Celtics rally for impressive win over Hawks


Celtics rally for impressive win over Hawks

ATLANTA Doc Rivers is a great talker, but he'll be the first to tell you that he's not cut from the Knute Rockne school of motivational speeches.

But there's no denying whatever he said inside the Boston Celtics locker room at halftime turned around Saturday's game against Atlanta - and potentially their season - as the C's put on one of the more improbable comebacks for them this season in rallying for a 89-81 win over the Hawks.

After trailing by as many as 19 points and 15 at the half, Boston came out in the third quarter with the kind of defensive focus we hadn't seen since Friday's blowout win over Indiana.

Friday's game was arguably the Celtics' most complete performance of the season, the kind of game you seldom see performed in duplicate.

Even Doc Rivers knew that.

But there are times when Rivers can be too prophetic for his own good.

Shortly before Saturday's tip-off, he talked about how Friday's win over the Pacers showed his players just how good they could be defensively.

"I don't know if you can play that well defensively every night," Rivers said.

Clearly the Celtics couldn't ... for a half at least.

The C's have had moments of dominant play all season, but stringing together such play for more than just a few minutes here and there has been challenging for them.

And while Saturday in many ways stayed true to that trend, the Celtics were able to put together longer stretches of stellar play than usual.

That, more than anything else, helped fuel one of the team's most impressive wins of the season.

And while many will look at the 33 points Boston scored in their 33-9 third quarter, it was limiting the Hawks to just nine points that quarter that fueled the team's impressive scoring binge.

Even in the fourth quarter as the Hawks tried to scramble back in the game, the Celtics defense was locked in at all positions.

And it wasn't just one player, either.

It was the entire group, on a string, helping one another out on switches and rotations - the kind of things that Rivers has been preaching to his troops to play all season.

Well it seems they may have finally figured it out, showing an ability to get it done for more than just one game after a forgettable first half.

Lou Williams practically outscored the entire Boston team in the first quarter with 16 points compared to the Celtics' total of 18.

Lay-ups. Jumpers. 3-balls.

Atlanta got everything and anything they wanted to offensively, and backed it up with some solid play defensively.

At the half, Boston trailed 53-38 and truth be told, the game felt as though the Hawks should have been up by a lot more points.

The Celtics used 11 players in the first half with each of them having a plus-minus ratio in the negative with the "best" of the lot being Courtney Lee who was minus-2.

As for the Hawks, it was their backcourt that totally dominated the game as Williams and Jeff Teague combined for 34 points in the first half on 14-of-20 shooting in the first half.

Rex Ryan prepares for Tom Brady: 'This is a critical game for us'


Rex Ryan prepares for Tom Brady: 'This is a critical game for us'

After four wins in a row, Rex Ryan’s employment status had been taken off life support in Buffalo and was -- almost -- good as new.
But a Sunday toe-stub in Miami in which Buffalo suffered a 28-25 loss to the Dolphins set the Bills back a bit. Now, instead of hosting the Patriots this Sunday with a chance to secure a season sweep and move into a first-place tie in the AFC East, Buffalo’s back there at 4-3 just trying to get close.
“Sure we have to learn from things, there’s no question about it, but the more we dwell on (the loss to Miami), it doesn’t help us. We’ve got a bigger task in front of us,” said Ryan.
There is a myriad of differences between Ryan and Bill Belichick but one of the starkest is Ryan’s inability to treat ‘em all the same.
While Belichick will acknowledge that some games carry more import than others -- division games, conference games, etc -- he’s not going to allow his team to poke its head up and look down the road at what’s coming next.
Ryan lets it all hang right out there.
“I don’t know how much more important it could be than this one,” Ryan said when asked about Sunday’s matchup with the 6-1 Pats. “I mean, I could lie to you and say that it’s not important, but yeah, this is a critical game for us. There’s no doubt about it. Does it break your season if you lose? I hope I don’t have to worry about that. We’ve got to find a way to win this game.”
The Bills reveled modestly after their 16-0 win at Foxboro when Jacoby Brissett scuffled in the final week of Tom Brady’s suspension. The gloating was mild. Ryan acknowledged plainly that shutting out the Patriots without Brady wasn’t really shutting out the Patriots.
But there’s no question that game at the start of this month was one the Bills approached with a helluva lot more swagger than normal. The “Where’s your big brother now?” vibe of the pregame scuffle in which the Bills jostled rookies Brissett and Malcolm Mitchell as the two players took the same sideline jog Brady and the Patriots quarterbacks have done at Gillette for a decade set the tone.
And then the Bills went out and had their way. Asked about that scuffle, which resulted in fines for some Jets players, Ryan said, “Well, these two teams don’t like each other. There’s no question about that, but I don’t think there was a real fight, you know? A real fight would be outside in the parking lot. You know what I mean? Then you’ve really got something to write about, but that thing was hardly a fight, I think.”
The blanking and the bullying may be talking points in Foxboro this week but they probably won’t rallying cries. Odd as it sounds, the Patriots don’t merely compete against opponents when they play but measure the day’s success on how well they performed relative to perfection. You could see after the 11-point win in Pittsburgh that there was dissatisfaction on both sides of the ball with how things went.
That fact alone will make it an arduous week of practice as much as the reality that the Patriots are playing the team right behind them in the division.
Ryan knows it’s a much different team he’ll face Sunday.
“It’s not about validating ourselves,” he said. “We’ve just got to find a way to win. In regards to who we’re playing, you know, [Brady] looks great. He’s got those two great tight ends -- they’re big. They’ve still got [Julian] Edelman out there. They’ve got everybody they had out there last time, but they’ve got their player back. So we know the challenge in front of us.”


Tuesday, Oct. 25: Carlo for Calder?


Tuesday, Oct. 25: Carlo for Calder?

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while having watched the Curious George Halloween special about eight times over the last three or four days thanks to my three-year-old son.

*Bob McKenzie with a great story in former NHL defenseman Mike Commodore talking a shift as an Uber driver as his hockey work has dried up.

*Alex Radulov is earning some early respect for his play from his Habs teammates and the fickle Canadiens fans, but let’s see how the whole season plays out for the notoriously combustible Russian winger.

*Zach Werenski has taken an early lead among his NHL rookie peers for the Calder Trophy, but it looks like it’s going to be a crowded field this year. Just a couple of weeks in, Brandon Carlo certainly looks like he could be in the conversation as well.

*Pioneering female goaltender Shannon Szabados has been cut from the Peoria team in the Southern Pro League.

*The Chicago Blackhawks have plenty of advice for the Chicago Cubs about playing in the big games as the Cubbies get ready for their World Series close-up.

*A more mature David Perron is having greater success the second time around with the St. Louis Blues while contributing in many different areas.

*For something completely different: a really fun story of a Hollywood Reporter contributor recording the reactions of her 7-year-old son watching Empire Strikes Back for the first time. I was around the same age when Empire came out, so I’m sure my reactions were pretty similar to his at different points in the movie.