After exacting NBA Finals revenge against the Celtics in 2010, Kobe Bryant has softened on Boston, and for the first time since the infamous 2007 “MVP” chants, the city returned the sentiment, offering a standing ovation during the starting lineup role call before playfully booing him on his first few possessions.

It was exactly the sort of reaction Boston reserves for its most worthy adversaries –€” Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and, yes, Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and one of the greatest players ever to play the game of basketball.

The Boston brass presented Bryant with a piece of the parquet before his final game in the Garden, and then the Celtics gave him more ground on the floor, as the 17-time All-Star sunk a 28-foot dagger of a 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining in a 112-104 victory.

Bryant finished with a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) in 33 minutes, as the Lakers won for just the sixth time all season. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 24 points and seven assists. Evan Turner (20 points, 8 assists), Jae Crowder (17 points) and Avery Bradley (13 points) also reached double figures for the Celtics, who fell to 18-14 and had their four-game winning streak snapped.

Marcus Smart was benched for the first quarter after missing the team’s walk-through due to a flat tire, Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. Smart scored four points in 11 minutes.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Evan Turner.

If not for Turner, the Celtics would never have made this a contest. When they trailed by a dozen and lost on offense in the fourth quarter, Turner repeatedly drove to the basket, breathing life into the fading green. He scored 13 of the C’s first 16 points in the final frame and assisted on the team’s only other field goal –€” a David Lee layup — in that span, as they climbed back into an otherwise ugly game.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Amir Johnson.

Johnson played 18 minutes and scored all of zero points. In fact, outside of his five defensive rebounds and one turnover, he put up zeroes across the board. And while he helped hold Roy Hibbert scoreless on the defensive end, the Celtics could have used some scoring from their starting big man. In the third quarter, he was replaced in the starting lineup by Kelly Olynyk, who also had a tough night (5 points).

VINE OF THE NIGHT:

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: “Ko-be Bry-ant” chants.

Prior to the game, I thought it might be poignant for Celtics fans to offer Bryant a few mock “MVP” chants during the game ‘€” maybe on an errant 3-pointer ‘€” but that’s when I figured the C’s would run away with this one. Then, the Lakers took a double-digit lead and Bryant hit that dagger 3, and then the “Ko-be Bry-ant” chants that rained from the rafters were a terrible idea. Whether or not those came from the large contingent of L.A. faithful, Celtics fans should’ve figured out a way to drown those out.

NOTE OF THE NIGHT: Oh, shoot.

Bryant’s worst shooting game against the Celtics? His first in Boston. In 20 minutes off the bench on Nov. 27, 1996, he finished 1-for-7 from the floor (14.3 percent) in a 110-94 at the Garden. In his final game in Boston, he seemed destined for an even worse evening, starting 2-of-12 from the field, but he salvaged a 5-for-18 effort ‘€” tied for the sixth-worst shooting effort of his career against the Celtics.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “This place is always special to me.”

“I grew up a really big historian of the game and understanding Boston’€™s history, the players, many different players, championships won, and so this place is always special to me,” Bryant said of his final visit to the hub as a player. “The history I think is what makes this city different than all the rest.”

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 9-6-3.

It’s the sort of stat line Brandon Bass put up all too often on the Celtics ‘€” nine points, six rebounds and three assists in 24:29 ‘€” and this time it helped the Lakers. Overshadowed by Bryant’s return, Bass made his first trip back to Boston after four seasons on the Celtics, and he helped anchor a 52-45 rebounding advantage for L.A. He also played center for the Lakers down the stretch. Silent assassin.

@ OF THE NIGHT:

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Kobe Bryant celebrates with teammate Ron Artest while beating the Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals.</p>
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For three quarters, the Celtics sat comfortably ahead of the Knicks before New York found its rhythm in the final frame — but the C’s fended off their hosts in a 100-91 victory.

For three quarters, the Celtics sat comfortably ahead of the Knicks before New York found its rhythm in the final frame — but the C’s fended off their hosts in a 100-91 victory.

The C’s defense coerced the Knicks into bad passes and off-balance shots, forcing eight of the Knicks’ 13 turnovers in the third quarter and building a double-digit lead. Offensively, the Celtics got a lot of players involved, making it difficult for the Knicks to stop the bleeding.

In the fourth quarter, New York scored in transition and from the free-throw line to cut the C’s lead to five before Boston’s 10-6 run in the final four minutes clinched the win. Isaiah Thomas scored a team-high 21 points to go with eight rebounds and six assists. Jae Crowder added 18 points and six rebounds. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 29 points and 10 rebounds, and rookie Kristaps Porzingis (16 points, 12 rebounds) also finished with a double-double.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Jae Crowder.

Crowder was a force on both ends of the floor, holding Anthony to 11-of-26 shooting on the defensive end and knocking down three of his five 3-point attempts offensively. He finished with a game-high plus-13 rating.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Jared Sullinger.

Sullinger had a frustrating night battling Porzingis and Robin Lopez in the paint. He scored three points on 1-for-9 shooting and only grabbed five rebounds, while Lopez and Porzingis combined for 18 boards on the night.

VINE OF THE NIGHT: Marcus Smart’s first made shot after missing 18 games was an and-1.

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Transition buckets.

Behind transition offense, the Knicks went on a 7-2, fourth-quarter run to cut the Celtics‘ lead to five midway through the fourth quarter. They crawled back from a double-digit deficit by getting to the free-throw line and hitting 3’s on fast breaks. Outside of that stretch, when the C’s needed an improved transition defense, they did a solid job defending .

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 51 rebounds.

The Celtics did an excellent job of cleaning up the glass. Other than Avery Bradley (1 rebound), all of the Celtics’ starters grabbed at least six rebounds. Kelly Olynyk pulled down a team-high nine from off the bench. Thomas’ eight rebounds led the starters. Jared Sullinger and Jae Crowder each had six and Amir Johnson pulled down seven.

@ OF THE NIGHT:

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

There’s no place like the road?

There’s no place like the road?

The Boston Celtics improved to 9-6 on the road, defeating the Detroit Pistons 99-93 Saturday night in Detroit. After an even first half, the C’s pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Pistons 25-15. Andre Drummond, who had 17 points and 9 rebounds in the first half was held scoreless in the third, as Detroit only shot 30% from the field. The Pistons made a late surge to cut the Celtics lead to two with under a minute to play in the fourth, but their effort ultimately fell short, as former Piston Jonas Jerebko knocked down a jumper with 10.7 seconds left to seal the game for Boston.

Avery Bradley led the team with 18 points, scoring 15 in the first half. In classic Celtics fashion, five other players finished in double-figures: Thomas (17 pts), Turner (13), Johnson (12), Crowder (11), Sullinger (10).

Andre Drummond, who would currently start in the All-Star game for the Eastern Conference, put up 22 points and 22 rebounds. Marcus Morris scored 16 and Reggie Jackson had 17 points in the loss.

The (17-13) Celtics return home to play the Knicks on Sunday night in Boston, while the (17-14) Pistons will play next against the same Knick team on Tuesday in New York.

For a complete box score, click here.

STUD OF THE NIGHT

Basketball is a team sport and this was a total team effort by the Celtics. No one player stood out, but collectively the C’s played great defense, scoring 16 points off of 16 Pistons turnovers.

DUD OF THE NIGHT

The last time the Celtics played the Pistons, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 31 points en route to a Pistons victory. Tonight the Celtics did a much better job containing the explosive sophmore, who scored six points on a dreadful 3-of-11 shooting. Caldwell-Pope had five turnovers and missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc.

VINE OF THE NIGHT

Sweedish Larry Bird with the Dagger

WHINE OF THE NIGHT

Avery Bradley’s scoring always seems to fade in the second half of games. It’s not his ability to make a shot, but he is less aggressive late in games. Tonight, he only attempted one shot in the final quarter.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

After missing two games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Amir Johnson played 28 minutes tonight. In a very efficient performance, Johnson was 6-of-7 from the field and pulled down 8 rebounds. It will be interesting to see how much he plays against the Knicks on the second-night of a back-to-back, as the Celtics are going to need his defense if they plan on contending in the jam-packed Eastern Conference. 

@ OF THE NIGHT

I had never noticed this before tonight, but it is now something I will never be able to get out of my brain. Thanks The Green Room!

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard

Behind their steady defense, the Celtics’ offense in the second half pushed them to a 102-89 win over the Hornets on Wednesday night. The Hornets rallied back in the fourth quarter but spent never led once throughout the night.

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

Behind their steady defense, the Celtics’ offense in the second half pushed them to a 102-89 win over the Hornets on Wednesday night. The Hornets rallied back in the fourth quarter but spent never led once throughout the night. Nicolas Batum’s 3-pointer brought the Hornets to within six points before the Celtics went on an 10-3 run in the final three minutes to clinch the win.

Four Celtics players scored 18-plus points. Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 20 points, Jae Crowder notched his third straight double-double (19 points, 12 rebounds), and Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley each scored 18.

Frank Kaminsky’s 23 points led the Hornets, and Nicolas Batum scored 17.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Kelly Olynyk

While Amir Johnson is nursing a left foot injury (plantar fasciitis), Olynyk has filled in nicely. He finished with 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting, adding nine assists to finish as a plus-16 on the night. This is the second straight game he’s replaced Johnson in the starting lineup — within that span, Olynyk is averaging 19.5 points and 7 rebounds.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: None

The Celtics played a well-rounded game against the Hornets. While four players netted 18-plus points, other guys stepped up in other ways than putting the ball in the hoop. Jared Sullinger pulled down 10 rebounds, Evan Tuner finished scoreless but had five assists and R.J. Hunter had two steals.

VINE OF THE NIGHT: Olynyk’s put-back dunk (love the reaction from the Celtics bench)

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: No Al Jefferson

For the second time this season, the Celtics faced a Al Jefferson-less Hornets on the road. Jefferson has been nursing a left calf injury that has left him out for most of December. Jefferson is also serving a five-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy — tonight’s game was the fifth and last game of his suspension.

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 40 points in the paint

The Celtics scored 40 points in the key — it’s the second consecutive game where the C’s have scored 40-plus points in the paint. Celtics scored 44 against the Timberwolves on Monday night.

@ OF THE NIGHT: 

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Celtics fans didn’t get to see Kevin Garnett, but they did watch their team spank the

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

Celtics fans didn’t get to see Kevin Garnett, but they did watch their team spank the Timberwolves, 113-99.

Kelly Olynyk led six Celtics in double figures with 19 points, helping the Celtics snap a three-game losing streak and improve to 15-13. Jae Crowder (18 points, 10 rebounds), Tyler Zeller (14 points, 8 rebounds), David Lee (13 points, 8 rebounds) and Avery Bradley (13 points) also reached double-digits.

Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner combined for 22 assists, as the Celtics assisted on 34 of their 46 field goals.

Rookie Karl Towns led the Timberwolves (11-17) with 25 points and 16 rebounds.

For the complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Kelly Olynyk.

Making his first start of the season in place of the injured Jared Sullinger (back), Olynyk was an offensive force, making seven of his first 10 shots, including all three of his 3-point attempts through three quarters, effectively stretching a Minnesota defense that had two legitimate bigs — Gorgui Dieng and Karl Towns — to clog the lane.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Avery Bradley.

Bradley had his fourth straight subpar shooting night, finishing 5-of-14 from the floor for 13 points. After shooting 6-of-23 from distance over the past four games — including 2-of-6 on Monday night — his 3-point percentage has finally dipped below 40 percent for the season. Bradley said prior to the game opposing defenses are honing in on his newfound offensive game, and he’ll have to readjust in order to keep up the pace he had to start the season.

VINE OF HTE NIGHT:

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: No KG.

Really, how do the Timberwolves not start Garnett against the Celtics? Now, I realize their argument was he’s not playing on the second night of a back-to-back, but c’mon. He’s only averaging 15.5 minutes a game this season. What would be the harm in starting him, letting the Garden crowd cheer him as the lineups are announced and at the opening tip, and then sitting him the rest of the night two minutes into the game? After all, Garnett was active and dressed for the game, so it’s not like the Wolves freed up a roster spot by keeping him on the bench. Such a hardo move by Minnesota coach Sam Mitchell. If this is Garnett’s final trip to Boston in uniform, shame on Mitchell.

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 10.9 points per 100 possessions.

Prior to the game, David Lee was asked about his suspect advanced analytic numbers — specifically the fact the C’s are 10.9 points per 100 possessions better with him on the bench — and Lee responded: “My analytic numbers weren’t good when I was averaging 22 and 12.” Except, his on/off numbers were never quite this bad when he was averaging 20 and 12. (He never averaged 22 and 12.) And saying his advanced numbers weren’t great even when he was an All-Star isn’t necessarily an argument against analytics, but rather a commentary on his porous defense. Then again, Lee collected 13 points and eight rebounds, finishing a plus-seven in one of his better performances for the Celtics this season.

@ OF THE NIGHT:

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach