Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: 'Bad call' costs Celtics in loss to Bulls

Stars, studs and duds: 'Bad call' costs Celtics in loss to Bulls

The Boston Celtics didn’t play their best game on Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls, making the kind of mistakes you expect just before the all-star break.

But their 104-103 loss at Chicago left a truly bitter taste in the Celtics’ mouth and it wasn’t just because of their four-game winning streak being snapped.

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It had more to do with the questionable call against Marcus Smart defending Jimmy Butler, a play in which official Zach Zarba called a foul with 0.9 seconds to play.

“Horrible call,” Isaiah Thomas told reporters after the loss. “Bad call cost us a game, cost us a game. That’s horrible.

Thomas added, “You see him raise his hand up like it was a foul; the Bulls were even shocked. That’s horrible man. It cost you a game you should have won. That’s a bad call.”

Replays showed that the contact Smart was whistled for came with 1.0 to 1.2 seconds to play.

But the call from Zarba came with less than a tenth of a second to play, a call made that wasn't made until Butler’s shot attempt clearly going to come up short.

“When Jimmy shot the ball, I heard him scream, ‘no foul?’” Smart told reporters. “As soon as he said that, the whistle blew and I looked and I saw him (Zarba) raise his hands. I couldn’t believe it. He made the call. You gotta live with it.”

Said Kelly Olynyk: “We thought we won the game. A roller coaster of emotions; it’s tough.”

As disappointed as they are with the loss, the Celtics know there’s nothing they can do about it other than use it as added motivation going forward to play better throughout the course of the game so that the outcome doesn’t come down to possibly being decided in such a questionable manner.

“It’s part of it; you move forward,” Celtics’ Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. “I thought we played a pretty good game. All things considered, being six (games) in nine (days) I was proud of the way we competed. I’m not going to let that (questionable call), de-rail that. I feel good about our team and I feel good about the direction we’re headed.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in tonight’s game against Chicago.

 

STARS

Jimmy Butler

Regardless of the questionable call in the final second of play, Butler still had to make the game-winning free throws to get the win. He finished with 29 points and seven assists.

Isaiah Thomas

He finished with 29 points, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter. He also had seven assists with three rebounds.

 

STUDS

Robin Lopez

His activity around the rim was huge for the Bulls, as he finished with 15 points and eight rebounds with two blocked shots.

Kelly Olynyk

He continues to give the Celtics a nice lift off the bench. He had 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting against the Bulls, in addition to seven rebounds and four assists.

Bobby Portis

The Celtics had problems most of the game keeping Portis in check. He finished with 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting with eight rebounds.

  

DUDS

Al Horford

Rough, rough night for Horford against the Bulls. He had just seven points while missing seven of his 10 shot attempts which included a potential game-winner as the final horn sounded. Just as bad, he was a non-factor on the boards which is where Boston desperately needed him to step up and help.  

Celtics defensive rebounding

Boston’s inability to keep the Bulls off the offensive glass was a huge factor in the game’s outcome. The Bulls’ control of the offensive boards resulted in a 22-4 advantage on second-chance points.

Kyrie's 47 points help Celtics push winning streak to 16 games

Kyrie's 47 points help Celtics push winning streak to 16 games

Flat. Round. Octagon.
 
It doesn’t matter.
 
This is Kyrie Irving’s world, one in which he can do some pretty amazing things like lead the Boston Celtics to an improbable comeback that finally ended with a 110-102 overtime win for Boston.
 
Irving delivered as near-flawless a game scoring the ball as we’ve seen since he became a Boston Celtic.
 
He finished with a game-high 47 points, which included 10 in overtime as the Celtics (16-2) extended their winning to 16 straight which ties the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
Jumpers. 3-pointers. Lay-ups.
 
Irving gave the Celtics anything and everything they needed down the stretch for what might have been the toughest win for them during this amazing stretch of success.
 
We have seen the Celtics blaze their way down the comeback trail before, and Monday was no exception. They closed out the fourth quarter with a 17-7 run over the final 5:22 to force the overtime session.
 
Boston led for most of the first half, but Dallas opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run to lead 58-53, and continued to surge ahead before the third finally ended with the Mavericks pulling ahead to the fourth quarter with a 77-69 lead.
 
The Mavericks continued to control the game for most of the fourth quarter and took their first double-digit lead, 83-72, following a driving lay-up by Yogi Ferrell which led to Brad Stevens calling a time-out with 9:19 to play.
 
Boston’s struggles in the second half were in sharp contrast to what the Celtics were able to do in the first two quarters.

The Celtics went on a 25-8 run in the first quarter which set the tone for the C's 34-22 lead at the end of the first.

Boston went to its bench and they did what we’ve seen them do a lot this season, missing a bunch of wide open to lightly contested shots from the field.

Stevens has been looking for them to develop some kind of flow offensively, and probably kept them on the floor longer than he should have.

Boston’s double-digit lead was all but wiped out in the second quarter, with the Mavericks coming within 44-43 following a 3-poiner by Wesley Matthews. The Celtics managed to take a slimmer-than-expected 53-49 lead into the half.

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Celtics thought it would be good . . . but this good?

celtics_mavs_horford_ferrell.jpg

Celtics thought it would be good . . . but this good?

After arriving in Boston and spending some time with his new teammates, Kyrie Irving felt good about this group doing big things this season. 

But when asked about the experience thus far being what he thought it would be, Irving responded, “It’s probably exceeded that.”

He’s not alone. 

Few would have envisioned the Celtics (15-2) would have the best record in the NBA at this point, let alone be riding a 15-game winning streak which ranks as the fifth-best winning streak in franchise history. 

Irving and his Celtics teammates will try and keep it going tonight when they take on the Dallas Mavericks.

Irving’s ability to mesh with his teammates and still find success was among the many questions out there when the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the blockbuster trade this offseason. 

Blending in has not been an issue for Irving, bolstered by the reality that his game stands out. 

We saw that in Boston’s 110-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks, which was a game in which Irving had 30 points on an insanely efficient 10-for-12 shooting night. 

There were many factors that went into Irving’s strong night against the Hawks, but he said it really came down to one thing above all else.

“I just made some damn shots for once,” Irving quipped. “That right there kind of made it seem better than I actually been shooting over the start of the season.  It would also contribute to being able to be in the right spots and guys being selfless in their approach driving to the basket or getting into the paint. It’s tell-tale sign of all of us getting more comfortable.”

Here are five below-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on as the Boston Celtics face the Dallas Mavericks, with Boston gunning for its 16th straight win. 

BROWN’S POSITIVE PLAY

Jaylen Brown has been on a bit of an offensive tear of late, the last being a career-high 27-point performance in Boston’s win over Atlanta. But even more telling is how well things seem to flow with him on the floor. Brown’s plus/minus this season is +146 which is tops among all players in the Eastern Conference. His closest competition in the East? That would teammate Al Horford whose plus/minus this season is +143. In addition, Horford has had a positive plus/minus in every game this season. 

YOGI FERRELL

You can count Yogi Ferrell among the ones that got away from Brad Stevens when he was coaching at Butler. Ferrell, who played at Indiana, was a player on Stevens’ radar when he was coaching at Butler. “I recruited Yogi, unsuccessfully,” Stevens told reporters in Dallas. While Ferrell came on strong as an undrafted free agent with the Mavericks last season, Stevens said there’s nothing about Ferrell’s game now that he didn’t see when he tried to woo him to Butler. “He would have been awfully good at Butler,” Stevens said.

HOMECOMING

While Marcus Smart grew up in Flower Mound, Texas (less than an hour from Dallas), tonight’s game is a homecoming of sorts for another Celtics player – Semi Ojeleye. The 6-foot-7 forward played at SMU which is located in Dallas. A second-round pick by Boston in last June’s NBA draft, Ojeleye has been among the many surprise performers for the Celtics this season. “We knew he could be a versatile defender,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Probably has exceeded our expectations in that regard with his ability to guard one (point guard) through five (center) at certain times. And he’s been pretty consistent shooting the ball. Right now, embracing that kind of 3-and-D role is what he has to do and he’s done it well.”

DEEP DRAFT CLASS

The Boston Celtics struck gold by drafting Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick. But as you look at the teams that had lottery picks in last June’s NBA draft, few come away feeling disappointed or discouraged by the player selected. The Dallas Mavericks are among the teams pleased with their first-round pick, Dennis Smith Jr. who was selected with the ninth overall pick. He has emerged as one of the top rookies this year, averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. And yes, he was a player that was on the Celtics’ radar leading up to last June’s draft. “We had Dennis in and he was really impressive,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He’s a guy that’s going to have a great career and he’s got good veteran players around him to help kick it off.”

DIRK NOWITZKI

The numbers aren’t anywhere close to what we’ve seen for the bulk of Dirk Nowitzki’s illustrious career that’s now in Year 20. But there is a demeanor about him that seems to be at peace with where he’s at basketball-wise, even if the wins aren’t nearly as plentiful as he’s accustomed to. “I appreciate his game a ton,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Just watching him talk on the court, cheer on the bench, sit at the scorer’s table with a smile on his face. You can’t play this long and be this good this long if you don’t’ love it. Everybody says they love it, but he’s got a different level of passion. You can feel it, you can see it. You root for guys like him to have success.”

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