Stars, studs and duds: Celtics 'took care of business' in blowout win

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics 'took care of business' in blowout win

BOSTON – With more than two minutes left, the Boston Celtics’ crowd saw the unexpected – Gino on the jumbotron.

If you see Gino, the medium shirt, bell bottom pants-wearing figure from the iconic dance show American Bandstand, you know the Celtics are winning rather convincingly.

There’s no other way to put what happened in Friday's 128-98 blowout win against the Magic.


It equaled their largest win of the season which came last month against the same Orlando Magic team.

But more than that, it allowed Boston to rest key players knowing they are in the middle of a four-games-in-five-nights stretch that includes a road matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

Even if the Celtics weren’t playing the Bucks, Brad Stevens and the rest of his team needed a night like this.

“Most of our games have been one possession, two possession, three possession games,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “It is nice.”

And while Boston dominated play most of the night, it was their play in the third quarter that really put the game away.

“It was a good example of how you need to come out in the third quarter and play when you have a lead,” Stevens said. “I thought we played with good spirit, good purpose, and then I thought that third period allowed us to rest those guys in the fourth, and we’ve got a lot of games this week so hopefully that’s a good thing.”

It certainly was for Isaiah Thomas and most of the starters with all on the bench for the entire fourth quarter except for rookie Jaylen Brown.

“It was nice,” Thomas said. “I mean, I wanted to play really, but it was good to get one of those wins. We haven’t had one this season (at home) so it was good for our confidence and to know that we played the right way and we took care of business and we got another one tomorrow (against Milwaukee).”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night’s game.



Isaiah Thomas

It was another milestone night for Thomas. He finished with a game-high 21 points which was the 30th straight game he had 20 or more points scored. The last Celtic to do so was Kevin McHale in 1986 – three years before Thomas was born.

Jae Crowder

The shots continue to fall and an extremely efficient rate for Crowder. He had 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting to go with six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot.



Nikola Vucevic

He was the one relatively bright spot for the Magic, showing off the skills that make him a player a number of teams – including the Celtics – have interest in. He finished with 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting along with seven rebounds and two assists.

Jaylen Brown

The rookie showed a little bit of everything on Friday, scoring both off the drive, from the line and from 3-point range. He wound up with a career-high 20 points accompanied by eight rebounds (a career-high) and two assists.

Bismack Biyombo

The final numbers – 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting with seven rebounds – look respectable. But like most of his team, Biyombo’s play had little impact on the outcome.

Tyler Zeller

Players typically struggle after missing lots of consecutive games. But Zeller reminded us all that he’s a pro who stays ready to play when his number is called. He did just that on Friday, making his first five shots from the field to finish with 10 points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot.  



Serge Ibaka

There was very little Ibaka brought to the game at either end of the floor. He missed six of his eight shot attempts and grabbed as many rebounds as Gino did on the jumbotron after the Magic got waxed by the Celtics. Zero rebounds in 22 minutes is just flat-out embarrassing for a player of Ibaka’s stature.

Jeff Green

Well, at least Green grabbed four rebounds. But beyond that (0-for-5 shooting, two turnovers) he was a non-factor for most of the 16 minutes he logged on the floor.

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