Celtics

Achilles tear end DeMarcus Cousins' season

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Achilles tear end DeMarcus Cousins' season

NEW ORLEANS - DeMarcus Cousins raced down the lane after his missed free throw, trying to make a hustle play and help the New Orleans Pelicans preserve a signature victory over one of the NBA's elite teams.

Moments later, Cousins was sitting on the court, pain in his foot and shock on his face. He tried to get up as his teammates pursued the Houston Rockets toward the other end of the court, then went back down on his back and placed both hands on his head.

Anthony Davis scored 27 points, Cousins had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists before seriously injuring his left Achilles tendon, and New Orleans survived a furious Houston rally for a 115-113 victory on Friday night.

A person familiar with the situation said an MRI confirmed an Achilles tear, ending Cousins' season a little more than a week after he was voted an All-Star starter.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Pelicans have not yet announced the imaging results.

The injury, which occurred with 12 seconds left in the game, all but squelched the jubilation from the Pelicans and their fans, who otherwise would have been celebrating not just a victory over the team with the NBA's second-best record, but a fourth straight victory overall and seventh in eight games.

"We were just figuring everything out. That's the tough part," Davis said. "We've got to keep going and just keep finding a way to win.

"We've got enough guys in here who are professionals who are always ready when their number's called, so we've got to make sure that we stay locked in."

Jrue Holiday scored 21 points and unconventionally sealed the victory by purposely missing a free throw with 1.8 seconds left, causing time to run out as players grappled for the rebound.

"Right now, just praying everything's OK," Holiday said, adding that Cousins' injury made the victory "bittersweet."

"Just unfortunate, really. I think we've been doing really well, got in a great groove," Holiday added, noting that Cousins' triple-double against Houston was his second in three games. "The way we've been playing, and him in particular, has been awesome."

Darius Miller hit six 3-pointers, including one with 1:52 left to give the Pelicans a five-point lead, and finished with 20 points.

Chris Paul scored a season-high 38 points before fouling out in the final seconds and nearly led Houston back from a 21-point, third-quarter deficit. James Harden had 23 points and 11 assists, and Eric Gordon scored 27 points.

"We waited too long to get back in it," Paul said. "We picked up our pace a little bit. We started getting a few stops, and then it was too little, too late."

Houston tied it at 104 on Luc Mbah a Moute's layup with 2:34 to go. And the game was tied once more at 109 on Trevor Ariza's 3 with 1:17 to go before Holiday's driving floater and Cousins' follow shot gave New Orleans the lead for good.

"It is one game of 82," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We deservedly lost, but we will come back."

Cousins, however, might not.

"I feel horrible for him - everything that he's done and what he's tried to do this year for us," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "The improvements in all areas that he's made, on and off the court, it's just been great. I don't want that to happen to a guy that's trying to better himself."

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Horford knows Celtics need to take it one day at a time

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Horford knows Celtics need to take it one day at a time

LOS ANGELES – Al Horford is credited for consistently being someone whose play contributes heavily to winning games.

But it was in defeat in the playoffs nearly a decade ago to the Boston Celtics that has shaped him into the player we see before us today.

“They were a tough team,” Horford said of the eventual NBA champion Celtics. “Defensively, just as good as they come. They looked like a very together group.”

Horford added, “It helped me tremendously. It helped that team that I was with in Atlanta, a lot. To have that experience, to go against the eventual champions but at that time a veteran team like the Celtics, it really but really made me realize the level I needed to play and the things I needed to do to for the team to be successful.”

And those lessons have helped shape the 31-year-old into being a five-time all-star whose teams have been to the playoffs every year he has been in the NBA.

“That first year could not have gone any better. It was a great learning experience and I felt it helped set up the rest of my career,” Horford said.

These days, Horford finds himself as the voice of experience on a Celtics team that has been among the NBA’s best squads for most of this season.

Horford has an open-door policy when it comes to doling out advice and tips for improvement, to his younger teammates.

But he knows first-hand the greatest teacher is experience.

“You can say things but you have to live through different things,” Horford said. “The biggest thing I try to emphasize to them and coach (Brad Stevens) talks about, is embracing the now. It’s about taking advantage of what we have now. 

Horford added, "I've been in the league, this is my 11th year, you never know if you’re going to have the same teammates next year. That happened to us last year. We had a great year and I look around and it’s only four of us remaining. I just think it’s embracing and taking advantage of doing the best you can with the group you have.”

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Horford can cross skills challenge off his bucket list

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Horford can cross skills challenge off his bucket list

LOS ANGELES – After making a near-perfect pass during the early stages of the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Al Horford was feeling good about his chances of winning.

But near the end, the final stage – knocking down a 3-pointer – proved to be Horford’s undoing as Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid eliminated Horford in the first round after Horford missed three consecutive three-pointers.

“It happens. It was fun,” Horford said.

Embiid, who was eliminated in the next round by Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen, said he was nervous before the event.

“I don’t know why. My heart was beating so fast,” Embiid told reporters. “I have no idea. But I thought it was fun.”

Although Horford has been a part of all-star weekend four times prior to tonight, this was the first time he participated in the Skills Challenge.

“It’s different. I normally come as a fan,” he said. “This time it was a little different, just getting your mind set and come out here and compete and win. It’s good to be a part of it. Now I can just scratch that off.”

When I asked him about tips or advice from teammates, he said the only thing they told him was he “had to win it.”

“I let them down so I have to make it up in the season,” said Horford, grinning.

Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie wound up winning the event, over Markkanen.

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