Bench steps in, gives starters nice rest

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Bench steps in, gives starters nice rest

BOSTON -- In an ideal situation, the Boston Celtics would build big enough leads so that the veteran starters could get rest in the fourth quarter while their bench closes out the game.

But this condensed season has not been an ideal situation for the Celtics, who have found themselves trying to dig their way out of early deficits late in the game, many times to no avail.

The Cs entered Wednesday's game against the Toronto Raptors on a five-game losing streak, a stretch that has included significant minutes from the starters and little opportunities for breaks.

After jumping out to a 15-point lead in the first quarter and pushing their advantage up to 27 points, the Celtics starters got the break they needed as the bench took care of the rest in their 96-73 victory over the Raptors.

Kevin Garnett played less than 25 minutes while backup power forward Brandon Bass played 31. Mickael Pietrus played only 30 seconds less than Paul Pierce, both around 23 minutes. Jermaine ONeal played just over 21 minutes as Greg Stiemsma was on the court for 14.

And once Rajon Rondo left the game with a sore right wrist, Avery Bradley and ETwaun Moore handled the backcourt, combining for nearly 30 minutes.

Marquis Daniels (12 minutes) and JaJuan Johnson (six minutes) also spelled minutes for the starters. By the end of the game, Sasha Pavlovic was the only member of the Celtics who did not play. (Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox were inactive with injuries.)

Theyre young and athletic and they run around just as fast as they can, said Doc Rivers. JaJuan is just so darn athletic. I mean, he had a blocked shot attempt that was just, it should be on TV. He didnt get it, but I dont even know where he came from. Like I said the other day with him and Avery and ETwaun, you know their minutes have been scattered, but theyve had a great spirit, they work every day, and thats all you can ask as a coach.

First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

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First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 win over Toronto:

* What's left to say about David Ortiz?

Ortiz acknowledged before Friday's game that the pre-game ceremonies and the attendant fuss over his pending retirement have created a challenge for him. Sometimes, it's hard to go from being feted to trying to win a game.

Not that you would know it by Friday night.

In his first at-bat, he singled home the first run of the game. Two at-bats later, he lined a bullet that was right at Jose Bautista.

But he saved his best for the seventh when, after the Red Sox tied the game at 3-3, Ortiz promptly untied it with a laser down the line, landing in the right field seats.

One more clutch hit from Ortiz in a career full of them.

* Brock Holt's defense at third has stood out.

John Farrell is looking for someone to step up with the third base job, given that Travis Shaw is hitting under .200 since the All-Star break and Aaron Hill has had difficulty hitting righties.

Holt, meanwhile, has seized the job somewhat by default, with a .319 average in the last 24 games.

But since starting the last four games at third, Holt has also contributed with his glove.

On Friday night, Holt made a fine stop with his backhand, on the third base line, and fired to nail Devon Travis on a close play at first.

Later, he came on a slow roller to gun down Josh Donaldson out at first.

* The Red Sox have done a better job of late capitalizing on opponents' mistakes.

Last week in Baltimore, the Red Sox were handed a gift by the Orioles when a throwing error by Chris Davis resulted in five runs being scored -- all of them unearned. It took exactly two pitches for the Red Sox to pounce on the opportunity.

On Friday night, it happened again.

Trailing 3-1, the Red Sox used a throwing error by Russell Martin to score one run and put another runner in scoring position. A groundout and single by Mookie Betts tied things, and Ortiz's homer broke the tie and gave the Red Sox a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Good teams take advantage of mistakes. Two of the last six Red Sox wins are prime examples of that maxim.

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

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Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

The Bruins will add another veteran defenseman to their training camp group fresh off the World Cup of Hockey as German D-man Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Boston on a PTO (professional tryout agreement). CSN has confirmed that Ehrhoff has indeed agreed to a PTO with the Bruins, and he'll report to the team sometime this weekend.

The 34-year-old Ehrhoff had three assists in six World Cup games for Team Europe, and had two goals and 10 points in 48 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season while clearly starting to slow down a bit. He’s clearly no longer the player that averaged 14 goals and 47 points for the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2011, and is another left-shot defenseman to add to a team that already has Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

But it behooved the Bruins to bring in at least one “name” veteran D-man on a tryout basis during this training camp with so many needs for upgrades on the back end, and with a host of young players that might not be ready for prime time. This might also be a warning sign for young veteran Joe Morrow, a left shot D-man that has struggled a bit in training camp after coming off an erratic first full season at the NHL level.

Clearly the Bruins need more than Ehrhoff, however, even if he’s somehow re-energized with the Bruins after playing pretty well in the World Cup. The Kings were down enough on his game to put him through waivers last season, but he was a top-4 defenseman for the previous eight seasons for San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh prior to getting bounced around between the Kings and Blackhawks last season.

The added bonus with taking a look at Ehrhoff is that there’s no risk associated with a PTO, and the Bruins can simply walk away with no cost if the B’s coaching staff decides he’s not a good fit for the group in Boston. On the other hand, bringing in a Kris Russell-type would cost a great deal in terms of money and term in a free agent contract, and it might not benefit the Black and Gold club in the end result.