Celtics

Celtics rally in fourth quarter to beat Hornets, extend win streak to 11 games

Celtics rally in fourth quarter to beat Hornets, extend win streak to 11 games

BOSTON – When Gordon Hayward went down with a season-ending ankle injury, the Celtics quickly regrouped.

Losing Al Horford for a game, they still managed to find a way to win in his absence.

But when the final member of Boston’s Big Three, Kyrie Irving, went down less than two minutes into Friday’s game against Charlotte with what’s being monitored as a possible concussion, you had to believe … this is it right?

The streak is good as gone tonight, right?

For most of the game, it seemed that way.

And then came the fourth quarter which is when the Celtics’ defense went into full-blown lockdown mode which generated a fat run that paved the way for an improbable 90-87 win.

Boston (11-2) extended its league-best winning streak which now stands at 11 in a row. The victories have come in an assortment of ways, but Friday’s win was arguably the hardest to secure.

After a Kemba Walker lay-up cut Boston’s lead to 88-87, Boston’s Terry Rozier stepped out of bounds.

On the ensuing Charlotte possession, Walker got a defensive switch in which he was being defended by Marcus Morris.

Morris’ defense was clutch, forcing Walker into a tough shot that had no chance to go in with the loose ball ultimately winding up in the hands of Rozier.

Rozier, who had 15 points off the bench, sank a pair of free throws with 3.6 seconds to play.

After a Hornets timeout, the inbounds pass was deflected with Charlotte unable to get a shot off in time.The comeback began in the fourth quarter.

After trailing by as many as 18 points, the Celtics began the fourth with a 10-1 run to come within 77-74 following a 3-pointer by Jaylen Brown.

He wasn’t done.

Boston scored six of the game’s next eight points, capped off by a Brown driving lay-up that put Boston ahead 80-79 with 5:25 to play. He would finish with a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds.

A jumper by Boston’s Shane Larkin hit the back of the rim, took a ridiculously high bounce before deciding to drop through the nets, gave Boston an 82-79 which was soon followed by missed shots by both teams.  

Larkin finished with a season-high 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

Rookie sensation Jayson Tatum, a game-time decision due to a sore right ankle, had a strong game as well with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting.

But as good as the win was for the Celtics, there was a bittersweet taste about it because of Irving’s injury.

He was hit with an inadvertent blow from teammate Aron Baynes that has the Celtics monitoring Irving for a possible concussion which means his return to the Celtics is very much in the air.

Irving would be the second Celtics player this week to enter the league’s concussion protocol program, joining Al Horford who has missed the last two games but appears close to returning possibly as early as Sunday against Toronto.

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Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Remember those rumors of Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler teaming up in free agency next year? Well, that buzz is back and Boston isn't the rumored destination.

Two league sources told Business Insider that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets could be well-positioned to land the two players, with one source saying the chatter is "substantial."

"It wouldn't surprise me if either New York team or potentially both New York teams hit it big next summer," one source said.

That echoes a Chicago Sun-Times report from July which said the Celtics and Timberwolves stars had been talking about how they could team up. Each player can opt out after this season and Irving has made it known he'll be heading to free agency. The Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around for a while. 

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Paul Pierce says if Celtics learn to sacrifice, they'll win title

Paul Pierce says if Celtics learn to sacrifice, they'll win title

If there's anyone who knows what it takes to be a champion, it's Paul Pierce. So when the Celtics legend speaks, it would be best for the current team's young stars to heed his words.

According to a report from Boston.com, Pierce touched on what this current squad needs to learn if they want to hang the team's eighteenth championship banner from the rafters of TD Garden.

"When you have that type of talent, they're going to have to learn to sacrifice," Pierce said at a charity event in Brookline on Friday morning. "Not everybody is going to be able to accomplish maybe the individual goals they want to accomplish, but the team's greater goal should be all that matters."

The Celtics, who have made the Eastern Conference Finals the past two seasons but were vanquished both times by LeBron James' Cavaliers, saw perhaps their greatest obstacle in competing for a championship disappear when James signed with the Lakers in free agency. With one of the most talented rosters in the NBA, Boston has built a team capable of getting over the hump and winning a title.

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"You have to sacrifice if you are truly committed to winning a championship," Pierce added. "They're going to win a lot of games, but unless they sacrifice--because we know they're going to be better than probably what their numbers show--if they can sacrifice they'll win a championship this year. Because the talent is definitely there."

If there is one player on the current roster who can show that championship mentality to young stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, it's Kyrie Irving. However, much of the talk surrounding Irving, who won a championship with the Cavaliers in 2016, this offseason has been about him potentially leaving Boston after the season in free agency.

"Kyrie is a competitor," Pierce said. "He's won a championship. He knows -- if they win again he'll get whatever contract he wants. He's an extraordinary talent and he knows that winning trumps everything. If you win, everybody wins."

The Celtics start their quest for their eighteenth title on October 16 when they host Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.