Rivers confident new pieces will find their rhythm

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Rivers confident new pieces will find their rhythm

The main core of the Boston Celtics remained intact this offseason, but the surrounding pieces are new and it has taken Doc Rivers group time to find their rhythm.

But Rivers knows it will come soon enough.

Offseason acquisition Courtney Lee started the first five games at shooting guard for the Celtics, but Rivers switched things up and went with Jason Terry on Saturday night against the Bucks. Terry will get the start again Monday night against the Bulls, a move Rivers said will get his team closer to staying consistent throughout the game.

Were still just trying to figure out a way where we can play 48 solid straight minutes, and maybe thats not gonna happen right away, but its coming, Rivers said. I do feel like, as a team, and I dont know it has anything to do with whos on the floor or the rotation or anything like that, I think were just starting to figure it out and get it.

Defensively were late on a lot of the stuff we should be there on, but you can see the guys, theyre thinking about it now, and now I guess the next step is doing it. I think offensively we moved the ball, in the second half was terrific. But thats only one half, and so again were just trying to complete a game, a full game.

Terry and Lee were brought in this summer to replace Ray Allen, who signed with Miami as a free agent. The NBAs all-time leading 3-point shooter had been with Boston the last five seasons, and averaged 16.7 points and 2.2 3-pointers per game in that span.

With Allen gone, the replacements have struggled to match that productivity. Lee has averaged just 5.0 points in more than 25 minutes per game. Terry seems to be finding his touch with a 14.6 point-per-game average over the last three games, which has an uptick in minutes closer to a starters.

But while the Celtics chemistry at shooting guard continues to mesh, another concern is who spells Rajon Rondo on the second unit.

Neither Terry nor Lee are true point guards, and with Avery Bradley -- a true shooting guard but a player Rivers trusts to run Bostons offense -- sidelined until December, Rondo has no real backup. He currently leads the league in minutes per game (41.2) but Rivers realizes that trend cannot continue if he wants his All-Star floor general healthy down the stretch.

"Weve basically got one point guard, and its Rajon Rondo, Rivers said. Hes a pretty good one, but he cant play all game. And so what were trying to run is a lot of motion stuff where anyone can bring it up, but weve got to get someone to bring it up.

Rivers even noted that in Saturdays game against Milwaukee, with Rondo on the bench all five Celtics players started running down-court after a made basket, with no one taking the inbounds to bring the ball up.

It takes time. Thats part of team-building, guys. It just doesnt happen overnight. I wish it did, but theyll buy in, Rivers added. I think we have a good group and they all want to figure it out, individually first and then as a team. But I think theyre trying.

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."