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.

First impressions: Price, Pedroia lead Red Sox to 8-3 win over Royals

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First impressions: Price, Pedroia lead Red Sox to 8-3 win over Royals

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox 8-3 win over the Kansas City Royals:

 

David Price has found a groove.

Price finally brought his ERA below 4.00.

He’d been about that mark since his second start of the season. Twenty-six starts later, he finally reached the mark.

Saturday’s start marked Price’s fourth-straight quality start. Price will soon eclipse the 200-strikeout, reaching 186 K’s with his seven-strikeout performance.

Although the lefty hasn’t been at his best throughout much of the year, he’s caught fire of late.

Possibly at the most important part of the season, too.

 

Dustin Pedroia just missed making history, can’t buy an out.

Boston’s second baseman entered Saturday with seven hits in his last seven at-bats. He stretched that streak to 11-for-11 with a 4-for-4 game.

He had the chance to go 12-for-12 in the eighth, but weakly grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

He’s also the first Red Sox player with three straight four-hit games at Fenway Park since 1913.

Boston’s second baseman continues to prove that his struggles in recent years were directly related to injuries, not diminishing performance.

 

The offense passed a big test.

It might’ve appeared that Danny Duffy was a middle-of-the-road pitcher with the way Red Sox hitters tattooed him in Saturday’s win.

But the right only had one loss in 19 starts, with a 2.66 ERA (2.61 as a starter).

Between the long balls and Dustin Pedroia’s incessant ways of late, they ballooned his ERA to 3.01.

A respectable number, still, but a jump of nearly a half of a run.

 

Sandy Leon’s in a minor cold spell.

Possibly the greatest story of Boston’s 2016 offense, Leon hasn’t had too many struggles along the way.

But after finishing 0-for-4 Saturday night, he’s only 2-for-21 (.095) in his last five games.

Saturday also marked only the third time all season where he was held hitless in back-to-back games.

These things happen to everyone, but it was starting to look like Leon didn’t fall under the category of “everyone.”

Phil Jackson: Knicks' biggest mistake was not trading for Jae Crowder in 2014

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Phil Jackson: Knicks' biggest mistake was not trading for Jae Crowder in 2014

BOSTON -- Phil Jackson will be the first to admit he has made some mistakes during his tenure in the New York Knicks' front office.

Among the miscues was a deal that would have landed them Jae Crowder.

"One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics," Jackson told the website, www.todaysfastbreak.com.

Jackson later revealed that in conversations with Boston leading up to the 2014 NBA draft, he was given an option to either keep the second-round pick which was to be conveyed to Boston from Dallas, or take Jae Crowder and allow Boston to keep the second-round pick from the Mavs.

"I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn’t get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo (Anthony)," Jackson said. "So I took the (second-round) pick which turned out to be Cleanthony Early.”

Ouch!

With Crowder left out of the six-player deal between New York and Dallas, the Celtics were able to engineer a trade with the Mavericks six months later that sent Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell to Dallas in exchange for Brandon Wright, Jameer Nelson, draft picks and what many believed at the time to be a “throw in” player by the name of Jae Crowder.

Less than two years later, Crowder is the lone player acquired by Boston in that deal who remains on the Celtics roster.

And as we have all seen, Crowder is far from just a warm body on the Celtics’ roster.

The 6-foot-6 forward has emerged as a core member of this young, up-and-coming Celtics squad, a key to Boston going from being a team rebuilding just three years ago to one that’s poised to be among the top teams in the East this season.

And the play of Crowder has been a significant part of that growth.

Last season was his first as an NBA starter, and the 26-year-old made the most of his opportunity by averaging career highs in just about every meaningful category such as scoring (14.2), steals (1.7), assists (1.8), rebounds (5.1), field goal percentage (.443) and starts (73).

Meanwhile, Early has had a pair of injury-riddled seasons which have factored heavily into him seeing action in a total of just 56 games (9 starts) while averaging 4.3 points and 2.2 rebounds while shooting 34.6 percent from the field and a woeful 26.3 percent on 3s.

“While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us,” Jackson said, “He still has the potential to be a valuable player.”

That said, Jackson knows he screwed that deal up, big time.

Even with the potential Early brings to the game, Jackson concedes, “I should have taken Crowder."

 

Ratto: Kaepernick controversy touches on hot-button issues in an ugly political year

Ratto: Kaepernick controversy touches on hot-button issues in an ugly political year

Ray Ratto joins Chevrolet SportsNet Central to discuss Colin Kaepernick's decision to not stand during the national anthem before the San Francisco 49ers preseason game.