C's band together, shut down Orlando offense

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C's band together, shut down Orlando offense

BOSTON Avery Bradley made life miserable as can be for Orlando's Jameer Nelson. Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O'Neal delivered the kind of 1-2 defensive punch that left Dwight Howard stunned most of the night.

Even seldom-used Sasha Pavlovic was making things happen defensively.

Pick a Celtics player, any player and chances are they were part of a historically dominant night as the C's pummeled the Magic, 87-56.

"They came out and just absolutely dominated us with their energy and their defensive intensity," said Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy. "That's the most dominating defensive performance I have ever had against me."

Van Gundy added, "It's the first game in my career I've been through where not one guy played well. We didn't have one guy. That was an absolute beat-down, and in most senses it was much worse than the score indicated."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been saying for weeks that the C's were improving, making the kind of strides that he believed would pay off sooner or later.

Rivers anticipated his team would give the Magic a fight, but he had no idea that they would dominate the Magic in such emphatic fashion.

The 56 points Boston gave up tied a franchise-low for points allowed in the shot clock era.

Boston also set a franchise record for allowing a franchise-low 20 points in the second half, in addition to limiting the Magic to just 16 made field goals which is also a franchise record.

And by limiting Orlando to just 24.6 percent shooting from the field, that was the second-lowest field goal percentage a team has shot against the C's in the shot clock era.

"That was great," Rivers said of his team's play. "I mean, defensively that was as good as you can get."

With their starting backcourt of Ray Allen (ankle) and Rajon Rondo (wrist) out, along with Keyon Dooling (knee), Chris Wilcox (calf) and Mickael Pietrus, there was clearly the potential for the Magic to have a major letdown.

"You know human nature," Rivers said. "Sometimes they see no Ray, and no Paul I mean no Rondo, and no Keyon. You never know how that affects a team. But, I mean, great win for us."

And it came about largely because of the defense, a defense that has shown flashes of being good but not this good.

Celtics Kevin Garnett talked about how the C's success defensively had a lot to do with their ability to execute the game at a higher rate than they have most games this season.

"It was just one of those grind games," Garnett said. "Everyone knew their assignments. And I can say for the first time in a long time, I think we carried out assignments to the perfection."

And while the Celtics are a better team when they have their roster intact, the fact that their roster was so depleted because of injuries had, in a strange way, helped bond the C's in a way that brought about Monday night's record-setting performance defensively.

"When you go into a fight undermanned, it's not more so the weapons; it's more so the fight," Garnett said. "Tonight, we just started fighting."

Collins, Hightower mum on contract talks

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Collins, Hightower mum on contract talks

FOXBORO – A fleet of Patriots have expiring contracts after this season but Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins are the two most prominent on that list.

With the sport being the way it is – a nearly 100-percent casualty rate every season – it’s never comfortable for a player to enter a contract year without knowing his long-term future. And it’s especially uncomfortable for players whose first contracts are expiring because the second NFL contract is usually the bonanza.

Both Hightower and Collins can entertain thoughts of contracts worth more than $50M if good fortune sticks with them.

The question as it pertains to both of these players is whether they get contract extensions this summer or whether they go into the year with contract pressure bearing down and ultimately become free agents.

Neither player was very forthcoming after their OTA practice Thursday.

With Collins, that’s often the case. He’s never been expansive with media. It was very uncharacteristic for Hightower to be so clipped in his answers, though.

Every question posed to Hightower was met with a variation of, “I’m just trying to get better.”

Asked about his contract, Hightower replied, “I ain’t got nothing to do with none of that. I’m just out here trying to get better with my teammates.”

When it was pointed out that Hightower does indeed have say on his contract, he answered, “That might be. But there’s a time and place for everything and I’m just out here trying to get better.

“If I get better I feel like that’ll take care of everything else,” he added. “If I get better each and every day that’s all I can ask for.”

Asked whether he’s at all focused on his deal, Collins replied, “No, I come out here and I handle my business and I let the rest speak for itself … My first priority is me. So I’m gonna handle me."
 

Thursday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Bradley moved to the leadoff spot

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Thursday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Bradley moved to the leadoff spot

BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. has been inching his way up the lineup recently, but tonight he makes a quantum leap all the way to the top.

With Mookie Betts getting the night off, Bradley -- riding a 29-game hitting streak -- has been moved to the leadoff spot by John Farrell as the Red Sox attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the Rockies.

Dustin Pedroia (hamstring) and Xander Bogaerts (thumb) both had to leave Wednesday night's game, but both are back in the lineup tonight.

The lineups:

ROCKIES:
Charlie Blackmon CF
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Nolan Arenado 3B
Carlos Gonzalez RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Gerardo Parra LF
Trevor Story SS
Daniel Descalso DH
Dustin Garneau C
---
Jon Gray P

RED SOX:
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young RF
Blake Swihart LF
Christian Vazquez C
---
Clay Buchholz P

Ravens forfeit one week of OTAs, fined by NFL

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Ravens forfeit one week of OTAs, fined by NFL

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have forfeited one week of offseason practices for violating the labor agreement on such workouts.

The NFL also fined the team an undisclosed amount Thursday.

When the Ravens had rookies and first-year players don pads at a minicamp, it was a violation of the CBA rules. The team acknowledged that on Thursday, saying: "We made a mistake and we are sorry for that. We accept the NFL discipline."

Baltimore's June 1-3 voluntary workouts have been scrapped. The team will have OTAs on June 6-9 and a mandatory minicamp June 14-16.

© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.