Celtics

Celtics pull away in first half, cruise to 113-86 win over Kings

Celtics pull away in first half, cruise to 113-86 win over Kings

BOSTON – Al Horford drained a 3-pointer that was released a split-second after the red light lit up signaling the end of the second quarter.

That was one of the few things that did not go Boston’s way in the first half, a half in which Boston played from ahead for all but the first 64 seconds.

It was more of the same afterward as Boston steadily pulled away for a relatively easy 113-86 win.

Boston (6-2) has now won six in a row to extend their run during this early stage of the season, atop the Eastern Conference standings.

Jaylen Brown, coming off a strong 18-point performance in Boston’s 108-94 win against San Antonio, picked up where he left off with a strong start to Wednesday’s game against the Kings.

He would tally 22 points in less than three quarters of action. The way the game was going, it was a given that he would have his night end early. But it actually finished a little earlier than anticipated after what appeared to be a minor tweak to his ankle.

Brown stayed on the floor until the first stoppage of play, before being replaced and not returning.

His backcourt mate Kyrie Irving was a matchup problem all game for the Kings (1-7) before finishing with 22 points as well.

For the Kings, veterans Zach Randolph and George Hill led the way with 16 and 10 points, respectively.

Boston’s control of the game was even more impressive considering how well their second unit played against a Sacramento team whose bench has been one of the few bright spots for them this season.

The Kings’ second unit came into Wednesday’s game averaging more than 48 points per game which was tops in the NBA.

But in the first half, it was Boston’s second unit that came up with some first-rate performances as they outscored the Kings’ backups 21-18.

With the game well in hand for most of the fourth quarter, the Kings backups wound up outscoring the 50-46.

This was the Celtics' first game this season against a team that frankly, they should have had no problem defeating.

With so many young players on the roster, no one knew for sure how Boston would handle being in a game that they weren’t just expected to win, but one that should have ended with a decisive victory.

To their credit, the Celtics did exactly what they were supposed to do most of the game which is to defend, share the ball and make open shots.

Boston found success on all those fronts which made Wednesday’s lopsided finish exactly what was supposed to happen based on where both teams are roster-wise and their play this season.

Now comes a Friday night matchup on the road at Oklahoma City, their toughest test of the season since losing Gordon Hayward for the season following a left ankle injury suffered in the season opener that’s expected to keep Hayward off the floor for the rest of the season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BEST OF BST PODCAST: C's back from All-Star break, how will Stevens change rotations?

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg
NBC Sports Boston Photo

BEST OF BST PODCAST: C's back from All-Star break, how will Stevens change rotations?

(1:00) A. Sherrod Blakely joins Boston Sports Tonight to discuss Brad Stevens hinting that he will change the Celtics rotations after All-Star break, and what changes he thinks Brad will make. (4:30) How will Marcus Smart’s return impact Terry Rozier?

(5:40) Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni discuss why the J.D. Martinez announcement was delayed another day as doctors review his physical, and whether Red Sox fans should be concerned.

(11:50) DJ Bean reacts to the Bruins trading Frank Vatrano to the Panthers and Anders Bjork being out for the season following shoulder surgery.

(14:40) Mike Flynn joins Kayce Smith and Tom E. Curran to discuss Sports News article that says that the Denver Broncos could possibly release Aqib Talib. We debate what it would take to get Talib back to New England and how well he would fit in with the Patriots defense. 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics set to play with greater sense of urgency in return to action

Celtics set to play with greater sense of urgency in return to action

WALTHAM, Mass. – The road to getting back atop the Eastern Conference standings for the Boston Celtics following the All-Star break will begin – where else? – on the road.

And that’s a good thing.

Boston, which plays its first two games after the break on the road beginning at Detroit tonight and New York on Saturday, has been among the league’s best all season when it comes to winning on the road.

MORE CELTICS

Only two teams, Golden State (22-7, .759 winning percentage) and Houston (21-7, .750 winning percentage), have a better road winning percentage than the Celtics (19-8, .703 winning percentage) this season.

“Our schedule is really hard as we hit this last home stretch 23 games,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “And that’s a good thing with us. We are going to have to have that urgency.”

Boston (40-19) has lost three straight and four of its last five games.

Aware of how quickly a couple of losses can snowball into a full-blown losing skid, Boston players understand the importance of playing with a greater sense of urgency.

“I think we have a sense of urgency about ourselves,” Brown said. “I think we understand the second half of the season and the importance of it, getting ready for playoffs. And how you can see some of the older guys, Kyrie (Irving), Al (Horford), the attention to detail, the stress about the little things is becoming more evident.” 

Said Irving: “We hit a little bit of a stretch where we haven’t been playing our type of basketball. Not necessarily being as consistent as we’d like to be. We just want to get back to being consistent and doing the right things.”

Stevens added, “Hopefully these little hiccups that we have had prior to the break, which more pertains to who we are playing … hopefully benefit us down the road.”

MORE ON NBCSPORTSBOSTON.COM

Al Horford said more than anything, the Celtics have to ratchet up their attention to details in all phases of play.

“The focus is really now more than any point in the season taking it day-to-day,” Horford said. “And I felt like we got better, today was a good practice. This is a good start, so now for us it’s just to keep building that and just take it game-to-game because these are … the rehearsal games, if you want to call them that. That’s what I like to call it with this group. So, getting everything straightened out for when the playoffs come around.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE