Celtics nearly blow 20-point lead in win over Cavaliers

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Celtics nearly blow 20-point lead in win over Cavaliers

BOSTON -- The game looked like it was over with still a quarter to go.  
The Boston Celtics led the Cleveland Cavaliers 78-59 when Pierce went to the bench with 3:42 left in the third. He had scored 32 points in just 25 minutes and helped build a lead that looked to be enough to sustain them for the rest of the night. A minute later, the Celtics went up by a game-high 20 points. Leading 80-60 with 3:16 remaining in the quarter, the Cs were in command.
And then it all stopped. 
The Cavaliers closed the quarter on a 12-2 run to cut the Celtics edge to just ten points entering the fourth. Three minutes into the fourth, the Celtics lead was down to two points, 82-80. Within a matter of minutes, they had gone from a team poised to snap a three-game skid to a club on the verge of blowing a substantial lead. 
"Honestly, our bench came in and didn't give us a lift, and they were fantastic in the first half," said Doc Rivers. "We still haven't sustained a 48-minute game. We had that one stretch, we have to get better."
Rivers started Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa along with Kevin Garnett in the fourth. By the nine-minute mark, he had subbed starters Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, and Jason Collins back into the game. The Cavs were able to chip away their deficit to only two points with the starters on the court before they pushed the lead back up to four, six, eight, eventually double digits to win, 103-91.
"We had a 20-point lead," said Rivers. "You sub in, I think guys think when you have the lead it's scoring time now. It's really defensive time. You've got to continue to get stops, then you can score. I thought we short-cutter that part of it."
By the end of the game, it was Cavs head coach Byron Scott who was looking at the comeback from the losing perspective.
"They're a very good basketball team, a lot of experience," Scott said of the Celtics. "Theyve got a lot of guys over there that are champions. I thought that when we got within four to six points, we turned it over. It showed the difference between experience against youth. We turned it over turned it over turned it over, they come down get the shot they wanted, knocked down three in a row, lead got back to double digits. So in that scenario, again, weve got to learn from that. Weve got to find a way to close games. And as young as we are, weve just got to keep learning from it."
After nearly losing a 20-point lead, the Celtics had a lot to learn from this game, too. 

First impressions of Red Sox’ 2-1 loss to Rays

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First impressions of Red Sox’ 2-1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First Impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field:

 

* When the guy who was 0-for-34 produces the go-ahead RBI, it's probably not your day.

The Red Sox and Rays were tied 1-1 in the seventh when Steven Souza Jr. singled to lead off the inning. That brought Mikie Mahtook, hitless in his last 34 at-bats to the plate.

Naturally, Mahtook roped a line-drive double to left field, scoring Souza all the way from first base. It was that kind of day for the Red Sox, who were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and stranded five baserunners.

For a team that still leads the majors in runs scored, the Red Sox have shown an uncanny ability to go cold at the plate.

On Thursday afternoon, that happened again, while the most unlikely hero for Tampa Bay came through in an improbable spot.

 

* The Red Sox' struggles with the bases loaded is almost comical.

It happened again.

In the sixth inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases with no out. Mookie Betts then hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring one run. Hanley Ramirez then walked, re-loading the bases, this time with one out.

But Jackie Bradley Jr. then swung at the first pitch and hit into an inning-ending, rally-killing 4-6-3 double play.

In two plate appearances with the bases loaded, the Sox failed to get a hit.

The Sox are hitting .216 with the bases loaded (24-for-111), ranking them 14th in the American League. Only Seattle and Detroit have had more bases-loaded opportunities, and yet the Red Sox rank in the second half in runs scored in such situations.

 

* Drew Pomeranz is showing no signs of innings fatigue

True, Pomeranz failed to provide a shutdown inning in the sixth after the Red Sox had gotten him a run in the top of the inning.

Still, Pomeranz pitched into the seventh and allowed just two runs while striking out a season-high 11 batters.

In his past five starts, he's compiled a 2.37 ERA, and both the power to his fastball and the sharpness to his curve offer no evidence that he's hit any sort of wall despite already establishing a career high at the major league level with five weeks remaining in the season.