Rozier leads Irving-less C's to 103-73 rout of Knicks

Rozier leads Irving-less C's to 103-73 rout of Knicks

BOSTON –  Filling in for Kyrie Irving, whether it’s one game or one possession, isn’t easy. 

You wouldn’t know that by the way Terry Rozier stepped up in Irving’s absence. 

MORE - Morris leaves game vs Knicks with hip injury

Rozier, making his first NBA start due to Irving’s right quadriceps injury suffered against Denver on Monday, made the most of his opportunity with the first group as Boston pulled away in the second half for a 103-73 win. 

Rozier tallied his first career triple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Boston also got 20 points off the bench from Marcus Morris who left the game late in the third quarter with a left hip injury suffered when he landed on it following a breakaway dunk. 

New York (23-29) was led by Enes Kanter’s double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds, while Kristaps Porzingis had 16 points.

After a relatively close first half, the Celtics seemed focused on putting the game away as soon as possible.  

Boston went to work right out the gates in the third quarter, as Jayson Tatum drove into the lane for an uncontested dunk. He would finish with 15 points.

That was just the beginning of Boston’s delivering one surge after another that the Knicks simply had no answer for.

Rozier opened the game with strong play, putting up the kind of numbers that were Kyrie Irving-like with 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting which was key to Boston leading 27-24 after the first quarter. 

In the second, Boston still played with a lead but the Knicks remained a mini-run away from taking the lead themselves.

After a jumper by Porzingis cut Boston’s lead to 33-31, Boston got back-to-back baskets which included a powerful baseline dunk by Jaylen Brown over Porzingis which put Boston ahead 37-31 and immediately led to a Knicks time-out. 

Boston continued to maintain control of the game, but were nowhere close to putting the Knicks into a seriously deep hole at this point of the game.

Porzingis was huge, as was Kanter who had a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds by halftime which ended with the Celtics ahead 50-45.

Rozier did more than just get baskets. 

He made his share of hustle plays, like in the third quarter when he prevented the Knicks from scoring on a 2-on-1 break by swiping at the ball as Porzingis went into the lane for a potential lay-up only for the ball to go off Porzingis’ leg. 

Two possessions, later, Rozier drained a mid-range jumper to give Boston a double-digit lead. 67-56. 

Boston (37-15) continued to surge ahead for their second straight win, and third in the last four games.


Celtics-Cavaliers preview: How will C's respond to blowout Game 3 loss?

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: How will C's respond to blowout Game 3 loss?

CLEVELAND – This season has been one lesson learned after another for the Boston Celtics, a team that has taken those teachings and transformed them into better play moving forward. 

It is a trend the Celtics hope to continue tonight as they try and bounce back from a 116-86 Game 3 thrashing at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers who now trail Boston 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. 

“All season I feel like we've been learning,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “We've been put in different positions. And now we're in a position that we need to bounce back, and (tonight) we have a good opportunity.”

Boston doesn’t have a ton of experience this season when it comes to suffering double-digit losses. 

In fact, the Celtics only suffered nine losses by 10 or more points this season. 

But here’s the thing: 

You hear players on this team talk all the time about putting the last game quickly behind them, win or lose. 

Well, that has certainly been the case when they have suffered losses by 10 or more points, evident by them posting an impressive 8-1 regular season record in the games that followed double-digit defeats. 

So if the Celtics seem extremely calm right now, that’s why.

“Everybody loses games,” said Boston’s Jayson Tatum. “The NBA is such a quick turnaround that you really can't be down, especially in the playoffs.”

The Celtics will be fine in terms of their approach mentally to Game 4. The bigger issue is doing a better job of executing at both ends of the floor and doing so without being thrown off their rhythm by the crowd noise that’s pumped into the Quicken Loans Arena that players acknowledged made communicating tougher than usual in Game 3.

“It's going to be loud. But that can't be an excuse for us,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “The young guys know that. It's alright, it's one game. The one thing about this sport, you get a chance to go out there and do it again, so it's a blessing to have that opportunity.”

And for the Celtics, tonight’s game offers more than just a chance to exact some payback for a dismal Game 3 performance. It also moves them one step closer towards the NBA Final.

But make no mistake about it. 

The sting of how thoroughly the Celtics were outplayed is indeed on the minds of some players heading into tonight’s game. 

“I use it as fuel because I thought it was embarrassing,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “I thought we came out, the way I played, the way I performed, how not aggressive I was in the first half, I look at that as fuel to come out in Game 3 and be excited about it and be ready to play and ready to fight.

Brown added, “We can't look at the last game and get down on ourselves or

think we're out of the series because we lost one game. That's what the world thinks, that's what the world wants us to think, so we're going to come out and play some basketball (tonight), regardless of what anybody got to say.”


David Ortiz once came through in the clutch for Al Horford's wedding

David Ortiz once came through in the clutch for Al Horford's wedding

David Ortiz doesn't only come through in the clutch when he's in the batter's box.

He also delivers in clutch situations off the field. Take Al Horford's wedding for example. The Celtics big man had a last-minute wedding in the Dominican Republic and desperately needed a car to pick up his wife-to-be. Big Papi saved the day, sending Horford his Phantom and a driver. He even let them keep the car for a couple of days.

Horford told the story to the NBCS Camera Guys, who you should definitely follow on Twitter if you haven't already. . .