Celtics, Raptors, Nets: Friday Night Produces Mixed Results for Atlantic Division
Friday night the Boston Celtics were in Houston to take on the Rockets as they kicked off a three-game road trip which continues with the Spurs tonight, and ends in Chicago with the Bulls on Tuesday. The Celtics are coming off of two big wins against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Dallas Mavericks, and were looking to get their third in a row. In order to do that, though, they were going to have to stop the bearded one they call James Harden. Slowing him down is one thing, but stopping him entirely is another.
You could say the Celtics were successful in slowing him down seeing as they were able to hold him to six of 17 shooting from the field. But in the end, Harden still managed to be the leading scorer of the game as he got to the line eight times and connected on seven of those attempts. Paul Pierce put together a very similar game, shooting five of 18 and finishing with a team high 18 points. What this thing really came down to was how the rest of these star players’ respective teams would perform. Once again, the Celtics just didn’t quite get enough from their role players.
Rondo had his usual game with 15 points and 13 assists, but committing seven turnovers in the process was costly for Boston. Jason Terry, who apparently lost his starting job again to Courtney Lee, led the way with 12 points off the bench (all of which were from three-point land). In 27 minutes Lee finished with eight points on three of seven shooting, and Brandon Bass had three points in 22 minutes. On a night when the Rockets’ reserve post player Greg Smith put together 20 points in 22 minutes, the Celtics simply can’t expect to win with their starters giving them so little. And that’s to say nothing of some pretty awful post defense on Smith who is usually not much of a threat on the offensive end.
The Toronto Raptors snapped a six game losing streak Friday night as they took care of the struggling Dallas Mavericks quite easily in a 95-74 win. This was only the fifth win of the season for the Raptors who find themselves near the bottom of the eastern conference. Toronto was able to earn this victory without one of the few bright spots they have had this season in Kyle Lowry. In his absence, Jose Calderon has been running the point position for the raptors, just like he has done for many years. Calderon is a veteran point guard and paced the Raptors with 14 points on five of nine shooting.
On this night it was the Toronto bench that sparked the Raptors to their Victory. Linas Kleiza had 20 points on only 13 attempts from the field as he connected on five three-point attempts and rookie Terrence Ross added 18 points, nearly tying his career high of 19 points. Ross, who was taken eighth overall this past summer, has been quite disappointing so far this season. If he can turn his game around and contribute more nights like this, the Raptors would benefit a great deal and perhaps win a few more games because of his play.
Toronto will look to put together a win streak as they host the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
The Barclays Center witnessed a thriller on Friday night as the Nets managed to pull off a 107-105 win in double overtime against the Detroit Pistons. Joe Johnson continued to step up his game, posting 28 points. Gerald Wallace also had a big night by adding 25 points and 10 rebounds. Both Johnson and Wallace played a season high 52 and 50 minutes respectively. Without Jerry Stackhouse, Avery Johnson shortened his bench and leaned on Wallace and Johnson to put together big games. Reggie Evans had 10 rebounds, but failed to score a single point in 34 minutes. Williams had an average night with 17 points and six assists.
On the other end, the Nets faced a well balanced attack from the Pistons. Detroit saw five guys reach double figures, with another two getting very close. They were led by Brandon Knight who had 22 points and Rodney Stuckey came off the bench for 19 points. The Pistons did just about everything that they could have done to get a win in this game. They were plus 11 on the boards, they got to the foul line 10 more times, and put together a solid team effort. Unfortunately, they just didn’t shoot the ball well enough to keep up with the Nets’ star players. As a team they shot five percent less from the field, seven percent less from three, and four percent less from the foul line.
Brooklyn will likely play another tough game as they take on the Bulls tonight in Chicago.