Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Celtics 106 - Kings 84: C's End 2014 With a Bang

Photo: Getty Images
Boston - Brad Stevens decided to shake things up a bit to close out 2014 and possibly snap a four-game skid. Evan Turner was called upon to start at point guard for the third time this season and the Celtics not only picked up a 106-84 victory over the Sacramento Kings during this Wednesday New Year's Eve afternoon matinee, but also recorded their largest win of the season of 22-points at the TD Garden.

Jared Sullinger; who was questionable when he missed two days of practice after tweaking his right ankle against the Wizards on Saturday night; led all scorers and five Celtics in double-figures with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Kelly Olynyk added 15 points, while newcomer Jae Crowder chipped in with 12 points, his most since being acquired a few weeks ago for Rajon Rondo. Evan Turner finished with 10 points and a career high 11 assists as the C's are now 3-0 when he's in the starting lineup.

Darren Collison and Carl Landry each scored 14 points for the Kings; who are now 2-6 since the firing of head coach Michael Malone on December 15. Ben McLemore chipped in with 12 points, and DeMarcus Cousins recorded a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds before being ejected halfway through the fourth quarter for picking up his second technical foul.

The Kings never led in this one and by halftime the Celtics were up 49-39. Boston opened the third with an 8-0 run, before Sacramento closed in on the deficit and were only down 69-61. Boston then ended the quarter outscoring the visitors 28-22. With the C's up 25 with just over seven minutes to play in the fourth, Cousins battling for rebound positioning with Marcus Smart, grabbed the rookie by the arm and pushed him to the floor.

Photo: Getty Images

Smart got up quickly and yelled at the forward, as both had to be separated and each were assigned technical fouls. Cousins was then ejected (for his second technical) after he was called for a tech in the first quarter. When the big man ran past the Kings bench into the tunnel, he was showered with boos from the home crowd, and that was the end of any possible comeback for Sacramento who are now 13-18 on the season.

Stevens once again changed his starting lineup, electing to go with Turner and not Smart. The Celtics coach also played 12 players, with Gerald Wallace being the only healthy DNP. Boston played a complete game from start to finish generating 32 assists (Turner/Nelson - 19) on 44 field goals and making 47-percent of their field goals. But a set rotation will be better to have now rather than later.

"We're still searching," Stevens said. "We've got to stop searching soon. That's the bottom line. I'm hopeful it'll be a good change."

The Celtics will welcome old friend Rajon Rondo and the Dallas Mavericks to the Garden on Friday night in their first game of 2015 and first meeting since the biggest trade of the season. Tip-off is at 7:30.

When asked on his thoughts of making his first return to Boston as a visitor, the Mavericks guard had this to say:

"Hopefully I won't be too emotional, try not to cry a little bit, but I'm very excited to go back," Rondo said. "Those fans are amazing there. If I do [tear up], hopefully the camera isn't on me too much. I'm going to try to blink a lot." []

Should be a good one.

Joel Pavón

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