Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe tells Michael Felger that Rob Gronkowski's new contract doesn't necessarily mean a deal is also in the works for Aaron Hernandez.
BOSTON – Well, so much for the Boston Celtics being hungover following their first loss in more than a month.
If anything, the loss at Miami on Wednesday served as a wake-up call for the Celtics to avoid easing their way into games.
Because the Celtics jumped on the Magic early and never lost control of the game as they cruised to a 118-103 win.
Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 30 points while Terry Rozier came off the Celtics bench to score a career-high 23 points. Nikola Vucevic led the Magic (8-11) with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
After leading by as many as 32 points, the Magic opened the fourth quarter against Boston’s backups, with a 13-3 run that cut Boston’s lead to 102-82.
The Magic would score six of the game’s next eight points before Rozier drained a much-needed 3-pointer that increased Boston’s lead to 107-88 with 6:48 to play.
Following an Orlando timeout, Boston continued to play with a huge lead and in doing so, got a big, bounce-back win.
One of the issues Boston was having, even during the 16-game winning streak, was that they didn’t get off to the greatest starts evident by them trailing by double digits in the first half of each of their previous four games prior to tonight’s game.
But that would not be the case tonight; not even close actually.
Leading 22-19 in the first, Boston went on an 18-7 run to take a commanding 40-26 lead
The 40 points scored were the most they tallied in the first quarter of a game this season.
And while the points weren’t as abundant in the second quarter, Boston’s dominance was just as great.
On this night, the Celtics were an equal opportunity destroyer.
Kyrie Irving had a very Kyrie Irving kind of night with 17 points in the first half.
The Celtics also got an unexpected boost from its bench, led by Rozier who had 13 points in the first half.
It seemed no matter who Brad Stevens turned to off the bench, it was a given that they would have a positive impact on this night.
Meanwhile, the Magic could muster up little fight or resistance as Boston’s lead peaked at 28 points (68-40) before the half ended with Boston in charge with a commanding 73-47 lead.
It’s rare for a team to have such a commanding halftime lead, the kind of lead that makes a team oh-so-vulnerable to a second-half letup.
Not the Celtics; not tonight at least.
Boston continued to play with a purpose; to not just win but do so in an emphatic, consistently dominant fashion.
Sporting a lead of 20-plus points throughout the third quarter, Boston went into the fourth quarter leading 99-69.
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BOSTON – Bobby Orr’s iconic, leaping goal that clinched a Stanley Cup for the Bruins was memorable enough to earn its own statue outside the TD Garden, and will always be No. 1 in the hearts and minds of hockey fans around New England.
But it’s been bumped down to No. 3 for longtime TD Garden Bull Gang member John Grzelcyk for understandable reasons, and both of those preferred favorite moments involve his hockey-playing son, Matt. One was a game-winning goal vs. Northeastern to secure a Beanpot when he played for Boston University, but the newest one was all about his burgeoning career with the Black and Gold. The Bruins rookie defenseman did his Zamboni-driving papa proud on Friday afternoon when he snapped home his first career NHL goal in a 4-3 B’s win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden in their annual Black Friday matinee.
“I feel bad for Bobby Orr, but he’s my son,” said the elder Grzelcyk, beaming with pride. “Sorry.”
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The 5-foot-9, 174-pound Grzelcyk’s goal ended up being a pivotal one in Boston’s fourth win in a row as it arrived in the second period amid a flurry of three goals from the Penguins, and allowed the game to still be tied entering the third period. Jake DeBrusk had slipped a centering pass to David Krejci in the slot for a one-time opportunity, and the playmaking center fanned on the shot attempt with the puck drifting over to Grzelcyk crashing toward the net.
The quick change of puck direction opened up a shooting seam for the 23-year-old Grzelcyk, and he snapped the puck past Matt Murray for his first goal of the season at either the NHL or AHL level this season. The first NHL career goal would have been welcomed no matter when it happened for Grzelcyk, of course, but to have it go down on national TV in an NBC game had to make it extra special.
You couldn’t tell any of that, of course, because the younger Grzelcyk was trying to act like he’d been there before after the score. But it was clear how excited his teammates were for him as Kevan Miller quickly retrieved the puck for his D-partner, and they gathered around him for the time-honored hockey hug celebration.
“It was pretty special, obviously. It brings back memories of skating [on the Garden ice] as a kid and stuff like that. It hasn’t really set in yet, it was pretty cool to get that out of the way,” said Grzelcyk, who has a goal and two points along with a plus-4 rating in three games with Boston this season. “It was kind of a jolt through my system. I didn’t really know what was going on. I was trying to hide it the best I could. I think the rest of the guys were trying to make me smile. I was really happy.”
Part of the reason Grzelcyk got to remain in the lineup was Bruce Cassidy’s choice to go with seven defensemen against the Penguins, a game lineup look the Bruins haven’t used in an awfully long time. It allowed the Bruins to ease Torey Krug back into the lineup after missing the last couple of games with an upper-body injury, keep Robbie O’Gara active in case they needed more of a big-bodied presence in the D-zone and let Grzelcyk keep playing given how good he’s looked in his NHL appearances this season.
Cassidy indicated that plugging both Grzelcyk and Krug in among a 7 D-men formation, for a greater puck-moving dimension to the team, is something they may tinker with more moving forward.
“We don’t mind that 11 forwards, seven D. It may be something we look at more often if you have Krug and Griz [Matt Grzelcyk] in there. But they both played well, well enough Robby [Rob O’Gara] didn’t see a lot of ice. I thought he was fine when he was in there, to be honest with you. It’s not easy to sit there,” said Bruce Cassidy. “But adding Griz into the mix does give you another puck mover with Charlie [McAvoy] and Krug if all three are in there. I think that’s important.
“That’s not being disrespectful to the other – when we have more heavy guys. It really helps our penalty kill. When you have four guys– makes it tough to get inside. We are finding that balance. And I think it’s something that we’ll tinker with for a while, and the more Griz plays consistent hockey, the easier the decision it makes.”
Either way, it will take quite a bit for Grzelcyk’s next big hockey accomplishment to live up to a pretty cool setting for his first NHL goal, or be enough to finally edge Bobby Orr out of the old man’s top-3 favorite hockey moments of all time.