Warriors begin second half with a visit from Celtics

355652.jpg

Warriors begin second half with a visit from Celtics

Feb. 22, 2011

BOSTON (40-14) vs.
WARRIORS (26-29)

Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

OAKLAND (AP) -- The Boston Celtics have won an NBA title and more regular-season games than any other team since Kevin Garnett arrived in 2007-08.

There's one place they haven't enjoyed any success.

Oracle Arena is the only visiting venue where the Celtics have failed to win since Garnett's arrival, a six-game drought they'll try to end Tuesday night as they open a four-game road trip against the improving Golden State Warriors.

Boston (40-14) has won 218 games over the past 3 12 seasons, riding the league's top defense to two NBA finals appearances and the 2007-08 championship.

Golden State (26-29) has averaged the second-most points in that span, and while it's been held to 96.0 points per game in losing all three trips to TD Garden, the Celtics haven't done so well defensively in Oakland. The Warriors have averaged 107.0 points in three victories over Boston at Oracle Arena, stretching their home winning streak in the series to six with a 103-99 win on Dec. 28, 2009, behind 37 points from Monta Ellis.

Perhaps more impressively, Golden State has rallied from at least 12 down in each of the home wins with Garnett anchoring the Celtics' defense.

Ellis missed out on making the Western Conference All-Star squad, but with Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in the East lineup, the Celtics were well-represented.

Pierce - who missed last season's game in his hometown of Oakland with a knee injury - turned in an All-Star performance in Boston's final game before the break. After scoring one point and missing all 10 field-goal attempts in a win over Miami on Feb. 13, Pierce bounced back Wednesday with 31 points in a 94-80 victory over New Jersey.

"He's back, because he's a great player and those guys just don't have a lot of back-to-back bad games," coach Doc Rivers said of Pierce. "He was terrific."

Tuesday's game will be the last the Celtics play prior to Thursday afternoon's trade deadline, and Boston could be in the market for a player that would fit seamlessly with a defense that allows a league-low 91.1 points per game. The Celtics and Rockets have reportedly discussed a deal that would land Shane Battier with the East's defending champion.

A much-improved defense has certainly given the Warriors a boost recently. After allowing an average of 107.0 points through 46 games, Golden State has surrendered 97.6 points over its last nine.

STEINMETZ: What would be a successful season for Warriors?

It's an impressive 7-2 in that stretch, including three straight wins heading into the break. Ellis scored 35 points in Wednesday's 107-100 victory at Utah, the Warriors' sixth since Jan. 30 against an opponent with a winning record.

"This is a big step for us," coach Keith Smart said. "Knowing that this team was desperate, they had to try and get a win and our guys fought through it."

The Warriors improved to 15-2 when they hold their opponent to 100 points or fewer, but getting a big contribution from Ellis is still critical. Golden State is 16-5 when Ellis scores 27 or more.

Rondo will be at least partly in charge of slowing Ellis down, but the NBA assist leader has had some huge offensive games against the Warriors. Rondo has averaged 20.3 points versus Golden State since 2008-09, easily his most against any opponent.

Allen's 26.9 points per game in Oakland since 2004-05 are his most in any road venue.

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

Fultz a perfect fit, but do Kings have assets required to trade up?

It’s lonely at the top, which is where Markelle Fultz sits on almost every 2017 NBA Draft board. The Brooklyn Nets should be set for the next decade with a big time scoring point guard. Instead, it’s the Boston Celtics who have no choice but to take Fultz with the No. 1 overall selection after a savvy trade that sent veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for a stack of picks and players back in 2013.

Fultz can do it all. He’s deadly from the outside, he can take you off the bounce and he has elite passing skills to boot. In a draft packed with star potential, specifically at the point guard position, the freshman from Washington stands out well above the rest.  

It would take a major shake up at the top for Fultz not to have his name called first on draft night, but there are plenty of very talented players sitting on the board behind him. Here is a deeper look at the potential top overall selection.

The Positives:
Fultz has tremendous size, length and athleticism for an NBA point guard. He measured in at 6-foot-5, 195-pounds with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and has a frame built to take on muscle. At just 19-years-old, he is already well defined physically and has plenty of room to grow and get stronger.

A crafty, high-end scorer, Fultz changes speed and direction well and has an advanced Euro-step for a young player. He averaged 23.2 points in 35.7 minutes a night for the Huskies while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three. He can score from all three levels, finish well above the rim and play through contact.

In his lone season in college, Fultz showed that he is not only a legitimate scoring threat, but he is a willing passer and an unselfish teammate. While Lonzo Ball is considered the true pass first point guard of the draft, Fultz had a higher assist rate (35.5 to 31.5) and lower turnover rate (13.4 to 18.2) than the star guard from UCLA.

Fultz rebounds well for his position, averaging 5.7 rebounds per game at Washington. He also has potential as a defender, posting 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks, although he is a work in progress on that end of the floor.

Known as a high-character kid and tireless worker off the court, Fultz has the entire package. He can also play the lead or shooting guard spot, which will come in handy if the Celtics decide to pair him with All-Star Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt.

The Negatives:
9-16 is a concern. Great college players should be able to will their team to victory, even if the talent around them is suspect. Washington was certainly worse off without Fultz down the stretch, losing their last six while he sat with a knee injury.

Shot selection and sloppy ball handling was also an issue this season. In Fultz’ defense, he played with a group that lacked overall talent and those issues might eventually disappear when he’s added to a roster that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  

Fultz is a quality chase down defender, but he fell asleep on plenty of plays or didn’t show a consistent fight on the defensive end. Lack of focus allowed for plenty of back cuts. He also showed an inconsistent effort fighting through screens.

He’s a work in progress on the defensive end, like most young players coming into the league. Most of these issues can easily be coached out of him at the next level.

Projection:
Fultz has an advanced feel and tons of room to expand his game. On the court, he resembles another former Husky in Brandon Roy. Fultz is much further along than Roy was at the same age, but possesses both the ability to score from anywhere on the court, as well as rebound and set up his teammates.  

It’s hard to imagine the Celtics passing on Fultz with the top overall selection, but if they do, teams will scramble trying to move up to select him. He would fit perfectly in the Kings starting backcourt alongside sophomore Buddy Hield, but Sacramento lacks the assets to move from five to one, Fultz’ likely landing spot.

 

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

FUN FACTOR:
The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

FANCY FIELDING:
Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

UP NEXT:
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.