Celtics-Kings review: What we saw


Celtics-Kings review: What we saw

SACRAMENTO, Calif. Lately, the Boston Celtics have managed to win games despite not playing their best. In those games, there was always a stretch of play when their defense took over.

But on Friday, the Celtics' defense could do nothing right as the Sacramento Kings pulled away for a surprisingly easy 120-95 win.

"We have to understand who we are," said Paul Pierce. "We're a defensive group. We tried to play their game, got caught in the run and gun instead of settling down, getting the ball to Kevin more on the inside, taking advantage of that; settling a lot for perimeter jumpers which allowed them to get out on the break and take advantage of their speed and quickness."

Kevin Garnett, your thoughts on the team's decisively lopsided loss?

"Probably like outside today," Garnett said. "Grey, muggy and slow."

Fortunately for the Celtics (23-20), they don't have to think about tonight's loss for too long, not with another road game at Denver Saturday night. Several factors contributed to the loss. Here's a look back at a few factors that were highlighted before the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR - Boston likes to get out in transition and score, but that only can happen if they are playing consistent defense and getting rebounds. Good luck with a that last point. The Kings have had a slew of problems all year, but rebounding the ball isn't one of them. The C's are starting to show some signs of improvement on the boards, but they remain dead-last in rebounding this season with 46.5 per game. Meanwhile, the Kings are the NBA's 11th-best rebounding team at 51.4 per game.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston once again had a rough night on the boards, as the Kings out-rebounded them, 45-28. It was the fifth time since returning from the all-star break that an opponent has out-rebounded them by double-digit rebounds.

MATCHUP TO WATCH - Kevin Garnett vs. DeMarcus Cousins: This will be a tough matchup for Garnett defensively because of Cousins' size (6-11, 270) and strength. It wouldn't be that big a shock if Garnett is matched up with Sacramento's Jason Thompson at the start of the game. Still, Garnett has shown the ability to get the job done most nights regardless of who is playing center for the opposition. "I don't think there's a big difference in those positions," said Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, who added that Brandon Bass will guard the bulkier frontcourt player some nights.

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett certainly got into Cousins' head a little bit, but it didn't matter. Cousins is that good. Really. He had 20 points and seven rebounds, displaying the kind of game that if he can keep his head on straight - and that's a big 'if' - he could easily develop into one of the top two or three centers in the NBA. "He's crafty. He's better," said Garnett, who had 10 points and nine rebounds. "His antics and all the things that come with it, is just part of the game."

PLAYER TO WATCH: One player who has come on of late and provided a huge lift for the Celtics, has been Greg Stiemsma. The 7-foot rookie has been surprisingly effective coming off the bench. In addition to being a defensive presence, he's also getting more chances to score around the basket and from the perimeter. "In the last three games, Stiemsma has started playing well again," said Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations. "He's sort of back in his rhythm. He's had three decent games in a row."

WHAT WE SAW: Stiemsma had some moments early on, but it was clear that he and the rest of the Celtics bigs had no answer for Cousins. In addition to his scoring, he also handed out four assists. Stiemsma played about 16 minutes and finished with zero points, but he grabbed four rebounds and blocked three shots.

STAT TO TRACK: You won't find too many matchups pitting two teams against each other that are at such extremes when it comes to ball movement. The Celtics average 23.3 assist per game which ranks third in the NBA. The Kings are not as fortunate. They average 18 assists per game, which ranks dead-last in the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW: The ball was moving well all game for the Kings, who had 29 assists on 46 made field goals. The C's weren't too shabby in this area, with 25 assists on 36 made baskets.

Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout


Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

NEWARK, N.J. Charlie McCoy scored in the 11th round of the shootout to lift the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Anton Khudobin made 40 saves as Boston improved to 9-7-4 with its third straight win-all with Khudobin in goal.

Jake DeBrusk and Patrice Bergeron scored first period goals for the Bruins.

New Jersey has dropped three of its last five in falling to 12-5-4.

Jesper Bratt and Brian Gibbons scored for the Devils, and Cory Schneider made 27 saves.

The shootout opened with Hall and David Pastrnak trading goals. And it stayed that way until McAvoy's game-winner

Prior to the extra period, the first of three regular season meetings between the longtime Eastern Conference rivals was essentially a special teams affair.

Despite not scoring on their four power plays and surrendering a man advantage goal to the Devils, it was the Bruins who left with two points thanks to two first period even strength strikes and the play of their ostensible backup goaltender.

The Bruins struck first when rookie left winger DeBrusk opened the scoring with his fifth of the season with a shot from the right circle at 1:25. And Bergeron added to Boston's lead with his fifth of the season at 11:02.

The Bruins had a two-goal lead and Khudobin, who made his third straight start, tried to make it hold up with a pad save on a Nico Hischier break-in with and a diving stop on Travis Zajac in a span of 1:13. But there was nothing he could do on Bratt's power play goal with 2:50 left as New Jersey's rookie right winger lifted a loose puck in the slot to halve the deficit while Brian Boyle was tied up with Zdeno Chara in front of Khudobin. A video review upheld the goal.

The game remained 2-1 until the Devils equalized on Gibbons' top-of-the-crease deflection with 4:44 left in regulation. Up to that point, though, Khudobin was the story as the netminder stopped a Blake Coleman shorthanded attempt with 10:35 left in the second. Khudobin also benefitted from Hischier, the first overall pick in last June's NHL draft, losing control of the puck alongside the goal line late in the period. Midway through the third, Khudobin stoned Hischier from the top of the crease.

The Devils outshot the Bruins, 42-29.

NOTES: Prior to the game, New Jersey announced RW Kyle Palmieri would miss 4-6 weeks with a broken right foot, suffered in the Devils' 4-3 overtime win in Minnesota Monday. The team later announced Palmieri had been placed on the injured reserve retroactive to Monday. .New Jersey scratched D Dalton Prout and RW Stefan Noesen. .Bruins C Ryan Spooner dressed for the first time since suffering a torn right adductor on Oct. 15. .Boston scratched LW Matt Beleskey, D Torey Krug and D Paul Postma. .The Bruins did not have LW Anders Bjork (undisclosed), LW Brad Marchand (upper body injury), RW David Backes (colon surgery) and D Adam McQuaid (broken right fibula). .Boston announced RW Jordan Szwarz had been sent down to AHL Providence. .The Devils announced Friday's home game against Vancouver will coincide with the team hosting the NHL and NHLPA "joint initiative Hockey Fights Cancer" as part of the "annual Cancer Awareness Month."


Bruins: Host Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.

Devils: Host Vancouver Friday night.


Mistakes burn Celtics in 104-98 loss to Heat, ending win streak


Mistakes burn Celtics in 104-98 loss to Heat, ending win streak

For the past few games, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens hinted about his team showing signs of slippage in his team’s play and overall execution.

“We need to get back, better attention to detail, from the last couple of games we had,” Stevens told reporters prior to the game. “Our techniques haven’t been great the last couple games.”

It finally caught up to them, as the Celtics could not muster up the usual defensive stops and clutch shot-making that catapulted them to one of the greatest runs in franchise history that came to an end Wednesday night as the Heat ended Boston’s 16-game winning streak by handing the Celtics a 104-98 loss.

The Miami backcourt of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters scored 27 and 26 points, respectively. Meanwhile, the Celtics were led by Kyrie Irving’s 23 points and Jayson Tatum who had 18 points and seven rebounds.

The Celtics (16-3) suffered their first loss since the second game of the season against Milwaukee (108-100), and their first road defeat since a 102-99 season-opening loss at Cleveland.

Trailing by 16 points at the start of the fourth quarter, Boston made it a single-digit game (91-84) following a 3-pointer by Tatum.

But when it mattered most, Boston made way too many mistakes and didn’t capitalize on the opportunities to put serious pressure on the Heat.

  • Trailing 91-89, Marcus Smart split a pair of free throws.
  • Trailing 94-90, Al Horford – an 83.8 percent free throw shooter coming into tonight’s game – missed a pair of free throws.
  • Down 97-92, Jaylen Brown throws a full-court errant pass that sails out of bounds.
  • Celtics down 99-94 with less than a minute to play force a missed shot, but fail to get the rebound as it sails out of bounds off Terry Rozier.

It was that kind of game for the Celtics, whose 16-game winning streak is a thing of the past that was the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

Boston once again found itself playing from behind in the first half, with the Heat pulling ahead by as many as 18 points. However, an 11-6 run to end the second quarter by Boston trimmed Miami’s lead at the half down to 54-41 at the half.

The third quarter has usually been the start of Boston’s comeback.

But to the Heat’s credit, Miami was able to maintain their double-digit lead until a 3-pointer by Al Horford made it a 58-50 game with just over eight minutes to play.

But the Heat responded with four straight points which put Miami up 62-50, leading to a Brad Stevens time-out with 7:28 to play in the third.

The Celtics continued to try and battle back, but the Heat refused to budge on its double-digit lead which stood at 16 points (79-63) going into the fourth quarter.