Celtics

Horford's game-winner wraps up spectacular performance vs Trail Blazers

Horford's game-winner wraps up spectacular performance vs Trail Blazers

BOSTON – Brad Stevens was in rare form following Boston’s 97-96 win over Portland, a game in which Al Horford drained the game-winner as time expired. 

But it was difficult to do a deep dive into the game itself, not with Stevens addressing the media with the sleeves cut from his shirt a la New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, and Celtics forward Marcus Morris – a Philadelphia native who is a die-hard Eagles fan – by his side. 

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Stevens was asked if them being together on the podium was part of a bet. 

“No,” Stevens said. “You don’t want to do that.”

Morris replied, “Taking all bets …”

Stevens was asked about his football-themed attire which included a winter Patriots cap. 

“Football game to watch,” Stevens said. “And we’ve had a lot of back-and-forth discussions, so I thought I’d bring Marcus along.”

In his fifth season, it was arguably the most light-hearted press conference ever involving Stevens with a lot of the amusement centered around Stevens’ Belichickian preferences and attire. 

Stevens was asked about whether he would cut the sleeves of all his suits now. 

“If the NBA would let us, I would wear – I was hoping that we would figure it out and go to a much more casual look on the sidelines,” Stevens said. “But maybe … Nike can push the NBA on that a little bit.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 97-96 thriller against Portland.

 

STARS

Al Horford: Even before delivering the game-winning shot, Horford was having a special game for the Celtics. He would finish with a team-high 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting and 10 rebounds for his team-leading 13th double-double this season. 

Damian Lillard: He struggled with his shot most of the game, only to deliver down the stretch to give the Blazers a shot at pulling out the win. He tallied 21 points, 17 of which came in the second half.

C.J. McCollum: For most of the first three quarters, McCollum’s scoring was a key to Portland maintaining the lead. He would finish with a team-high 22 points on 9-for-22 shooting.

 

STUDS

Terry Rozier: He didn’t have a triple-double or set a career high scoring, but Rozier did a lot of good things for Boston today. He had 11 points on 5-for-18 shooting to go with six rebounds and five assists. 

Mo Harkless: After having made just six 3-pointers in the month of January, Harkless had five against the Celtics today, finishing with 19 points off the Portland bench on 7-for-12 shooting. 

Jayson Tatum: We’ve seen him score, but he’s also showing he can get others involved as well. Today he had 17 points on 6-for-14 shooting along wit five assists. 

Jusuf Nurkic: Very effective scorer in the post, Nurkic had 14 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go with eight rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

 

DUDS

Evan Turner: We love Evan Turner the person, but the player today? Not so much. He took just three shots – all misses – while grabbing four rebounds in just over 23 minutes of court time. 

Celtics’ points in the paint defense: It was a low-scoring game, but that didn’t stop the Blazers from dominating inside scoring. Portland finished the game with 40 points in the paint compared to just 22 for Boston.

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Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen torch Celtics with historic combined stat line

Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen torch Celtics with historic combined stat line

How in the world did the fourth-worst team in the NBA beat the Boston Celtics on the second night of a road-and-home back-to-back?

Two reasons: Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.

The two young Chicago Bulls didn't just step up Saturday night at United Center. They single-handedly (double-handedly?) carried Chicago to a victory, combining to score 61 percent of their total points in a 126-116 win.

Here are their final stat lines:

LaVine: 42 points on 17-of-29 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
Markkanen: 35 points on 12-of-20 shooting, 15 rebounds, 2 assists

When is the last time two players went off like this against Boston? You have to go back 14 years, when Washington Wizards stars Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison combined for 73 points in an April 2005 loss to the Celtics.

LaVine and Markkanen managed to upstage Arenas and Jamison, though, totaling 77 points between the two of them -- both reaching career highs in points -- while attempting 55.7 percent of the Bulls' total shots.

Oh, and there's also this:

That's a rough look for the Celtics, who now have lost two straight and are eight games out of first place in the Eastern Conference through 50 games.

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Celtics run over by the Bulls

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Celtics run over by the Bulls

We have seen the Boston Celtics on the short end of a few -- OK, quite a few -- bad losses this season. 

But Saturday’s 126-116 defeat to the Chicago Bulls ranks among the worst of the lot. 

It was a game that the Celtics (37-23) needed to win far more than the Bulls who have now won three in a row but have a total of just 16 wins this season. 

While Zach LaVine had one of the best scoring nights of his career, that wasn’t why Boston suffered a loss to Chicago which snapped Boston’s five-game winning streak over the Bulls. 

They lost because the Bulls played harder, with greater effort and intensity for all but the first few minutes of the game.

☘️BULLS 126, CELTICS 116

And remember, it was Chicago -- not Boston -- that had played the night before while the Celtics were returning to action after losing a heartbreaker at Milwaukee on Thursday. 

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s loss:

STARS

Zach LaVine: The Celtics didn’t contest his shot-taking nearly as well as they needed to, showing that he’s more than an above-the-rim finisher. He led all scorers with a career-high 42 points to go with five rebounds, making him the fourth player this season to light up the Celtics for 40 or more points. 

Kyrie Irving: He came up with some big shots in the second half, bringing the Celtics within single digits after having trailed by as many as 25 points. Irving led Boston with 37 points to go with 10 assists. 

Lauri Markkanen: The 7-foot big man has been on a tear lately when it comes to shooting the ball and Saturday was no exception. He tallied a career-high 35 points and 15 rebounds.

STUDS

Al Horford: In the game’s early moments, Horford was a dominant factor. But for whatever reason, the offense didn’t go through him as much in the second half of what still was a solid night for Horford who finished with 19 points. 

Robin Lopez: Several players stepped up for the Bulls, including Robin Lopez tallied 17 points to go with six rebounds. 

DUDS

Terry Rozier: It wasn’t as much about him missing eight of his nine shot attempts from the field. But Rozier struggled as a playmaker and defender for Boston as well. 

Team Effort: The Celtics for far too many stretches on Saturday, looked as though they didn’t come ready to play. There was little to no fire, passion or multiple effort moments on the part of the Celtics who got off to a great start and just stopped playing hard and executing.

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