Celtics close preseason with 101-97 win over Nets
BOSTON — New Celtics coach Brad Stevens has a week to figure out his starting lineup before Boston opens the regular season and he may use every bit of that time.
The Celtics closed out their first preseason under Stevens on Wednesday night with a 101-97 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, who rested a lot of their lineup including former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Boston (2-6) opens the regular season Oct. 30 at Toronto.
“I wouldn’t call any of our lineups definitive — as definitive as I’d like. But I think we’re moving in a good direction playing together,” said Stevens, the former Butler coach who turned 37 on Tuesday. “It’s going to be a day-by-day process. That’s the way it’s going to have to be with this group.”
Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass scored 16 points apiece and Vitor Faverani added 15 points and seven rebounds for Boston. Gerald Wallace had 14 points and five assists and Jeff Green scored 12 points for the Celtics.
Tyshawn Taylor scored 15 points and Reggie Evans finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for the Nets (4-2).
Regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s game, Boston sports fans weren’t going to be talking much about it on Thursday.
With the Red Sox opening the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals just a few miles up the Charles River at Fenway Park, turnout was light for the Celtics’ final preseason game. And any fans who came to welcome back Pierce and Garnett were disappointed as the former Celtics greats joined many other Nets veterans in a night of rest.
Pierce and Garnett should make their return to Boston when the Nets visit the Celtics on Jan. 26. Jason Terry, who also went to the Nets in the draft-night blockbuster trade, did play and finished with seven points and three assists in 24 minutes.
“It was special just to see some of my fans that were courtside that I used to talk to and throw headbands and stuff to,” he said. “They gave me a warm welcome and that was good.”
All-Star point guard Deron Williams dressed, but did not play because of a right ankle injury that has kept him out of every preseason game. The Nets close the exhibition season Friday at Miami.
Jared Sullinger was sick and didn’t play for Boston.
And the players who did compete were almost a side note as Red Sox highlights periodically showed up on the scoreboard monitor and drew louder cheers than the basketball game, which was close throughout.
Mirza Teletovic hit a 3-pointer to pull the Nets within 93-92 late in the fourth, but the Celtics scored the next six points and held on.
The Nets opened the game on a 7-0 run and led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter. Brooklyn took a 30-21 lead on a free throw by Evans early in the second quarter, then Lee made a 3-pointer to open a Boston run and the Celtics outplayed the Nets the rest of the half.
Boston closed the quarter on a 12-4 run and led 49-44.
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo missed the preseason while rehabilitating a torn ligament in his right knee. He said after the game that he’s been fitted for his first brace and hopes to begin contact drills soon. He has not set a timetable for his return.
“I hope I can play against the Raptors, but that’s not likely,” he said. “I know it’s getting stronger each week.”
Oden returns as Heat best Pelicans, 108-95
NEW ORLEANS — For Greg Oden and his Miami Heat teammates, four minutes on an NBA court in a preseason game was cause for celebration.
“It’s been a long time and I’ve been wanting to get out there,” Oden said after his preseason debut in Miami’s 108-95 victory at New Orleans on Wednesday night. “It was only a couple minutes, but it was what I needed, what I can handle right now and, you know, small baby steps.”
Oden is attempting to come back from knee injuries that have plagued him since he was drafted first overall out of Ohio State in 2007. The last time he played in an NBA game was on Dec. 5, 2009, for the Portland Trail Blazers.
Not long after he came in against the Pelicans, he scored his only points of the night on a dunk, which was also his only shot. He also grabbed a pair of defensive rebounds.
“It was a very special moment,” LeBron James said of Oden’s appearance. “I have no idea what my feeling would be like, being away from the game for three years. It was like a proud moment, man. I was so excited for him when he got on the court and he checked in — and his first basket he gets a dunk. Can you write it any better? Obviously he’s not where he wants to be, but the process is going great.
“I can just imagine how excited he was to get back out there,” James continued. “I’m going to have to take a toast for him, man. I ain’t no drinker, but I might have to take a shot for him. It was an absolutely great moment.”
Miami is a team used to celebrating NBA championships after winning the past two. Oden was gratified to see how much it also meant to the Heat to see him show the first small sign of a successful return to the game he loves, and missed.
“In December it would be four years, so four minutes, that’s enough for me,” Oden said. “As long as I got out there and I walked off and I’m healthy, that’s all that matters.
“I know the guys were happy for me,” Oden added. “I definitely felt love. And I’m excited that they were there for me.”
Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said Oden’s face “lit up” when he told him he was going to put him in the game.
“We are just so pleased for him,” Spoelstra said. “It was just great to see him do something he loves to do. It was taken away from him for four years. We just continue to make patient, steady progress forward from here.”
James scored 27 points and Dwyane Wade added 25 for the Heat, who trailed after three quarters but opened the fourth with a 21-2 run.
Wade hit a 3 during the decisive surge, then stole the ball for a breakaway jam. Ray Allen did all his scoring with three straight 3s to make it 98-84. Chris Bosh had 14 points and nine rebounds for Miami (5-2), and Chris Andersen added 13 points. Eric Gordon scored 19 for New Orleans (6-1), while Anthony Davis had 18 points and eight rebounds. Anthony Morrow added 16 points, Jrue Holiday 12 and Ryan Anderson 10.
Bucks hold off KNICKS 105-95
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Caron Butler scored 24 points and reserve Gary Neal added 15 to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their first preseason victory, 105-95 over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
O.J. Mayo scored 22 points and came face-to-face with Carmelo Anthony on the baseline after the Knicks star was whistled for an offensive foul in the second quarter. The scorers went at it for several minutes up and down the court after Anthony was earlier called for traveling while guarded by Mayo.
Anthony led New York (2-4) with 22 points.
Beno Udrih’s straightaway 3 with 6:25 left tied the game at 87 after the Knicks trailed by 18 points in the third quarter.
Butler’s 3 with the shot clock expiring gave Milwaukee (1-5) a five-point lead with 5 minutes left.
Butler was having so much fun, he even turned to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, sitting courtside, and mimicked Rodgers’ trademark “championship belt” celebration after hitting a jumper.
The game was played at the Resch Center, just down the street from Lambeau Field.
The game was as chippy as a football game in a couple instances, too, especially when Mayo and Anthony had their up-close argument in the first half on the baseline. Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 16 points for the Knicks, while Andrea Bargnani added 13.
Suns rally past Nuggets for 98-79 win
DENVER — Eric Bledsoe scored 21 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, and the Phoenix Suns pulled away to beat the Denver Nuggets 98-79 in a preseason game Wednesday night. Gerald Green added 19 points and Markieff Morris 12 for the Suns, who wrapped up exhibition play with a 5-2 mark. Phoenix opens the regular season by hosting Portland next Wednesday. Anthony Randolph had 15 points for the Nuggets (2-4), who conclude exhibition play Friday at Chicago. The Nuggets led most of the way before being outscored 38-14 in the fourth quarter. They were missing five players because of injuries, including Kenneth Faried (hamstring) and Wilson Chandler (hamstring).
The Suns scored the first seven points of the fourth, taking their first lead of the night, 67-65, on a layup by Bledsoe. With about 3½ minutes left, the Suns extended their lead to 87-77, keyed by successive baskets by Channing Frye and Green.
Bulls beat Thunder 104-95 in preseason
WICHITA, Kan. — Derrick Rose shook off poor shooting early to hit clutch shots late and Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 104-95 preseason victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
Chicago (7-0) remained the only unbeaten team in the preseason behind Rose, who hit three 3-pointers in the final 4 minutes. He scored 26 points on 6-of-15 shooting in 34 minutes.
Luol Deng had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago.
Kevin Durant’s 22 points in 32 minutes and Jeremy Lamb added 19 points for the Thunder (3-3) while Reggie Jackson had 14 points.
The Bulls outrebounded the Thunder 46-32 in the game played at Intrust Bank Arena.
Rose followed two free throws with a pull-up 3-pointer to put the Bulls ahead for good, 89-85.
Thomas has 21, Kings rally to beat Warriors 91-90
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Isaiah Thomas scored 21 points to help the Sacramento Kings rally in the fourth quarter for a 91-90 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. Stephen Curry made a jumper to give the Warriors an 89-88 lead, but John Salmons hit a 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds to put the Kings back in front.
David Lee was fouled with 1.3 seconds left and made the first free throw, but missed the second that would have tied the game. Salmons had nine of his 14 points in the fourth quarter when the Kings outscored Golden State 21-9. Patrick Patterson added 11 points and DeMarcus Cousins fouled out midway through the fourth quarter with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Curry had 24 points and six assists for the Warriors. Klay Thompson had 16 points, Andrew Bogut had 12 and Lee 11.
Mavs get 98-88 preseason win over Hawks
DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki scored 17 points, Monta Ellis added 15 and the Dallas Mavericks beat the short-handed Atlanta Hawks 98-88 in a preseason game Wednesday night.
Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver sat out the preseason finale for the Hawks (1-6). Horford stayed home with a sore hamstring, and Korver was out for personal reasons. With the top three returning scorers out, Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 21 points and Mike Scott scored 19. Like their visit to Houston to face Dwight Howard on Monday, the Mavericks (4-3) had something resembling a dress rehearsal with Nowitzki, Ellis and Jose Calderon playing together in front of the home crowd for the first time.
The Mavericks finish the preseason Friday night against Indiana before playing the Hawks again in the season opener next Wednesday.