Blakely's Celtics-Magic preview

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Blakely's Celtics-Magic preview

BOSTON It was a rough night for the Boston Celtics and their 3-point defense which allowed the New York Knicks to drain 19 3-pointers which set the stage for a 118-110 loss for the C's. And now 24 hours later, it won't get any easier against the Orlando Magic.

In fact, the challenge may very well be even greater tonight.

You think the Celtics spend too much time shooting jumpers?

They have nothing - nothing - on the Magic, who have to rely on their perimeter game even more now that Dwight Howard (back) won't return during the regular season.

Even with him, Orlando looked to score from the perimeter more than most teams.

Despite ranking in the bottom-10 in scoring (No. 21 with 94.4 points per game), Orlando leads the NBA in 3-pointers made (10.2) and attempted (26.8) per game.

How Boston handles the perimeter-oriented Magic will factor heavily in the C's getting the victory which would clinch their fifth straight Atlantic Division title. Here are some other keys that will likely come into play tonight as the C's face off against the Magic and former Celtic Glen Davis.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR Without Dwight Howard and Glen Davis (knee) questionable, the Magic will have a hard time getting points in the paint tonight. Although Orlando ranks third in the NBA this season with 43.7 points in the paint per game, that number has taken a significant dip since Dwight Howard's back injury. In the last five games minus Howard, Orlando's points-in-the-paint numbers dipped to 33.4 per game which ranks 20th in the league during that span.

MATCHUP TO WATCHAvery Bradley vs. Jameer Nelson: This is the matchup that just a few short months ago, launched the emergence of Avery Bradley as a top-flight defender. Nelson took quite a beating in the press for how Bradley thoroughly overwhelmed him. While Rajon Rondo will see time guarding Nelson, don't be surprised if Nelson appears more aggressive when paired with Bradley.

PLAYER TO WATCHPaul Pierce is coming off a season-high 43 points at New York. You have to wonder how much did that game take out of him. Couple that with a sore left big toe and some soreness to his hamstring after taking a knee from Tyson Chandler, you have to expect the Captain won't be nearly as productive a scorer tonight.

STAT TO TRACKIf there's one positive for the Magic since Dwight Howard went down with a back injury, it's how the team's turnovers have dropped considerably. For the season, Orlando averages 14.2 turnovers which ranks 17th in the NBA. But in the five games without Howard, the Magic average 11.2 turnovers which trails only the Los Angeles Clippers (10.6 turnovers) for fewest turnovers in that span. The C's have benefited greatly from forcing turnovers. Teams average 15.6 miscues per game against Boston, which ranks sixth in the NBA.

Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels ofAnaheim

Quotes:

"I tried to get two (outs) before I got one. That can't happen." - Hanley Ramirez on his throwing error which cost the Red Sox the game.

"Executing pitches - that's the name of the game." - David Price on improvement he showed from his last start.

"Fourth time through the order, middle of the lineup. . . Price had done his job. In a one-run game, we felt it was best to start a clean inning with a reliever." - John Farrell after lifting David Price after eight innings and 108 pitches.

Notes:

* Reliever Brad Ziegler was charged with the loss for the second straight game.

* Each of the last seven Red Sox losses has been by one or two runs.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 31 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox four-game losing streak is their longest of the season.

* The Sox are now 9-23 in their last 32 meetings with the Angels.

* David Price did not allow a run for the second time this season.

Stars:

1) David Price

After a stretch of shaky outings, Price did his job with eight scoreless innings, getting 14 outs on groundouts while walking just one.

2) Jered Weaver

At times, the radar gun made Weaver's pitches look like softball offerings. But mixing junk, he held the Sox to a single run over 5 1/3 innings

3) Mookie Betts

He had just one hit - single in the eighth - but his sacrifice fly in the third produced the only run of the night.

First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

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First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1) David Price pitched in the truest sense

Price wasn't necessarily overpowering with only six strikeouts in eight innings, but he succeeded in keeping the ball down in the zone, resulting in a ton of groundouts.

In eight innings, the Angels produced just two flouts to the outfield, both of them routine.

Otherwise, Price deftly mixed his changeup, slider and two-seamer to produce ground balls. His location was more precise and he induced weak contact in at-bat after at-bat.

 

2) The danger of a closer like Brad Ziegler was on display

The throwing error by Hanley Ramirez resulted in two runs scoring but Ziegler allowed three base hits to set the stage.

Ziegler doesn't get a lot of swing-and-miss with his sinker; what he gets is a lot of balls put in play. When things are going well, that results in groundouts; when they're not, it means baserunners and strange things happening.

As inconsistent as Craig Kimbrel has been in some non-save situations, he at least has the ability to record strikeouts and keep balls out of play.  That's not the case with Zieger, as the Red Sox learned the hard way in Anaheim Thursday night.

3) The Red Sox wisely took advantage of Jered Weaver on the bases

Weaver's high leg kick and reliance on off-speed pitches make for a slow delivery time to the plate. Dustin Pedroia would have easily stole second in the first but made the mistake of going into his slide too far ahead of the bag, and though initially ruled safe, was deemed out after a replay challenge.

In the sixth, Xander Bogaerts, was more successful in his stolen base. Neither steal led to a run, but the Sox did put some additional pressure on Weaver