Celtics rally in 4th, but Sixers hold on, 106-100

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Celtics rally in 4th, but Sixers hold on, 106-100

BOSTON The Celtics are still looking for that first win of the season over a team other than the Washington Wizards following Friday's 106-100 loss to Philadelphia.

Like Boston, the Sixers (3-2) are a team still in search of their identity having not played a single game with their franchise center, Andrew Bynum (knee).

The Celtics (2-3) have all their core pieces intact, but the continuity with them and the new guys is still a work in progress.

However, the chemistry between Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett is strong as ever, evident by a lob dunk from Rondo to Garnett early in the fourth that cut the Sixers lead to 83-76.

The Celtics would eventually get even closer following a three-pointer by Jason Terry that made it an 83-79 game.

Boston's bench was up on its feet, and so was the Celtics fan base soon after that. Giving them even more reason to cheer was the offensive foul call against Nick Young.

But every big play by Boston was matched by an even bigger play by Philadelphia, which kept the Celtics in a ditch that proved to be too steep to climb out of.

It was another game in which the Celtics showed some signs of progress as they try to play their way through what is clearly a period of growing pains.

That said, losing should not be such a prominent part of what fans are witnessing while the C's try to continue to acclimate themselves with one another.

While the new guys have taken much of the heat for the team's struggles, arguably the biggest problem for the C's on Friday - at least in the first half - was the play of Rajon Rondo defensively.

His inability to keep Jrue Holiday in front of him had the Celtics defense looking like a freeway in the middle of the night with all lanes open to whatever destination Holiday wanted to get to.

Most of the time, he was trying to get to the basket and either score or find a teammate, evident by a first half in which he had 10 points and eight assists in helping Philadelphia surge ahead to a 57-45 halftime lead.

The Celtics were a much more competitive team in the third quarter, courtesy of some much-improved play defensively.

Especially Rondo, who clearly took the challenge of defending Holiday a lot more serious.

Rondo's driving lay-up early in the third cut the Sixers lead to 63-54 which prompted Sixers coach Doug Collins to call a time-out with 8:06 remaining.

But in plugging up the holes created by Holliday, Philadelphia found another area to exploit with Dorrell Wright - primarily a spot-up, three-point shooter - attacking the Celtics off the dribble and finding much success.

Keeping the Celtics within striking distance was what has become their newest offensive weapon - the free throw line.

Boston came in averaging 24 free throw attempts per game. They had more than that (27) by the end of the third quarter.

Even with freebies from the line, Boston still found itself playing catch-up in the quarter which ended with the Sixers ahead, 83-74.

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

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Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.

 

© 2016 by STATS and The Associated Press.

Gronkowski put on IR, officially ending his season

Gronkowski put on IR, officially ending his season

The Patriots have placed Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve, officially ending the injured tight end's season. 

The Patriots have added running back D.J. Foster to the 53-man roster. 

Gronkowski underwent surgery on his back Friday in Los Angeles. There was some hope he might be able to return if the Patriots reached the Super Bowl, but this move ends that.

More to come...