Celtics miss floor leader Rondo vs. Bucks

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Celtics miss floor leader Rondo vs. Bucks

MILWAUKEE The Celtics truly missed their floor leader late against the Bucks.

The Celtics have guards capable of filling in and filling up the stat sheet, but without Rajon Rondo the Celtics struggled in the final stages of Milwaukee's 91-88 come-from-behind win on Saturday night.

Rondo was serving the second of a two-game suspension for his role an incident involving Kris Humphries of Brooklyn. Rondo will be eligible to return to action on Wednesday against Minnesota.

Jason Terry did his best Rondo impersonation on Saturday with 15 points and 11 assists while his fellow backcourt partner Courtney Lee did his part by scoring 13 points in addition to a Rondo-like three steals.

But those numbers offer little solace when the C's look back at Saturday's loss as another game this season that they let slip away.

There's no way to quantify whether Rondo's presence would have won the game for Boston, but one thing is clear: It would have helped.

"He's a guy that can control a game by his pace," said Celtics forward Jeff Geen who had 18 points off the bench. "He's a leader. He would have gotten us in a position that we needed to be in on offense and we would have followed his lead on defense. He was sorely missed."

But without Rondo, a number of players have been afforded opportunities to showcase their sometimes-unnoticed skills.

Terry is known best for his ability to shoot threes, but many forget that the 14-year NBA veteran came into the league as a point guard. He reminded folks on Saturday with a game-high 11 assists with just one turnover.

And Courtney Lee has been a much better scorer in the three games this season without Rondo. A double-digit scorer throughout his four NBA seasons, Lee has had just three double-digit scoring games for the Celtics.

And those three games all came with Rondo out of the lineup.

"I'll let you read into all that," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "Maybe statistically. I just think Courtney has been playing better the last four or five games, period."

While the Celtics would love to say that Rondo will play the rest of the season without missing any games, that guarantee doesn't exist for him or any other Celtic.

"They have to prove they can play, they can function (without Rondo)," Rivers said. "You have to be prepared for injuries or suspensions or whatever. Your team in an 82 game schedule, you're not going to be perfect every night with the exact lineup you want and the exact guys."

Hogan on facing his ex-Bills teammates: ‘Like it’s any other game’

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Hogan on facing his ex-Bills teammates: ‘Like it’s any other game’

FOXBORO – Sunday isn’t some “I’ll show them!” game for Chris Hogan. The Buffalo Bills didn’t give up on Hogan last March. They just weren’t going to extend themselves financially the way the Patriots did.

Hogan, a restricted free agent, was lured to New England by the team’s three-year, $12 million contract offer that had $7.5 million guaranteed. Buffalo, which had no cap space, made it clear before the deadline to match the Patriots offer even expired that they couldn’t keep Hogan.

So now, Buffalo enters Sunday’s game without injured wideouts Sammy Watkins and Greg Salas and must resign itself to watching Hogan run around as an opponent.

“I’m just preparing for the game just like it’s any other game,” Hogan said Friday when asked about the matchup. “[Division] opponent so it’s a big game for us. They’re going to come in here pretty excited. There’s going to be a lot of intensity out there.

“Those guys [the Bills] are all my friends still, but we’re playing a game now,” said Hogan. “Once that whistle blows, 60 minutes, I’m going to be playing football. Afterwards we can talk and do all that. My focus is on doing my job and taking advantage of all my opportunities on Sunday.”

Earlier this week, Rex Ryan spoke glowingly of Hogan, who has eight catches for 122 yards and a touchdown so far.

“It was definitely tough to lose him,” Ryan said Wednesday on a conference call. “We didn’t want to. The thing about Chris is he’s a tough guy, he’s a good receiver and things, but the thing that also impressed me is this guy, he did everything that was asked of him. From being a special-teams player and obviously being a wideout, being in the slot, being outside.”

Hogan has eight catches for 122 yards and a touchdown so far.

“It doesn’t surprise me the type of success he’s having, because he’s really a good football player,” said Ryan. “And when you look at him as an athlete, here’s a big-time lacrosse player who then decides he’s going to play one year of football [in college] and now is in the National Football League. He’s a pretty special talent.”

Hogan acknowledged Ryan’s praise, saying, “Anytime someone pays you a compliment, as a head coach in this league, you obviously take that. That meant a lot to me, especially coming from him. I will be forever grateful to them, that organization. They gave me my first chance. That’s where I really kind of made my, started my career. I was there for four years. I established a lot of relationships with those guys and to this day still do. I will always look back on my career and that’s where I started.”

Bruins looking forward to getting World Cup teammates, coach back

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Bruins looking forward to getting World Cup teammates, coach back

BRIGHTON, Mass. – With the World Cup of Hockey and Team Canada crowned as champions, the final few Bruins players involved in the international hockey tournament will be filtering back into regular training camp.

It was a brilliant tourney for Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, especially while forming the World Cup’s best forward line with Sidney Crosby. Marchand was one of the leading scorers and had the clutch game-winner in the decisive game.

As a line they combined for a ridiculous 25 points in six games and it was Marchand who scored a couple of the biggest goals in the biggest games against Russia and Team Europe.

“They did it all of last season for us, so I’m not shocked. They played well throughout the entire time they played there, so I’m really happy for them,” said Ryan Spooner. “It’s been kind of a weird camp. We’ve been missing a lot of guys, and to get all of those guys back is huge. They’re the leaders of the team, so to get them back is good.

“Marchand around the room is a funny guy, so he’s definitely missed. We miss them all.”

Zdeno Chara was a force for the surprising rag-tag group of players on Team Europe and led them to the best-of-three final series against Team Canada. Now that it’s over, the B’s teammates are looking forward to all three joining fellow World Cup participants Tuukka Rask, David Pastrnak and David Backes at camp probably at some point next week.

“It does [feel like training camp], but it will be nice to get those guys back,” said Adam McQuaid. “They are big parts of this team. We’re looking forward to having those guys back, for sure.”

That also includes getting their coach, Claude Julien, back as well after missing his presence while he served behind the Canadian bench with Mike Babcock and Barry Trotz. He’ll be rejoining the Bruins over the next couple of days, and getting through preseason road games against Detroit and Philadelphia before making some tough decisions on cuts at main training camp.

That’s when things will officially start getting back to normal for a training camp that’s felt like something was a little missing over the first few weeks of getting ready for the season.