Halftime stars, studs and duds: Leonard leading the way for Spurs

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Leonard leading the way for Spurs

The Boston Celtics shot the ball better than 52 percent in the first quarter, the kind of numbers you would love to see on the road. 

But there was a problem. 

San Antonio connected on 65 percent of its first quarter shots which set the tone for the Spurs to take a 56-47 lead into the half. 

After falling behind by as many as 11 points, the Celtics rallied in the second quarter with a 15-4 run that gave them a 43-42 lead with 3:34 to play in the half. 

That would be as good as it would get for the Celtics with the Spurs closing out the half with a 14-2 run of their own.

Here are the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from tonight’s game.



Kawhi Leonard

The two-time Defensive Player of the Year was leading the way for the Spurs. He went into the half with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting. 

Avery Bradley

The Celtics defensive stud this his part at the offensive end of the floor in the first half. He led all scorers with 16 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals. 



Terry Rozier

He made a couple baskets late in the shot clock, rebound and defend at a fairly high level in the first half for Boston. He has 10 points and three rebounds. 

David Lee

When the Spurs were rolling, Lee’s versatility had a lot to do with it. Although he only had four points in the first half, Lee had eight rebounds and two assists.

Manu Ginobili

Ginobili provided a nice lift for the Spurs in the first quarter, in addition to making some timely plays for San Antonio before the half. After two quarters of play, he had 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting. 



Al Horford

Despite San Antonio’s frontline being significantly weaker with LaMarcus Aldridge (rest) not playing, Horford was unable to do much work around the rim. He finished the half with four points on 2-for-8 shooting.

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

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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