Injury-plagued Boston Celtics stretches NBA win streak to 11
Injury-plagued Boston Celtics stretches NBA win streak to 11
With Gordon Hayward out for the season and Al Horford sitting out a second straight game with a concussion, Irving suffered a possible concussion less than two minutes into the game after taking an elbow from teammate Aron Baynes.
No matter — despite the revolving door on the infirmary — the Celtics just keep on winning without their Big Three, rallying from an 18-point deficit then hanging on for a 90-87 victory on Friday night over the Charlotte Hornets.
“We’re just going to do what we do no matter who we got,” Celtics Terry Rozier said. “No matter who we’re going to play with, we’re going to play hard.”
Boston scored a season-low 11 points in the first quarter and was down 18 early in the third before sending the Hornets to their fourth straight loss.
With unheralded guard Shane Larkin leading the way, the Celtics went on a 14-2 fourth-quarter surge to take control of the game and held the Hornets to 11 points in the fourth quarter. But Boston still had to survive a scramble at the end to survive.
Larkin finished with a season-high 16 points, while rookie Jayson Tatum, who is playing with a sore ankle, scored 16 points.
“There’s no funner place to play than in Boston in comeback games,” Larkin said. “We went out there. Crowd got behind us. We pulled out a victory.”
Rozier had 15 points seven rebounds and four assists, Marcus Morris had 14 and seven rebounds and Jaylen Brown scored 10 points and had 13 rebounds.
Kemba Walker led all scorers with 20 points despite missing all six of his three-point shot attempts, while Frank Kaminsky scored all 14 of his points in the first half.
Walker, who missed a jumper that would have put his team ahead with five seconds left, scored Charlotte’s final eight points.
Hornets forward Dwight Howard had a dismal night, shooting two-for-eight from the floor, two-for-nine from the foul line, while making seven turnovers.
“We’re giving up huge leads. We’re not maintaining our game. We’ve got to be better as a whole,” Walker said.
Elsewhere, Reggie Jackson made two clutch three pointers down the stretch as the Detroit Pistons won their fourth straight with a 111-104 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Jackson had 22 points and six assists for the Pistons, who gave away a 19-point lead before regaining control in front of a crowd of 16,600 at Little Caesars Arena.
Andre Drummond had 16 points, 20 rebounds and a career-high seven assists for Detroit, who improved to 9-3 on the season.
Avery Bradley tallied 20 points and Tobias Harris finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. Ish Smith came off the bench to finish with 17 points and five assists.
Kent Bazemore had 22 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Hawks (2-10).
Detroit led 76-69 heading into the fourth. The Hawks closed the gap to five early in the quarter and once again midway through after Bazemore made a jumper.
Bazemore’s three-pointer from the top of the key and another from the wing tied it 94-94 with 3:49 left.
The teams traded scores until Jackson’s three with 52.3 seconds left put the Pistons on top 103-100. Following Bellinelli’s miss, Bradley made a free throw and collected the rebound after missing the second try. Jackson then drained another key three-pointer to clinch the win.
‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay
- A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
- Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance
ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”