Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: DeRozan can't convert 'great look' for game-winner

Stars, studs and duds: DeRozan can't convert 'great look' for game-winner

BOSTON – This has been a charmed run that the Boston Celtics are on, the kind of run where victories almost seem like an act of destiny in how improbable they come about.

Take Sunday’s 95-94 win over the Toronto Raptors which extended Boston’s winning streak to 12 in a row.

The Raptors had a chance to win the game with DeMar DeRozan, being defended by Jaylen Brown at the time, used his dribble to create enough space to get off the shot that he wanted.

It came up short.

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The missed shot came right into the hands of Serge Ibaka who, for whatever reason, could not corral the loose ball and put it back up.

DeRozan described the shot as a “great look” before adding, “I make that in my sleep. Felt good, I thought it was going to roll in but it didn’t.”

Said Toronto head coach Dwane Casey: “I thought it was a great look, he shook him, he was wide open, vaulted up, and I’ll take that shot 999 times out of 1000. Came up short on it, he got to where he wanted to go with the basketball, we got him open, play was well executed by everybody; guy just missed a shot. I’ll take that shot all day, our best player taking the shot he wants at the right time.”

While DeRozan did create enough space to get the shot off, it was still well-defended by Jaylen Brown whose defense forced DeRozan to miss a number of shots on Sunday.

Brown is used to tough defensive assignments, but is quick to mention DeRozan being an extremely challenging scorer to contain.

“Easier said than done,” Brown said. “He’ll pump-fake and pump-fake until he gets you off your feet. I’m thinking like, ‘he’s gotta be shooting one of these (expletive). But he’ll keep pump-faking and pump-faking. You have to do a good enough job of staying down.”

And in doing so, Brown’s defense lifted the Celtics up to yet another victory.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 95-94 win over Toronto which extended the Celtics winning streak which now stands at 12.

 

STARS

Al Horford

Easily the star of the game, Horford returned to the lineup after missing the last two games while being in the league’s concussion protocol program. He led the Celtics with 21 points on an extremely efficient 8-for-9 shooting to go with four assists, three rebounds and two steals.

DeMar DeRozan

Even though he missed the potential game-winner for Toronto, DeRozan was once again Toronto’s best option offensively. He led all scorers with 24 points but did so on 8-for-22 shooting.

 

STUDS

Terry Rozier

Big shots at the end of the second and third quarters were just part of a special game for Rozier. He finished with 16 points to go with six rebounds, three assists and one steal.

Jaylen Brown

His play at both ends of the floor really set the tone for the Celtics, showing a high level of aggression scoring the ball as well as defending DeRozan. He tallied 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting to go with three assists and two steals.

Kyle Lowry

Had a strong first half but really tailed off in the second which is when he scored just five of his 19 points. Lowry also had seven assists and a steal.

Jayson Tatum

The 6-foot-8 rookie continues to play at a level that’s way, way ahead of where someone so young be at right now in their NBA development. He had 13 points but did most of his work in the fourth quarter which is when he tallied six points along with five of his seven rebounds for the game.

C.J. Miles

Other than the insane ankle-breaking move that Shane Larkin put on him, Miles had a pretty good game for the Raptors. He had 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting with a plus/minus of +17.

 

DUDS

Shane Larkin

Coming off a season-high 16 points in Boston’s win over Charlotte on Friday, Larkin could not deliver anything even close to what he did on that night. Against the Raptors, he was scoreless while missing all six of his shot attempts.

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Kyrie gets the last laugh against Horford and Team Steph

Kyrie gets the last laugh against Horford and Team Steph

LOS ANGELES – Kyrie Irving and Al Horford were on different teams for the NBA's All-Star game pitting Team LeBron vs Team Steph, so somebody was coming back a loser.

But considering how competitive the game was for longer stretches than usual, both players came away feeling good in a relatively close all-star game that ended with Team LeBron edging Team Steph 148-145.

LeBron James led all scorers with 29 points along wit 10 rebounds and eight assists and walked away with Game MVP honors for the third time.

Irving, who played for Team LeBron, had a near double-double with 13 points and nine assists along with seven rebounds.

And Horford, who came off the bench for Team Steph, had six points and five rebounds along with two assists.  

“This was pretty fun,” Irving said. “I think that we showcased that tonight with an incredible competitive spirit. The game was kind of getting away, but I think a few of us took it a little personal that we wanted to keep the game still competitive and at a high level. Fans and everyone across so many different countries want to see the best players in the world showcase their talent.”

Horford echoed similar sentiments about the game which had a different format this year, with LeBron James and Stephen Curry each picking the two teams from the 22-player pool of players from both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

“Early, guys were making (defensive) plays,” Horford said. “Guys were making a point, they weren’t going to let it be a dunk fest.

Horford added, “Even last year and the year before, there was a lot of heat on how bad the game was. I felt like this game was, it was good.”

Irving, a five-time all-star, also acknowledged how he and some of the players wanted to change the perception of the all-star game as being nothing more than a glorified lay-up line.

“I think we all took it kind of personal,” Irving said. “Individually we wanted to come out and be competitive. Last year it was (192-182), tat’s just not as fun as communicating with guys that you don’t necessarily play with every single day, bouncing ideas off in the time-outs. It’s just that competitive fire that we all share.”

And then there’s the payday for winning.

Not only will various charities benefit from the game – LeBron James’ charity of choice gets $350,000 because his team won and Steph Curry’s charity of choice gets $150,000 – but the players on the winning team get a pretty nice check as well.

The winning team members each get $100,000 while the players on the losing team come away with $25,000.

“There was something that, something that we could look forward to if we got the win,” Irving acknowledged. “You know, they’ll probably bring up the cash prize, but … $100,000 to $25,000, I think everybody in this room would be doing the same things we were doing.”

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LeBron James savors first opportunity to build NBA roster

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LeBron James savors first opportunity to build NBA roster

LOS ANGELES – LeBron James had been mum on the process he used in selecting Team LeBron … until now.

Following Team LeBron’s 148-145 win over Team Steph, James revealed how he went about assembling is roster which included Boston’s Kyrie Irving who asked for a trade out of Cleveland last summer.

“I took Kevin (Durant) first, then I took (New Orleans) Anthony Davis, and I followed that with Kyrie and DeMarcus (Cousins).”

While this year’s all-star game had been billed as the ultimate pick-up game, it was clear that James put a tremendous amount of thought into assembling his team akin to what an NBA General Manager might do.

“I know who I like watching and I had a draft board,” James said. “I had a process. Some of it went to … it almost went according to plan. A couple of them fell through, but I was satisfied and happy with all the guys that I got.”

A reporter later asked James where was this draft board.

“Ain’t none of your business,” said James, grinning. “You’re going too far, man.”

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