Celtics

Stars, studs, and duds: Improving on perfection

Stars, studs, and duds: Improving on perfection

The Boston Celtics ran the tables in the preseason which they capped off with a 108-100 win over the Charlotte Hornets to finish with a 4-0 preseason record. 

While they clearly played well enough to win every time they stepped on the floor, they are by no means blinded by that success.

"It's good," Marcus Smart told reporters afterwards. "We gotta keep going. It's good to take away. We still have a lot to learn, a lot to go through."

While that is true, there's no escaping the fact that the Celtics have shown a level of cohesiveness at both ends of the floor, that has them maybe ahead of where most - including players - expected them to be at this point in the season.  

"I think so," Smart said. "We have a lot of guys, a lot of new guys. Everybody playing off one another getting great touches and great looks." 

STARS

Kyrie Irving: It’s clear that Irving is very much rounding into regular season form, delivering another strong performance in helping lead Boston to victory. He finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists without playing a single minute in the fourth quarter, in addition to grabbing five rebounds. 

Gordon Hayward: He’s gradually finding his way as a scorer for Boston, in addition to doing all the little things necessary to win. He had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists. 

Malik Monk: The rookie is coming off the bench now, but don’t be surprised if he’s in the starting lineup at some point this season – sooner rather than later, most likely. He led all scorers with 21 points with six rebounds while shooting 4-for-10 from 3-point range. 

STUDS

Al Horford: Quiet. Efficient. Successful. That has been at the core of Horford’s basketball career, and Monday’s preseason game was no exception. He finished with a near double-double with 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists. 

Jaylen Brown: He had 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting, but it was his versatility as a defender that really stuck out as he held his own defensively against a quicker Kemba Walker, and yet still had enough strength to deal with Marvin Williams. 

Dwight Howard: He didn’t play a ton of minutes, but Howard looked pretty good when he was on the floor. He had 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting with six rebounds in just under 23 minutes. 

DUDS

Marvin Williams: Nicolas Batum’s elbow injury will keep him sidelined for at least six weeks, which means Hornets fans will see more of Williams. That’s not a good thing he plays like he did on Wednesday, scoring two points while missing seven of his eight shot attempts. 

Inconsistency leads Celtics to another disappointing loss

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Inconsistency leads Celtics to another disappointing loss

LOS ANGELES -- Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 108-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, which extended their losing streak to four in a row.

STARS

Kyle Kuzma: He’s not an All-Star, but he delivered an all-star worthy performance on Tuesday. He led the Lakers with 28 points off the bench while shooting 10-for-16 from the field.

Kyrie Irving: This was yet another game in which Irving played at an elite level only to come up short. He led all scorers with 33 points 13-for-24 shooting.

STUDS

Marcus Smart: While he may have come up short in missing the potential game-winner, Smart made a lot of winning plays at both ends of the floor. He would finish with 22 points on 7-for-13 shooting with eight assists and just one turnover.

Jordan Clarkson: One of the NBA’s better scorers off the bench, Clarkson tallied 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting to go with five rebounds and two steals while logging a team-high 34 minutes.

Julius Randle: His ability to control the action and impact the game around the rim, was huge. He had a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 6-for-12 from the field.

Marcus Morris: His role as a primary scorer off the bench seems to be one well-suited for him. Morris finished with 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting along with seven rebounds and two blocked shots.

DUDS

Jayson Tatum: Just a bad night on so many fronts for Tatum. He had four points on 1-for-6 shooting with his lone made basket a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.

Celtics rebounding:  Boston has had its share of rebounding struggles in the past, so it wasn’t all that surprising how they lost the battle of the glass. But the Lakers didn’t just beat them; they absolutely dominated them in a much more decisive manner than the final rebounding numbers – 51 for the Lakers, 42 for the Celtics – might indicate. The Lakers were especially effective on the offensive boards with 14 that led to 23, second-chance points.

Aron Baynes: The fact that he didn’t score wasn’t the problem. His struggles had more to do with his defense which wasn’t nearly as good as we’re accustomed to seeing. A big part of that had to do with foul trouble.

Free throw shooting: Boston hasn’t had a friendly whistle in quite a while, but Tuesday was one of the more glaringly obvious games in which the Celtics’ lack of free throw attempts was a major factor in the game’s outcome. Put it like this: The Lakers had more free throws by halftime (13) than the Celtics had for the entire game (10). The Lakers would finish 21-for-36 from the line while Boston was 8-for-10.

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Smart's last-second shot misses in 108-107 loss to Lakers

Smart's last-second shot misses in 108-107 loss to Lakers

LOS ANGELES – The Boston Celtics failed to rebound, literally and figuratively, on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, resulting in a 108-107 loss that extended their season-long losing streak to four in a row.

Marcus Smart’s potential game-winning shot hit the back of the rim as time expired.

Boston (34-14) got another monster game from Kyrie Irving who led all scorers with 33 points. Smart had 22 points, only the second time this season he has had 20 or more points in a game.

But this game was decided by the Lakers’ dominance on the glass, as they out-rebounded Boston 51-42 which included a 14-7 advantage on the offensive glass which led to 23 second-chance points for the Lakers (18-29).

However, the Celtics did make things interesting.

A 3-pointer by Terry Rozier made it a 106-103 game wit 23.8 seconds to play.

Josh Hart was fouled by Al Horford, but missed both free throws.

Julius Randle grabbed the miss, but fouled Marcus Smart who went to the free throw line and made a pair that cut the Lakers lead to 106-105 with less than 20 seconds to play.

Boston tried to steal the ball, but wound up fouling Jordan Clarkson who made a pair of free throws with 11.6 seconds to push the Lakers lead to 108-105.

After a Celtics time-out, Terry Rozier scored on a driving lay-up with 7.3 seconds to play.

The Lakers’ Kentavious Pope-Caldwell missed a pair of free throws in the closing seconds as well, which set up Boston’s potential game-winner by Smart.

Despite the Lakers giving Boston one opportunity after another to win the game, the Celtics consistently fell short in a game that was there for the taking.

Following a Celtics time-out with 6:40 to play, Boston seemed on its was re-establishing control when Marcus Smart stole the ball and had a 2-on-1 break with Jaylen Brown and the Celtics ahead 91-90.

Rather than driving in for the lay-up, Smart threw a lob pass to Brown for a dunk that Brown missed.

That was just what the Lakers needed, as they scored on the ensuing possession which was the beginning of 9-2 Lakers run that proved to be a surge that Boston could not overcome.

The close finish was indicative of how the game began with neither team showing any signs in the first quarter of taking control.  

The Celtics began to put some separation between themselves and the Lakers in the second quarter.

Trailing 33-32, Boston went on a 7-0 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Irving.

The Celtics would eventually pull ahead by 14 points before settling in for a comfortable 53-45 halftime lead.

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