LAS VEGAS -- Celtics summer league coach Tyronn Lue received a hard dose of Doc Rivers' reality Thursday, when his surging team, boasting a 6-1 record, was dismantled in a matter of minutes.
E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Sean Williams were all held out of the Celtics' 91-82 loss to the Sacramento Kings, due to their apparent inclusion in a trade for free-agent guard Courtney Lee. Meanwhile, rookie Kris Joseph found himself limited by his left knee, which he hyperextended during the first half of Boston's 79-74 win over the Bulls on Tuesday. He was joined on the injury shelf shortly after by fellow rookie Fab Melo, who bruised his left hand early in the third quarter of Thursday's loss and didn't return.
Rivers, who's no stranger to having to alter his lineups due to injuries and other personnel moves, can certainly relate. Just last season the Celtics were forced to carry on without Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox (both battled heart ailments that required surgery), while Paul Pierce was limited by a sprained left MCL and shoulder surgery kept second-year shooting guard Avery Bradley out of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat.
"Now I see how it feels," Lue said when the comparison to Rivers was mentioned after the game. "It's a tough call, but I thought guys competed. I thought we played hard, but I didn't think today we shared the ball. I don't think we moved the ball, made the extra pass, hit guys when they were open. I thought we had a little head-dropping when things weren't going our way, which we haven't been accustomed to. But it's part of a learning experience, part of the guys growing up."
When asked about Lue's coaching performance prior to Thursday's tilt, Rivers joked that he should retire with just one loss between two summer leagues (the C's went 4-1 in Orlando last week) under his belt. Instead, things grew noticeably more difficult for the remaining members of Boston's Las Vegas roster. The C's are taking Friday off before wrapping up their slate in Vegas with a back-to-back Saturday and Sunday.
At the start of the week, Lue had plans to practice Friday, but Thursday left him with just seven healthy bodies, prompting the cancellation.
"Who are we going to practice with?" Lue quipped after Thursday's loss. "Fab's out, [Johnson], E'Twaun, everybody's gone. We've got seven players. What do you want us to do? Want me to suit up? Damon Jones? You want us to suit up, do something?"