Brad Stevens has reached a low point in his second season as Celtics head coach.

Stevens sounded an ominous signal Monday following a 104-95 lifeless loss to the lowly Charlotte Hornets on “Seats for Soldiers” night at TD Garden.

His team started slow out of the gate and really never recovered, trailing 22-11 late in the first quarter and 50-36 at the half.

“First of all, they played at a great pace, and they made shots and Kemba (Walker) was great,” Stevens said. “We couldn’€™t stop him. Cody Zeller was playing at a higher energy-level than anybody else on the floor a lot of the game, and you know (Gerald) Henderson has always really given us fits. I thought all three of those guys looked like they were at a different level early. And we weren’€™t very good.”

It got so bad that Stevens ran through his entire 13-man roster by the end of the third quarter. What was he hoping to accomplish?

“No idea. I think tonight was more of an anomaly because I was throwing darts. I can act like I know the answer to your question but I was throwing darts,” Stevens said.

Asked a question about the breakout game for James Young and whether it might mean more playing time for the rookie, Stevens instead took the opportunity to do a little soul searching.

“€œI don’€™t know,” Stevens said. “I don’€™t know. I’€™ve got to figure out how to coach this team better. I’€™m not doing a very good job. We’€™re not playing well and we’€™re playing almost ‘€“ it’€™s not good basketball. We’€™ve got to do a better job playing good basketball. I’€™ll figure out the rotations later, once we start playing good basketball and once we all are very focused on very good basketball. And that’€™s on me. I’€™ve got to do a better job.”

Stevens then channeled his inner Bill Belichick when asked why other players besides Jared Sullinger couldn’t find offensive rhythm.

“I don’€™t know,” Stevens said. “Again, I’€™ve got to figure out a way to get those guys to play, and it’€™s ‘€“ that’€™s on me. We weren’€™t very organized offensively, we weren’€™t very good defensively, we got torched by one guy ‘€“ pretty bad coaching.”

From an inspired effort at times against Rajon Rondo and the Mavericks Friday to a gutty effort in a road loss to the Bulls Saturday, the Celtics have shown consistent inconsistency. Then they laid an egg against an 11-24 team Monday night before their home fans. Right now, Stevens doesn’t know what to expect from night to night.

“We’€™ve got to get to the point where we know, we’€™ve got to know it every day. We’€™ve got to play the right way every day. And, you know that was really disappointing. That was a disappointing effort all around.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Fresh off of an overtime loss in Chicago, the Celtics returned home on Monday to face the underachieving Hornets at TD Garden.

Fresh off of an overtime loss in Chicago, the Celtics returned home on Monday to face the underachieving Hornets at the TD Garden. Part of the problem for Charlotte has been injuries, as they were without both Lance Stephenson and former Celtic Al Jefferson for this contest.

Jefferson played a huge role in the Hornets’ 96-87 victory over the C’s on Dec 10 in Charlotte, finishing with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Boston was out for revenge this time around, however, they didn’t find it on Monday.

Kemba Walker was dominant for the Hornets in their 104-95 win over the Celtics, seemingly finding a bucket every time the Celtics started to claw back. Walker finished with 33 points to go with five boards and five helpers. Click here for the full box score.

Here’s five things we learned in the loss:

COLD START

On a 19-degree Boston eve, the home team may have brought some of that weather inside. The Celtics began the season by customarily getting off to hot starts at home (and then letting their leads slip away late). Recently it’s been a different story.

The Celts were able to manage just 16 points in the first quarter on a mere 7-of-23 shooting. Things improved slightly in the second quarter, but for the most part it was more of the same for Boston. The C’s headed into the locker room with just 36 points while going 14-for-43 from the field (32.6%). The Celtics were also out-rebounded 30-18 in the half, contributing to the deficit.

NEAR COMEBACK

The Celtics got it together in the second half, but the youngsters were at the head of the charge this time around. Rookies Marcus Smart (nine points and four assists) and James Young (we’ll get to him later) each had big games along with newcomer Jae Crowder (13 points and five rebounds) to help pull the team within six points late in the fourth, 88-82, after being down as many as 22 points. But the C’s fell short as Walker and the Hornets proved to be too much to handle late. Jared Sullinger also scored 14 points in the second half, he finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

JAMES YOUNG FINALLY BROKE OUT

After going back-and-forth between playing big minutes for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League and riding the bench for the Celtics, 19-year-old rookie James Young played when in mattered for the first time in weeks. Young came in to play the last three minutes of the first half, but didn’t come in gunning like he has done so far in his career.

That all changed in the second half. Young scored 13 points in 13 minutes on 5-for-6 shooting in the second half alone (including 3-for-4 from downtown), nearly leading the Celtics to a comeback victory. It’s just one game, but Young was masterful on offense, and even played aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. Young is definitely a player to watch going forward as this performance may have carved him out a spot in Brad Stevens‘ wild rotation going forward. Speaking of which …

BRAD STEVENS PLAYED EVERY AVAILABLE CELTIC

Ever since the Rajon Rondo trade Stevens has been tinkering around with all kinds of rotations. In the last two games this meant playing 11 different players double digit minutes. On Monday it meant playing all 13 of his available players (Marcus Thornton and Jameer Nelson sat with injuries) during meaningful action.

You know about Young already, but Gerald Wallace saw minutes in the second half, and rather than filling in for Nelson by letting players in the rotation play more, Phil Pressey stepped in to take Nelson’s role. Playing 13 players before a game even turns into a blowout says a lot about a rotation, mostly negative things. Eventually, Stevens is going to have to pick a direction with this team and establish a rotation that allows his players to find more of a rhythm.

BATTLE OF THE ZELLERS

Tyler Zeller’s younger brother, Cody, has owned his big brother so far in his career. Not necessarily in the individual matchups, but Cody’s team has won all five games in which the brothers have faced off. Cody clearly had the better game in this matchup finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds to Tyler’s two point and two rebound effort. More importantly for Cody, his team is now 6-0 against Tyler’s teams when they have faced off in the NBA.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

Another good effort, another road loss for the Celtics.

Another good effort, another road loss for the Celtics.

Pau Gasol had 29 points, 16 rebounds and five blocked shots, and the Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 109-104 in overtime on Saturday night in Chicago.

“The last couple years, I had issues with my knees. I couldn’t really jump as much as I’m jumping now,” said Gasol, who was coming off a career best nine blocks in Chicago’s previous game. “Not that I’m jumping super high, maybe an inch more.”

Evan Turner scored 24 of his 29 points after halftime, but Boston dropped to 2-6 since trading Rajon Rondo to Dallas on Dec. 18. Avery Bradley had 17 points for the Celtics (11-20). Jared Sullinger added 16 points in Boston’s fourth consecutive road loss.

Aaron Brooks added 19 points for the Bulls (24-10), who won for the ninth time in 10 games. Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose had 12 points apiece.

“They do what they need to do to win, obviously, even when they’re not playing well,” Turner said.

Saturday was Boston’s first game since the Rajon Rondo return with the Mavericks on Friday in Boston, a 119-101 loss to Dallas. The Celtics did not show serious hangover effects and played hard against a Bulls team missing starters Jimmy Butler (bereavement leave) and Mike Dunleavy (right ankle).

Rookie Nikola Mirotic scored 10 points in his first start, and Kirk Hinrich replaced Butler for the Bulls’ ninth different starting lineup of the season.

Rose stole the ball and passed to Joakim Noah, who found Gasol for a layup for a 103-99 lead with 2:21 left in overtime. Two Gasol free throws and a Rose layup extended the lead to 107-103 with 24.8 seconds left. The Bulls then held on despite going 2 for 4 at the line in the final eight seconds.

The Bulls shot 37 percent from the field and committed 18 turnovers. The Celtics shot 45 percent and turned the ball over 22 times.

A Gasol jumper and free throw gave the Bulls a 98-95 lead with 1:13 left in regulation. Green made two free throws to cut the lead to one. Gibson was fouled with 22.7 seconds left and made one of two free throws, and Sullinger scored on a putback with 2.6 seconds left to tie it at 99.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Friday was a unique game for the Celtics in the sense that they were playing against Rajon Rondo, not just in his return to Boston, but just two weeks after being teammates with him. Rondo got the best of his former team, scoring 29 points in a Mavericks’ 119-101 victory.

Rondo, who shot 12-for-19 from the field, scored 15 first-quarter points on perfect six-for-six shooting. It seemed like the Celtics game plan was to allow Rondo to shoot, which obviously backfired.

“We pretty much baited him to shoot and wanted him to shoot and he was knocking them down tonight,” Jared Sullinger said.

“He was being aggressive just like anyone would do, just like players on our team,” added Avery Bradley. “Just like we do every single night we take what the defense gives us and that’€™s what Rajon did. He was able to knock down shots.”

Bradley, like Rondo did in the first quarter, put his team on his back in the fourth quarter. The Celtics started down 28 before Bradley scored 17 in the final quarter as the Celtics cut the deficit to 10, 97-87, before running out of gas down the stretch.

“I think it’€™s just confidence, it’€™s the same with me and I’€™m pretty sure I can speak for him,” Bradley said. “If you have confidence out there in the game, anything is possible. He had confidence in his shot and he was making them.”

Did Rondo say anything to Bradley while the two were covering each other?

“No he didn’€™t, we were just out there competing,” Bradley said. “He played well. Their whole team did.”

Bradley, like everyone else except Rondo, did take a good look at the tribute video after the first quarter.

“I watched it, there were a lot of good memories,” Bradley said. “Rondo had an amazing career here. I’€™m happy for him and his future, it was just unfortunate that we didn’€™t come out on top.”

“We had a lot of defensive break downs. We’€™ve been saying it all year, our defense has to get better and we didn’€™t play very good team defense at all.”

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

When Rajon Rondo was traded to Dallas in December, it left a void of leadership to a degree. Some may argue just what kind of leader the temperamental point guard was but he was the captain of the Celtics.

When Rajon Rondo was traded to Dallas in December, it left a void of leadership to a degree. Some may argue just what kind of leader the temperamental point guard was but he was the captain of the Celtics.

So after Friday night’s 119-101 win over the Celtics, Rondo offered some advice for the likes of Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk, who are left to look up to Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Gerald Wallace.

“Their future’€™s bright. They’€™re a very young team and a lot of hard-working guys over there,” Rondo said. “You know, stick with Avery, listen to Gerald, listen to Coach Stevens. You know, he’€™s very positive. And he expects a lot out of the guys but he’€™s the right coach for these young guys.”

With Friday out of the way, Rondo will be solely focused on getting back to the NBA finals, a place he hasn’t been since losing Game 7 to the Lakers in 2010. He did get to a Game 7 of the Eastern finals in 2012 but fell in Miami.

“I just want to win,” Rondo said. “I just want to win a championship. I’€™ve got to get to that feeling again and we have a great, talented group of guys in Dallas that I think we can do it, maybe one piece away. Our defensive rebounding, rebound entirely has to get better as a team, and coach Carlisle made an emphasis of rebounding the basketball and we did a pretty good job.”

Rondo has been known to play at his best with a chip on his shoulder. Is he playing with a bigger chip on his shoulder than in 2010?

“I wouldn’€™t say that,” he replied. “I’€™m very blessed to be playing basketball again. I took a long time off for my ACL injury and I think I took basketball for granted up to a certain point; being able to go out there every night and do what I love to do. So I don’€™t know if I was able to show it as much here while I was a Celtic, but now, I say I’€™m still just very humbled and blessed to be playing basketball. Something I love to do every night. So I don’€™t take it for granted, and this is how I play the game now.”

Rondo scored 29 points Friday, the most since he scored 30 against the Bulls just over a week before tearing his ACL in Atlanta in Jan. 2013.

And Rondo, who had six rebounds himself in the win, pointed to old Pat Riley credo about rebounding and rings. He pointed to the 52-38 advantage on the boards as a big reason the Mavericks were able to hold off the Celtics down the stretch.

“You know, rebounding wins championships and that’€™s what we’€™re trying to get better at: rebounding the ball,” Rondo said.

If someone told him in his rookie year that he’€™d return to the Garden and get a video tribute like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett did, what would he have said?

“Sounds about right,” Rondo smirked. “I mean, those are my vets. They showed me how to work and I was surrounded by great talent in my early years of my career. Played for a great coach, Doc Rivers. And I put the work in, I worked extremely hard, and obviously playing with guys like that you’€™re very humbled to be a part of that, and I won a championship, couple All-Stars, and I played as hard as I can for the Celtics and I enjoyed every moment while I was here. Even this year, you know early I was taking the train so I embraced the city and was probably the best times of my career, this far.”

Friday was a great moment for Rondo but now it’s all about looking forward.

“It’€™s in the back of my mind,” Rondo said of the first-half tribute. “I don’€™t forget too much. But it’€™s a big win more me emotionally; a big win for our team, to start our road trip off. And we’€™re on to Cleveland.”

And the ovation from the fans?

“I mean, it’€™s what I expected,” he said. “Nothing less than what I was expecting. It’€™s a class organization, classy fans, and a lot of respect for me and vice versa. So I didn’€™t expect anything less and that’€™s just what it is.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

After lighting his former team up for 29 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers, Rajon Rondo addressed reporters for about eight minutes following a 119-101 Dallas victory over the Celtics Friday night at an electric TD Garden.

After lighting his former team up for 29 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers, Rajon Rondo addressed reporters for about eight minutes following a 119-101 Dallas victory over the Celtics Friday night at an electric TD Garden.

“Obviously it was a special day today,” Rondo said. “I’m emotionally tired, physically tired, drained right now. It was a tough game to get through but my teammates came through for me and we got the win.”

Rondo started the game red-hot. He was 6-for-6 in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers and 15 points. His third three of the quarter came with 0.2 seconds left in the period and gave the Mavericks a 31-17 lead after one quarter.

That inspired performance led into a three-minute video produced by the Celtics, which ended with the words “Thank You Rondo!” wrapped around the video board.

Rondo’s final dagger came with 2:51 left in the fourth, his fifth and final three of the night. It put the Mavericks up, 110-94. Rondo came out of the game with 1:21 left to one final ovation. The 29 points for Rondo were the most he’s scored since pouring in 30 against the Bulls on Jan. 18, 2013, just over a week before he tore his ACL in Atlanta.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia