BOSTON – Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas has been ruled out of both contests on the team’s two-game road trip this weekend due to a right knee bone bruise, the team announced on Thursday. Thomas will miss Friday’s game against the cellar-dwelling Brooklyn Nets (12-54) and Sunday’s matinee with the Philadelphia 76ers (24-43).
Boston (43-25), which hosts Washington (41-26) on Monday, holds a 1 1/2-game lead over the Wizards for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Thomas scored 27 points and logged 32 minutes in the Celtics’ 117-104 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old is averaging a career-best 29.2 points per game this season for Boston, which had a 1-3 record in the four games he missed in December with a strained right groin
NEW ORLEANS – (Staff Report by Digital Sports Desk from Official News Release) – NBA All-Star Game starter Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans and fellow All-Stars DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz, Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics and John Wall of the Washington Wizards will compete in the 2017 Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.
Joining the five 2017 All-Stars in the eight-player field are two members of the 2015-16 NBA All-Rookie First Team, Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks, as well as three-time reigning Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Taco Bell® Skills Challenge tips off 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 competition will be broadcast on ESPN Radio, with audio also available on the ESPN app.
With Davis, Cousins, Embiid and Porzingis competing, this marks the second straight year that four big men will be showing off their versatility in the traditionally guard-heavy event. The three-round, obstacle-course competition, which tests dribbling, passing, agility and three-point-shooting skills, will feature a head-to-head, bracket-style tournament format for the third year in a row. The four big men will be on one side of the bracket and the remaining four players will be on the other side of the bracket. First-round matchups will be announced at a later date.
Davis, who will start the All-Star Game in his home arena, ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring (27.9 ppg), sixth in rebounding (12.3 rpg) and second in blocked shots (2.39 bpg). Cousins, an All-Star selection for the third straight season, is fourth in the league in scoring (28.2 ppg) to go with 10.5 rebounds and career highs of 4.4 assists and 84 three-pointers made.
Embiid leads all rookies in scoring (20.2 ppg), rebounding (7.8 rpg) and blocks (2.45 bpg), and the 7-footer has connected on 36-of-98 (36.7 percent) from three-point range. The 7-3 Porzingis has increased his scoring and improved his shooting in his second season, averaging 18.7 points while making 45.2 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from three-point range.
Hayward and Booker will make their debuts in the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge. A first-time All-Star selection, Hayward (21.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.5 apg) has raised his scoring average in every season of his seven-year career. Booker (20.8 ppg) has scored at least 20 points in each of his last 14 games. The 6-6 Phoenix guard will join Embiid and Porzingis as participants in the 2017 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 17 at Smoothie King Center.
Thomas and Wall will compete in the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge for the third time each. An All-Star for the second straight year, Thomas ranks second in the NBA in scoring (29.7 ppg) and is posting career highs in assists (6.4 apg), field goal percentage (46.8) and three-pointers made per game (3.2). Wall, an All-Star for the fourth year in a row, is second in the league in assists (10.3 apg) and steals (2.13 spg) to go with 22.7 points – career highs in all three categories.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge format calls for two players to compete simultaneously on an identical course with the fastest finisher reaching the next round. In the first round, the eight players are paired to participate in four head-to-head competitions. The four winners advance to the second round, where two more head-to-head showdowns determine the two finalists
Boston 117, Miami 114
When: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, December 30, 2016
Where: TD Garden, Boston
BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by Sports Xchange) – Miami coach Erik Spoelstra used to coach the Big Three with the Heat. On Friday night, he was clobbered by the Little One.
Isaiah Thomas, generously listed at 5 feet 9 in your program, scored a club-record 29 of his career-high 52 points in the fourth quarter — the highest total ever run up by a Boston guard — and led the Celtics to a 117-114 victory over the undermanned Heat.
“That fourth quarter … it just felt like I was out there by myself, working on my game in the gym,” Thomas, Boston’s Little Big Man, said after beating his previous high of 44, set just 10 days earlier.
“Throwing up everything and it was going in. It was a special feeling.”
It was the fourth-highest scoring total in Celtics history, behind Larry Bird’s 60 in 1985, Kevin McHale’s 56 in 1985 and Bird’s 53 in 1983.
Thomas, who outscored the entire Miami starting lineup 52-51, scored 29 of the Celtics’ 35 points in the quarter, the last basket a three coming on a long bomb from well behind the 3-point line. He hit six 3-pointers in the quarter and finished 15 of 26 from the floor, 9 of 13 in the fourth, 9 of 13 from 3-point range and 13 of 13 from the foul line.
“I have to give credit to my teammates and coach Brad (Stevens),” Thomas said. “They were saying, ‘o 60!'”
He was just two points off the NBA record, saying, “Yeah, that was crazy. I mean, to be in the same conversation as Wilt (Chamberlain), maybe one day … ”
Amazingly, Thomas, who came in averaging 6.3 assists per game, didn’t have a single assist — and heard chants of “M-V-P” from the home crowd in the latter stages of the game.
Bird (1983) and Darren Daye (1995) had held the club record with 24 points in a fourth quarter.
On Dec. 20 at Memphis, Thomas scored 36 of his 44 points after halftime in an overtime win. He has scored 20 or more points in all but one game this season (18 in that one) and has 20 or more in 18 straight, an NBA high.
Asked if he thinks he belongs in the conversation regarding the league’s best scorers, Thomas said, “I do. The only reason I do is because I’m 5-9. They don’t talk about me like they do all the other guys, but I’m fine with it.”
Al Horford had 21 points and six rebounds as the Celtics (20-14) won for the seventh time in their last nine games — and did it without No. 2 scorer and leading rebounder Avery Bradley, who was sick and not in the building.
The home team, predictably flat after an emotional loss in Cleveland on Thursday night, survived even though the Heat shot 62.8 percent from the floor in the second half.
“It was obviously an unbelievable effort to not only finish out a long month, but six games in nine days, come back, get in at three in the morning, and go for 29 in the fourth,” Stevens said of Thomas. “It’s remarkable. I mean, I don’t know what else to say.”
Thomas, in Boston’s first 50-point game since Paul Pierce had 50 in a double-overtime game in 2006, tied the club record for 3-pointers.
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Officials: #7 Lauren Holtkamp, #28 Kevin Scott, #49 Tom Washington
“It’s just good to have him back,” said Horford, who had 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five blocked shots as Boston rallied from 12 points down and ended a three-game losing streak while sending the Hornets to their fourth straight loss.
“It felt good for the most part,” said Thomas, who went 9-for-20 from the floor and also had five assists and was the key to a 15-0 run that established control of the game. “I was a little rusty here and there but it felt it good just to be able to help my team and most importantly us to get a win.”
Walker, Charlotte’s leading scorer, missed the game because of a personal issue and will rejoin the team Saturday night in Atlanta. His team clearly missed him, shooting just 32.7 percent from the floor in the Hornets’ fourth straight loss.
“We didn’t make shots in the last five minutes,” said Charlotte’s Nicolas Batum, who had 22 point and 10 rebounds. “That’s maybe where we missed Kemba tonight.
“He’s one of the best closers in the league and this is when we missed him a lot tonight; that stretch the last five minutes.”
Thomas scored seven points during the big run that was aided by a four-point possession resulting from the flagrant-1 foul committed by Marco Belinelli on Thomas. Jae Crowder also scored seven points down the stretch as the Celtics won after trailing by 12 with 4:15 gone in the third quarter.
Belinelli offered to help Thomas up, but Boston’s Little Big Man said later, “I just got up on my own. If it’s not my teammates, then don’t help me up.”
Charlotte took 98 shots in the game but went just 8-for-30 from 3-point range.
Horford had a big third quarter, with eight points, three rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. He finished with eight rebounds and five assists. But it was Thomas who led the way when it counted.
“Isaiah Thomas was the biggest part of it,” said Hornets coach Steve Clifford. “Frankly, again, the one thing we have to do, we have to make our layups and we have to make our open shots. Our game is a skill game.”
Before the game, he said his team’s defense had been terrible in the previous three games, the opposition shooting 48.8 percent from the floor, 44.4 from 3-point range. The Celtics were 43.6/32.1.