Indians, Reds and D-Backs complete 3-team trade

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Indians, Reds and D-Backs complete 3-team trade

From Comcast SportsNetCLEVELAND (AP) -- Shin-Soo Choo didn't want to be part of the Indians' future. So they're moving on without him.Cleveland traded the talented outfielder to the Cincinnati Reds and acquired prized pitching prospect Trevor Bauer from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in a three-team deal involving nine players.The Indians obtained center fielder Drew Stubbs from Cincinnati and received Bauer, the No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft, along with right-handers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw from the Diamondbacks."This is a trade that can impact our team not only for 2013, but for the future," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "Three of the players we acquired we will have under control for at least the next three seasons."Cleveland shipped Choo, infielder Jason Donald and about 3.5 million to the Reds, while sending left-handed reliever Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson to Arizona.The Diamondbacks also received shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius from Cincinnati.Choo, primarily a right fielder for Cleveland since he was acquired from Seattle in 2006, will play center and bat leadoff for Cincinnati."It was very difficult giving up home-grown talent, but we think Choo can fill the missing parts in our lineup both offensively and defensively," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said in a statement. "He is an exciting player, and we expect him to set the table."Dealing Choo was almost a necessity for the Indians. He was entering the final year of his contract and is eligible for free agency in 2013. The Indians have not been able to work out a deal with agent Scott Boras, who has turned down several extensions in recent years.The 30-year-old Choo, from South Korea, batted .283 with 16 homers and 67 RBIs in 155 games last season. He had been considered a core player for the Indians, who collapsed in August and finished 68-94 -- two games out of last place in the AL Central."It was really tough," Antonetti said of trading Choo. "I talked with Shin-Soo tonight and expressed my profound appreciation for his professionalism. He is always one of the first to arrive for workouts, whether it is spring training or just a game."With plenty of power in the middle of the lineup, Cincinnati has lacked a prototypical leadoff man to get on base consistently in front of sluggers such as Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier. Brandon Phillips, who previously batted cleanup at times, was pressed into leadoff duty last season despite a .322 career on-base percentage.Choo can also hit the ball out of the ballpark, but his .381 career OBP fits the bill at the top of the order. He also had 43 doubles and 21 steals this year.The speedy Stubbs has played center exclusively for the Reds, helping them win NL Central titles in 2010 and 2012. He batted .213 with 14 homers and 40 RBIs last season, striking out 166 times in 493 at-bats. He has 100 stolen bases over the past three years, including 30 in 2012.Antonetti said the team hasn't decided where Stubbs will play. Michael Brantley played center for the Indians last season, but has also spent some time in left."In Drew Stubbs, we received a great defensive player who brings an element of speed and power to our lineup," Antonetti said. "We are happy with the job Michael Brantley did for us in center field, but Drew is one of the best out there. He brings a great deal of athleticism to our team."Bauer, one of baseball's top pitching prospects, became the first member of the 2011 draft class to reach the majors and went 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in four starts for Arizona this year. The 21-year-old right-hander struggled with his control, compiling 13 walks and 17 strikeouts in 16 1-3 innings.Bauer spent most of the season in the minors, going a combined 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 22 starts at Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. He had 157 strikeouts and 61 walks while allowing 107 hits in 130 1-3 innings."We are getting a young pitcher with a ton of potential," Antonetti said. "He can be a top-of-the-rotation guy with development. He is somebody we have been interested in for a long time, since he was at UCLA."Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said he was sorry to part with Bauer, but "we're fortunate to have a lot of pitching depth."The 22-year-old Gregorius, considered a defensive whiz, spent last season with Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville before appearing in eight games for the Reds. He hit a combined .265 with seven homers and 54 RBIs in 129 minor league games, adding 21 doubles and 11 triples while scoring 70 runs.The Diamondbacks have been looking for a shortstop to replace Stephen Drew, traded to Oakland in August after returning from a serious ankle injury. They were thought to be interested in Indians All-Star Asdrubal Cabrera, though Towers wouldn't comment on that.Towers said Gregorius reminds him "of a young Derek Jeter." Gregorius will go to spring camp and compete for the starting job in the big leagues.Arizona completed a 15.5 million, two-year contract with right-hander Brandon McCarthy on Tuesday and also acquired reliever Heath Bell from Miami earlier this offseason. Towers said those additions make it "highly unlikely" the team will trade slugger Justin Upton.

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

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Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.

But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.

Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.

And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.

Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.

The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6). 

And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.

“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”

Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.

Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.

“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”

And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.

Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.

“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

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Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

The pressure that comes with a tight game in the fourth quarter can be a weighty proposition for some NBA players.

Then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who continues to save his best work for the fourth quarter.

Saturday’s 107-106 win at Philadelphia had yet another Thomas-like finish for the Celtics as the 5-foot-9 guard was at his most dominant state in the game’s final minutes.

Thomas finished with a season high-tying 37 points which included a stretch in the fourth in which he scored 12 straight.

“I just love the fourth quarter,” Thomas told reporters following the win. “I just want to win. Whether it’s making plays for myself or making plays for my teammates, it’s about making the right play. I get ultra- aggressive in that fourth quarter. That’s what I’ve always done.”

And his teammates appreciate how Thomas elevates his play in the game’s most pivotal moments.

“A lot of the credit is to Isaiah, how he was able to finish the game tonight,” said Avery Bradley. “He was able to make shots when we needed him to.”

And while Thomas knows his shots won’t fall all the time down the stretch, his fourth quarter mentality does provide him with a level of confidence that no matter what the defense does to him or what the score may be, he can swing the game’s momentum in his team’s favor.

“Some guys get a little tight, they get a little timid (in the fourth quarter),” Thomas said. “I embrace it. I want to be great. I want to be somebody my teammates can call on when the game is close.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday night’s game.

STARS

Isaiah Thomas: There was no more dominant player on Saturday night than Thomas. He finished with a game-high 37 points along with seven assists.

Dario Saric: It was a breakout game for the 22-year-old rookie who led the Sixers with 21 points as well as 12 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Both his points and rebound totals tied his career highs in those categories.

STUDS

Avery Bradley: Boston’s surge towards victory did not kick in until the third quarter which is when Bradley elevated his play offensively. In the third he scored 10 of his 20 points on the night, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.

Ersan Illyasova: He finished with 18 points which included a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds of the game. He also grabbed six rebounds and two assists.

DUDS

Celtics first half defense: There wasn’t much to like about Boston defensively in the first half. The Celtics struggled to take away or limit Philadelphia’s only strength Saturday night which was three-point shooting. The Sixers nailed nine of their 18 three-point attempts in the first half in addition to hurting the Celtics’ transition defense which gave up seven fast-break points to Philly compared to Boston scoring just one point in transition.