WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of 'The Dale and Holley Show' talk about last night's disappointing finish against the Rockets and they talk about their love for DeMarcus Cousins.

The Celtics were handed a gift Monday night in Houston, but they treated it like an ugly sweater on Christmas morning — something they’ll look back on only with disdain.

Avery Bradley defends James Harden during Monday's game. (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

Avery Bradley defends James Harden during Monday’s game. (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics were handed a gift Monday night in Houston, but they treated it like an ugly sweater on Christmas morning — something they’ll look back on only with disdain.

Trailing by three and without the ball with 16 seconds left, the C’s were put in position to win after Rockets star James Harden was called for an offensive foul — and a flagrant 1 to boot — but Boston could not capitalize.

After Marcus Smart hit two free throws to get the C’s within a point, Isaiah Thomas missed a driving layup, although the C’s retained possession when Harden knocked it out of bounds. On the ensuing inbounds, Al Horford caught the ball at the 3-point line and found an open lane to the basket but missed a layup with one second remaining, allowing Houston to escape with a 107-106 decision.

Harden led all scorers with 37 points on 8-of-14 field goals (3-of-5 treys) and 18-of-18 free throws. He also had eight rebounds, eight assists and 10 turnovers.

Horford led the Celtics with 21 points and nine assists. Thomas scored 20 points. Bradley had 16 points and 10 rebounds. With 46 seconds left and the C’s trailing by five, he lined up at the arc and drilled a big shot to end a 13-2 Houston run, but the officials ruled his toe was on the line, and it held up on review despite protestations from the Celtics, who saw the replay on the arena scoreboard.

The Celtics owned the third quarter, turning a 12-point deficit into a six-point advantage heading into the final period.

The Rockets had a 58-48 lead at the half — and extended the lead to 11 on a technical foul free throw before the second half began (Isaiah Thomas the culprit for barking at the officials before heading to the locker room). The margin was 12 before the C’s embarked on a  game-changing 19-2 run.

The Celtics next visit the Magic on Wednesday night.

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Former Celtics guard Rajon Rondo is already making friends in Chicago.

The mercurial point guard, whose talent is often dwarfed by his behavior, was suspended for one game by the Bulls for conduct detrimental to the team after getting in a “heated argument” with an assistant coach, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo

Former Celtics guard Rajon Rondo is already making friends in Chicago.

The mercurial point guard, whose talent is often dwarfed by his behavior, was suspended for one game by the Bulls for conduct detrimental to the team after getting in a “heated argument” with an assistant coach, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski added that Rondo apologized and accepted responsibility for his actions.

Rondo’s outburst came after Saturday’s 25-point loss to the Mavericks, in which Rondo submitted his worst game of the season (2 points, 2 assists, 5 turnovers). Returning to Dallas may have brought out the worst in him, because the Mavericks memorably benched Rondo after repeated disputes with head coach Rick Carlisle during the 2015 postseason.

Rondo was suspended by the NBA last year for directing a homophobic slur at referee Bill Kennedy.

One year after leading the league in assists with Sacramento, Rondo is averaging 8.2 points and 7.2 assists per game with the Bulls, who are 11-8.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

It didn’t look good in the beginning, but the Celtics ultimately beat the Sixers 107-106 on Saturday for their second win in as many nights. 

It didn’t look good in the beginning, but the Celtics ultimately beat the Sixers 107-106 on Saturday for their second win in as many nights. 

It didn’t look good in the beginning, but the Celtics ultimately beat the Sixers 107-106 on Saturday for their second win in as many nights. 

The Sixers are not a great team and even with Joel Embiid on the bench, the Celtics struggled at first on defense. The intensity was lacking for Boston in a rough first quarter that ended with the team trailing 30-22 and were 0 for 2 from beyond the arc. 

The Celtics let the Sixers knock down nine 3-pointers in the first half, while Boston themselves only ended up making two. Lack of rebounding and defense in the paint were the team’s other biggest weaknesses as they found themselves down 53-25 at halftime. 

“We weren’t very good in the first half. I don’t think that’s rocket science to figure out,” coach Brad Stevens said after the game. “The second half we really competed. They made great plays and great shots … It was a heck of a tough win for us. Considering we didn’t play well in the first half, it’s a good win.” 

Isaiah Thomas did not take this game lightly and played aggressively throughout, leading the Celtics with 37 points. Avery Bradley came in second in points with 20. 

For a complete box score, click here

Boston picked up their defense enough in the third quarter to take the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game. Still the score was closer than it should have been for much of the second half before the Sixers tied it at 100 with 34.6 seconds left in the game. Thomas made a layup to give the Celtics the 102-100 lead before they ultimately won the game on free throws. 

Stud of the night: Isaiah Thomas

In a game where the Celtics needed to put consistent pressure on Philadelphia, Thomas did just that during his 33 minutes on the court. Along with leading the team in points, he also led in assists with 7. He pulled down four rebounds and his energy kept the Celtics in this game in the second half.  

Dud of the night: Celtics’ first quarter

The Celtics looked like they were coasting through the first quarter against the 4-16 Sixers. They missed their only two 3-point attempts and their defense looked lazy as they allowed the Sixers to score 30 points in the first 12 minutes. 

When the game was won: Third quarter

This is when the Celtics woke up and tightened their defense enough to make their offense count and realized they could win this one. They grabbed nine rebounds and made nine of their 17 shot attempts to regain the lead they lost early on in the game.  

 

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

Blog Author: 
Lucy Burdge

Nov 30, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) takes a shot while guarded by Detroit Pistons point guard Ish Smith (14) during the fourth quarter at TD Garden.  The Detroit Pistons won 121-114. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Avery Bradley is one of the Celtics leading the 3-point barrage this season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The 3-point shot is the home run of basketball. It’s a play that can get you back in a game and one that can close the door just as fast. 

Stevens, who earned three letters apiece in high school basketball and track, also earned on in baseball in his days at Zionsville, Indiana. On Wednesday, he used a baseball metaphor to make his point about shot selection and tempo. 

Brad Stevens, the man who wore No. 31 in high school after idol Reggie Miller, certainly saw the down side of it on Wednesday in a 121-114 loss to the Pistons, during which his team took 42 shots from beyond the arc. The Celtics made a reasonable number (15) and percent (35) but that doesn’t tell the whole story. His team committed just six turnovers and shot 44 percent. 

“I think we’re taking care of the ball, pretty obviously, really well. I wasn’t overly happy with some of our shots. I felt like some of shots were rushed. But again, when we play good offense we’re really good on that end of the floor. But we have a tendency when teams are making runs against us or things aren’t going our way to try to get it all back at once, and you just can’t do that. You have to keep hitting singles.”

The problem Wednesday wasn’t the 42 threes the Celtics took. It was the 27 misses. Long shots usually lead to long rebounds, and that’s a problem for a team that can’t rebound. The Celtics were battered again on the glass Wednesday (52-33) and many of those were Detroit hauling in the long rebounds from the missed shots. 

While Stevens indicated that he wanted more “singles” after Wednesday’s game, he seemed to clarify that before Friday’s game with Sacramento, suggesting the Celtics were taking the right kind of threes.

“They are,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day, we want layups. If we don’t get layups, we want the floor to be shrunk. The defense shrinks in and you’re able to touch the paint and kick it out, in two of our last three games, maybe three of our last four games, two-thirds of our possessions we’ve touched the paint or shrunk the defense with a roll. That’s kind of our objective. Hey, we’re not a team that gets to the foul line a lot, we’re not a team that rebounds at a high rate, and we haven’t scored it in transition so to be able to be sitting where we are, offensively, I think a big reason is because we space the floor.”

Stevens insisted, despite long dry spells like Friday night in the first half (nine points over nine minutes), he’s happy with most of what the team is running offensively.

“I feel good. Offense can come and go, your hitting shots can come and go,” he added. “As far as like quality of shots and where we are now versus where we’ve been the last couple of years and moving forward, I feel really good about it.”

Clearly, the Celtics were more intent on getting Horford more than five shots Friday. He took nine shots and made six in the first 20 minutes. Horford finished with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-7 from the field in the 97-92 win. 

“No more so than the other day,” Stevens said after the win. “He got the ball multiple times in the post to start the other game and they just doubled him.  [Friday], when you’re playing with traditional bigs against him, he’s going to have more perimeter options, less post options.  And I think one of the things that he’s done a really good job of is continue to improve and stretch his range, so that he could be good against either matchup.”

“Yeah I think I got a lot of early looks in the game and like I said on Wednesday I think the Pistons did a good job defending and doubling and forcing me to pass the ball. Tonight I had more opportunities to be aggressive.”

Stevens said good shot-taking and making is all relative. 

“We threw it in the post, I think, four or five times in the first six or seven minutes [on Wednesday], and they doubled it and he made the right play,” Stevens said. “There’s always a right play to be made, it doesn’t mean that he’s always going to get a shot. I think five is too little; I don’t think there’s any question about that.

“But sometimes you just gotta find other ways and maybe that means that we run a different kind of action other than a post-up or other than a pick-and-roll to get him looks. We took some tough shots the other night at times but when you give up 121 — that’s the deal. I think that we scored at a pretty good rate. I’m not as concerned right now about that as I am about making sure we shore up those individual correctable things and, again, try to get better on the defensive glass.”

Horford the history-maker: Al Hoford’s 26-point night against DeMarcus Cousins in Friday’s 97-92 win wasn’t just impressive, it was historic. The Celtics big man also had six blocks, four 3-pointers and two steals, the first such stat line in NBA history. 

“I thought there were a couple huge plays that he made, blocking shots: the one when he trailed from behind and blocked the shot in transition, and you know, the one thing about Al is he’s always in a stance,” Stevens said. “His arms are always long. He takes up a lot of space and then he reacts quickly to what’s going on.”

“I think playing at the power forward position it really frees me up defensively,” Horford added. “I feel like I can run around a little more and have more impact. When you are a center a lot of the times you get caught up with the bigs and it’s a little harder to get out to shooters and stuff. I’m just trying to be active, as active as I can.”

Can Boogie really help? The hot subject before Friday’s game was the man in the purple uniform wearing No. 15. DeMarcus Cousins has long been rumored as one of the missing pieces that would send the Celtics over the top. This thinking has been picking up steam steadily since the summer when the Celtics came away with Al Horford but not Kevin Durant. Then the Celtics started out the season playing inconsistently (in very large part because they didn’t have the services of the injured Horford and Jae Crowder).

The Celtics can’t rebound very well and they have trouble scoring in the paint. Put Cousins on the Celtics with Horford and Crowder and you have a front court as dynamic as any in the NBA. The Celtics already know what Cousins can do and Brad Stevens has tremendous respect for how disruptive he can be. The issue will be whether the perennial rebuilding Kings want to trade their franchise piece and how much they could get back in return. Clearly, they’ll want at least one first-round pick (possibly the protected lottery pick the Celtics have) and an established player. Why so much? Because Cousins has one more year after this one left on his contract at $17.5 million per season. Attitude and professionalism has always been what has scared away teams from pulling the trigger on any kind of deal for Cousins. And on a young team like Boston, one has to seriously wonder who might have his ear. Obviously, Isaiah Thomas played with him for three seasons from 2011-12 through 2013-14.

Following Friday’s 97-92 loss in Boston, the Kings fell to 7-12 on the season. In seven seasons in Sacramento, Cousins has never enjoyed a winning campaign, averaging 25 wins, with just one season of 30 or more wins (last year).  

“It is almost like we have to get hit first for us to react,” Cousins said after Friday’s game. “That has kind of been the struggle the whole year. It’s not good for us. We’re in the situation where we have to come out and be the aggressive team every night…if we don’t figure this thing out we’re going to continue to have these types of games. Like I’ve been saying all season, if we want to change thing whole thing around then we have to hold ourselves accountable and take responsibility for our effort.”

Asked about Cousins Friday, Crowder told reporters that he was “my guy… he’s a good friend of mine, we’ve become friends inside the lines.”

Jerebko hot: Jonas Jerebko came into Friday’s game on quite the streak. In his previous three games, the Celtics reserve had connected on a remarkable 20 of 24 shots, including eight threes. Jerebko, a career 46 percent shooter from the field, is over 50 percent 18 games into his seventh season. He’s 44 percent from beyond the arc, nine points above his career average. 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings made it a lot more difficult than the Celtics had hoped Friday night but in the end Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas were enough. Mike Petraglia has the recap inside TD Garden.

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBall

WEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

Blog Author: 
WEEI