Rondo: "We want to build on this game"

976279.jpg

Rondo: "We want to build on this game"

BOSTON -- Rewind 48 hours.

Rajon Rondo stood in the Boston Celtics locker room following the team's fourth straight loss. He talked about the team's lack of defense and trust in one another. He didn't have an explanation for it, but knew they needed to find a solution.

On Friday night, he delivered a different message. Following the Celtics 94-75 win over the Indiana Pacers, he spoke about improved D, a collective team effort, and players stepping up on the court.

"It was a good team win for us tonight," said Rondo (18 points, seven assists, five rebounds). "We did a pretty good job defensively. I think we held them to 35 percent in the first half, forced some turnovers. I've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball in the second half, but other than that, we got what we wanted offensively. We weren't standing around tonight, we had a lot of different play calls, different guys were aggressive, and we played well together."

The Celtics improved to 15-17 and showed progress in their victory. Avery Bradley played his second game since returning from double-shoulder surgery, scoring six points in 23 minutes and giving Rondo another tenacious backcourt counterpart.

"He's the best on-ball defender in the league," Rondo said of Bradley. "I let him pick up (D.J.) Augustin and he turned the game around. His energy picked up, we got a lot of deflections in the first half, created points for our offense."

Rondo also credited the Celtics bench, who maintained the lead when Kevin Garnett was ejected (Flagrant 2 Foul) in the fourth quarter. Noteably, Courtney Lee scored 13 points in 23 minutes, Jared Sullinger grabbed 10 rebounds in 30 minutes, and Leandro Barbosa chipped in six points in as many minutes.

"We're a really bad team if we couldn't hold a lead in the fourth quarter, and they didn't have their starters in either. But nevertheless, I don't want to discredit our bench," he said. "Courtney played great for us tonight, LB (Leandro Barbosa) came in and gave us some energy, and (Jared Sullinger) Sully fouled out but he played big in the stretch when he was in the game. It was a collective team effort tonight. We played great as a team and we've got to continue to build on this win."

The Celtics will face the Hawks in Atlanta on Saturday, where they are looking to continue their momentum before playing the Knicks in New York on Monday. They know there is still work to be done.

"We want to build on this game," said Rondo. "But it's only one game."

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?