Boston at Sacramento
When: 10:30 PM ET, Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento
SACRAMENTO – (Special Preview for Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – The Isaiah Thomas show hits the road Wednesday night when he leads the Boston Celtics into the opener of a four-game road trip at the Sacramento Kings. The Celtics are seeking their first eight-game winning streak since December of 2010 and Thomas continues to fuel the surge, averaging 35.3 points during the 7-0 stretch.
Thomas had 28 along with eight assists in Sunday’s 107-102 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, which left his scoring average at 29.9 overall, tied with Larry Bird’s 1987-88 franchise record. The Eastern Conference Player of the Week was limited to 20 points on 6-of-21 shooting in the first meeting with the Kings on Dec. 2 at home, but Boston survived 97-92 to claim its 10th straight victory over Sacramento at TD Garden. The Kings are 1-2 thus far on a six-game homestand after dropping a 112-107 decision to Chicago on Monday and will be without star big man DeMarcus Cousins for this one. Cousins picked up his 15th and 16th technical fouls in the defeat, which triggers an automatic one-game suspension.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, CSN New England (Boston), CSN California (Sacramento)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (33-18): Guard Avery Bradley is reportedly planning to make the trip west with Boston after missing his 10th straight game Sunday due to an Achilles injury. Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart continue to soak up most of the available minutes and they combined for 24 points, six rebounds and four assists Sunday. The Celtics attempted a season-high 52 3-pointers against the Clippers – making 16 of them – and will take aim at a Sacramento squad that allows 11 made 3s a game, the second-highest total in the league entering Tuesday.
ABOUT THE KINGS (20-32): Cousins notched his third straight double-double (18 points, 14 rebounds) and his 16th in the last 17 games against Chicago, and Sacramento lost by 34 points in the only game he has missed this season. “It’s going to be difficult,” point guard Darren Collison told reporters. “But we’ve been playing with our back against the wall all year. … So next man up, somebody has to step up. No excuses.” Collison is averaging 17 points while shooting 52.4 percent on the homestand.
1. Celtics C Al Horford went for 26 points, eight rebounds and a season-high six blocks in the earlier win over the Kings.
2. Nine of Sacramento’s last 10 games have been decided by five points or fewer, and three went to overtime.
3. Sacramento F Matt Barnes is averaging 11 rebounds – more than double his season average – in the last four games.
Boston 107, L.A. Clippers 102
When: 2:00 PM ET, Sunday, February 5, 2017
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Mass
BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) The Boston Celtics won their seventh straight game Sunday. But the biggest basket of the afternoon was scored by someone on the Los Angeles Clippers.
The TD Garden crowd loved both.
“I’m happy to be able to get one last shot,” Paul Pierce said after coming off the Clippers bench in the closing seconds and draining a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining in Boston’s 107-102 victory. “I’m thankful to step on the court, get one last shot, bury it, give the fans some wave to the crowd, kiss Lucky (the leprechaun logo at midcourt), I’m happy, I’m satisfied. I feel I can put it all to rest now.”
Isaiah Thomas scored 28 points and the Celtics attempted a club-record 52 3-pointers (making 16) en route to the win.
The Celtics were the second team in NBA history to attempt 30 3-pointers in a half, according to STATS, Inc., as they went 9 of 30 in the first half. The Houston Rockets attempted 30-plus 3-pointers in both halves of the same game on Dec. 16, 2016, against New Orleans.
But the day belonged to Pierce.
The former Celtic great, whose next appearance on the home court could be when his No. 34 is raised to the rafters, started and played the first 4:57. He took and rimmed the first shot of the game. His coach, former Celtics head man Doc Rivers, planned to put him back in at the end, but the Clippers turned a rout into a close game.
He re-entered the game with 19.8 seconds left to another major ovation — and then avoided what would have been his first scoreless game ever in the building (630 games).
Asked why he put Pierce back in the game, Rivers laughed and said, “Because the fans made me. I’m no dummy.”
The 3-pointer was the 2,138th of Pierce’s career, fourth on the all-time list.
“Tough situation — sitting for like the last two hours,” he said of the shot. “I’m glad I ended it that way. You want to come in and get a win, but it was a tough day not only for me but for my teammates — there was a lot of emotions running through my teammates.”
Said Celtics coach Brad Stevens: “I’ve been told how smart our fans are and I couldn’t agree more, but with two minutes to go chanting his name in a close game, I was like ‘not yet.’ He hits all the big ones.”
Thomas delivered his 35th straight 20-point game (the club record is 40) and added eight assists and his team hit 30.8 percent from behind the arc. He also played just token defense when he picked Pierce up off a switch on the final play.
“Nah, I wanted him to shoot and make it,” Thomas said. “It is the perfect way to go out, and he did it the right way.”
Al Horford scored 13 points and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds while dishing out six assists. Amir Johnson, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk all had 13 points and Jae Crowder and Jaylen Brown added 11 points apiece in the win.
Said Horford: “It (the reaction to Pierce) was overwhelming. I guess it shows the class of the fans here and their appreciation for Paul, you know, a lot of great moments here.”
The Clippers (31-20 and losers of four of five) never led and were down by as many as 18. They made a late run and shaved a 12-point lead with 2:48 remaining down to four but got no closer.
Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford led the Clippers, still without the injured Chris Paul, with 23 points apiece, Griffin adding eight rebounds and four assists. Crawford hit three 3-pointers, giving him 1,999 for his career, sixth all-time. Raymond Felton added 16 points off the Los Angeles bench and DeAndre Jordan grabbed 16 rebounds.
Boston’s Jonas Jerebko left the game late in the third quarter after a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Jerebko, who seemed to hit Brown’s shoulder, left with a bloody nose and was taken for tests after the game.
The Celtics reached 100 points for the 25th straight game, most for the franchise since a 32-game run in 1986-87.
NOTES: Boston G Avery Bradley missed his 10th straight game with an Achilles tendon strain but is closer. “From what I’ve been told he’s going to see (a doctor) again today, but the plan was for him to travel,” said Stevens, whose team opens a four-game trip at Sacramento Wednesday. … The Clippers continue their road trip at Toronto on Monday night. … Clippers coach Doc Rivers on Tom Brady: “I wish him the best of luck. In my eyes, he’s the greatest quarterback that ever played.”
Top Game Performances
Boston 113, L.A. Lakers 107
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, February 3, 2017
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Mass
BOSTON – (Wire Report by The Sports Xchange) – Isaiah Thomas, who seems to know everything on the court, had no idea he had just come within two points of becoming the first Celtics player ever to score 40 points in three straight games.
“I didn’t know about the three games in a row,” Boston’s little big man said after scoring 21 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics won their sixth in a row with a 113-107 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night. “I didn’t know about it or I would have had the last shot. I’m glad we won, that’s all that matters.”
They did win, the game ending less than an hour after the Toronto Raptors lost in Orlando, clinching Boston’s Brad Stevens’ spot as the Eastern Conference All-Star coach.
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue owns the best record in the conference, but he coached in the game last year and now Stevens and his Boston staff are going to New Orleans.
“Well, first of all, it should be Ty Lue, but the way the rules work then it’s the next-best record because he did it last year,” said Stevens, whose team is 32-18. “But what’s nice about it is there’s no politics in it. There’s no subjectivity; it’s what your team has accomplished.
“I almost feel bad that I’m the one that’s going; I’d rather have another one or two of those guys playing in it.”
The win also allowed the Celtics to break a tie with the Lakers and take over the all-time lead in regular season wins, with 2,353.
Thomas, the league leader in fourth-quarter scoring (10.5 per game coming in), scored his 37th and 38th points with 2:25 left but didn’t take another shot. He was 6 of 9 from the floor in the fourth quarter and went 7 of 7 from the foul line in the game, making him 46 of 47 in the last four games. He has recorded 34 straight 20-poing games as he continues to charge at John Havlicek’s club record of 40.
Reminded his coaches are going to New Orleans, Thomas, Boston’s All-Star picked as a backup, said, “Yeah, so they should put me in the starting lineup.
“That’s going to be good, that says a lot. Says we are winning and we’re doing pretty good and to get there says a lot. I’m happy for them.”
Thomas raised his season average to 29.9 points a game. Larry Bird holds the Celtics record for scoring in a season, also at 29.9, but Bird was 29.934 and Thomas is at 29.891.
NEW ORLEANS – (Staff Report by Digital Sports Desk from Official News Release) – The Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon, last year’s runner-up, and NBA All-Star DeAndre Jordan of the LA Clippers will take flight in the 2017 Verizon Slam Dunk on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Gordon and Jordan are joined in the four-player field by Derrick Jones Jr. of the Phoenix Suns and Glenn Robinson III of the Indiana Pacers.
Verizon Slam Dunk is part of State Farm All-Star Saturday Night, which will be televised by TNT at 8 p.m. ET and will also be available on the Watch TNT App and on TNT Overtime. In addition, the event will be broadcast on ESPN Radio, with audio also available on the ESPN app.
Gordon returns to Verizon Slam Dunk after a dazzling performance last year that included three consecutive perfect scores of 50. This season, the three-year veteran is averaging a career-high 11.4 points per game. The 6-9 forward has scored at least 20 points six times after recording five 20-point games in his first two seasons combined.
Jordan, a 2015-16 All-NBA First Team selection and a first-time All-Star in 2017, is tied for the NBA lead in rebounding (13.8 rpg) and paces the league in field goal percentage (69.6) for the fifth straight season. The 6-11 center also has a league-high 150 dunks in his ninth season.
Jones has split time this season between the Suns and their NBA Development League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns. The 6-7 rookie forward will become the first player to compete in the NBA Slam Dunk competition and play in the NBA D-League in the same season. Nicknamed “Airplane Mode” for his leaping ability, Jones won a national dunk contest for high school players in 2015 before playing one season at UNLV.
Robinson III has started 24 of his 46 games in his third NBA season, averaging 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds overall for the Pacers. The 6-6 guard/forward is the son of two-time NBA All-Star Glenn Robinson Jr., the first overall pick of the 1994 NBA Draft.
Verizon Slam Dunk is a two-round event in which the four participants can perform any dunk they choose without time limits. The players have a maximum of three attempts to complete each dunk in both the first round and the final round. Five judges score every dunk on a scale of 6 to 10, resulting in a high score of 50 and a low score of 30.
All four competitors get two dunks in the first round. The two players with the highest combined score for their two dunks advance to the head-to-head final round. The player with the highest combined score for his two dunks in the final round is crowned the champion.