Wednesday, March 30, 2011
He might have stumbled a bit after the All-Star break but can we agree that Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is lights out again?
He improved to 33-10-8, earned his ninth shutout of the season and inched his GAA under 2.00 (1.96) with 32 saves as Boston (43-23-10) blanked the Chicago Blackhawks (41-27-8) 3-0 last night at TD Garden.
At this point, Thomas should start booking a room in Las Vegas (I recommend the MGM Grand) since he's winning the Vezina trophy in June.
In symmetry with Thomas finding his game again, his team in front of him is currently rolling again and frankly, it couldn't come at a better time.
The Blackhawks came in with tired legs, having survived an overtime win at Detroit the night before. Boston took it to them from the opening face-off but they weren't rewarded until the second period.
Zdeno Chara (14th of the season from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand) and Johnny Boychuk (3rd of the season from Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic) scored two goals 2:20 apart a little more than midway through the second period.
Chara's shot from the point was deflected by Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell while Boychuk got off what Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford (31 saves) described as a knucklepuck (Mighty Ducks 2 style!).
Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton narrowly avoid career-ending injury in the second period when he was cut by Fernando Pisani's skate blade. Immediately, Thornton was leaking heavily and he left the game to receive 40 stiches on his head. If it had been a few inches lower, he could have lost an eye. Yikes.
Some joker/pseudo toughguy on the Blackhawks bench was chirping at Thornton as he skated off and Thornton nearly went over the boards to get the unknown party. You have to love Thornton.
Nathan Horton scored his 24th of the season (from Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell) at 5:20 of the third period to ensure Boston has a more firm grip on the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Horton showed patience and good hands by waiting out Crawford before tucking it behind him.
Thomas kept Chicago off the scoreboard and the Bruins walked away with one of their most satisfying wins of the regular season.
They host Toronto tomorrow night and have the opportunity to basically end the Maple Leafs' dim playoff chances with a win. Time to give Phil Kessel another embarrassing moment, it's not like he's had enough of them this season ("Hey Phil!"-last guy standing at the All-Star game fantasy draft).
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Each game gets stranger for the Boston Celtics as they find new and different ways to lose (to bad and average teams) and piss down their legs at the same time.
Rajon Rondo was going to sit for a second straight game last night as they visited the Indiana Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse. However, at the last second Rondo decided to play and wouldn't you know he put up 22 points and eight assists.
For the first time in weeks, Boston's defense stayed on their team bus while their offense actually carried their weight. It wasn't enough as the Pacers (33-42) beat the Celts (51-22) 107-100.
Nenad Krstic's foul trouble (5) enabled Indiana's center Roy Hibbert (26 points) to go off for a season-high point total. Danny Granger added 18 points, Darren Collison had 17 points and A.J. Price scored 15 points off the bench.
It was great to see Rondo look like himself again, with a quick first step but nice performances from Paul Pierce (23 points) and Glen Davis (20 points off the bench) were overshadowed by a lack of touches for Ray Allen (11 points, 4 for 8) and Kevin Garnett (6 points, 2 for 4 shooting).
The loss was even rougher since Chicago lost to Philadelphia last night, meaning a Boston win would have pulled them to within one game of the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics led 33-27 after the first quarter but a horrid second quarter (30-16 for the Pacers) gave Indiana a 57-49 lead. The up and down Cs were great in the third (36-24) but as usual, the wheels came off in the fourth (26-15 Pacers).
Boston shot 54.8% to Indiana's 54.5%. The Pacers made two more 3-pointers (6-4) but the Celtics were rewarded for going to the basket aggressively with 11 more made free throws (28-17). Indiana had seven more rebounds (36-29).
The road trip continues for Boston as they visit the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli all sat out last night so it's doubtful that they'll all return for Thursday night's game. The two teams had a regular season classic the only other time they met, a Celtics win at home in January but it's looking unrealistic that these two older teams have another one of those in the bag during the regular season.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Back-to-back games might be rough on the players and coaches but for sports fans (and it's all about us, right?) it allows us to quickly move on from poor results.
The Boston Bruins' weak sauce 1-0 blanking by the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon was one of the most forgettable games of the 2010-11 season.
Yet last night in Philadelphia, the Bs (42-23-10) beat the Flyers (45-20-10) 2-1 to clinch a playoff spot for the fourth straight season.
The fact that they knocked off the Eastern Conference's top team, who they ahem have some recent history with, made this two points all the more sweeter.
Kris Versteeg gave Philly a 1-0 lead at 4:45 of the first period, his 20th of the season, as a bad clearance bounced right to Mike Richards. He faked a shot and passed to Versteeg who roofed it over Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (27 saves). James van Riemsdyk assisted on the goal too.
Boston's power play cashed in on not only one but two chances as Nathan Horton tied it at 1-1, 7:40 into the second period. It was Horton's 23rd of the season, assisted by Tomas Kaberle and David Krejci. Krejci won the face-off and drew it back to Kaberle who shot it on Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher (34 saves) but he left a juicy rebound for Horton to scoop in.
Brad Marchand had the game-winner at 16:17 of the third period, from Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Recchi. Marchand had been blanked for the past twelve games (plus the two he was suspended for) but that tally was extra special since it was his 20th of the season in a big spot. Once again, Boucher left a rebound right in front for Marchand to put in the net.
Boston is now firmly in third place in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are seven points ahead of Montreal, four points behind Washington and six points behind Philadelphia with seven games remaining.
Tomorrow night is another tough matchup as the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks come to the TD Garden. Chicago has 88 points but they're clinging to the eighth spot in the deeper Western Conference. I'll be there and I expect an up and down, fast-paced game.
Each game brings new obstacles and challenges for a Boston Celtics team that is coasting like only they can until the NBA playoffs start in a few weeks.
You would think that a miserable Minnesota Timberwolves squad, without its only star (Kevin Love), would be easy pickings especially when you're up 25 (38-13 in the second quarter) but I guess you haven't seen the Boston Celtics the last few seasons.
Rajon Rondo sat out with a sprained pinkie and Delonte West (8 points, 5 assists) made his first start since his return to Boston as the Celtics (51-21) held on for an 85-82 win at the Target Center over Minnesota (17-57).
After a great first quarter (32-13), the Celts decided to play chicken with the broken down train known as the Timberwolves. Amazingly, even Minnesota can comeback when Boston appears that disinterested and more importantly, great looks stop falling.
The Timberwolves actually tied it in the fourth and led by one in the fourth before their group of stiffs start playing like well stiffs.
Paul Pierce rescued Boston with a team-high 23 points and seven rebounds. Kevin Garnett had 13 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in his trip back to 'Sota. Nenad Krstic (6 rebounds) and Ray Allen notched 11 points while Jeff Green (9 points) and Glen Davis (8 points, 6 rebounds) were sparks off the bench.
Michael Beasley had a game-high 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves which sounds impressive until you see that he was 11-for-28 from the field. Darko Milicic (15 points, 9 rebounds) actually looked good, words I never thought I'd think or say in my life. Your favorite emo point guard Luke Ridnour had 10 points and eight assists while Anthony Tolliver put up 16 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks off the bench.
With ten games left in the regular season, the win put Boston within two games of the Chicago Bulls. Both are in action tonight as the Celtics visit the Pacers while Chicago hosts the Sixers. Needless to say, the Cs need a win in the tough road back-to-back and some help from Philadelphia would be a pleasant surprise.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Bruins sleepwalk through an afternoon meeting with the Rangers, flush two valuable points down the Causeway Street sewer
I don't know what it is about 1 p.m. starts or facing the New York Rangers but I feel like in both cases, the Boston Bruins always struggle (since I've been to many of those games the last few seasons).
Today was no exception as the Bs (41-23-10) sleepwalked through the first two periods at the TD Garden, spotted the Rangers (41-30-5) a 1-0 lead and that's all it took as New York skated back to Broadway with a 1-0 win.
Henrik Lundqvist (32-24-5) is one of the NHL's top goaltenders and he was immense in the third period alone (Boston outshot New York 12-1 in the final 20 minutes). He finished with 26 saves for his league-leading 11th shutout of the season.
Tuukka Rask (10-12-2) made 22 saves for the Bruins but he was the tough-luck loser as always, similar to the pitcher who gives up one run yet loses because the other pitcher hurls a complete game shutout. Rough.
New York got its only goal just 6:39 into the contest as Derek Stepan scored his 20th of the season, from Michael Sauer and Vaclav Prospal. Normally, I would complain about how Boston got screwed on the play since it all started with a clear offsides on the Rangers which turned into a face-off in the Bruins' end. New York won the draw and Stepan deflected the shot.
The thing is that New York played with more fire from the start, outshooting Boston 9-8 in the first period and 13-6 in the second period. No excuses, it was an early start for both teams and if anything it should have favored the Bruins since they were home on Thursday.
In the third period, the Bruins had countless golden opportunities to tie it up but after about the tenth one just missed, you knew it wasn't going to be their day.
Only eight games remain in the regular season and tomorrow night is probably the hardest as Boston plays a back-to-back by visiting the Philadelphia Flyers. The later start and today's result makes it likely that the Bruins will be much more competitive but you never know with this lovable bunch of losers.
All season, the Boston Celtics hadn't lost back-to-back home games. Well I guess it took the heavyweight duo of the Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Bobcats to end that impressive streak.
Both Ray Allen (14 points) and Kevin Garnett (12 points, 9 rebounds) had chances to win it with wide-open 3-pointers at the end of regulation but it wasn't to be as Charlotte hung on for a 83-81 win last night at TD Garden.
Even without Stephen Jackson, the Bobcats (29-42) won their second straight against the Celtics (50-21), to split the season series (2-2). Charlotte is still two games behind Indiana for the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Speaking of being two games back, Boston is now two games behind the Bulls (who are on fire) and only half a game in front of the Heat.
Needless to say, facing the Pacers is much more appealing that the Sixers (6th) or Knicks (7th) in the first round of the playoffs. Not to mention that if the Celtics and Bulls meet in the playoffs-which seems likely-home court could certainly mean the difference in a seven-game series.
What made this meltdown so strange for the Celtics was that they led by 13 points heading into the fourth quarter (66-53) but proceeded to get doubled up in the fourth (30-15) by the Bobcats.
D.J. White led Charlotte with a team-high 17 points off the bench. Yes the same D.J. White that starred at Indiana but has bounced around the NBA. Gerald Henderson added 15 points, D.J. Augustin scored 14 points and Kwame Brown had 12 points and seven rebounds. When you look at that list of bums, you have to ask yourself: how did the Celtics lose?
Paul Pierce led Boston with 18 points and Rajon Rondo added 10 points. Glen Davis put up nine points and six rebounds off the bench and Nenad Krstic had seven points and eight rebounds.
Boston travels to Minnesota tomorrow night to face the Timberwolves. With any luck, double-double machine Kevin Love will be out nursing his groin injury. Regardless, the Celtics have to smoke the Timberwolves, no excuses.
Friday, March 25, 2011
In their biggest and most important game of the regular season, the Boston Bruins played hands down their best 60 minutes.
The fact that the 7-0 whitewashing came at the hands of the hated Montreal Canadiens at the TD Garden last night made it all the more sweeter and meaningful.
Boston (41-22-10) came into the meeting with a 1-4 record against Montreal (40-28-7) this season. They were only three points ahead of those clowns from the North and the playoff matchup that looks all but guaranteed in the first round was a downright scary possibility.
Well it's funny how much one game can change everything right? The Bs were determined from the opening face-off to not let all the bullshit drag them down as they pounded the Canadiens on the scoreboard, what matters most.
Boston jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and put up four more goals in the third period but if you think Montreal would put up any fight (literally or physically), well you must not be from around here. Those frauds couldn't be bothered to drop the gloves or do anything remotely tough even when it was clear it was not their night.
The highlights for the Bruins were numerous as the team looked as stacked, from top to bottom, as they have at any point this season. Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell both scored two goals while Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic and David Krejci all added three assists. Tim Thomas made 24 saves for the eighth shutout of the season and 25th of his career.
Johnny Boychuk (2nd goal of the season) didn't waste much time to get the electric Garden crowd into it as he scored 1:01 into the contest. Chara and Krejci assisted while Canadiens goalie Carey Price seemed to be screened on the shot. Things didn't get much better for Price as he was mercifully yanked in the third period in favor of Alex Auld.
Campbell made it 2-0 with his 11th of the season at 13:43 (from Chara and Boychuk). He tipped Chara's shot from the point.
You knew the Black and Gold were rolling when they potted a power-play goal at 17:28 as Horton collected a rebound and scored his 21st of the season (from Krejci and Lucic).
The only life that Montreal showed in the first period was on Tomas' Plekanec's home run swing high stick on Horton that rightfully earned a double-minor.
Things slowed down in the second period but Campbell earned more love from his teammates as he took on the much bigger Paul Mara in a late fight. Honestly, I would have traded Dennis Wideman straight up for Campbell if I knew how solid Colin Campbell's little boy can be. The fact that Horton was also a part of the deal with Florida signifies what a robbery it was in Boston's favor.
Horton (from Krejci, Lucic), Adam McQuaid (3th of the season, from Chara and Lucic) and Tomas Kaberle's first goal as a Bruin (from Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand) set the stage in the third period for something truly absurd. Campbell scored a shorthanded goal when Montreal was skating 5-on-3. Haha just a completely gutless effort by the Canadiens but what do you expect? I can honestly never remember a 3-on-5 goal, it doesn't get much more embarrassing than that.
The Bruins will look to take this great momentum into tomorrow's matinee against the New York Rangers.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
There are some moments in life that you never forget. I'm sure being a first-hand witness to Tony Allen's triumphant return to the TD Garden with the Memphis Grizzlies last night will be one of those precious memories I can take to my grave.
Haha for real though, it was an important game for both teams last night as the Grizzlies (40-32) scratch and claw (lame metaphor alert) for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference. The Boston Celtics (50-20) came into the game half a game behind the Chicago Bulls for the top spot in the Eastern Conference so the 90-87 setback didn't help one bit for the Green.
It was a weird game with the TD Garden crowd usually sitting on its hands. It was capped off by Glen Davis (12 points, 5 rebounds) missing the tying 3-pointer. Marc Gasol (11 points, 11 rebounds) got the rebound and it looked over as he had two foul shots with under five seconds remaining. Surprisingly, he bricked both free throws and Boston got the rebound and called a timeout. Paul Pierce (22 points) had a chance at a 3-pointer but it bounced harmlessly off the rim.
Tony Allen (8 points, 7 rebounds) and ex-Celtic Leon Powe (13 points) were sparks in the starting lineup and off the bench respectively for the Grizzlies who had six players in double-figures. Zach Randolph took a break from going to strip clubs and rolling blunts to put in 13 points and grab eight rebounds while Sam Young and O.J. Mayo notched 11 points with Darrell Arthur adding 10 points.
The game featured some quintessential Tony Allen and Leon Powe moments. Allen airballed a 3-pointer and a floater while Powe quietly got to the basket at will and scored all those points in only 17 minutes of action.
Ray Allen had 14 points for the Celtics while Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green notched 10 points. Rajon Rondo had a very Rondoesque game with six points, seven steals, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
Memphis led 20-15 after one quarter but Boston rallied for a slim 45-44 advantage. The Celts won the third quarter (25-23) but the Grizzlies made the plays in the fourth (23-17) and overall seemed to play with more urgency which was curious since this was a vital game to the Celtics as well.
Memphis shot 44.6% to 42.0% for Boston. The Celtics hit four more 3-pointers (7-3) and nine more free throws (22-13). Thanks to seven more offensive rebounds (11-4), the Grizzlies had six more total rebounds (43-37). Rondo helped the Cs get seven more assists (24-17) but honestly there were times when Boston's unselfishness hurt them. Memphis had the only three blocks of the game and twice as many points in the paint (52-26).
Boston tries to get back on track tomorrow night as they host the Charlotte Bobcats, a team that's currently tied for ninth and looking up at the Indiana Pacers for the all-important eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Boston Bruins had picked a fine time to play their worst hockey of the season. With a three-game homestand kicking off their final 11 regular season games, last night was a nice start towards gaining home ice advantage for the playoffs (and winning the Northeast Division) as they beat the New Jersey Devils 4-1 at the TD Garden.
It was only Boston's (40-22-10) second win in their last eight games but when coupled with Montreal's loss to Buffalo, the Bruins now lead the Canadiens by three points.
New Jersey (34-35-4) had been playing some crazy good hockey since an awful start but with this setback, they're likely to miss out on the playoffs.
Ilya Kovalchuk gave the Devils a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 11:05 of the first period. His textbook one-timer (assists to Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson) was his 27th goal of the season.
From there, Boston's best players: Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Tomas Kaberle, Patrice Bergeron and Co. woke up and started to resemble the team that has been so consistent all season (no losing streak longer than two games).
Shawn Thornton tied it up at 15:39 of the first period, scoring his career-high ninth goal of the season off a deflection (from Dennis Seidenberg and Kaberle) in front of New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur (26 saves).
Thomas helped the Bruins find their sea legs as they were badly outplayed in the first period (Devils outshot them 16-6 in the first period). They were inspired in the second period (17-8 shots for Boston) and it showed on the scoreboard.
Chara put the Bs ahead for good in the second period at 8:17 with the rarest of goals for Boston: that's right, a power-play strike. Chara's 13th of the season (his 400th career point) was thanks to a nice backdoor pass from Lucic (Kaberle had the other assist). It's amazing what a little movement will do on our painfully predictable power play.
Thomas (30 saves; 30-10-8) did his best to keep it 2-1 and his teammates finally gave him a little breathing room as Lucic scored his 30th goal of the season at 16:13. Bergeron made the play with a sweet backhand feed to Lucic in front, Chara had the second assist.
Mark Recchi iced it with an empty-netter (his 13th goal of the season) with 40 seconds remaining. Bergeron and Chara assisted on that one.
Tomorrow night at TD Garden is the final regular season meeting between the Bruins and Canadiens. Last time out was a shitshow of epic proportions with Chara's hit, Max Pacioretty's injury and Montreal fans calling 911. I would like nothing more than to see the Bruins play well and beat the Canadiens since the last two seasons, Montreal has had their number. They can't get suckered into playing Montreal's weasel style.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Now that I'm slightly grown up, I don't want to hate New York. Some of my best friends hail from the metropolitan area along with dear family members. Still, New York's pro franchises and fans often make it too easy to make fun of them.
Since the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony, we were told how New York was now on the fast track to the title. Much like the championship-on-paper Miami Heat. How's that going?
In a possible playoff preview before a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden, the Boston Celtics (50-19, 4th straight 50+ win season) erased a 15-point deficit (for the second straight game) and beat the Knicks 96-86.
More blood was shed in this game alone than a pay per view at the old ECW arena. Ray Allen, Carmelo and Troy Murphy were all left bloodied on the court and nary a blade was in sight.
Behind Mike Dantoni, the Knicks (35-35) play absolutely positively no defense and they have no depth, so tell me again why they're dangerous?
Under Melo, they're off to a great 7-9 start. Well at least LaLa gets to sit courtside with Whoopi Goldberg, that's what this is all about.
Kevin Garnett was the best player on the star-studded court with a game-high 24 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Paul Pierce added 21 points, Allen scored 15 and Rajon Rondo had his first solid game in weeks with 13 points and 12 assists. Glen Davis was nice off the bench with eight points and nine rebounds.
Carmelo had 22 points but only five in the second half, indicative of the front-running joker that he is. When the going gets tough, you can always count on him to whine to the refs and turtle. I could say most of the same charges against Amare Stoudemire (16 points, 11 rebounds) as well. Chauncey Billups (21 points) is the only clutch player wearing a Knicks uniform but he can't carry a team at this stage in his long NBA journey. Ronny Turiaf was the only other New York player in double figures with 11 points and four blocks.
If one half of a regular season NBA game could better encapsulate a fraud team and fan base, these eyes haven't seen it. New York led 25-22 after the first quarter and 51-37 at the half. It was a perfect time for Spike Lee and the assorted celebrities to pretend this team is going somewhere this season.
Unfortunately for them, the Celts tightened up things defensively and outscored the Knicks 26-18 in the third and 33-17 in the fourth. Seeing the crowd running out like a fire alarm went off late in the fourth was a beautiful sight.
I'm conflicted about if I want to see the Knicks in the playoffs. Odds are it would happen in the first round. I know the Celtics would beat them (just like they have all three times this season) but it would likely take more of an emotional and physical toll than the no questions asked sweep of the Pacers.
Boston shot 46.3% to New York's 40.5%. The Knicks made six more 3-pointers (7-1) but the Cs pulled down 10 more rebounds (48-38). New York had three more assists (20-17) but Boston had five more steals (11-5) which made up for six more blocks (6-0) for the Knicks. In the most telltale stats, New York committed five more turnovers (13-8), the Celtics had 11 more fast break points (18-7) and 16 more points in the paint (44-28).
The Celtics come home to face the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow night. It will be Tony Allen's first return to the TD Garden in another uniform so it's sure to be sold out and the lead on Sportscenter.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
With the way the Boston Bruins were playing last night and recently (riding a season-high four-game losing streak), it was going to take something drastic to turn things around.
If you guessed that a vintage performance from Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and a shootout goal by Tyler Seguin (who has been in mothballs for the last few months) would be the difference, well I don't know what to say because you're clearly insane.
The Bruins (39-21-9) beat the Columbus Blue Jackets (32-27-10) 3-2 in a shootout at the Nationwide Arena in a game that they really didn't deserve to win.
That doesn't matter though, with the Washington Capitals riding a nine-game winning streak and the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins staying above water, the Bs were in desperation mode since they don't want to find themselves slipping in the muddled Eastern Conference playoff picture. We need that home ice son!
Rask (34 saves; 10-12-1) looked like the stud that came out of nowhere last season and carried the team until they predictably fell apart in the playoffs (albeit in the most unpredictable way possible). He had a bunch of highlight reel saves last night which is why it was his top performance of this season given the stakes and Boston's recent struggles.
Grant Clitsome, my favorite ex-porn star, gave Columbus a 1-0 lead with a goal at 19:07 of the first period from Jacub Voracek and Rick Nash.
David Krejci tied it (his 11th of the season) at 12:20 of the second period by tipping Zdeno Chara's shot from the point. It was nice to see the delicate Czech park himself in front of Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason (27 saves). Johnny Boychuk also assisted on the goal.
Columbus made it 2-1 at 12:19 of the third period when Scottie Upshall took advantage of Rask being out of position. All Upshall had to do was tap it in after Rask came out too far to cut down an earlier shooting angle.
Adding to the bizarre nature of this contest and the Bruins in general, none other than Rich Peverley played hero with the tying goal while Boston was short-handed no less. It was a great individual effort as Peverley used his speed to get around Columbus' defense and tuck it past Mason with a nice move. Peverley's 16th of the season came at 14:24.
For once, a Claude Julien coaching move worked wonders in the shootout. He chose to sit Michael Ryder (for the first time in his Bruins career) and as it turned out, Seguin took his place and scored the only goal in the shootout. It was that kind of night.
Boston has two more games on the road (at Nashville tomorrow night and then at Toronto on Saturday night). With only 13 games left in the regular season, points are at a premium for the Black and Gold.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
You want to tell yourself that this season is different for the Boston Celtics but after watching them lose for a third time in their last four games (all to inferior opponents) and you have to finally admit that it's 2009-10 all over again.
The New Jersey Nets (22-43) won their fifth game in a row, 88-79 at the Prudential Center. Boston (47-18) was held under 90 points for the third straight game and it really hurt them since their defense was up to the task.
It was another horrorshow in the second night of a back-to-back for the Celts, they seem destined to lose all of them at this point.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 20 points while that skank Kim Kardashian's main squeeze Kris Humphries proved his worth with 16 points and 15 rebounds. How does one bounce from Reggie Bush to Humphries? Granted, I don't have the world's most famous butt. It's just funny that I had never noticed Humphries until I found him on my fantasy NBA waiver wire a few months back. I'm sure Kim discovered him in the same manner.
New Jersey's new point guard Deron Williams notched 16 points, nine assists, six rebounds and three steals, Anthony Morrow had 15 points and Travis Outlaw put up 12 points off the bench.
Boston received 19 points from Ray Allen and 18 points and eight rebounds from Kevin Garnett but Glen Davis (16 points, 14 rebounds off the bench) was the only other player to really show up. Rajon Rondo blindly ran into Humphries on a hard screen (easy Kim) and that didn't seem to help him in his recent slump as he was held to two points (1-for-10 shooting) and nine assists.
The weird thing is that the Celtics looked in control when the game started. They were up 23-14 after one quarter but the Nets cut it to 38-36 at halftime. New Jersey got it done in the third quarter (31-23) and Boston couldn't hit any shots in the fourth quarter (21-18 for the Nets).
Boston shot 41.2% to New Jersey's 39.7%. However, the Nets led by Williams (4) and Morrow (3) hit nine more 3-pointers (11-2) and eight more free throws (15-7). The Celtics actually grabbed five more rebounds (50-45) and dished out three more assists (22-19). New Jersey had three more blocks (6-3).
Big Baby looked great in his second game back from knee tendinitis. Hopefully Delonte West can have an impact too as he's set to return tomorrow night when the Celts host the Pacers.
Boston needs to not only win but get their offense back on track. They're tied now atop the Eastern Conference with the Bulls and the Heat are only two games back. There's only 17 more games left in the regular season so they all have meaning for homecourt. Thinking the Celts can get to the Finals again without homecourt throughout the playoffs is naive and not very realistic.
Monday, March 14, 2011
After losing two straight, the Boston Celtics came into last night's game vs. the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden in need of a win.
The fact that it turned out to be so one-sided and historical were some nice footnotes to a pathetic showing by the Bucks. The Celtics (47-17) won 87-56.
Milwaukee (26-39) was playing the second leg of a back-to-back on the road so a flight and losing an hour to daylight savings didn't help but come on? There are no excuses for dropping 22 points in the first half against a team that you played pretty hard against a week earlier.
The Bucks were held to a franchise-low point total and the Celtics also set a defensive mark for lowest points allowed in a game.
Oh well. Ray Allen led the hit parade with 17 points while Nenad Krstic continued to be a rebounding machine with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Paul Pierce added 14 points in a short night as the starters got to leave for good in the third quarter.
Jeff Green (11 points) and Troy Murphy (12 points, 7 rebounds) were the standouts off the bench along with Carlos Arroyo (6 assists).
With a back-to-back tonight, in Newark, things will no doubt be much harder for the Cs as they take on the Nets. New Jersey has won their last four games in a row and Deron Williams returns from a few games away (his wife had a baby) so he'll be raring to go. Don't be surprised if this one goes down to the wire. You've seen that script before.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Last night, the Boston Bruins experienced the rare trap game in the NHL and as expected, they did not respond well.
For the second straight night, they held a 2-0 lead but for the second consecutive game they blew it (first two times they've done that all season) as they lost 4-2 to the host New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Boston (38-21-9) has now lost a season-high four games and even that is misleading since they've been playing bad for longer than that. They didn't really deserve to win the last few games on their last road trip but they ended up on top.
For whatever reason, now the hockey Gods are not smiling on this woeful franchise.
Nathan Horton stayed hot with his 20th goal of the season at 16:29 of the first period. Milan Lucic and David Krejci assisted on the goal that Horton finished with a backhander to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
Things looked good when the power-play shook off the cobwebs and scored its first goal since February 18 when Zdeno Chara scored at 13:02 of the second period (his 12th of the season). Krejci and Tomas Kaberle assisted on Big Z's goal.
From there New York goaltender Al Montoya (26 saves) kept Boston scoreless.
The turning point happened with two seconds left in the second period as Matt Moulson scored his 29th of the season for the Islanders (27-32-10). It wasn't pretty as Moulson stuffed it past Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (38 saves) but it counted with assists to John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau.
I was texting with a buddy at that point and we were already predicting the Bruins' demise. He said they'd lose in a shootout, luckily for us they didn't drag it out that long.
Rookie Michael Grabner scored his 28th of the season at 1:58 to tie it up (from Kyle Okposo and Milan Jurcina). Defenseman Jack Hillen potted the game-winner at 5:58 (from Radek Martinek and Okposo). The meltdown wasn't complete without the rare empty-netter awarded when Patrice Bergeron hauled down Parenteau with 10 seconds left.
The good news is that the Bruins have the weekend to recover before three more games on the road (Columbus, Nashville, Toronto). Boston visits the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. I'd say Columbus is not very good (which is a true statement) but anybody is capable of giving the Bruins trouble at the moment. The Bruins have to wake up, starting now.
I would much rather see the Boston Celtics face either the Indiana Pacers or Charlotte Bobcats in the first round of the playoffs this season. It's not that the Philadelphia 76ers would beat them but their athleticism and depth would take a lot more out of the Celts than the other two teams.
It seems like the Sixers (34-31) always give Boston (46-17) a game and last night, they ended up winning one, 89-86 at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Big Three combined to shoot 11-for-31, as bad a shooting performance as I can remember from those three future Hall of Famers.
Jeff Green led the Celts with 18 points while Nenad Krstic added 16 points and 15 rebounds. Kevin Garnett had 14 points and Paul Pierce scored 12 while Ray Allen was held to just five points. Rajon Rondo had a quiet 12 points.
Spencer Hawes led Philadelphia with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Elton Brand added 14 points. Andre Iguodala had 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Jodie Meeks scored 12 points and Thaddeus Young had 12 points off the bench.
Boston looks to bounce back from its two straight losses as they host the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow night at TD Garden. Glen Davis is expected back in the lineup.
Friday, March 11, 2011
The regular season is quickly winding down and with only 15 games left, the Boston Bruins desperately need points to stay near the top of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Last night, they lost 4-3 to the Buffalo Sabres in overtime at the TD Garden. Former Bruins forward Brad Boyes was able to tap-in a great pass from Nathan Gerbe (former BC star) at 3:44 in the extra session.
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (41 saves) did not have his best night of the season, flopping around in his crease which is always a bad sign when he reverts to his old helter skelter ways. It was an innocent shot by Gerbe that started the sequence but Thomas couldn't squeeze it. Gerbe tracked down the rebound and with Thomas coming way out and whiffing, Boyes parked himself at the side of the net.
Buffalo (33-26-8) rallied from a 2-0 deficit and was able to hand Boston (38-20-9) its third straight loss, even though it did get the bogus point.
It's hard to pinpoint what exactly is tripping up the Bruins at the moment, it seems to be something different in each game (goal-scoring, everything, defense, goaltending).
Nathan Horton's 19th of the season gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 8:54 of the first period. Some wonderful passing from linemates Milan Lucic and David Krejci (they've all been outstanding lately) ended in Horton's quick release.
Mark Recchi (12th of the season) made it 2-0 at 11:26 of the second period with a classic Recchi goal. Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller (27 saves) made a save but Recchi went to the dirty net-front area and flipped the rebound in. Michael Ryder and Zdeno Chara assisted on that one.
Buffalo responded right away as Tyler Ennis cut it to 2-1 at 11:53 and Thomas Vanek tied it at 2 at 18:52. Ennis' goal took some skill as he waited out Thomas and seemingly the whole Bruins team to put it over them and into the net. Vanek's goal was much more unforgivable since his weak flip on net tied up Thomas.
Gregory Campbell (10th of the season) got his first point in eight games with another mucking and grinding goal at 2:18 in the third period. Miller's rebound went right to Soupy who poked it in. Chara and Shawn Thornton assisted.
More bad luck ensued for Thomas as Buffalo tied it up after a shot went off Chara's skate and into the net. Tim Connolly was credited for the goal at 5:05.
Rich Peverley had a great chance to end it in overtime but his shot went off the post and shortly after that, Boyes ended it.
The Bruins are right back at it tonight as they take on the Islanders in Long Island. They are playing out the string as always but the Islanders have been playing pretty decently lately and they have a dearth of talented forwards.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
If I told you that Blake Griffin only had 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists when the Los Angeles Clippers visited the TD Garden, you would have thought the Celtics had rolled by like 20+ points, right?
Welcome to bizarro world as the young superstar was held completely in check yet the Clips (25-40) won 108-103 over the Celtics (46-16), who were disinterested in playing defense all game.
Despite basically no-showing for three quarters, it looked like Boston might make an epic comeback as they whittled a 23-point lead (65-42) down to three (86-83) with less than six minutes remaining. That's as close as they would get though as Los Angeles made all their shots down the stretch and deservedly came away with only their seventh road win of the season.
Mo Williams (game-high 28 points) and DeAndre Jordan (21 points on almost all dunks) were the unlikely stars for the Clippers. Former Celtic and my old college buddy Ryan Gomes added 12 points, Randy Foye notched nine points and 12 assists while Chris Kaman scored 10 off the bench.
Ray Allen led Boston with 23 points, Nenad Krstic added 20 points and nine rebounds while Paul Pierce had 19 points. Kevin Garnett (5-for-19) put up 16 points and eight rebounds despite the worst shooting performance I can ever remember from him. Rajon Rondo also struggled from the field (6-for-15) but he had 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the game was when Boston's five newest players: Krstic, Jeff Green (6 points), Carlos Arroyo (4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists in his debut), Sasha Pavlovic (2 points) and Troy Murphy (2 steals) were all on the floor at the same time. It speaks to Boston's immense depth (if Shaq and Delonte West ever get healthy) that these will mostly be bench players when Glen Davis returns.
Los Angeles was ahead right from the start, 30-17 after the first quarter and 60-42 at halftime. Boston recovered with a strong third quarter (24-16) and fourth (37-32) but it wasn't enough.
The Clippers shot 52.0% to 44.0% for the Celtics. LA hit three more 3-pointers (9-6) and had seven more assists (28-21). Boston made the comeback with six more steals (10-4), four more fast break points (12-8) and eight more points in the paint (48-40).
After seeing their five-game win streak snapped, Boston will try to get a new one started tomorrow night when they visit the City of Brotherly Love. The Sixers have been playing great lately but the Cs have owned them the last few years. This could be a potential first round matchup in the playoffs this season.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Last night was one of the very rare times this season that I've decided to forgo watching a Bruins game. I always tape them and almost always, despite knowing the final result, I view it after work on DVR.
Frankly I wasn't in the mood late last night or this morning. The Montreal Canadiens won their fourth out of five games against the Boston Bruins this season, 4-1 at the Bell Centre.
The teams meet one more time in the regular season but it's not too early to say that the Bs must avoid Montreal in the playoffs. For whatever reason, they don't matchup with them well at all and can't play their game.
With good reason, the only thing that anyone is talking about from last night's game is the possibly dirty hit by Zdeno Chara on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty.
I was listening to the game on the radio when it happened but I saw the replay approximately a million times and have sifted through all the reaction on Twitter since then.
The bottom line is that Pacioretty got carted off the ice on a stretcher with a severe concussion and broken vertebrae in his neck. Chara threw him into the boards and Pacioretty hit the stanchion in between the benches. Was it intentional or was it bad luck? We'll never know but I will say that Chara is a monster in size but he's not dirty.
We'll have to wait and see if the NHL decides to suspend Chara.
This wasn't much of a contest as Montreal (37-23-7) was up 4-0 in the second period before Pacioretty got hurt with 16 seconds left in the frame. Chara got a five minute for interference and a game misconduct. Since the delay was so long, the referees made the wise decision to just end that period and send the teams to the dressing rooms.
Lars Eller (who?) scored a pair of goals in the first period for the Canadiens. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (22 saves) was beaten two more times, both on the power play, in the second period.
Brian Gionta and James Wisniewski both scored. Gionta's shot trickled over the line, one that Rask would surely love to have back. Wisniewski's was a screened blast from the point.
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (30 saves) stopped Brad Marchand's penalty shot (after being tripped on a breakaway by Roman Hamrlik) but Milan Lucic finally beat him at 13:21 of the third period to avoid the shutout. Lucic's 29th of the season was assisted by David Krejci.
The Bruins come home to face the red-hot Buffalo Sabres tomorrow night at TD Garden. After being out of the playoff picture for most of the season, the Sabres have put themselves in the discussion with some strong play.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Listen, I love Kendrick Perkins but as I made abundantly clear in the aftermath of his trade to Oklahoma City, it was time to let the trade pan out before we make any conclusions.
That is still true, nothing will be settled until at least the playoffs when we see Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green play in games that really count. However, can we at least admit already that Krstic is way better than we all thought? Plus, Green's potential is huge with Rondo in his life and the unselfish ways of the Big Three.
The Celts (46-15) won their fifth straight, 89-83 over the Bucks (23-38) last night at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Krstic had 17 points and Green added 11 points off the bench as Boston continued to survive despite a severe lack of healthy bodies (nine players dressed last night).
The Bucks have injury problems of their own, most notably with Andrew Bogut's large frame parked on the bench. As currently constituted, they're not very good but Brandon Jennings (23 points, six rebounds, five assists) is never an easy matchup when his shot is falling.
Paul Pierce scored 23 points, Kevin Garnett posted 14 points, 11 rebounds and three steals while Ray Allen notched 13 points in his return to his first NBA home (which nobody remembers). Rajon Rondo was held in check by Jennings as he only managed six points, eight assists but eight turnovers. No problem, Pitbull, I mean Carlos Arroyo was signed over the weekend.
The game wasn't sealed until there was less than 30 seconds left in the fourth. KG swatted a layup by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (19 points), Paul Pierce converted an And-1 off an inbounds play (haha really) and that was it.
John Salmons (11 points) was the only other Buck in double figures for the offensively-challenged team.
Boston led 27-26 after the first quarter but Milwaukee found itself up 49-43 at halftime. The Celts woke up in the third quarter (26-16) and the defense won them this one with a strong fourth quarter (20-18).
Sasha Pavlovic memorably airballed his first shot as a Celtic but he made up for it with a big 3-pointer in the fourth. Troy Murphy is still looking for his first basket, all he's made is three free throws so far.
The Cs shot 51.5% to 41.3% for the Bucks. Milwaukee made three more 3-pointers (8-5) and grabbed six more rebounds (39-33). Boston dished out three more assists (23-20).
Delonte West could be back on Wednesday and Arroyo is expected in uniform when the Celtics host the Los Angeles Clippers at TD Garden.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
As much as I might dream about it, the Boston Bruins were bound to lose a game at some point after they had won seven straight entering last night vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The fact that they lost 3-2 to the scrappy Penguins (38-21-8) wasn't surprising in the least bit. However, it's the Bruins (38-19-8) so they have to remind you that they do losing like nobody else.
With goaltender Tim Thomas (36 saves; 29-8-7) pulled for an extra attacker, David Krejci tied it up with 33 seconds left in regulation to send it to overtime. It was Krejci's 10th of the season and it was the result of beautiful triangular passing from Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.
All that joy was quickly curtailed as Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg had an unforgivable giveaway in his own zone that led to Dustin Jeffrey's second goal of the game, unassisted and 1:52 into overtime.
The Bruins still got a point out of the game but they didn't really deserve it. With the Flyers loss yesterday, Boston had a chance to pull within one point of Philly.
Yet there seemed to be no urgency from the Black and Gold as they were continually pushed around by the Penguins who are without Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. The best way to describe Pittsburgh is that they're annoying to play against. They win all the one-on-one battles, they play with an edge and they seem content to do whatever it takes to win since they know they're missing their top-end talent at the moment.
Zdeno Chara gave the Bs a 1-0 lead in the second period, assists to Krejci and Lucic on the captain's 11th of the season. It came at 7:26 as he took a nifty backhand feed from Krejci, stepped into a soft part of the Pens' defense and snapped a shot over Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's (29 saves) shoulder.
The Penguins quickly responded as Jordan Staal tied it up at 10:09 with assists from Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke. The play started since Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk got caught too far up ice when he tried to keep the puck in Pittsburgh's zone.
Jeffrey made it 2-1 at 11:19 of the second period when his quick release got under Thomas' leg pads. Maxime Talbot and Zbynek Michalek had the assists.
Patrice Bergeron was home in Canada dealing with some family issues and his two-way game was missed although Rich Peverley looked solid in his spot. Steve Kampfer is expected out at least for the next week as he gets over his mild concussion and Andrew Ference is still shelved with a lower body injury. Matt Bartkowski got his third call up of the season, ironically all against his hometown Penguins. Haven't seen enough of him yet to form much of an opinion.
The Bruins will need to regroup ahead of what's always an emotional game: at Montreal on Tuesday. Last time those teams met, it was the 8-6 bonkers win for Boston. Who knows what will happen next with the ancient rivals?
Saturday, March 5, 2011
It only took a few games for Jeff Green to prove why he'll be a big part of the Boston Celtics and that dreaded time when the Big Three are old and grey (retired).
Green had 21 points off the bench last night as the Celts (45-15) held off the Golden State Warriors (27-34) 107-103 at TD Garden.
Normally, an offensive explosion against the Warriors isn't newsworthy since I'm pretty sure I could drop like ten on them but even the haters had to be impressed by the variety of ways Green can score. He can get out and run on the fastbreak, he can pull up and hit jump shots and he's a good free throw shooter.
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen both scored 27 points while Rajon Rondo handed out 16 assists and had five steals. Nenad Krstic added 11 points.
Monta Ellis showed why he's the NBA's best pure scorer as he put up 41 points while David Lee added 26 points and 12 rebounds. It was pretty much a two-man game though since Dorell Wright (11 points) was the only other Warrior in double figures.
Boston was up 32-27 after the first quarter and 64-53 at halftime. Golden State never went away as they outscored the Cs 28-24 in the third 22-19 in the fourth.
For the game, the Celts shot 53.4% to 47.6% for the Warriors. Boston hit two more 3-pointers (7-5) thanks to Allen (5 3-pointers) and four more free throws (22-18). Golden State grabbed 11 more rebounds (39-28) but Boston had nine more assists (26-17).
The Cs hit the road to face the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow night. I'm pretty sure those teams haven't played yet this season. The Bucks are not playing well and it looks like they'll miss the playoffs so the Celtics should handle them.
Friday, March 4, 2011
The Boston Bruins are clicking on all cylinders right now. It makes you wish that the regular season would fast forward and the playoffs could start like this weekend.
The Bs won their seventh straight game last night, 2-1 over the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden, and with the two points they jumped over Tampa Bay into second place in the Eastern Conference.
Boston (38-19-7) is now only three points behind top-seed Philadelphia and they've proven that they can play any style of game and usually come out on top: high-scoring, low-scoring, chippy, filled with fights. It doesn't matter what you throw at them at the moment, the Bruins are the NHL's hottest team.
The Lightning (37-20-7) scored first as defenseman Eric Brewer found the back of the net at 4:04 of the second period, assisted by Blair Jones and Steve Downie.
However, it only took 2:02 for Bruins rookie defenseman Steve Kampfer to tie it up with a seeing-eye slap shot from the point. Kampfer's fifth goal of the season was assisted by Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.
It doesn't seem to be their way at all since they're a finesse team but Tampa Bay tried to push the Bruins around which ended rather comically. Shawn Thornton and Downie got game misconducts in the second period and Milan Lucic dropped the gloves with Brewer.
Throughout the contest, the Lightning exhibited a Canadiens-like tendency to fall, trip, turtle and basically employ every cheap trick in the book. Even good guy Martin St. Louis stuck his skate out which propelled Mark Recchi into Tampa Bay's net. Strange.
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (27 saves; 29-8-6) and Lightning backup Mike Smith (26 saves) both played well and it looked like we were headed to overtime.
That was until Lucic chipped in a bad-angle shot at 16:18 of the third period for the game-winner, his 28th of the season. Linemates David Krejci and Nathan Horton assisted and got in Smith's way on the goal. There was a pile of bodies in Tampa Bay's crease and the puck popped out. Lucic got to it first and threw the shot on net which turned out to be the difference.
Lucic deserved it after he had had the post earlier in the game. Lightning superstar Steve Stamkos also had a shot rattle off the post and then right to Thomas.
Kampfer left the game with a mild concussion so he'll probably miss a few games.
Boston hosts Pittsburgh tomorrow night as they try to grab their eighth consecutive win against the Penguins who will be without the injured Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I guess I've been hanging with Charlie Sheen too much lately (WINNING!) since I somehow forgot in my last Celtics blog post that the Suns had beaten them three out of the last four times they had played.
Oh well, last night was the same old Phoenix Suns that I remember as the Boston Celtics rolled them 115-103 in a chippy, weird game at the TD Garden.
It was Troy Murphy's debut for the Celts (44-15) but he only put up one point and two rebounds. Fear not though, Sasha Pavlovic is on the way!
Boston led by as many as 29 points in the third quarter before Phoenix (31-28) cut it to as few as eight points but that was as close as their bench could get them.
From their last meeting in late January (a Suns blowout), Kevin Garnett had some unsettled beef with Channing Frye. Don't ask me why since KG was the one that punched him in the balls and got tossed from that game. He might be old but if you get Garnett riled up like that and you're a marginal player, look out. He put up a game-high 28 points and eight rebounds, shooting 12 of 14 with three assists and two blocks.
Ray Allen had 19 points, Rajon Rondo put up 16 points and 15 assists with five rebounds and three steals. Paul Pierce scored 16 points with 13 rebounds and Nenad Krstic had 13 points as continues to prove his worth offensively.
Glen Davis had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench but he left the game with a minute left after coming down awkwardly on his left knee following a dunk. Boston can't afford another injury, especially to their best bench player.
The Suns' starters were awful as only Grant Hill and Vince Carter scored in double figures (both had 11 points). Phoenix's performance can be summed up by Carter and Frye knocking heads in the third quarter (down 29) and both being out for the rest of the game. What a mess.
Phoenix's bench looked great and it makes you wonder why Suns coach Alvin Gentry doesn't play some of these young guys more. Aaron Brooks scored 17 points with seven assists, former BC star Jared Dudley put up 15 points while Marcin Gortat had 13 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. Why in the world does Robin Lopez (6 points, 4 rebounds) start over Gortat? Mickael Pietrus added 11 points.
It'll be another track meet tomorrow night as the Celtics host the Golden State Warriors. Boston tore apart Golden State last week on their West Coast trip and it promises to be more of the same tomorrow night at home where they play particularly well.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Seconds after the Boston Bruins had hung on for a 1-0 win last night at Ottawa's Scotiabank Place, a remarkable graphic popped up on the screen: the last time Boston went a perfect 6-0-0 on a road trip was in 1972.
As any true Black and Gold fan could tell you, that happened to be the last time this luckless franchise won a Stanley Cup. So yeah, last night's victory was rather important.
Boston (37-19-7) extended their season-high win streak to six games while goaltender Tuukka Rask (33 saves; 9-11-1) won his fourth start in a row. After struggling for much of the season and not being able to get a rhythm thanks to Tim Thomas' otherworldly play, Rask and the Bs have found a perfect balance for their two studs between the pipes.
Nathan Horton scored his 18th goal of the season (and third in three games) at 1:43 in the third period. Assists went to Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid. Patrice Bergeron started the sequence by controlling the puck behind Ottawa's (21-33-9) net before dishing it back to McQuaid. Marchand tipped McQuaid's shot and Horton was able to win the scramble in front for the game-winner.
Predictably in the last game of a wildly successful road trip, the Bruins were largely outplayed by the Senators who fielded a team of AHL callups with frankly nothing to lose. Ottawa outshot Boston 33-21 for the game and in each period but in the end, it didn't matter.
The Senators had a flurry of near goals in the third period that had NESN's Kathryn Tappen going nuts in studio but Rask and his defense refused to allow the tying strike.
With the win, Boston moves into a tie for second in the Eastern Conference with Tampa Bay (five points behind the Flyers). Interestingly enough, the Bruins and Lightning face off tomorrow night at the TD Garden.
The second seed is vital cause it means the Bruins would face teams like the Rangers, Hurricanes or Sabres who are all a notch below the No. 6 team-Montreal.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
You have to feel bad for former Celtics teenager Al Jefferson. He's had a nice NBA career but unfortunately he has bounced around from bad team (Minnesota Timberwolves) to now rebuilding team (Utah Jazz) and it appears like barring a trade or something drastic, he'll never be on a contender which is a shame.
The Boston Celtics finished their emotional West Coast trip 3-1 with a 107-102 win last night at EnergySolutions Arena over the Jazz.
Jefferson had a game-high 28 points and 19 rebounds with two blocks but it wasn't enough as Utah (32-29) missed its closer-Deron Williams-who is now rotting away (like everything else) in Newark, N.J.
New guy Devin Harris (19 points) was good but he's no Deron Williams. Andrei Kirilenko sporting his latest unique brand of a Eurotrash hairstyle added 18 points while Paul Millsap had 17 points.
The Jazz have great fans but you have to wonder if former coach Jerry Sloan is even watching this mess anymore or is he driving around aimlessly on a tractor somewhere in the sticks?
All five Celtics (43-15) starters scored in double figures led by Ray Allen (25 points). With Tommy Heinsohn sitting in the CSNE studios and Bill Walton riding his spaceship back in San Diego, Allen's BFF Donnie Marshall was left to fill in on play by play duties. I can't remember hearing a pro announcer getting more excited over a regular season game than Marshall was after Allen hit a clutch 3-pointer, "sniper!" It was pathetic and hilarious at the same time.
Paul Pierce had 21 points and seven rebounds, Kevin Garnett notched 16 points and 14 rebounds while Rajon Rondo put up 18 points and 11 assists. Oh and Nenad Krstic had 11 points and five rebounds.
Boston was up 30-21 after one quarter but Utah whittled it to 56-53 at halftime. The Celts held off the Jazz in the third quarter (23-22) and in the fourth (28-27) thanks to Allen's big shots.
One thing is clear which I never thought I'd say in a million years: the Celts desperately need Shaq in the lineup. With Perk gone, there is a huge void inside that can be taken advantage of by any decent post player.
Boston shot 47.6% to Utah's 44.9%. The Celtics made six more 3-pointers (7-1) but the Jazz hit nine more free throws (31-22) in the tightly called contest. Boston had one more rebound (42-41) and six more assists (22-16). The Cs made four more steals (9-5) but the Jazz had 12 more points in the paint (54-42) thanks to Jefferson and Millsap.
Some help is on the way as Troy Murphy has reportedly signed with Boston after getting bought out by the Golden State Warriors. He should provide size, rebounding and offense off the bench.
The Celtics return home (seems like they've been gone for months) tomorrow night when they host the Phoenix Suns. A team that they normally abuse but that they lost to in Phoenix a few weeks back in that weird KG punching Channing Frye in the balls game.