Once again, LeBron and Pierce star at the Garden

Once again, LeBron and Pierce star at the Garden

BOSTON – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the Celtics' 121-99 loss to Cleveland:

Paul Pierce

He didn’t take a single shot, didn’t log a single minute on the floor. But make no mistake about it: this was his day. The outcome wasn’t anything close to what Celtics Nation would have liked to have seen, but a chance to witness Pierce’s jersey No. 34 going up to the rafters...Priceless.

LeBron James
Things got so out of hand for Cleveland that LeBron James only played a little more than one half of the game. That said, in 28 minutes he still managed a double-double of 24 points and 10 assists, finishing just two rebounds shy of what would have been his third straight triple-double.

Marcus Morris
Getting the starting nod, Marcus Morris made the most of it by doing what he seems to do best for Boston – get buckets. He would tally 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting.

Jordan Clarkson
That element of instant offense that the Cavs know they need coming off the bench, Clarkson showed he may be the guy to provide that going forward. He had 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Terry Rozier
It wasn’t one of his better shooting nights, but to Rozier’s credit, he appeared to compete at a high level throughout his time on the floor. He would tally 16 points off the bench along with nine rebounds.

Rodney Hood
Another first-timer for the Cavs, Hood looked very comfortable with Cleveland’s second unit, finishing with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting.

Kyrie Irving
He had 18 points and shot 7-for-14 from the field, which are both solid numbers. But the Celtics desperately needed him to elevate his play today, and that never happened. Irving has the kind of talent that has to be held to a much higher standard – a superstar standard – compared to most players. And on this day, against his former team, Irving never came close to meeting that standard.


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.


The Kyrie brand continues to expand

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The Kyrie brand continues to expand

LOS ANGELES – With Tinseltown as the backdrop, Kyrie Irving’s acting debut in the film, "Uncle Drew the Movie," will officially hit movie theaters this summer.

A five-time All-star and NBA champion, Irving is one of the few NBA players with a signature shoe deal.

And that deal, along with him venturing into the film game, speaks to the ever-expansion of the Irving brand. During Saturday’s media scrum, a time when the sports journalism world chimes in with a wide array of questions for the best players on the planet, some of the first ones asked were in regards to his upcoming movie.

They came from former Celtic Nate Robinson, who is in the movie as well.

That said, it still doesn’t diminish the fact that Irving is setting himself up to be more than just a talented basketball player.

“It comes with a lot of sacrifice, privacy,” Irving said before adding, “but you get a chance to put your creative influence and inspiration on things that have helped you develop as a person. You get to share that with the world. That’s pretty awesome. And you get to share it through art, through my game, through different avenues of sponsorship and you’re able to get that message through to people. That’s pretty awesome. I try to take full advantage of that.”

Part of Irving’s all-star weekend was spending time with the press to speak specifically about his upcoming movie.

Irving also made public appearances for corporate partners such as Mountain Dew.

There was a time not that long ago when the idea of an athlete having interests outside of basketball were frowned upon.

But Irving has been moving to a different beat for as long as he has been playing the game of basketball.

And that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

“Sometimes because of the way we’re put on this platform, people have opinions on the way that we should be, how we should act, things that we should be involved with,” Irving said. “The important thing that get’s glazed over is that we’re human beings. So, it’s pretty tough finding that balance.

Irving added, "For me, it’s just about respect all people. That’s something I always try to hammer home, something I was taught as a kid. It’s crazy. You get slack for saying stuff about certain things and feeling strongly, and if you don’t say enough you get the bad end of that as well. If you feel confident and you’re knowledgeable on a lot of things and you feel strongly about it, you should go for it. Everyone has a voice and they should be respected.”