Boston Celtics: Rapid Reaction
THE NITTY GRITTY
Rookie guard Marcus Smart hit a pair of fourth-quarter 3-pointers, then added a ridiculous spinning scoop shot late in the frame to help Boston emerge. Smart overcame some early shooting woes and finished with a team-high 19 points, 12 of which came in the final frame. Four others joined him in double figures, including Chris Johnson and Mike Moser with 12 points apiece. Boston found a way to win despite shooting only 32.4 percent overall. Seth Curry scored a team-high 15 points for Orlando. Boston got a look at Magic rookies Aaron Gordon (7 points, 8 rebounds) and Elfrid Payton (8 points, 10 assists, 7 turnovers).
Our friend @MrTrpleDouble10 captured the broadcast feed of Smart's scoop shot late in a one-possession game:
• Kelly Olynyk did not dress for Thursday's game. Teams often rest their more established players at times during the week and, having appeared in the team's first three games, the second-year big man got a night off.
• Boston went with a starting lineup that featured Smart, Chris Babb, Johnson, Moser, and Colton Iverson. Phil Pressey played in a reserve role (and struggled, going 1-for-15 shooting from the floor).
• Dairis Bertans, who endured a scary crash into the stanchion and was briefly hospitalized on Wednesday night, did not play, but gave a positive update on his health. "I’m good. I’m really good," Bertans said. "It’s nothing serious. I can’t really move my neck, it’s kind of stiff, but it’s good."
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics improve to 3-1 on the week and -- by winning three quarters -- earned seven points overall and seem likely to play in the third/fourth-place matchup at 10 a.m. Friday to wrap up their five-game slate in Orlando.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting to go along with a team-high nine rebounds over 37 minutes of floor time. Rookie guard Marcus Smart struggled with his shot again (4-of-13 overall) but put up 13 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals over 31 minutes. The Celtics put six players in double figures for scoring overall. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a game-high 26 points for the Pistons, and his late-game efforts nearly helped Detroit rally all the way back (he missed an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer).
• The Celtics moved Mike Moser into the starting five with Colton Iverson shuffling to a reserve role. Moser started alongside Phil Pressey, Smart, Chris Johnson and Olynyk. Iverson, Chris Babb, and Dairis Bertans were the main subs in an early eight-man rotation (though Bertans departed in the third quarter after crashing hard into the stanchion and was replaced by Edwin Jackson).
• Rookie Jimmy Young, unable to participate in summer league while recovering from injuries sustained in a minor car accident last month, spent much of the game sitting next to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge at the end of Boston's bench.
• True to his word, Olynyk reverted to the ponytail look he debuted in Saturday's win over the Miami Heat. Olynyk joked his return to a headband during Monday's loss to the Indiana Pacers was a bad decision.
• Chris Babb, maybe inspired by Boston's offseason maneuvering on Wednesday, had an inspired effort. He put up 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting and played rugged defense.
WHAT IT MEANS
Boston improves to 2-1 in summer league play. Teams will be seeded for Friday's championship round based on a formula that includes win-loss record as well as quarterly performance. The Celtics play the Orlando Magic on Thursday at 5 p.m.
The Celtics are expected to give up nothing more than a possible second-round pick (likely with protection from being too high in the round) in exchange for taking on the salary of Thornton ($8.6 million), while also adding Zeller ($1.7 million) with the $10.3 million trade exception generated during last summer's blockbuster swap with the Nets. Boston will also receive a future first-round pick from the Cavaliers (top-10 protected from 2016-18; unprotected in 2019).
The Nets get a valuable sixth man in Jarrett Jack, while the Cavaliers free space to make a run at LeBron James. But the Celtics come away with three assets for simply helping to facilitate that deal. Let's look at each piece closer:
• ZELLER: The 24-year-old center has averaged 6.9 points and 4.9 rebounds over two NBA seasons with the Cavaliers. The 7-footer was the 17th pick in the 2012 draft and will get a chance to develop with size-deprived Boston. The Celtics will hold a $2.6 million team option for Zeller next season, giving them the chance to evaluate him this year and decide if they want to continue to nurture him based on his performance. For size-deprived Boston, adding a pure big with potential could be the coup of this deal if able to develop him.
• FIRST-ROUND PICK: The Celtics add another future first-rounder to their overflowing surplus that already included two in each of the next two seasons (their own and the Clippers' in 2015; their own and the Nets' in 2016). Boston now likely has eight first-round picks in the next four drafts (and that could be nine if the 76ers were to make the playoffs this season, though that seems unlikely). The Cavaliers, if they lure James back to Cleveland, would seemingly be picking late in the first round, delivering that pick early, but nothing is certain in this league.
Even with an impending deadline to use their trade exception, the Celtics patiently waited for an opportunity to pounce and took advantage of the needs of some of their Eastern Conference rivals. All three parts received have potential to help Boston moving forward and only add to the haul obtained last summer in the initial deal with Brooklyn.
The Celtics have further positioned themselves to have money to spend next summer. If the 2014-15 season is heavy on development, Boston can stomach a salary like Thornton's while knowing a chance for louder fireworks looms next summer with further flexibility. With the growing pile of picks, Boston can pick its spot on when to cash in. The key here is patience, and it paid off for the Celtics with this deal.
Some will wonder if this move puts the Celtics in a better spot to pursue Kevin Love moving forward. Boston did little to add the sort of established talent that Minnesota might crave. The Celtics certainly have more assets to add to a rebuilding-themed package, but is that what the Wolves desire? Keep in mind, the Celtics can't immediately move these acquired assets in a package (though could move Thornton individually). Boston may have helped its case on the chance that Love reaches unrestricted free agency next summer.
Keep this in mind: If the Celtics find a way to move the final season of Gerald Wallace's deal and Jeff Green opts out of the final year of his contract, Boston would be committed to little more than $21 million in total salary for the 2015-16 season (and able to bring back Zeller at low money, too). That leaves this low-cost base to build around:
Avery Bradley - $7.2 million (estimated)
Marcus Smart - $3.4 million
Jared Sullinger - $2.3 million
Kelly Olynyk - $2.2 million
Vitor Faverani - $2.2 million (nonguaranteed)
James Young - $1.8 million
Chris Johnson - $981,000 (nonguaranteed)
Phil Pressey - $947,000 (nonguaranteed)
That available cap room could allow the Celtics to bring back Rajon Rondo and still pursue another big-ticket name, or go after two stars of their choosing without having to navigate the trade path that they're restricted to this summer.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Rapid reaction after the Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Celtics 96-77 at summer league in Orlando on Monday at the Amway Center:
THE NITTY GRITTY
Willie Reed scored a game-high 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while Kevin Jones added 17 points as the Pacers dominated the middle frames. For Boston, Marcus Smart again struggled with his shot, connecting on just 3 of 15 shots (1-of-5 beyond the 3-point arc) while finishing with 11 points to go along with four assists and three rebounds over 27:29. Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting in a team-high 31 minutes and added six rebounds and four assists. The Celtics put five players in double figures, including reserve guard Edwin Jackson (14 points, 8-of-8 at the free throw line). Mike Moser had another solid effort off the bench, chipping in 11 points (behind a trio of 3-pointers), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block over 20:31.
The Celtics dominated the first quarter and led by as much as 18 (30-12) late in the frame. Boston then fell asleep at the wheel and, beset by foul trouble, watched Indiana close the second quarter on a 22-2 run as the Pacers took a 48-41 advantage. Indy dominated the early portion of the third quarter, putting the game out of reach.
• The Celtics went with the same starting five in Phil Pressey, Smart, Chris Johnson, Olynyk and Colton Iverson. Dairis Bertans, Moser and Jackson were the early subs, with O.D. Anosike and Chris Babb getting early run as well. Devin Oliver played late.
• Rookie James Young did not play. He was with the team and got shots up during halftime.
• Chris Johnson, the Celtics' plus/minus darling during the regular season, finished a team-worst minus-36.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics fall to 1-1 at summer league. After starting fast, they got outscored 65-27 in the middle frames and couldn't recover. Boston will take Tuesday off before returning to action on Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons.
BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics' 2013-14 season passed Wednesday night at TD Garden after a 118-102 loss to the Washington Wizards. It was 82 games old.
The Celtics went quietly while surrounded by a sellout crowd of 18,624 that proudly chanted "let's go Celtics" in the final minutes.
Despite a flawed roster and a first-year coach, the Celtics enjoyed competitive games and individual development. The team navigated much of the season without point guard Rajon Rondo as he recovered from ACL surgery, but even he couldn't rescue the team upon his mid-January return. The Celtics went 6-24 when Rondo played, and he sat out the final game of the season while dealing with a sore left hamstring.
A private memorial is planned for members of the organization this week at HealthPoint in Waltham, Mass. The public is invited to a public celebration of the season at the NBA draft lottery on May 20.
In lieu of flowers, the Celtics kindly request good-luck charms be donated to the team in advanced of the lottery.
The nitty-gritty: Bradley Beal scored a game-high 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting, while Marcin Gortat put up 15 points and 10 rebounds. Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting, despite foul trouble, to pace the Celtics. Jeff Green added 20 points, while Phil Pressey had nine points and 10 assists. The Wizards shot 56.8 percent overall and led by as much as 26.
Turning point: The Celtics played without Rondo, Jared Sullinger (ankle), Kris Humphries (knee) and Jerryd Bayless (knee), with just eight available bodies suiting up. Add in early foul trouble for Olynyk, along with a whole bunch of defensive indifference, and the game got away pretty early. The Wizards put up 38 points in the first frame and led by as much as 15. Boston made a couple charges but never led.
Boston strong: The Celtics honored a group of Boston Marathon survivors with a moving ceremony at the end of the first quarter. Boston coach Brad Stevens broke his huddle early to have his players applaud those being saluted, and the Wizards did the same. Later, the team honored doctors and nurses from Brigham and Women's Hospital that treated victims in the aftermath of the bombings.
What it means: The Celtics wrap up the season at 25-57 overall, and their .305 winning percentage is the third worst in team history. Aided by the Los Angeles Lakers' win in San Antonio, Boston will finish with no worse than the fifth-worst record in basketball (pending Utah and Minnesota's nail-biter).
THE NITTY GRITTY
Rookie Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 28 points, while Jeff Green (27 points) and Avery Bradley (23) joined him in the 20+ club. Rajon Rondo flirted with a triple-double while putting up 8 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds over 42:25. Michael Carter-Williams scored 21 points, while Tony Wroten added 20 points to pace the 76ers. The Sixers shot 54.4 percent from the field while fending off Boston's second-half rally.
The Celtics led by 10 early, then fell behind by as much as 19 early in the second half. Boston surged within two heading to the fourth quarter, but could never get over the hump despite sticking close much of the final frame. The Celtics got a last gasp after a head-shaking turnover by the 76ers with 15.8 seconds to play. But in a microcosm of Boston's season, rookie Chris Johnson stepped on the sideline before launching what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds remaining, The call was upheld on one of roughly 3,472 video reviews over the final two minutes of the game.
Even with just one game left in the season, Celtics fans held their breath when Rondo got hit with a stray elbow in the first quarter and dropped to the ground. He returned later in the frame. ... The Celtics were playing with nine available bodies as Jared Sullinger (ankle), Jerryd Bayless (knee) and Kris Humphries (knee) sat out. All three remain uncertain for the season finale. ... The Celtics turned the ball over 19 times, including three times in the final 88 seconds. ... Philly won the season series, 3-1.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (25-56) had a two-game winning streak snapped. Boston, at least for the moment, owns the fifth-worst record in basketball, but that hinges on the Lakers-Jazz game out west (a loss by the Lakers would force a three-way tie for the fourth-worst record). The Celtics wrap up the 2013-14 season on Wednesday night with a visit from the Washington Wizards.
Playing the second night of a back-to-back with only eight available bodies, the Boston Celtics avoided a bit of franchise infamy by snapping a 13-game road losing streak with a 111-99 triumph over the largely disinterested Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Rookie Kelly Olynyk scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and finished with 11-of-23 shooting and 12 rebounds while matching his career high in scoring over 39 minutes in a starter's role. Avery Bradley matched that 25-point output and grabbed eight rebounds while finishing a team-best plus-31 in plus/minus, while backcourt mate Phil Pressey flirted with yet another double-double (9 points, 13 assists) over a team-high 42 minutes. Brandon Bass and Jeff Green added 19 points apiece. Dion Waiters, Kyrie Irving and Jarrett Jack each had 15 points as the Cavs put seven players in double figures, but the game was never really close (only one lead change and the C's led by as much as 33 in the final quarter).
Back-to-back triples from Olynyk and Bradley helped Boston separate early, building a 12-point lead little more than five minutes into the first frame. Bradley and Green added late second-quarter trifectas as the Celtics' lead ballooned to 18 at the intermission. Boston was up 31 after three quarters and Cleveland only made things look close with a harmless trash-time rally to tighten up the final spread.
The Celtics were playing without Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, Jerryd Bayless and Kris Humphries. ... With an eight-man bench, even guys like Joel Anthony (21 minutes) and Chris Babb (18 minutes) got healthy workloads. ... Boston shot 46.7 percent from the field (42-of-90) and 40 percent beyond the 3-point arc (12-of-30). ... The Celtics turned the ball over just 11 times leading to nine points.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (25-55) have now won two straight (much to the dismay of the lottery watchers) and will -- at least for the moment -- move a half-game ahead of the Utah Jazz and own the fifth-worst record in basketball with three games to play (Utah is playing Denver in a late game and could force a tie for fourth-worst record with a win). With the victory, Boston avoided the longest road losing streak in franchise history (winning away from home for the first time since Feb. 10) and also ensured itself of finishing with a better winning percentage than the 2006-07 team (which owned the second-worst mark in franchise history). The Celtics will take Sunday off to rest those bodies that logged heavy minutes and cross their fingers for better health when they visit Philadelphia on Monday in their final road game of the season. The 2013-14 season wraps up in Boston with a visit from the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
Phil Pressey came up big in a spot start for Rajon Rondo and Boston rallied back after kicking away a big fourth-quarter lead en route to a 106-103 triumph over the Charlotte Bobcats at TD Garden. The win, coupled with an Orlando loss, will drop Boston in the lottery standings, but Stevens said before Friday's game he's more concerned with building momentum before the offseason arrives.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Rondo was a late scratch due to a bruised left shin, but Pressey produced his second double-double in the past three games by putting up 10 points and 13 assists over a career-high 39 minutes. Jared Sullinger overcame a third-quarter ankle sprain to score 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Avery Bradley scored a team-high 22 points, while Jeff Green and Brandon Bass added 18 points apiece. Al Jefferson scored a game-high 32 points on 16-of-26 shooting against his former team.
The Celtics closed out the third quarter on a 9-0 run, then pushed their lead as high as 13 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Nothing comes easy for Boston and the Bobcats responded with a 15-2 run to tie the game at 92 with 5:13 to play. The Celtics were down 1 with under four minutes to play, but put together an 8-0 burst that saw Sullinger and Bradley sandwich 3-pointers around a Green layup for a 104-97 lead with 2:14 to play. The Bobcats got back within 1 on an Al Jefferson floater with 29 ticks to go, but Jannero Pargo missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that could have forced overtime.
Sullinger limped off in the third quarter after suffering a mild left ankle sprain. He got re-taped and returned in the fourth quarter. ... Jerryd Bayless departed with a right knee sprain in the fourth quarter and did not return. ... Boston turned the ball over 20 times for 23 points, but Charlotte couldn't capitalize despite limiting its own giveaways (12 turnovers for 14 points). ... The Celtics shot 51.9 percent overall (41 of 79), including 47.8 percent beyond the 3-point arc (11 of 23).
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (24-55) snapped a nine-game losing streak while winning for only the second time in 16 tries. Boston now owns the fourth worst record in basketball, moving a game ahead of Orlando. The Celtics could be tied for that fourth spot pending how Utah fares versus Portland. Boston travels to Cleveland on Saturday night to close out their final back-to-back of the season. A visit to Philadelphia looms on Monday before the 2013-14 season wraps up Wednesday with a visit from the Washington Wizards.
The final five minutes of games continue to be a nightmare for the Boston Celtics, who watched a nine-point lead evaporate late in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks and absorbed their ninth straight loss with a 105-97 defeat at Phillips Arena:
The nitty gritty
Jeff Teague scored a team-high 19 points to pace six Atlanta players in double figures, while Kyle Korver added 17 while catching fire beyond the arc to help spark a fourth-quarter rally. Avery Bradley, back after a three-game absence, scored a game-high 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting to pace the Celtics. Rajon Rondo registered 19 points, 12 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals over a team-high 40:44.
Turning Point I: Digging out of early hole
The Hawks scored 12 of the game's first 14 points and needed just four minutes to build a double-digit lead. That advantage went as high as 14 (the Hawks shot a ridiculous 77.8 percent in the first quarter) and that's where it was midway through the second quarter before Boston started chipping away. Rondo hit a 3-pointer to close out the first half and pull the Celtics within five and Boston would tie the game little more than two minutes into the third quarter.
Turning Point II: This time Hawks rally
The Celtics were up nine after a Rondo free throw with 5:44 to play in the fourth quarter. The Hawks embarked on a furious 10-0 run over the next two minutes and a Korver 3-pointer with 3:42 to go pushed Atlanta out front 90-89. Jared Sullinger answered with a triple of his own to push Boston back out front, but the Celtics inexplicably left Korver open in the corner the next trip down and he made them pay by igniting a 9-0 burst and a DeMarre Carroll layup left the Hawks up seven with 73 seconds to go.
Bradley missed the last three games with a right Achilles strain, but showed no rust in his first game back. He made half of his beyond the arc (going a perfect 4-for-4). Bradley added four rebounds, two assists, and three steals over 34:49.
The game featured only four lead changes and one tie despite the swings. ... The Hawks shot 52.6 percent overall (40 of 76) and Korver's final-quarter outburst helped them finish at 39.1 percent beyond the arc for the game. ... Boston shot 44 percent from the field (37 of 84), but a glossy 46.2 percent (12 of 26) from beyond the 3-point line. ... The Celtics were playing without Kris Humphries (knee). ... Chris Babb was a healthy DNP. ... Chris Johnson rebounded from one of his worse outings to provide a nice spark off the bench with 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting and was a team-best plus-8 in plus/minus.
What it means
The Celtics (23-55) lost their ninth straight game and 14th in 15 tries. The silver lining: Coupled with Orlando's win over Brooklyn, the Celtics are now tied with the Magic for the third-worst record in basketball with four games to play. A win would have thrust Boston into a tie with Utah for the fourth-worst record. The Celtics will take Thursday off before launching into a back-to-back that starts Friday night with a visit from the Charlotte Bobcats.
Not even a 19-point lead is safe with the 2013-14 Boston Celtics, who were outscored by 14 in the final frame Saturday night as the Detroit Pistons emerged with a 115-111 triumph at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Rodney Stuckey scored a game-high 26 points and made the go-ahead free throws in the final minute, while Andre Drummond put up 19 points and 20 rebounds to pace the Pistons. Jerryd Bayless scored a Celtics-high 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting but missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds as the Pistons escaped after a feverish second-half rally. Six of Boston's nine available players finished in double figures for scoring, including Jeff Green (23 points) and Jared Sullinger (22 points, 10 rebounds). Rookie Phil Pressey, making a spot start at point guard, registered his first career double-double with 12 points and 11 assists over 36 ½ minutes.
The Celtics opened the third quarter by making five 3-pointers over the first 4:20 and twice pushed their lead as high as 19, but that advantage eroded to 10 by the end of the frame and quickly dwindled to single digits early in the fourth quarter. A Jonas Jerebko 3-pointer with 7:12 to play in the game had the Pistons out front 100-99 and capped a 21-5 burst for the hosts. The game seesawed from there, but Bayless' 3-point attempt with about six seconds to play wouldn't fall as the Pistons held on to win.
The Celtics dressed only nine players and were playing without three starters in Rajon Rondo (rest), Avery Bradley (Achilles), and Kris Humphries (knee). ... Boston shot 45.2 percent beyond the 3-point arc, making 14 of 31 attempts from distance. ... The Pistons outscored Boston 50-32 in the paint and won the battle on the glass 43-37. ... Detroit's biggest lead of the game was five points. ... The Pistons shot 36 free throws compared to Boston's 16. ... Chris Johnson endured maybe his worst game of the season, finishing with zero points and a blank stat line outside of one turnover over 11:32. He was a team-worst minus-16.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (23-54) lost their eighth straight game and 13th in the past 14 tries. Boston will maintain the fourth-worst record in basketball with five games to play in the season. The Celtics have three days off before visiting the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. A back-to-back looms after with a visit from the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday before a trip to meet the Cleveland Cavaliers.
BOSTON -- Rajon Rondo resumed his role as Mr. Triple Double for the first time since the game he tore his ACL last season, but even that wasn't enough to save the Boston Celtics as the Philadelphia 76ers, the tankiest team in the NBA, scored a 111-102 triumph on Friday night at TD Garden:
THE NITTY GRITTY
Rajon Rondo produced his 29th career triple-double -- and first since the game he tore his ACL in Atlanta on Jan. 25, 2013 -- as he put up 11 points, 16 assists, and 11 rebounds over 38 minutes. Michael Carter-Williams, the Hamilton native and Rookie of the Year candidate, responded with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting with six assists and six rebounds, while Henry Sims added 24 points (while shooting a whopping 18 free throws) to go along with nine rebounds. Jerryd Bayless scored a team-high 23 points for Boston, which put six players in double figures for scoring.
The Celtics were down nine early in the fourth quarter, but made it a one-possession contest with six minutes to play and it seemed like only a matter of time before they cranked it up a notch against a 76ers team that had lost 28 of its last 29 games entering Friday's tilt. It didn't happen. Carter-Williams scored Philadelphia's next seven points before Thaddeus Young added consecutive baskets as Philadelphia stretched its lead to 10 with little more than two minutes to play.
The 76ers shot 50.6 percent overall (39 of 77). ... The Celtics turned the ball over 22 times leading to 23 points ... Phil Pressey, all 5-10 of him, threw down a two-handed jam in the fourth quarter as Boston was rallying. ... The game featured a sellout crowd of 18,624, many of which spent the latter part of the third quarter doing the wave.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (23-53) have now lost seven straight and 12 of their last 13 overall. Boston will own the fourth worst record in basketball (though Utah could remain tied with them pending Friday's late game against the Pelicans). The Celtics will close out a back-to-back on Saturday night in Detroit, then take three days off before visiting Atlanta on Wednesday night.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Marcin Gortat paced six Wizards players in double figures by scoring 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting as Washington stamped its postseason passport for the first time since 2008. John Wall added 13 points, 10 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals, while finishing a team-best plus-30 in 28 minutes. Jared Sullinger scored a game-high 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting with seven rebounds and six assists and he was Boston's lone bright spot. Kelly Olynyk finished with 14 points and four rebounds and was improbably a plus-8 in plus/minus, seemingly impossible in a game in which Boston lost by 26.
It took less than four minutes for the Wizards to open a double-digit lead. Feeding Gortat early and often, the Wizards generated 14 points in the paint while opening a 19-4 advantage just five minutes in. Gortat did the bulk of the damage with eight points and Washington shot 75 percent (9-of-12) in that span. On the other side, Boston missed five of its first seven shots, turned the ball over twice and spent the rest of the first half just trying to stick around. The Wizards blew the game open in the third quarter while outscoring Boston 32-12.
Washington shot a blistering 62.5 percent (45-of-72) from the field. ... The Wizards connected on 52.6 percent (10-of-19) of attempts beyond the 3-point arc, while Boston finished at 12.5 percent (3-of-24) from distance. ... All 11 players that dressed for Boston played. Avery Bradley sat out with a strained right Achilles tendon. ... Washington turned the ball over 21 times leading to 20 points and it didn't matter. The Wizards never trailed and led by as many as 33.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (23-52) have dropped six straight and 11 of their last 12. Boston moves back into a tie with Utah for the fourth worst record in basketball with seven games remaining for both teams. The Celtics get a day to rest before launching into a back-to-back that starts with a visit from the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night at TD Garden, then concludes with a trip to meet the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Joakim Noah filled up his stat line yet again, registering 19 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks over 39 minutes as the Bulls motored away in the fourth quarter. Mike Dunleavy scored a team-high 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while Jimmy Butler added 18 on 8-of-13 shooting. Jerryd Bayless, pinch-hitting for the resting Rajon Rondo, and Brandon Bass each scored a team-high 18 points for the Celtics. Bass added 9 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists over 31:27. Phil Pressey (9 points, 4 steals, 3 assists) and Kelly Olynyk (seven points, seven rebounds) gave Boston a first-half jolt off the bench.
With it a one-point game after three quarters, the Bulls opened the final frame on a 13-0 run over the first 3:44 to tear the game open. Noah had six points during the outburst, as well as a block that led to a Dunleavy 3-pointer in transition. The Celtics' second unit, which carried the team at times in the first half, missed its first six shots in the quarter and Boston was staring at an 84-70 deficit with 8:16 to play. Chicago's lead went as high as 16.
Avery Bradley sat out the second half due to soreness in his right ankle (the same one that forced him to miss 19 games recently). Chris Johnson started the second half in his place. ... The Celtics turned the ball over 18 times despite not giving it away at all in the first quarter. ... Joel Anthony was a healthy DNP. ... Rondo was active, but did not play on the second night of a back-to-back. He spent the first half as color commentator for the Boston TV broadcast.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (23-51) have lost five straight and 10 of their last 11. Not that anyone was holding out hope, but Boston's loss, combined with Atlanta's victory over Philadelphia, formally eliminated the Celtics from playoff contention. The Celtics will temporarily tie Utah for the fourth-worst record in basketball (pending how the Jazz fare versus the Knicks). Boston will take Tuesday off before visiting the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
THE NITTY GRITTY
DJ Augustin scored a career-high 33 points on 10-of-14 shooting while making all 10 free throws he attempted in 31 minutes off the Chicago bench. Augustin scored nine straight points for Chicago after Boston tied the game with little more than two minutes to play. Joakim Noah flirted with a triple-double (13 points, 13 assists, 8 rebounds) and the Bulls put all five starters in double figures while shooting 52.9 percent (37 of 70), no small feat for a team that's struggled as much on offense as the Bulls have. Rajon Rondo finished with 17 points, 11 assists and 4 rebounds over 38 minutes, but had a team-high six turnovers. Boston put six players in double figures while shooting 46 percent.
The Bulls were up five with little more than three minutes to play and red-hot Augustin looked like he was about to streak to the basket for yet another layup, but Sullinger blocked the attempt from behind the play and Jeff Green -- scoreless since a 10-point first-quarter outburst -- hit a 3-pointer to swing the momentum. With 2:13 remaining, Green hit another triple to tie the game at 96. The Celtics had a chance to pull ahead, but Brandon Bass missed a jumper and -- who else? -- Augustin nailed a triple with 79 seconds to play. He went on to score nine consecutive points for Chicago as the Bulls pulled away.
Kris Humphries (14 points, 8 rebounds over 22 minutes) got tagged with a technical foul late in the third quarter after being whistled for a loose-ball foul. It was Humphries' first of the season (he got one in Sacramento last month, but it was rescinded upon video review).
The Celtics wore black warm-up shirts in honor of the Boston Fire Department and the two fire fighters lost in last week's Back Bay fire. ... The Bulls shot 50 percent beyond the 3-point arc (8 of 16) with Augustin and Jimmy Butler making three triples apiece. ... The Bulls attempted 31 free throws to Boston's 16. ... The game featured 16 lead changes and 19 ties.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (23-50) have now lost four straight and nine of their last 10. Boston is a half-game ahead of Utah, which owns the fourth-worst record in basketball. The Celtics travel to Chicago to wrap up this home-and-home on Monday night at the United Center. They won't have Rondo, who will sit out the tail end, but provide color commentary during the local TV broadcast.
Rapid Reaction after the Toronto Raptors defeated the Boston Celtics 105-103 on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre:
THE NITTY GRITTY
DeMar DeRozan went off for 30 points, but it was Amir Johnson with the late game putback that helped the Raptors clinch their first playoff berth in six years. Jerryd Bayless scored 14 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, sparking Boston's rally. The Celtics put six players in double figures overall. Jeff Green had 16 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one emphatic chasedown block in the final minute. Rajon Rondo finished with 11 points, eight assists, and five rebounds over 33 minutes.
The Celtics were down as many as 12 points early in the fourth quarter, but Bayless caught fire and his mid-range jumper with 4:52 to go pushed Boston out front 96-95. DeRozan and Rondo both hit tough shots in the final minute, leaving the score tied at 103-103 and Johnson followed a Lowry missed layup with a put back that provided the winning points with 7.1 seconds to go. A Jared Sullinger runner from the top of the key slammed hard off the glass on Boston's last gasp.
The Raptors put up 52 points in the paint and 12 offensive rebounds led to 15 second-chance points (none bigger than Johnson's final bucket). ... Phil Pressey played 13 ½ solid minutes, handing out five assists while helping to facilitate that fourth-quarter surge. ... The Celtics shot 52.6 percent overall, but were hurt by 16 turnovers (leading to 21 points). The Raptors shot 46.5 percent, but limited their giveaways (11 turnovers for 14 points).
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (23-49) lost their third straight game and eighth in their last nine tries. Boston is tied with Utah for the fourth-worst record in basketball. The Celtics lost both ends of this home-and-home with Toronto and return to TD Garden to start another home-and-home with the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.
Play Podcast Buster Olney talks to Tim Kurkjian and Bill Brink about the teams most likely to make a move for Jon Lester. Plus, Matt Gelb on why the Phillies have stayed so quiet.
Play Podcast Buster Olney and Jayson Stark talk about the chances that Jon Lester and David Price will be moved before the deadline. Plus, Roch Kubatko on the Orioles' momentum.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi weighs in on the responsibility Tom Brady shoulders for the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski's physicality and how New England will use Darrelle Revis.
Play Podcast Buster Olney talks to Alex Speier, Karl Ravech and Justin Havens about whether the Red Sox will move Jon Lester before the trade deadline, pace of play and much more.