December 30, 2014

The last time Boston went on this type of run at home, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were getting by with a third-year guard thrust into a more prominent role after Rajon Rondo went out with a torn ACL.

Jump forward three seasons and those big names are long gone, though Avery Bradley remains with the Celtics again streaking heading into Sunday's home game against Rondo and a struggling Sacramento Kings team that's reportedly considering a coaching change.

In Friday's 104-103 win in Cleveland, Bradley made a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer to give Boston (30-22) its eighth win in nine games, including three straight by no more than eight points. The guard finished with 14 points while hitting 4 of 8 from 3-point range and is averaging 16.3 points in his last 11 games.

"It's a great feeling," Bradley told the team's official website. "It's a blessing from God that I even had a chance to get open. I lost the ball for a second and I didn't even think I had enough time to get the shot off, but I did and it's just a great feeling."

The winner sparked a celebration by the young Celtics, who were swept by the Cavs in last year's playoffs. They've all of a sudden opened up a 7 1/2-game lead over New York for second in the Atlantic Division with Toronto five games ahead.

"In the big picture it does count as one (win), but it gives you a sense you're improving and getting better," said coach Brad Stevens, whose team has averaged 108.8 points over the last nine games. "For us it would have been disappointing to lose that lead and not come out with a win. They made huge plays late in the game, but our guys stayed poised. To score five points inside 8 seconds is a good deal."

The Celtics return to Boston having won six straight at home for the first time since an 11-game run from Jan. 27-March 16, 2013.

Boston opened the season series with a 114-97 win in Sacramento on Dec. 3, and it's also won the last seven meetings at home.

Sacramento (21-29) is playing its second of a four-game road trip, and how many more George Karl will be around for seems to be up in the air. After Friday's 128-19 loss in Brooklyn, Rondo placed blame on those on the court.

"It has nothing to do with the coaches, it's about us," said Rondo, who finished with 15 points and 15 assists and had 29 points in his only return to Boston with Dallas last season. "We don't sacrifice enough to do what it takes to win consecutive games."

The Kings have dropped six of seven while allowing 116.4 points per game with opponents shooting 44.9 percent from 3-point range. They've also lost four straight on the road for the third time this season, allowing an average of 121 points and 50 percent from long distance. The Nets went 18 of 28 from 3-point range.

"Shooters get going and in a lot of ways we never got a defensively mentality in the game," Karl said. "We tried to do a shootout mentality and just, we sit here very empty right now."

Whatever's boiling remains under the surface - for now. DeMarcus Cousins has had four straight double-doubles and is averaging 31 points and 12.6 rebounds in 17 games since the calendar flipped to 2016, but he wasn't willing to expand on the team's internal concerns.

"I'd rather keep it in house, but we definitely have a bigger issue than just energy and effort," Cousins said. ''That can't be the excuse every night."

You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)