Weak in the heart of Texas

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Weak in the heart of Texas

SAN ANTONIO The Boston Celtics will leave the state of Texas with momentum, but not the kind they were hoping for.

Whatever gains the Celtics thought they had made in the past couple of weeks have seemingly been wiped out following Saturday's 103-88 loss to the Spurs.

San Antonio, which snapped a two-game losing skid of their own with Saturday's victory, were led by Tony Parker's game-high 22 points along with eight assists. The Spurs (19-6) also got a strong game from Gary Neal who chipped in 20 points.

Boston was led by Paul Pierce and Jason Terry who each had 18 points.

The Celtics (12-11) spent most of the first half playing from behind, as the game looked eerily similar to their loss the previous night at Houston.

The C's weren't necessarily playing poor basketball, but it was clearly not good enough to assert any kind of control over a team as talented as the Spurs.

Terry came off the bench for the second straight game and once again seemed to be one of the few sparks for Boston.

Still, the Celtics found themselves once again struggling to make that one shot or get that defensive stop that would shift the game's momentum securely into their corner.

And while San Antonio had a number of players getting it done in the first half, Parker was delivering yet another solid night.

Parker, who came into the game as the Spurs leading scorer at 19.1 points per game, continues to provide San Antonio with anything and everything they need in order to be successful.

When a Paul Pierce dunk tied the game at 38, Parker connected with Matt Bonner for a 3-pointer to put the Spurs back on top by three points.

A 3-pointer by Terry cut San Antonio's lead to 48-46 late in the second, but a floater by Neal - Parker on the assist - made it a two-possession game once again.

And when a Pierce 3-pointer made it a one-point game with 36.9 seconds to play in the first half, Parker beat Rondo off the dribble for what would be the final lay-up of the half which ended with the Spurs ahead 52-49 and Parker tallying 10 points and five assists without a single turnover.

His Celtics counterpart, Rajon Rondo, had as many points (4) as turnovers in the first half to go along with six assists. He would finish with six points (on 3-for-7 shooting) and nine assists with seven turnovers (the same as last night).

Even more telling about Rondo's struggles in the first half was the fact that the C's were minus-7 with him on the floor in the first half with only one other Celtic (Brandon Bass who was minus-9) having a worst plus-minus ratio at the half. Rondo would finish with a plus-minus ratio of minus-17.

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

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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?