Rivers on DeRozan: "He's a total basketball player"

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Rivers on DeRozan: "He's a total basketball player"

BOSTON The Toronto Raptors sent a slight ripple throughout the NBA last month when they inked DeMar DeRozan to a four-year, 40 million contract extension.

Although it might have seemed a bit pricey for a player who had yet to establish himself as one of the better shooting guards in the league, the 6-foot-7 wing has steadily improved his game every season.

And among his biggest fans?

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

"He's getting better every year," Rivers said. "I don't think people notice him, not because they're in Toronto but because of their record. I think people are sleeping on him a lot."

The Celtics certainly haven't, which is why limiting his effectiveness proved to be one of the keys in Boston's 107-89 win over the Raptors with DeRozan finishing with just 10 points.

DeRozan is a career 14.3 points per game scorer. Against the C's, DeRozan's numbers take a slight dip to 13 points per game. Ditto for his shooting percentage which drops to 42.7 against the Celtics compared to 45.7 percent for his career.

In the first half, DeRozan showcased his versatility. When a defensive switch left Kevin Garnett guarding him, DeRozan wisely rose up for a 19-foot jumper as Garnett refused to give him a lane driving to the basket.

On the ensuing Celtics possession, DeRozan came up with a steal.

It was the kind of offense-defense sequence that has him among the NBA's brightest up and coming talents that is seldom talked about.

That said, keeping him under control is becoming increasingly harder as he continues to expand his game.

"He adds stuff every year," Rivers said. "Early on, he was basically Kamikazee driver; that's what we labeled him as. Now he gets to the line, he makes jump shots, he defends ... he's a total basketball player."

And that willingness to steadily improve as a player despite some solid numbers early in his career, says more about his preparation to be more than just a pretty good NBA player - but one worthy of a 40 million contract.

"A lot of guys give in and settle," Rivers said. "What I like about him is ... I don't know him, but it seems like from afar he must put a lot of time in the summer in his game. Each year, he's gotten not just a little better but a lot better in areas that you would have to work on. That's impressive."

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?