Bradley has career night for Celtics

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Bradley has career night for Celtics

BOSTON The Boston Celtics got a big-game performance from someone besides the Big Four, as Avery Bradley had a career-high 23 points in Boston's 88-76 win over Washington.

A good chunk of his scoring this season has come on lay-ups cutting to the basket.

He got plenty of those against a porous Wizards defense.

But he also started to knock down mid-range jumpers and a 3-pointer, creating the kind of scene that could have easily resulted in a, 'I told ya so,' from head coach Doc Rivers.

"One of the things I've said consistently all year is that he can shoot the ball," Rivers said. "And he was making me a liar for most of the year. It was great to see them go in."

Bradley, who got the starting nod for Ray Allen (ankle) and is expected to fill in for Allen on Monday at Charlotte, is no stranger to the starting lineup.

He came into Sunday's game having had 10 starts this year, all in place of Rajon Rondo.

So the opportunity to play with Rondo instead of filling in for him, was clearly something that brought out the best in Bradley.

"Playing with Rondo is better for him," Rivers said. "He could just run out. He didn't have to wait for the ball, he didn't have to call a play, he didn't have to think where everybody was at; he just ran."

And in the process, he ran all over the hapless Wizards.

But as well as his numbers were, Washington coach Randy Wittman was clearly not impressed with the second-year guard's play.

"I could have scored those lay-ups," Wittman said. "I am being serious. We didn't have anybody guarding him. He ought to send us a postcard of thank-yous or something for allowing him to score."

Not sure if the United States Postal Service could handle the enormous amount of post card thank-yous the Wizards would receive if every player who lit them up this season - and there have been a lot - took that approach.

It doesn't matter now, not with the Celtics (26-22) continuing their quest at claiming the Atlantic Division crown while the Washington Wizards continue to look more like the Washington Generals.

With the C's win coupled with a loss by Philadelphia to San Antonio, Boston now trails the Sixers (27-22) by half a game.

Boston's chances of moving up to the top spot can only be helped with performances like the one Bradley put on Sunday night.

Even though it was his scoring that garnered most of the post-game attention, Bradley insists his focus remains on getting the job done defensively.

"I was fortunate enough that my teammates could find me in transition," he said.

While that's true, Bradley also displayed the ability to score from the perimeter, something he has been reluctant to look for until recently.

"I think that it's just a confidence thing," Bradley said. "I'm feeling more confident out there. My teammates make me feel more confident, more comfortable, so then I am knocking down more shots."

You can add Paul Pierce to the growing list of Celtics excited about Bradley's big game, and look forward to seeing more big things from him in the future.

"It's just good to watch a guy like Avery mature right before your eyes over the last couple of years," Pierce said.

And that growth will go far in Boston making the kind of deep playoff run that they have come to expect annually.

"All the great teams and all the champions always have that player who can set up outside the stars and that's what makes a team, an even better team," Pierce said. "Each night we gotta have guys, and tonight it was Avery."

Red Sox-Yankees: Pregame news and observations

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Red Sox-Yankees: Pregame news and observations

BOSTON -- As we get ready for the first Red Sox-Yankee series of the season, some pregame news and observations:

* Eduardo Rodriguez was at Fenway, to be checked by the training staff after his rehab outing in Syracuse Thursday night. Rodriguez allowed three runs -- two earned -- in 3 2/3 innings. He allowed six hits and walked three while striking out two.

"He came through it fine from a health standpoint,'' said John Farrell. "He was probably a little rusty. He's going to need some innings.''
Rodriguez is scheduled to pitch again Tuesday for Pawtucket. The Sox are undecided about what their plans are beyond that, but it seems likely he'll make another rehab start after that.

* Blake Swihart made his debut in the outfield Thursday, and according to Farrell, had just one chance in left: a ball that he initially lost in the lights before eventually recovering.

"The first game, after some work...(he's), as we all are: a work in progress,'' said Farrell. "The footwork was initially something that we had to address (in pre-game work). We've had (minor league outfield coordinator) Billy McMillon in there to work with him. It's been about some of that first-step reads and jumps to his routes to get accustomed to. Here's a guy, for the last four or five years, the game is coming to him (behind the plate). Now, all of a sudden, he's reacting to balls off the bat. It's a completely different view of the game. This is going to take some time in the outfield.''

Farrell said the goal is to get Swihart in the outfield a couple of times per week.

* Farrell hinted that the Sox may be close to dropping a pitcher -- they currently are carrying 13 - and adding another position player. For the past week, the Sox have had just three extra position players on the 25-man roster.

"Maybe (Friday night) might have some impact on that,'' said Farrell, suggesting that as long as starter Henry Owens doesn't need relief help early, the Sox may be in a position tomorrow to swap a reliever for a role player.

As it stands, the Sox have an extra catcher, outfielder Chris Young and infielder Josh Rutledge. Not long ago, they had infielder Marco Hernandez up, but Farrell said it wasn't a given that the player added will be an infielder.

"I don't think we need to center around an infielder,'' said Farrell. "The best complement would be a left-handed bat.''

On the 40-man roster, that profile fits only two players: Hernandez and Swihart, who's a switch-hitter.

Hernandez was optioned back to Pawtucket on April 20, and rules state that a player must spend 10 days in the minors before being recalled. On Saturday, that 10-day period will have elapsed.

It's highly unlikely that Swihart would be brought back so soon, since the Sox want him to continue his development behind the plate and get more comfortable in the outfield.

"We wanted him to come up here and not play more than half the week,'' said Farrell. "I think that derails everything that we're trying to accomplished currently.''

* Joe Kelly (shoulder impingement) threw a 35-pitch bullpen Friday and will throw long-toss Sunday, with another bullpen set for Tuesday. After that, the Sox will schedule his first rehab assignment for an affiliate.

"He's going to need some innings, obviously,'' said Farrell. "We haven't gotten him to full speed yet. For any pitcher, that last five to ten percent of intensity is always the benchmark. We're going to have to build him up to 80-plus pitches.''

* The Red Sox lost lefty Edwin Escobar on a waiver claim to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Escobar was taken off the 40-man roster and designated for assignment when the Sox had to get William Cuevas onto the 40-man roster.

Report: Three NFL owners want Goodell out

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Report: Three NFL owners want Goodell out

According to a site called The Daily Caller, a news site founded by conservative pundit Tucker Carlson, there are three NFL owners who want Roger Goodell out as commissioner. 

"I don't like him," one owner said. "I think it's time for a new commissioner."

Another owner told The Daily Caller, "He's doing things to make himself known, whereas past commissioners have acted only to make the league better. He is creating too many rules that make the game uninteresting. He can be accurately compared to our massive federal government."

A third owner took umbrage with Goodell's salary, which was estimated at about $34 million for last year.

"He’s a figure head that makes a lot more than the people risking their lives and futures every snap when he’s on his couch watching the games," the third owner said.