Without Rondo, Celtics fall to Nets 102-97


Without Rondo, Celtics fall to Nets 102-97

BROOKLYN, NY Well the Boston Celtics got an eyeful of what a Rajon Rondo-less game would look like on Thursday night in Brooklyn.
It wasn't pretty, folks.
But give the Celtics credit.
They battled until the absolute bitter end of this game.
However, their efforts weren't enough as the Nets held on for a 102-97 win over the C's that snapped Boston's three game winning streak.
After a 6-0 spurt by Brooklyn broke open an 87-all tie with 1:45 to play, Boston ran off five straight -- including a 3-pointer by Jeff Green -- that cut the Nets lead to 93-92.
Deron Williams sank a pair of free throws with 43 seconds to play after driving into the lane and drawing a foul. He finished with 24 points and eight assists.
Down 95-92, Doc Rivers called a time-out.
Paul Pierce drove into the lane and was fouled, and nearly had a 3-point play opportunity had his shot taken one or two friendly bounces.
Not only did he miss that shot, but he missed both of his free throws with 34.5 seconds to play that kept the C's deficit at three points. Pierce led the C's with 22 points.
A pair of Joe Johnson free throws were followed by a Pierce 3-pointer with 24 seconds to play that made it a 97-95 game.
The C's could never get any closer than a two-point deficit for the rest of the game.
With Rondo out, there was an opportunity for a number of Boston players to contribute in ways that they hadn't before.
And while a number of them did just that, it still wasn't enough to snap the Nets' winning streak which now stands at four in a row.
At no point was Rondo's absence more noticeable than the game's final moments, a time when he usually dominates play in some way, shape or form.
Watching the C's struggle to get great shots down the stretch was a cruel reminder of just how valuable Rajon Rondo is to this team.
Rondo was out because of sprained right ankle injury suffered in Boston's victory over Utah on Wednesday.
Replacing Rondo in the starting lineup was Leandro Barbosa, who had a season-high 16 points on Wednesday in Boston's victory over Utah.
He was even better on Thursday as a starter -- his first start since Jan. 22, 2010 when he played with the Phoenix Suns -- in tallying his second straight season high scoring in as many days, with 17 points.
But replacing Rondo is not the job of one man; not on this team, anyway.
It took the collective efforts of Boston's slew of perimeter players to keep them within striking distance.
In addition to Barbosa, the Celtics also got a season-high scoring night from Courtney Lee who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds which was also a season-best.
To see the Celtics playing with a lead at all, let alone in some of the latter stages of the game, was unexpected considering how thoroughly beaten they were on the boards in the first half.
With seemingly no answer in sight for the team's ever-persistent rebounding woes, Rivers elected to give seldom-used Jason Collins -- make that never used Jason Collins -- a chance to play.
Collins' interior defense and shear presence helped the Celtics chip into Brooklyn's lead which stood at 31-26 after the first quarter.
Boston managed to make it a game in the second quarter in which they scored 12 of the quarter's first 19 points and were able to tie the game at 38 following a 19-foot jumper by Kevin Garnett.
But that would be as close as the C's would get in the second quarter as Brooklyn scored seven straight and took a 59-50 lead into the half.
First-half frustration among the players and Doc Rivers began to surface as the game went on, with both making their displeasure known with the way the game was being called.
One of the more bizarre calls came in the second quarter when Leandro Barbosa drove into the lane and was grabbed around the neck by Keith Bogans.
The ruling on the floor at the time was a flagrant-one foul. But after the officials reviewed the replay, they ruled that it was a standard two-shot foul.
But that call, albeit questionable, did not decide this game.
Boston struggled most of this game for the same reason they usually struggle -- rebounding.
How bad was it?
The Nets had almost as many offensive rebounds (15) at the half as Boston had total (17).
And those multiple opportunities generated 19 second-chance points in the first half, while the Celtics could only muster up six.

Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win


Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

GOLD STAR: Jake DeBrusk gave the Bruins all kinds of energy out of the starting gate, and made a couple of plays that allowed his team to hold a lead despite getting outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. DeBrusk went hard to the net splitting a couple of San Jose defenders on the first goal, and fired a shot on net that created a rebound for Peter Cehlarik to cash in on. Then DeBrusk scored a little bit later on a rush where he beat Brent Burns in a foot race to a loose puck, then whistled a wrist shot past Aaron Dell for his fourth goal of the season. DeBrusk finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net while falling just short of 16 minutes of ice time in the victory. It was a strong effort from DeBrusk shortly after being a healthy scratch, and showed what he’s capable of when he gets his skating legs going.

BLACK EYE: Brent Burns was a complete mess for the Sharks. He was burnt by Jake DeBrusk in each of the first two Bruins goals in the first period with the B’s rookie going right at him with the attack. He also didn’t make it to the net with 12 of the 16 shots that he attempted and Burns finished with seven giveaways as well. It’s been a rough follow-up season for Burns after last year’s Norris Trophy season where he’s tried to do too much for the Sharks, and his game has suffered as a result. That seemed to be the case for Burns against the Bruins as well where his mistakes played a big role in the Sharks dropping the game.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins won the game when they managed to survive an opening 20 minutes where they were outshot 17-5, and even better they had a 2-1 lead based on some offensive fireworks from Jake DeBrusk. They were also aided by a couple of video reviews where the Bruins took a San Jose goal off the board when it was ruled that a crashing Joonas Donskoi punched a puck into the net with his glove. The Peter Cehlarik goal was also upheld at the other end after a challenge from the San Jose bench. It looked like DeBrusk was tripped before he partially crashed into Aaron Dell that set up the Cehlarik goal, and that’s clearly how the referees saw it after reviewing the play.

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Anton Khudobin, who stopped 36-of-37 shots and improved to 5-0-2 on the season with another strong win aided by a stalwart defensive effort in front of him. Khudobin now has 12 of the 20 points that the Bruins have amassed on the season, and he absolutely rewarded the B’s for opting to go with the Bruins backup for a second game in a row as they ride the hot goaltender. Khudobin was helped by a number of Bruins blocked shots in the third period when the game was still very tight, but it was also about Khudobin coming up with 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were getting outplayed by the Sharks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – the number of Bruins rookies that have scored their first NHL goals this season, including Peter Cehlarik finally getting his first NHL score Saturday night in his 14th career game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We need them. They’re in the lineup and they’re playing significant minutes. We need them to produce for us. Tonight we needed some offense early, and they provided it for us.” – Bruce Cassidy, on the role of the rookies in the win where it was all first-year players Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen doing the scoring vs. San Jose. 

Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1


Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Anton Khudobin stopped 36 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored to help the Bruins get their second straight win after a four-game skid (0-3-1). Boston had totaled nine goals in its previous five games, scoring more than two for just the second time in nine November games.

Khudobin remained unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) and improved to 4-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average in five games against the Sharks.

Timo Meier scored and Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sharks, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. San Jose has been held to two of fewer goals in five of their seven games this month.

Meier gave the Sharks, losers of two straight following wins in six of seven, a short-lived 1-0 lead after tapping in a rebound 4:50 into the game. Daniel O'Regan, making his season debut, won the puck behind the net and skated around to take the shot that bounced to Meier. It was O'Regan's first career assist and second career point.

Cehlarik, in his 14th game, scored his first career goal about 1 1/2 minutes later to tie it for the Bruins.

Boston took the lead on DeBrusk's goal with 9:14 left in the first. Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck in his zone that DeBrusk chased down and easily beat Dell 1-on-1.

Heinen made it 3-1 with 5:51 left in the third. Kevan Miller skated down the ice, drawing all the attention on the right side. He passed across the crease, from where Heinen tapped it in.

The Sharks had a goal negated for the second straight game, this one two minutes in.

NOTES: Sharks F Danny O'Regan was recalled before the game. He's the leading scorer for the Barracuda of the AHL. ... The Sharks have had three consecutive goals reversed after challenges dating to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers. ... Sharks F Joel Ward has recorded points in six of his last eight games. ... DeBrusk, who assisted on Cehlarik's goal, recorded his first multi-point game since Oct. 14, a span of 14 games.


Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.