Hawks struggle vs. undermanned C's

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Hawks struggle vs. undermanned C's

ATLANTA The Atlanta Hawks moved one step closer to clinching home court in the first round of the playoffs with Friday's 97-92 win over the Boston Celtics.

But Hawks coach Larry Drew was in no mood to celebrate the win, not when it came down to the final minute despite Boston playing without five of its top seven players who were either out because of an injury or simply had the night off.

"As far as I'm concerned," said Drew, "whether Boston lost the game or not, they accomplished what they wanted - to have his reserves come out and compete at a high level, and to take us down to the wire the way they did."

With a lineup on the floor that included E'Twaun Moore, Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, Jajuan Johnson and Ryan Hollins, the Celtics had the ball with a chance to take the lead with the Hawks clinging to a 79-78 lead.

A jumper by Johnson was off the mark. Boston got the offensive rebound, but Moore missed a 3-pointer that seconds later resulted in a 3-pointer by Atlanta's Willie Green.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers heard a lot of praise bestowed upon his players who put up the kind of fight few not on the Celtics' payroll, anticipated.

"Nobody gave us a chance in hell tonight," said Celtics guardforward Marquis Daniels who hd a season-high 12 points. "We gave ourselves a chance to win the game. We were a couple shots away from it."

For Rivers, he was proud of how his team fought through some less-than-stellar circumstances. But regardless of who plays, the goal remains the same.

Because of that, the C's are able to keep Friday's loss in perspective.

"We didn't win the game," Rivers said. 'And that was our goal."

The same goes for the Hawks, who were able to come away with the victory.

But there's no question that it didn't sit well with them, especially knowing that there's a very good chance these two will see each other in the first round of the playoffs.

And the C's will have most, if not all, of the guys missing on Friday, back in the lineup.

Joe Johnson led all scorers with 30 points, and he acknowledges that the Hawks don't feel all that great about Friday's victory.

"For us," Johnson said. "It definitely sits a little uneasy. I don't feel like we brought our "A" game, particularly given they had a few guys out."

More than anything, it becomes a game in which a team's mental toughness and ability to focus on the job at hand - regardless of the opponent - is put to the test.

And the Hawks, truth be told, barely passed.

"As I told our players," Drew said, "I understand the psychological and mental side of a game like that where a team doesn't have its top six or seven players. I've been around this league long enough to see that situation. Either you handle it or you don't, and we didn't handle that side of it."

HEISMAN: Lousiville's Lamar Jackson wins College Football's highest award

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HEISMAN: Lousiville's Lamar Jackson wins College Football's highest award

NEW YORK -- Lamar Jackson leapt over a loaded field of Heisman Trophy contenders early in the season and by the time he slowed down nobody could catch him.

The sensational sophomore quarterback became the first Louisville player to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, beating out preseason favorite Deshaun Watson of Clemson despite some late-season struggles.

Baker Mayfield finished third and Oklahoma teammate and fellow finalist Dede Westbrook was fourth. Michigan's Jabrill Peppers was fifth.

For more clicke here . . .

Bruins lose third straight with 4-1 loss to Leafs

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Bruins lose third straight with 4-1 loss to Leafs

BOSTON -- The Bruins’ season has gone in extreme swings both up and down thus far through the first couple of months, and that was the case as they lost their third game in a row to the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

The Bruins couldn’t only scratch for one goal despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by a 32-20 margin, and fell by a disappointing 4-1 score to the young and talented Toronto club at TD Garden.

The Bruins never enjoyed a lead in the game against the Leafs, and were flirting with danger after failing to score in the first period despite out-shooting Toronto by an 11-2 margin in the game’s opening 20 minutes. Instead it was a David Pastrnak neutral zone turnover in the second period that was picked off by William Nylander, and ended with Auston Matthews firing a rocket over Tuukka Rask for his 12th goal of the season.

Toronto extended the lead with five minutes to go in the period when Zach Hyman tipped a wobbly Jake Gardiner point shot past Rask, and made it three games in a row that the Bruins have dug themselves a considerable hole. Brad Marchand got one goal back at the end of the second period on a nice hustle play as he sealed off Frederik Anderson’s clearing attempt and then stuffed the puck past the Leafs goalie on a second chance bid.

That’s the way the score remained until the third period when the Bruins couldn’t convert on a couple of offensive chances -- included a bang-bang shorthanded bid for Austin Czarnik in front of the net -- and then James van Riemsdyk scored in front as a Toronto power play expired. That was the backbreaker for a Black and Gold bunch that continues to scrap for goals, and has now scored two goals or less in 20 of their 20 games this season.

Connor Brown added an empty netter in the final two minutes of the game to truly put it out of reach for the Bruins.