Celtics

Wizards' Lewis struggles with losing situation

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Wizards' Lewis struggles with losing situation

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WASHINGTON We hear all the time about players going from losing situations to winning ones, and the adjustment that has to be made.

Well, what about players who do just the opposite, players like Rashard Lewis?

Lewis began the season with the Orlando Magic, a team that went to the NBA Finals two years ago and was on the short list of legitimate title contenders this season.

After a so-so start by the Magic, Orlando brass felt a change had to be made.

On Dec. 18, Lewis was traded to Orlando for Washington's Gilbert Arenas.

"Our goal with that trade, with all our trades really, is to make this team better," Orlando General Manager Otis Smith told CSNNE.com. "I believe we've done that."

Lewis said the trade definitely caught him off guard.

"I was definitely surprised," Lewis said. "I heard the rumor that morning. I didn't think nothing of it, because you hear a lot of rumors, all the time."

Celtics guard Ray Allen is one of Lewis' closest friends, a relationship that developed when both played for the Seattle Supersonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder).

While the two haven't talked specifically about Lewis' current situation, Allen knows it hasn't been easy for him.

"Obviously, he's been flipped; a guaranteed playoff position (in Orlando) to trying to squeeze in (with Washington)," Allen said. "I know it's an emotional roller coaster."

Even with Washington's 85-83 win over Boston on Saturday, the Wizards' reality hasn't changed.

The Wizards (13-29) are still one of the NBA's worst teams.

For Lewis, coming to grips with that has not been easy, especially when you consider the situation he left in Orlando.

"It's a major challenge," Lewis said. "Not only physically, but mentally. It's mostly a mental challenge when you go from a team that's competing for a title, to a team that's rebuilding."

Part of that rebuilding process is to not only become a more competitive team, but occasionally pull off an upset like Saturday's win over Boston.

Lewis had a game-high 18 points and 11 rebounds, using his 6-foot-11 frame to score over and around Boston's Paul Pierce, who is 6-7, and 6-6 Marquis Daniels who saw extended minutes because of Pierce being in foul trouble.

And then there are the logistical issues, such as relocating his family to another part of the country, meshing with his new teammates, and learning the current system.

"It's a lot of things that mentally, disrupts you a little bit from focusing on the game of basketball," Lewis said. "And then you don't want to come here with a negative attitude, when you know you're going to be in the playoffs and competing for that ring, to coming here trying to make the playoffs. It's tough, especially when they're rebuilding a young team."

But it certainly helps when you have a dynamic player like John Wall, who had 16 points which included some clutch baskets in the fourth quarter to help the Wizards snap a two-game losing skid.

"He's a talented point guard; very, very young," Lewis said. "has a lot of room for improvement. But definitely talented. He's one of the best point guards in the league. He's fast; he might be the fastest point guard in the league. We're at our strength when we can get stops and get him the ball."

Washington also plays to its strengths when they can get Lewis the ball in a mismatch, which happens a lot when he's moved to the small forward position which allows him to take advantage of both his ability to score around the basket as well as from the perimeter.

"Coming up I played center, but I always liked to shoot," he told CSNNE.com. "I've always enjoyed doing both. And as I got older, I had opportunities to do both. It's working for me."

It certainly was on Saturday night, even if it was as part of a rebuilding effort and not a title chase.

"You adjust," Lewis said. "That's all it is, really. Just adjusting to what you have to do in order to help your team reach its goals."

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

Kyrie practices, expected to be back Sunday

Kyrie practices, expected to be back Sunday

WALTHAM, Mass. – Kyrie Irving was able to participate in all of Celtics practice on Saturday and is expected to be back on the floor when the C's host the Orlando Magic on Sunday.

Irving did not play in an 89-80 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday because of soreness in his left shoulder.

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He will continue to receive treatments for the shoulder, “but I’m just ready to go back out there and play,” Irving said. “I’ve had a few days to reset and do the things needed to put myself in a great position to go out there and play.”

Irving said earlier that the shoulder had been bothering him for a couple weeks and an overtime loss to New Orleans on Tuesday didn’t help matters.

Still just 25 but recently named to his fifth All-Star team, Irving’s return could not come at a better time for the Celtics.

Boston (34-12) has the best record in the Eastern Conference, but the C's are riding a two-game losing streak, which is only the third time this season they've lost back-to-back games.

Arguably Boston’s biggest issue in the loss to the Sixers was an offense that struggled in several phases.

Not having Irving available certainly made matters worse, but there were a number of elements of play that with Irving or not, coach Brad Stevens recognizes his team must make a significant improvement in if they are to remain among the top teams in the NBA.

Stevens talked extensively after the loss and again on Saturday about the team not playing hard enough on offense.

“I don’t want to take away from the teams we’re playing against. They’re really guarding us hard,” Stevens said. “But we’ve got to execute harder. The one thing that’s pretty obvious in person and when you watch on film, is we just didn’t play hard enough on offense which is kind of unique. That’s the way I felt.”

Irving said there needs to be an increase in emphasis on their offense, which would make the game easier for everyone.

“Our spacing, our cutting … just playing the game kind of within the game, understanding our talents and where we can make the game easier,” Irving said. “We have very unique talents on this team. When you’re trying to put that together and guys are coming back into the lineup and getting their rhythm still and guys are in and out sometimes … big picture, down the stretch, we’re going to need everyone to be on the same page.”

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Celtics sign Jarrell Eddie to 10-day contract

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Celtics sign Jarrell Eddie to 10-day contract

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics have signed Jarell Eddie to a 10-day contract.

The 6-foot-7 forward, who has spent two seasons in the NBA with Washington and Phoenix, has appeared in 31 NBA games.

More recently, he played with the Gatorade League’s Windy City Bulls. Appearing in 10 games, Eddie, 26, averaged 17.2 points while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 50.7 percent from 3-point range along with 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

He will wear jersey No. 9.