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."

Sweeney on lack of B's deals: "I wasn't trading David Pastrnak"

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Sweeney on lack of B's deals: "I wasn't trading David Pastrnak"

BUFFALO – A year ago Don Sweeney traded away one of his talented young players for pennies on the dollar when he shipped Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for three draft picks, and it would appear he’s learned from that experience. While the Bruins general manager admitted he was desperately in search of some defensemen help this weekend, Sweeney said the prices were too high to get a deal done on Friday night at the First Niagara Center.

A source indicated to CSNNE.com earlier on Friday that All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk would end up with “the Bruins, Flyers or Rangers” this season, but it sure sounded like the St. Louis Blues were pricing themselves out of making any deals. According to Sweeney, other team’s managers were asking him to include both of his 2016 first round picks and more to swing a deal for a defenseman, and that young right wing David Pastrnak’s name kept coming up in these discussions.

That was far too steep an asking price in the rightful minds of Sweeney and Bruins management, so there were no defensemen that ended up getting moved on Friday night. Unfortunately, other NHL teams will keep asking about the emerging Pastrnak knowing full well that the Bruins are in a desperate position to repair their personnel on the back end. 

“In all honesty it would have taken both first rounders and then some…the acquisition cost was high. We want to continue to improve our hockey club with whatever we have to do, but it’s not unlike last year when it would have taken all three first rounders [to get a deal done]. There’s a balancing act there,” said Sweeney. “There was not a lot that moved around today. People have been laying foundation [for trades] for quite some time, but there are players that we’re just not comfortable putting into deals. I’m going to defend that. I’ll be honest with you that I just am.

“We’ve taken a position where we’re going to build this the right way. We want to be competitive and improve our team, and we’ll be active in the free agent market to fill holes while allowing our young players to push through. But I wasn’t trading David Pastrnak. We’ve been criticized, and rightfully so at times, for being impatient with our younger, skilled players. This represents a good opportunity that we don’t want to do that.”

Instead the Bruins selected Charlie McAvoy and Trent Frederic with the 14th and 29th overall picks in the first round, and they’ll start at the drawing board on Saturday while hoping to build toward a deal for a top-4 “transitional defenseman.” They’ll also do it knowing they made the right call in protecting the 14th pick where they selected a future transitional defenseman that will perhaps be a younger, cheaper version of Shattenkirk three years down the road. 

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers:

QUOTES

* “(Matt) Bush has tremendous arm, but what we’ve seen . . . I don’t know that there’s anyone that throws a hard enough to get it by Mookie [Betts]. Just lightening bat speed . . . The dugout erupted when he caught it.” - Farrell said on Betts’ ninth inning homerun.

* “It was an outstanding comeback. Just a tremendous character win tonight by our guys. The work that our bullpen did tonight was just outstanding. ” - John Farrell said following the comeback win over Texas.

* “Koji comes back after a couple of rough outings and was vintage Koji here tonight.” - Farrell said on Uehara striking out the side in the ninth to earn the save

* “The homerun. Without that homerun, you don’t get to that wild pitch.” - Jackie Bradley said on what the Red Sox dugout was more excited about in the ninth.

* “Winning, to me that’s everything. I definitely want to go out there and throw the baseball better. I want to win myself. But at the end of the day I want the Red Sox to win.” - David Price said following the Red Sox win, despite his inability to keep the game close throughout the duration of his start.

NOTES

* David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his fourth inning single. He’s now 12 for his last 36 during his 10-game hitting streak.

* Sandy Leon’s ninth inning double was his 12th hit of the year. He’s now 12-for-22 (.545) to start his 2016 campaign. Four of his hits are doubles and he also has four RBI. 

* David Price’s 2.1-inning start is his shortest with Boston yet. The lefty gave up a season-worst 12 hits -- the most hits he’s given up since May 8th last season in a 6.1 inning start.

* Hanley Ramirez’s two-run homerun marks his third in the last ten games.

* The Red Sox improve to 22-3 when Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a homerun following his 13th homerun of the season.

STARS

1) Mookie Betts

Betts had over three hours between his two base hits, but his second proved the most important. He launched a 2-0 fastball into left center, tying the game in the ninth.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley laced a homerun into the right field second deck to put Boston in striking distance at 7-4. In addition to knocking in two runs, he scored in the ninth after he walked, starting the ninth inning comeback. 

3) Koji Uehara

Despite struggling of late, Uehara was called on to close and struck out the side to seal the win. He was the final piece of the 6.2 innings of relief from the bullpen that came in one of Boston’s biggest wins of the year.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

OFFSEASON

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

The wheels of the Kevin Durant free agent train have been set in motion.

"Durant’s representatives at Roc Nation are working to solidify invitations" for meetings with a list of five teams, which includes the Boston Celtics, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. The other teams listed are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and Thunder. The Nuggets, Knicks, Lakers, Rockets, and Wizards could "could still find audiences with him," but they are considered outsiders.

Wojnarowski says the Thunder remain the frontrunners, but "the Warriors have Durant's attention."

If Durant chooses the Warriors it could happen very quickly. Warriors restricted free agent Harrison Barnes could sign an offer sheet for a contract on July 1, which would mean the Warriors would have only have three days to match the deal. They'd likely need a decision from Durant before then, or they'd risk losing one of their valuable pieces without being able to fill his role.

Durant plans on making his decision before July 9 anyway, according to Wojnarowski, because that's when he's leaving for a publicity tour in the Far East.

The fact the Celtics are even on Durant's primary list shouldn't come as a surprise considering his actions after his game in Boston against the Celtics earlier this year. They do have tough competition though. Both the Warriors and Heat have the cap space to absorb Durant's likely max contract worth about $26.4 million, and the Spurs can easily create the space if necessary.

The Clippers are interesting though, because they'd have to deal one of their stars (Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, or Blake Griffin) to free the cap space to sign Durant. If he does choose the Clippers, maybe Danny Ainge could help Doc Rivers swing a deal. How about something involving Blake Griffin and Jae Crowder?

But the Celtics have an edge. Their the only team listed that can sign two max contract free agents. If Durant wants to play with his buddy Al Horford, or anyone else for that matter, the Celtics can make it happen easily. How about a 2007 draft class reunion with Durant, Horford, and Jared Dudley? It's an odd trio, but Dudley has already expressed interest in joining the Celtics.

No matter what happens, though, the Celtics are in the race. Celtics fans might be disappointed after Thursday night. But we're just getting started, folks.

Kevin O’Connor can be followed on Twitter: @KevinOConnorNBA