Doc: 'Our execution the whole game was terrible'

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Doc: 'Our execution the whole game was terrible'

BOSTON The assumption is that if you have a veteran team that has played hundreds of games together, they develop an innate understanding of how to play off one another, especially in close games.

But the Boston Celtics are living proof of how no amount of time spent in the past playing with one another can replicate the benefits of having practice time working on how to close out games, which the C's could not do on Thursday in losing 88-87 to the Los Angeles Lakers in overtime.

The C's had a chance to put the game away on two separate occasions, but failed to do so.

Near the end of regulation, the Celtics' Paul Pierce couldn't get a shot off for himself or Ray Allen. Pierce stopped his dribble too soon, which threw off the play's timing. The ball eventually wound up in the hands of Mickael Pietrus, who had to fire a desperation heave that just barely left his hands prior to the final horn of regulation sounding.

And in overtime, Pierce once again had a chance to lift the Celtics to victory. His fade-away jumper rimmed in and out, but the loose ball managed to wind up in the hands of Allen. He quickly got a shot up, only to have it rejected by Pau Gasol.

You have to give the Lakers defense their due. They did a really good job of making life tough as possible for all of Boston's shooters, which isn't all that surprising when you consider their scoring defense is ranked fourth in the NBA, while the C's are No. 1.

But there were too many opportunities, too many chances for Boston to win had they made a play or two down the stretch -- something their fans have grown accustomed to seeing.

"Our execution the whole game was terrible," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "This was an awful game, except for they won. If we had won it, it would've been an awful game that we had won. That's how I felt."

"For the most part," Kevin Garnett added, "I thought when we needed to get stops, we got stops. It came down to overtime. If you're in your building, that's what you want."

While there's no rhyme or reason as to why the Celtics seemed so off their game, Rivers isn't the least bit worried or ready to panic.

"It's called basketball," Rivers said. "Really. It happens. It happens in a playoff game. So I am disappointed, and I'm not happy with it, but it's not like it's been a trend."

Pierce, who led the Celtics with 18 points, said the C's had trouble getting into the kind of sets they wanted to, and having the ball where they wanted it to go.

"We were somewhat helter-skelter," said Allen. "But we still felt we had good control."

"We played too much random pick-and-roll basketball," said Pierce.

And that was among the contributing factors to the team's offensive woes.

"We weren't able to get to the hole," Pierce said. "We tried to get to the foul line. We only shot five free throws."

And all those free throws -- all five of 'em -- came in the first half.

Fortunately -- or unfortunately depending on how you look at it -- the Celtics have no time to lick their wounds after a disappointing loss.

The Celtics are in Toronto for tonight's game against the Raptors.

"That's the good and bad thing about our league right now; you have so much time to get over it," said Rivers, sarcastically.

Mookie Betts' injury likely just a short-term issue

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Mookie Betts' injury likely just a short-term issue

BOSTON -- After leaving Friday night’s game with right knee soreness, structural damage has been ruled out regarding Mookie Betts, but he could still be out for a bit.

Testing was done on Betts’ knee, removing any doubt of a deeper issue, revealing it was just build-up of fluid, causing swelling in his knee.

“Day-to-day is the status. It may take a couple for him before he’s back to us.” John Farrell said. “Everything points to this being a short-term situation.”

Betts explained that his condition had improved from Friday night, but -- much like Farrell -- doesn’t know how quickly he can bounce back. He wouldn’t make a definitive statement on whether or not he’d be available Sunday.

“It feels pretty good now,” Betts said. “We’re going to do some treatment on it, make sure everything is good and hopefully get back out there.”

Betts joins the list of pivotal players unavailable in Saturday’s game, including Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara who are both on the DL.

Farrell couldn’t commit to a timetable for when he expects Uehara should be back, but hopes he’ll be available during the regular season.

“We’re hopeful of that,” Farrell said when asked if he thought Uehara would be back before the postseason. “There’s no number of day’s that says Koji’s going to put a ball back in his hand . . . To give you a time frame, it’s too early to tell.”

Kimbrel, on the other hand, has bounced back well, and is expected to throw his first bullpen Sunday or Monday. The hope is that he’ll throw twice off the mound before the trip to the West, which would set him up for a simulated game.

“We need to get some PFP involved -- just some change in direction, fielding the position,” Farrell said on Kimbrel. “But in terms of amount of time missed, and that fact that he’s able to as get aggressive right now in long toss. I would think it would be on the shorter end of appearances if it’s even more than one. He feels very good. If he wasn’t making the ultimate decision medically [he’d] probably say ‘Give me the ball tonight.’ That’s how good he feels -- that’s encouraging.”

 

Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

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Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

While much of the focus is going to be on the young D-men headed into Bruins training camp, it would be foolhardy to overlook a forward prospect Danton Heinen, who is in position for a real dark horse run at an NHL roster spot. 

The strong odds are that the former University of Denver star is going to be begin the season in the AHL for the Providence Bruins after putting up a couple of points in four games there at the end of last season.

Still, that certainly hasn’t stopped Heinen from setting his sights on an NHL spot out of this fall’s camp, most likely in a third- or fourth-line capacity to start things off, or perhaps at the top-six right wing spots that have given the Bruins some problems filling permanently over the past couple of seasons.

Either way, the 2014 fourth-round pick knows that his clock to fulfilling his dreams as an NHL player has started and that it’s up to him when he can start making that a reality.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to work toward my whole life, so I’m just going to try to keep getting better, have a good rest of the summer and then put my best foot forward to see what happens,” said Heinen, who had an assist and a sweet goal in the Friday scrimmage at development camp when he twisted D-man Cam Clarke around like a pretzel on a nifty rush to the net. “I just need to continue to get stronger this summer, and working on my skating to get a bit quicker.

“[The AHL] was a lot of fun to get in there and see what it was all about. It was a lot different than college hockey, and it was definitely good to get a taste of it. [Bruins officials] told me to have a really big summer getting faster and getting stronger, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Heinen, 21, continued to show in development camp last week, however, that he has the playmaking skills and hockey IQ to flourish while surrounded by more accomplished players and in tighter situations. It’s exactly what he showed while posting 36 goals and 93 points in his freshman and sophomore seasons for the Pioneers and it was what he showed while finishing last week as one of the best forwards in camp.

“He’s looked really good at [development] camp. He’s a smart player, he’s committed and I think you’ll notice him in training camp. It will be up to him, but I think he’ll definitely be pushing some guys [for an NHL job],” said Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo, who was running the Bruins development camp. “He looked good [in Providence]. He fit in well. He’s the type of player that can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ, and he’s got really good skill.

“Anywhere you put him he’s smart enough to figure it out. You could tell in his first game there was a little bit of an adjustment for him, but the second time game it really looked like he’d been playing [at that level] for a long time. He’s a quick study, and he looked really good last year.”

The Black and Gold management hope he continues to look good at main NHL training camp in a couple of months, where he’ll undoubtedly be featured, and could be a lot closer than many people think as a polished skill forward coming out of a big-time college hockey program. 

Saturday's Red Sox-Twins lineups: Betts out with knee soreness

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Saturday's Red Sox-Twins lineups: Betts out with knee soreness

Mookie Betts is out of the lineup Saturday after leaving the game Friday night with knee soreness and Brock Holt moves into the leadoff spot for the Red Sox in Game 3 of their four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park.

Manager John Farrell said Betts is day-to-day after the right fielder left the Red Sox' 2-1 loss in the fifth inning with pain in his right knee. There is swelling, but an MRI showed no structural damage.Michael Martinez will start in right on Saturday night. Betts had started in 93 of Boston's 94 games this season. 

Aaron Hill gets the start at third base for the Red Sox in place of Travis Shaw.  

Left-hander David Price (9-7, 4.36 ERA) makes his second start of the second half for the Red Sox. Price took the loss in a 3-1 defeat against the Yankees on Sunday night, allowing 11 hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innnigs. 

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.02) is on the mound for the Twins.

The lineups:

TWINS
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robbie Grossman DH
Miguel Sano 3B
Brian Dozier 2B
Max Kepler RF
Kennys Vargas 1B
Eddie Rosario LF
Kurt Suzuki C
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Ricky Nolasco RHP

RED SOX
Brock Holt LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Sandy Leon C
Michael Martinez RF
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David Price LHP