Rondo’s 16 points can’t overcome staunchy Spurs squad

The San Antonio Spurs, in the midst of their annual “Rodeo Road Trip,” walked into TD Bank Garden down three top players.  All Star Point Guard Tony Parker was sent back home to rest up for the upcoming All Star Game while shooting guard Manu Ginobili was out with a sore hamstring while Kawhi Leonard was also withheld with a fractured hand.

Rajon Rondo helped to keep the match close as the Spurs held the Celtics to 19 points in the first quarter.  The team rebounded in the second holding the Spurs to 23 points while scoring 25 in the frame.

Coach Brad Stevens was mostly pleased with his teams performance and gave a lot of credit to the Spurs players and their tenacious defense.

“I think part of it was they were active on [Rondo], they were aggressive on him, he shot the ball well again, which was really good,”  Stevens said. “And the other thing is they converge quickly, so it’s usually the pass after the pass that ends up giving you a look, and that’s the thing that obviously we didn’t make enough of them. We didn’t shoot the ball very well, especially in the first quarter. I don’t know where we were, but it felt like we were under 30 percent.

The Celtics next  welcome the 30-21 Phoenix Suns to the Garden.  The Suns have produced a 6-4 record over their past 10 games.   For Coach Stevens, finishing the game against the Suns will be as important as how you begin.  The Spurs were a testament to that.

“I thought our starters played well out of the gate in the third quarter, and then did some really good things,” Stevens said. “But [the Spurs], you know no matter who they have, they put a lot of pressure on you. And the way they move the ball — I said this before the game, it’s basketball the way basketball should be played — and it’s really a pleasure to watch, unless you’re coaching against it.”

Get your tickets to the Suns/Celtics Matchup today!  Great seats are still available!

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Celtics Top 76ers to Increase Atlantic Division Lead

The host Celtics improved their Atlantic Division lead to three games over the 76ers and the Knicks.

The 76ers have lost 10 of 14, falling into a tight battle for the final two Eastern Conference playoff spots. They are tied with the Knicks for seventh place, a game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks.

NETS 122, CAVALIERS 117 Gerald Green scored a season-best 32 points, including a 3-pointer with 36.7 seconds left in regulation and a high-flying dunk in overtime as the Nets won at home for the third straight game.

Anthony Morrow had 24 points for the Nets, who put up their highest score of the season. Deron Williams added 18 points and 10 assists, and Kris Humphries had 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Nets’ owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, was in attendance for the first time this season.

HEAT 98, PISTONS 75 LeBron James scored 26 points and Chris Bosh had 22, as Miami, playing without Dwyane Wade for the 11th time this season, beat visiting Detroit. Wade sat out with soreness in his right ankle. are 10-1 when he is out.

SPURS 114, JAZZ 104 Tony Parker scored 28 points, and host San Antonio maintained its slim lead atop the Western Conference.

Manu Ginobili added 23 points for the Spurs, who are on their second 11-game win streak — a season best in the N.B.A. But the Spurs are fighting off Oklahoma City, which is percentage points behind in the race for first.

THUNDER 91, RAPTORS 75 Kevin Durant scored 23 points and Oklahoma City had a 24-0 second-half run en route to victory over visiting Toronto.

ROCKETS 104, KINGS 87 Courtney Lee scored 25 points as Houston beat host Sacramento.

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N.B.A. ROUNDUP; Pacers’ Comeback Victory Keeps Celtics Stumbling

Roy Hibbert scored 26 points and the Indiana Pacers rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the visiting Boston Celtics, 107-100, on Monday night and remain in sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Danny Granger had 18 points and Darren Collison 17 for the Pacers. Indiana outscored Boston, 26-15, in the fourth quarter.

Hibbert said, ”I just came out aggressive and wanted to be a force down there offensively and defensively.”

Paul Pierce led Boston with 23 points, and Glen Davis added 20 for the Celtics, who are fading in their quest to catch Chicago for the best record in the East. Boston is 5-7 since March 9 and trails the Bulls by two games.

”We became a great team because we were known to do it for 48 minutes,” the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett said. ”We seem to be missing that right now.”

Indiana remained a game ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats in the East.

WIZARDS 100, JAZZ 95 The rookie John Wall scored 28 points and Jordan Crawford hit a key shot at the end of regulation and made two steals in overtime to lead Washington to only its second road win. Crawford finished with 25 points, including 8 in the fourth quarter and the game-tying shot with 4.4 seconds left. Utah has lost six in a row.

76ERS 97, BULLS 85 Thaddeus Young scored 21 points and Philadelphia built a 23-point lead and held on, ending Chicago’s 14-game home winning streak.

Chicago, losing for only the second time in its last 14 games over all, got 31 points from Derrick Rose, who also had 10 turnovers. Andre Iguodala added 19 points and 7 assists for the 76ers.

TRAIL BLAZERS 100, SPURS 92 Andre Miller scored 26 points and visiting Portland beat banged-up San Antonio as Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan sat out with injuries.

The Spurs have the best record in the N.B.A., 57-17, but have lost a season-high four games in a row and two in three days to the Blazers. San Antonio’s Western Conference lead over the Los Angeles Lakers is down to three and a half games.

BOBCATS 87, BUCKS 86 Gerald Henderson scored the final 7 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds left, and short-handed Charlotte staged an unlikely comeback to beat visiting Milwaukee.

Starting with no available centers before losing their top two point guards to injuries, the Bobcats remained in playoff contention after Brandon Jennings missed two layups and a 3-pointer in the final 15 seconds that would have put the Bucks ahead.

The Bobcats held Milwaukee scoreless over the final 3:52.

Kwame Brown, the Bobcats’ starting center, left the team Monday to be with his ill daughter in Georgia, and Joel Przybilla (knee) and DeSagana Diop (Achilles’ tendon) were already sidelined.

JAMES HOMECOMING, PART IILeBron James will play in Cleveland for the second time since rejecting the Cavaliers last summer as a free agent when the Miami Heat goes to Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night.

Nearly four months since his last visit, he is not expecting as much outward hostility. ”Can’t get no worse than it was Dec. 2,” he said. ”I know that for a fact.”

James scored 38 points and powered the Heat to a 118-90 victory, triggering a plunge by the Cavaliers, who have the league’s worst record (14-58).

PHOTO: The Bobcats’ Stephen Jackson, who had 18 points, got by the Bucks’ Luc Mbah a Moute. (PHOTOGRAPH BY CHUCK BURTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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