Parker wins PG battle vs. Rondo

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Parker wins PG battle vs. Rondo

SAN ANTONIO There's little argument that Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker are among the NBA's top point guards.

But who's better?

That all depends on what you want in a playmaker, but on Saturday night it wasn't even close.

Parker had the better floor game, more points and most important, his team came away with the win as the C's go 0-for-Texas following a 103-88 loss to San Antonio on Saturday.

The 6-foot-2 all-star point guard led all scorers with 22 points in addition to tallying eight assists while turning the ball over just one time.

"Tony Parker got on a roll," said Rondo who added, "they outplayed us."

San Antonio played a solid all-around game, winning just about every individual matchup on the floor - including the battle at the point between these two all-star playmakers.

"Obviously Tony was unbelievable down the stretch," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. "But a lot of guys like Gary (Neal), Danny (Green), and Tiago (Splitter) played very solid basketball."

But as Popovich pointed out, it was Parker who down the stretch proved to be the difference-maker for the Spurs who snapped a two-game losing skid with Saturday's win.

Meanwhile, the Celtics (12-11) will not take to the court again until Tuesday at Chicago.

With all that time to practice, it could not come at a better time with the Celtics seemingly in need of as much time to work out their problems on the floor, as possible.

The two losses come after what has been a solid stretch of play that had the C's winning three of their four previous games.

Many problems have surfaced in the last two games, including an unusually high number of turnovers committed by Rondo.

Because he racks up so many assists, it's a given that he will pick up his share of turnovers.

But Saturday's game was his second straight in which he turned the ball over seven times - a trend that the C's need to see come to an end soon.

Rivers isn't sure exactly why Rondo's turnover numbers have been so high lightly, adding that he wouldn't rule out that the 27-year-old might be dealing with some level of fatigue as well.

"We shouldn't be fatigued, really," Rivers said. "Kevin (Garnett)? Yeah, maybe. Paul (Pierce)? Maybe. Other than that, we shouldn't be fatigued."

But as much as the turnovers committed by Rondo hurt the team, even more troubling on Saturday night was the missed shots - one missed shot in particular - that were just as problematic.

With the score tied at 55 in the third quarter and the game's momentum clearly sway in the Green Team's favor, Rondo missed what would have been a go-ahead basket.

San Antonio responded to his miss with 11 straight points that gave the Spurs their first double-digit lead of the game.

Boston continued to battle throughout the rest of the night, but failed to get any closer than five points afterward.

A big part of keeping the Celtics at bay was Parker who consistently managed to break down Boston's trapping defense and either score or set up his teammates for easy baskets.

"He's able to beat the traps. He's so quick getting around a big guy. He takes them on," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "A lot of guards accept the trap and swing it. He takes it on. He's been in those situations many, many times and he understands when to take on the trap and knows when to get rid of the ball; he has a great in-between game. That's what makes him one of the premier point guards in the league."

Patrick Towles throws for 2 TDs, Boston College beats Buffalo, 35-3

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Patrick Towles throws for 2 TDs, Boston College beats Buffalo, 35-3

BOSTON - Patrick Towles threw for two touchdowns, Davon Jones and Jon Hilliman each ran for one and Boston College coasted past Buffalo, 35-3 on Saturday afternoon.

It was the second straight win for the Eagles (3-2) after they beat FCS-school Wagner last week.

The Eagles, who entered with the nation's sixth ranked defense, dominated on the defensive side.

"I think it was a pretty clean performance," Eagles defensive end Harold Landry said. "It was expected. We were supposed to do that. We don't expect nothing less."

Towles, a graduate transfer from Kentucky, completed 14 of 25 passes for 234 yards with no interceptions. He also ran eight times for 18 yards, but fumbled it away twice.

Hilliman had 54 yards rushing and Jones 53 for the Eagles.

"Totally dominating performance," BC coach Steve Addazio said. "It's great to get a win and go out and do what we needed to do."

Buffalo (1-3) was held to just 67 total yards. Quarterback Tyree Jackson completed 9 of 21 for only 42 yards, and the Bulls had just 26 yards on the ground.

"Never had any semblance of any type of sustained drive or movement, so that's disappointing," Buffalo coach Lance Leipold said.

With a steady mist blowing most of the game on a cool day, the Eagles came out throwing the ball more than usual and opened a 21-3 lead at halftime.

BC redshirt freshman receiver Chris Garrison made an outstanding catch to set up the first TD, but was taken off the field on a stretcher after the play in the first quarter with a fractured left tibia.

Garrison made a leaping grab on 44-yard pass from Towles at the Bulls' 11-yard line, but he came down awkwardly on his leg. Trainers called for a stretcher and an air cast was put on before he was taken off.

Five plays later, Jones had a 1-yard scoring run to push the Eagles ahead 7-0.

Midway into the second quarter, Towles topped an 11-play, 54-yard drive with a 7-yard TD toss to Charlie Callinan.

After a 28-yard field goal by Buffalo's Adam Mitcheson, Towles connected on an 11-yard TD pass to receiver Michael Walker along the back line of the end zone - just over the outstretched hands of linebacker Jarrett Franklin - to make it 21-3 with 21 seconds left in the half.

Heinen coming up big with Bruins' roster openings on the wing

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Heinen coming up big with Bruins' roster openings on the wing

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Danton Heinen has to know he’s got a fair shot to win an NHL job out of B’s training camp if he plays with confidence and assertiveness. 

So far, that little Black and Gold carrot has served him well in the preseason. The 21-year-old winger has scored a goal in each of his first two preseason appearances for the Bruins. He will be pushed back into the lineup again vs. the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.

The difference this time around is Claude Julien will be behind the bench once again for the Bruins after his time with the World Cup of Hockey and the B’s lineup will start to take on more of a real NHL feel with David Pastrnak and David Backes entering the mix.

Julien has liked what he’s seen thus far out of the University of Denver product, and clearly he’ll keep getting looks as long as the production and good work ethic are there.

“I think he’s been a real good player. He’s a smart player that seems to be heady and sees the play well. He seems to be in the right place and understands the game,” said Julien. “The hockey sense is something that you either have or you don’t, and I think he has great hockey sense. It certainly makes a great hockey player. I’ve liked him so far and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.”

One other thing is certain: wing positions are open on the roster with Frankie Vatrano out for three months and Jimmy Vesey sharpening his skates at Madison Square Garden as a New York Ranger.

“We have to keep an open mind.  Frank Vatrano is hurt, and we kind of felt that he was going to have a really good start to this year. His confidence seemed to be at its highest, and the World Championships were good for him,” said Julien. “We have to look at what we have for a replacement. We went after Jimmy Vesey and we didn’t get him. So there are some spots that are open, and there’s no doubt about it.

“I’m going to be looking at compete level and I’ll be watching for the next three games to see who can fit in those spots. There are open spots, so it’s not cut-and-dried like a lot of years when it has been.”

Clearly, the high-end offensive skill is there after posting 36 goals and 93 points in his first two years at the University of Denver prior to going pro, and Heinen has a dollop of pro experience after getting into three AHL games with Providence at the end of last season. 

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder showed off the playmaking ability setting up his teammates for chances in Friday night’s win over the Red Wings, and then finally scoring at crunch time in the third period when the coaching staff moved Zach Senyshyn to his opposite wing.

Both of his goals in this preseason have been tying scores in the third that factored prominently in the game’s outcome. That’s been impressive for a young prospect in his very first NHL camp.

But Heinen claims there is still more to come in his game, and that’s encouraging. He’s just starting to get comfortable as a player that uses his vision, hockey IQ and passing to generate loads of scoring chances when he’s on the ice.

“I feel pretty good. I’ve felt better as things have gone on, and I felt better [on Friday against Detroit] than I did in the first game,” said Heinen, who finished just behind a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin for the NCAA scoring title as a freshman a couple of years ago. “I just need to keep getting better. I think I have a lot more to give. I’m just trying to put my best foot forward, and we’ll see what happens.

“I think I’ve rushed a few plays where I feel like I could hang onto [the puck] and make a smarter play. So it’s little things like that. As I play a little more then I get more comfortable hanging onto it, so I hope to do a little more than that.”

It will also be interesting to see how Heinen responds to again being in the B’s lineup on Saturday for back-to-back, physical preseason games when the NCAA schedule can be a bit more spaced with weekend games. 

There are other candidates like Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn that have enjoyed solid training camps to date for the Bruins, but it feels like Heinen is starting to push ahead for one of those winger roster spots Julien has in mind as he watches these final four exhibition games leading into the regular season.