Shorthanded Celtics fall to Nuggets, 89-75


Shorthanded Celtics fall to Nuggets, 89-75

By A.Sherrod Blakely

DENVER The Boston Celtics have got this playing short-handed thing down to a science.

Just when it seems that they can't possibly play with fewer bodies, you have games like Thursday night's in which the C's trotted out eight players -- no, make that nine when you throw in D-League call-up Chris Johnson.

The lack of bodies, courtesy of Danny Ainge trading away a third of the team's roster, eventually proved to be too big a hurdle for the Celtics to overcome as the Denver Nuggets pulled away in the game's closing minutes for an 89-75 win.

Paul Pierce led all Celtics with 17 points, but he did it on 7-for-18 shooting. Denver was led by Kenyon Martin's game-high 18 points.

For the better part of three quarters, the C's played an inspired brand of basketball, which was surprising when you consider how down in the dumps they were prior to tip-off.

The C's were clearly saddened by all of the trades, with the one making the most impact being Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson being shipped to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green (a former Celtics draft pick) and Nenad Krstic.

Boston also traded rookies Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for a future second-round pick. In addition, Marquis Daniels was traded to Sacramento along with cash, for a second-round pick.

It was indeed an emotionally draining day for the Celtics, who did not learn about the trades until shortly after the team's morning shoot-around.

Disappointed, the Celtics knew they had to move on regardless of how much it hurt to no longer play with guys that they had grown close to.

"It hurts. I ain't gonna lie," Perkins told CSNNE.com after learning that he was traded. "There's a lot of love in that locker room, for sure."

But that love only goes so far.

Because when all is said and done, the game's have to go on.

"At the end of the day, we gotta remember," said Boston's Delonte West. "We're professionals and this is part of the game."

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

Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

PHILADELPHIA – Despite playing its second straight game without a key rotation player, the Boston Celtics did just enough to get their first win of the season, 102-92, over Philadelphia.

Boston (1-2) was led by Kyrie Irving’s game-high 21 points, but it was Shane Larkin's floor game down the stretch that truly catapulted Boston to its first win of the season.

Larkin, who was seeing action in large part because Marcus Smart was out with a left ankle injury, provided a huge spark in the fourth before finishing with 10 points and four assists.

He drained a 3-pointer that tied the game at 75-all, which was part of an 18-9 Celtics run.

The Sixers (0-2) were led by J.J. Redick and Jerryd Bayless who had 19 and 18 points, respectively. Joel Embiid got off to a slow start, but finished with a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Boston played with a lead for most of the first half, but Philadelphia took over with a 7-0 run to end the second quarter and had the Celtics playing catch-up for all of the third and some of the fourth quarter.

Boston was once again short-handed, with Marcus Smart out with a left ankle injury. He replaced Gordon Hayward, whose left ankle injury in the first quarter of Boston’s loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, is expected to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

But with players out, that opens up opportunities for others to step up.

Larkin, who walked away from a contract overseas that would have paid about $5 million more than he’s making with the Celtics, was one of those players.

Aron Baynes, who got the start with Smart out, had 10 points and eight rebounds. Boston also got another strong game off the bench from Terry Rozier who had 14 points and seven rebounds


Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford


Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.


“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”