who of the Western Conference. – by James Ham

As much as DeMar DeRozan’s eye-popping video game-like numbers have carried the Raptors this season, they’ve also gotten some solid -- and unexpected -- contributions from Lucas ‘Bebe’ Nogueira?
Who is he?
Don’t worry. You’re not the first and certainly won’t be the last to wonder where the heck did this guy come from.
A former first-round pick from the 2013 NBA draft (he was selected by Boston, then traded to Dallas on draft night for the rights to Kelly Olynyk), ‘Bebe’ has been charged with helping fill the void left by Bismack Biyombo.
He has provided some much-needed energy, hustle and surprisingly efficient scoring.
In four games played, he has averaged 8.2 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting a blistering 88.2 percent from the field.
As you can imagine, pretty much everything he gets offensively comes from point-blank range.
But that’s not the point.
The Raptors have their sights on challenging the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, and will need everyone on the roster to step their game up and have their best season ever.
‘Bebe’ looks like he’s ready grow into that role. – by A. Sherrod Blakely

Melo wasn’t feeling mellow.
Carmelo Anthony got ejected for arguing a foul call in Friday’s game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. He was assessed a foul against Amir Johnson and then two technicals for “bad language,” said referee Tony Brothers
The situation didn’t end at the Knicks’ 115-87 blowout loss. Anthony’s wife, La La, took to Twitter to express her feelings about the ejection. 
“He hates Mel. It's personal. Always has,” she wrote.
Brothers replied “no” when asked after the game if he had a history with Anthony. – by Jessica Camerato


The Boston Celtics are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA. Scratch that; they are THE worst rebounding team in the NBA. You can imagine the red flags that should have gone up within the Pacers organization when the Celtics came to town and not only beat them 105-99 at home (their first home loss this season), but won the battle of the boards and got a lot of great looks down the stretch at or near the rim. 

Don’t be surprised if Indiana starts to take a long, hard look at potential trades that could land them a coveted frontcourt player who can rebound and protect the rim. 

Sacramento’s Willie Cauley-Stein is a name that has been put out there recently as possibly being available (we’ll have more on that later). If he is, Indiana should make a serious pitch for him. 

While Cauley-Stein has his limitations offensively, that’s OK. Between the emergence of Myles Turner and Big Al Jefferson coming off the bench, scoring from the power forward and center positions should not be a major concern. 

Because right now, Indiana just doesn’t have the kind of personnel that can provide the kind of resistance at the rim that they need to make some noise in the East. – by A. Sherrod Blakely

The Aaron Gordon experiment as a small forward has hit its first bump in the road with Orlando coach Frank Vogel switching to Jeff Green for his offensively challenged unit.  
While Gordon is noted for his defense, the Magic have trouble scoring. Gordon was shooting 40.2% from the field and 30.8% from three in the first eight games he started before the switch. Green was shooting just 36.5% from the field during the same span, and just 35.5% from the three-point arc.
The Magic went into the weekend last in the NBA in scoring (92.3). – by J. Michael


There is a certain amount of doom and gloom in Sacramento after back-to-back losses on Thursday and Friday. But the Kings played one of the toughest schedules in the league through the first two weeks of the season with 11 games in 17 nights, including seven of those contests on the road. The rumor mill has been buzzing regarding both Willie Cauley-Stein and Omri Casspi. According to sources, Cauley-Stein, the team’s first selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, is not on the block and Casspi confirmed to CSN California that he did not request a trade this week despite the decrease in role during a free agency year. – by James Ham

After several years of teasing their fans in the postseason, the Clippers may have found a formula that will endure. It’s called defense.
With center DeAndre Jordan, forward Luc Mbah A Moute and guard Chris Paul leading the way, coach Doc Rivers’ squad has been the stingiest in the league.
The Clippers, with a 111-80 win over Portland, are the first team this season to hold Damian Lillard and the explosive Trail Blazers under 100 points.
“It kind of breaks the spirit on the other end on their defense because they can’t score and they’re thinking about scoring,” Rivers told reporters afterward. “It’s good. We’ve just got to keep doing it and keep getting better.” – by Monte Poole


The Pelicans finally picked up their first win, stunning the Lakers Saturday night 126-99. Buddy Hield, who had 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting against the Lakers, was drafted to shoot the ball and that is exactly what the rookie out of Oklahoma is doing through the first 10 games. He’s averaging 10.2 points per game but shooting just 37.6 percent from the field and a woeful 23.6 percent on 3s.  But shooters gonna shoot, right? Jrue Holiday’s return is just around the corner. He’s been away from the team while caring for his wife, former Team USA soccer player Lauren Holiday, who just gave birth to the couple’s first child followed by surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. Family first. -- by James Ham

Going from Al Horford to Dwight Howard has elevated the Hawks to one of the NBA’s best rebounding teams and they could be getting closer to getting frontline backup with Tiago Splitter showing signs of recovering from a right hamstring strain that has kept him on the shelf since training camp. 

Though Horford could rebound with the best of them in his nine years in Atlanta, he spent more time stretching the floor from the arc. With Howard, a traditional center who might be past his best but still a force to be reckoned with on the glass. 
The Hawks were 24th in overall rebounding last season when they won 48 games. They were 30th – aka last -- on the offensive boards. Through the first eight games, Atlanta is seventh in overall rebounding and fourth on the offensive end. 

Splitter, a backup center, is doing non-contact drills with a time frame of his return to the lineup uncertain. When a player reaches full contact drills, a more accurate gauge can be made regarding his return. – by J. Michael


Some teams begin tallying their wins in October. For the Sixers, though, winning in November has been an uphill battle. Their last November win prior to this week dated back to 2013.

On Friday they snapped the skid with an overtime victory at home against the Pacers.
“Happy isn’t the word,” Robert Covington said. “Relieved.”
The Sixers entered the game 0-7. They were the last team in the NBA to earn a ‘W’ this season.
“That first win for the group is massive,” said coach Brett Brown. “I know it’s only one, but you can take a deep breath and go fight again.”
The Sixers were led by 25 points and seven rebounds from Joel Embiid. He scored a combined 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The big man played so well down the stretch, he turned the head of Pacers All-Star Paul George.
“He’s real impressive,” George said of Embiid.  “I think his skill set is similar to Karl-Anthony (Towns). I think those guys are . . . what GMs look for now, is big men that can essentially do it all -- put the ball on the floor, make plays, step out to the three, and protect the rim. I think those are becoming, in our game, the most complete guys. He’s got the total package. It’s good late in games and he already has that mentality of wanting to put games over.” – by Jessica Camerato


For the second consecutive week, a member of the Warriors experienced the end of an impressive personal streak. First Stephen Curry, then Kevin Durant.
By coming out in the fourth quarter of a blowout win at Denver with 18 points, Durant’s streak of consecutive games with at least 20 points was snapped at 72, tying him with Michael Jordan for fourth place on the all-time list.
“We won the basketball game,” said Durant, who left with 5:51 remaining and the Warriors up 112-86. “That’s the most important thing.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr pulled the star forward two seconds after Durant was whistled for a charge.
“I knew about the streak, and I told him that when he came off the floor,” Kerr said. “But I’m not going to mess with the basketball gods. If you want to leave a guy out there to get some kind of record, you’re asking for an injury. The game called for him to come out, he came out. He had no problem with it.”
Durant’s streak ended six days after Curry’s streak of consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer was snapped at 157 in a 0-of-10 performance against the Lakers.
“There’s going to be a lot of that stuff this year,” Kerr said. “There’s going to be people talking about stats and records and who’s scoring and who’s not. The only way this is going to work is if guys throw that out the window. That’s exactly what KD did.” – by Monte Poole


The injury front is an issue for the Wizards early on for the second year in a row, but they’re being more cautious and concerned about later than now. That means John Wall, Bradley Beal and Ian Mahinmi, the latter whom has yet to play this season, aren’t being pushed early. 
“Health is more important than today,” coach Scott Brooks said after announcing that Beal would miss his first game over the weekend after injuring his right thigh in an awkward fall. 
Wall isn’t playing in back-to-backs in the short-term coming off surgeries to both knees May 5. Mahinmi had surgery to clean up loose cartilage Oct. 15 and should be practicing soon and on the court by late November.
With Beal, this is a team that’s in the bottom five in three-point shooting accuracy. Without him, they’re significantly worse. – by J. Michael

Johnny O’Bryant, who the Wizards would’ve drafted had he not been taken in 2012 second round by Milwaukee, was among their final cuts. Now he’ll be playing for the Phoenix Suns’ D-League team, the Northern Arizona Suns.
League sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com that O’Bryant turned down “several good international options” but declined. O’Bryant appeared to have a good shot at making the final 15 in Washington, but the injury to Mahinmi made a backup center the Wizards’ top priority which gave rookie free agent Daniel Ochefu an edge. – by J. Michael

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can’t stay healthy, and after a dislocated shoulder ended his time on the court last season he missed a game over the weekend because of his back. 
Coach Steve Clifford suggested when the 23-year-old small forward returns he could be on a minutes restriction, but the Hornets rely heavily on defense and that’s the strength of Kidd-Gilchrist’s game. 
The Hornets are thin at his position and have started rookie Treveon Graham in his place. Veteran Marco Belinelli also logged time there off the bench as the duo split those minutes. – by J. Michael


San Antonio’s 34-year-old Tony Parker is back on the court after missing four of the Spurs first eight games with a knee issue. He’s starting and once again putting up Tony Parker-like numbers. He had a season-high 16 points in the Spurs’ 106-100 win over Houston on Saturday. Danny Green has also returned after missing the first eight games with a strained left quad. Nine different players have started a game for San Antonio through the first 10 games. Their defense is in midseason form (their defensive rating is ranked 7th in the NBA) and they continue to systematically destroy teams with their efficient offensive effort in which their offensive rating of 107.7 is the sixth-best mark in the NBA. If you haven’t heard Gregg Popovich’s thoughts on the 2016 presidential election, it’s a must listen, regardless of party affiliation. – by James Ham


Dwyane Wade, never one to mince words, finally spoke out about his departure from the Miami Heat to the Chicago Bulls last week. 

Wade didn't deny he thought he would be a member of the Heat forever, but with contract negotiations becoming more and more tenuous over the past several years, it became clear a change was probable last summer--and the Bulls swooped in to take advantage. 

“I thought it was an opportunity I would be there forever, but s--t happens,” Wade said in an exclusive interview with CSNChicago.com after the Bulls’ 112-80 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday night “And when s--t happens, you gotta be prepared to (move on). I found out very quickly that this is a business.”

Heat President Pat Riley and Wade haven't spoken since his departure but on the day Wade returned to Miami as a member of the Bulls, Riley finally pressed send on an email he had addressed to his former star the day he left. 

Wade, wanting to end the back and forth, refused comment on the matter Saturday night. -- by Vincent Goodwill

Blakely: Why Celtics should feel pretty lucky on St. Pat's

Blakely: Why Celtics should feel pretty lucky on St. Pat's

It’s hard being an NBA fan and not thinking about the Celtics on St. Patrick’s Day.

All that green, the shamrocks and the libations that so many of us enjoy even more today than most days, it’s pretty cool and certainly something – well, for me at least – to be thankful for.

The Celtics, yeah, they got a few – quite a few - things to be thankful for as well.

So what better day to point a few of them out than the unofficial holiday of the Celtics, St. Patrick’s Day.


When Danny Ainge drafted Terry Rozier three years ago, I admit I wasn’t a believer. You had guards, Danny Ainge. What do you need another one for? Draft Sam Dekker from Wisconsin, or UVA’s Justin Anderson. Hey, that kid Bobby Portis from Arkansas looks pretty good, too.

Ainge and the Celtics took a look at all those guys and came away convinced that Rozier was the best fit for what the wanted both in the short and long-term from that draft.

While Rozier has not emerged as a star, he has shown us all more than enough to know that he’s a pretty damn good player.

And throw in the fact that the dude was born on St. Patrick’s Day - as was Ainge - how can this guy not have a little bit of luck on his side?


LeBron James’ timing has been impeccable when it comes to leaving for greener pastures. So, when Kyrie Irving let the Cavs know he wanted out of Cleveland, it took a minute to sink that they were about to be LeBron’d by someone other than LeBron. But in making his desire to be traded, Irving was giving the Cavs an opportunity to get something in return for shipping him out to who knows where. The Cavs eventually wound up with a couple of draft picks, with one being a coveted first-rounder via Brooklyn in June’s NBA draft along with a trio of players headlined by Isaiah Thomas who was still on the mend from a hip injury.

The injury took longer to heal and the Cavs wound up trading Thomas and ex-Celtic Jae Crowder to teams out West.

Today, Cleveland is treading water as a middle-of-the-pack club that has shown very few signs of late that they will be nothing more than first-round fodder for some team with deep playoff aspirations and a roster ready to make that happen.

And Irving?

He was named to his fifth All-Star team and has spent most of this season playing for a Boston team that until recently held down best record in the East and currently sits in the No. 2 spot.

Irving is dealing with a sore left knee that has limited him recently to not playing, but it doesn’t appear to be an injury that will significantly impact what he does in the postseason for a Celtics team that, despite all their injuries, still holds out hope of making a strong postseason run.


Whenever you ask Brad Stevens about his decision to leave Butler for the Celtics in the NBA, he makes it clear from the outset how difficult a decision it was for him and his family.

Just imagine if Stevens had won a national title instead of having a pair of national runner-up finishes to his name? Leading a mid-major like Butler to an NCAA title, which would have meant slaying UConn or Duke in the process? Stevens would have been more than just a big deal on the Butler campus. He would have been seen as a basketball god who would have had an even tougher time walking away from what he had helped build at Butler.

So Celtics fans, be thankful for Duke and UConn because without their national title game wins over Butler, there’s a very good chance that Brad Stevens would not be coaching the Celtics now.


Remember back in 2013 when Danny Ainge had the serious basketball man crush on Duke’s Justise Winslow, a player that he was willing to trade plenty of draft picks (reportedly as many as four first-round picks) to acquire the rights to draft?

Ainge suspected the Miami Heat would select him with the No. 10 pick, so Ainge tried to swing a deal with the Charlotte Hornets who were in the No. 9 slot.

Charlotte liked Winslow, but they were more smitten with Frank Kaminsky. Because of that, they wouldn’t do a deal with the Celtics.

Not doing that deal allowed Boston to have the kind of assets to eventually acquire Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Irving, moves that have collectively led to Boston’s surge towards the top of the NBA standings despite having the fifth-youngest team in the NBA.

Winslow, selected by the Heat with the 10th overall pick, has come nowhere close to being the impact player Miami was hoping they would get. And while Kaminsky has had some decent stretches, he too has been a bit underwhelming. Meanwhile, Boston kept its 16th overall pick and used it to select Rozier who as it turns out, has arguably been the best player among the trio.

Having a good scouting staff is important, of course.

But a little luck every now and then doesn’t hurt, either.




Against Magic, C's do what they're supposed to

Against Magic, C's do what they're supposed to

Beating one of the few teams already eliminated from the playoff race is in itself not that big a deal.

It’s called doing what you’re supposed to do.

But for these Celtics, their 92-83 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night was more than just another victory.

It was the latest installment in a season filled with teachable moments and lessons that can bolster in some fashion their chances at a deep playoff run.

While there’s no way they’re going to go far without their core guys Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, getting guys to fill in for them and still manage to win, is important in this team’s overall development in both the present and future.

No one on the Celtics’ roster can score like Irving, the league’s 11th-ranked scorer at 24.4 points per game.

Still, getting his fill-ins Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin to go for 17 and 10 points certainly helps.

And Jaylen Brown’s ability to play both ends of the floor at a high level is huge, but rookie Abdel Nader has shown he too has some potential to be a solid two-way talent.

Smart’s defense sets him apart from others, but the Celtics collectively were able to make up for that with an impressive defensive rating of 83.1 against the Orlando.

And their collective efforts serve as yet another teachable moment for the Celtics.

Here are five takeaways from a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might lead one to believe: 

There may not be another Celtic whose stock has risen more than Terry Rozier’s this season. He has become a reliable two-way talent off the bench whose capable of giving you starter-like production when needed. He had 17 points against the Magic along with seven rebounds and five assists.

With Marcus Smart (right thumb) out for the rest of the regular season, Terry Rozier in the starting lineup along with Marcus Morris, those are three really big chunks of Boston’s second unit no longer coming off the bench. The second unit players might have been different, but that didn’t affect the Celtics’ bench from impacting the game in a significant way. Against the Magic, they outscored Orlando’s backups, 39-28. 

He signed with the Boston Celtics at a time when a role for him was far from defined. His patience and Boston’s faith in him has paid for both as Larkin continues to be that utility player that Brad Stevens has leaned on at times. Larkin was solid off the bench, scoring 10 points.

This may be one of the closest Coach of the Year votes we have ever had in the NBA. Regardless how short the list may be, you can bet Brad Stevens will be on it. The way he has been positioning the Celtics to be among the last teams standing despite all the injuries they have endured this season, speaks to his ability to not just draw up X's and O’s but also his ability to develop players who when called upon to play, are more than ready for the challenge.

It’s fair to expect the Celtics are going to be short-handed for the rest of the season, which means those still around have to step their game up – Horford included.

For Horford, stepping up involves being more assertive as a scorer and not rely as much on his skills as a play-maker. We saw that from Horford on Friday, as he tallied a near double-double of 15 points and nine rebounds but more important, he took a game-high 18 shot attempts.