Previewreview: Lakers 88, Celtics 87


Previewreview: Lakers 88, Celtics 87

BOSTON As expected, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers battled until the absolute bitter end, with the Celtics coming up short, 88-87, in overtime Thursday night.

Down the stretch, the Celtics were unable to execute in a manner that they have in past years.

And that more than anything else, was at the heart of Thursday's loss, which snapped the Celtics' five-game winning streak.

"Our execution the whole game was terrible," said coach Doc Rivers.

But there were other contributing factors to the loss. Earlier yesterday, we talked about what to expect in the game; now, we'll take a look at what happened:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Thursday's game should be a low scoring affair. Now normally that's a good thing for Boston, which comes in giving up an NBA-low 86.5 points per game. The Lakers have started to buy into new coach Mike Brown's defensive principles, and the result has been a Lakers squad that's No. 4 in the league in fewest points allowed (91) per game.
WHAT WE SAW: Not surprisingly, both teams slugged it out in a defensive, grind-it-out kind of matchup. In the end, it came down to which team could execute and to some degree, out-effort the other. The numbers don't lie. The Celtics were clobbered in both categories, and yet still had a chance to steal a victory up until literally the final horn sounded.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Pau Gasol. Garnett has been on an incredibly hot streak at both ends of the floor, providing the Celtics with the kind of end-to-end game they desperately need him to deliver. Meanwhile, Gasol continues to be the subject of trade rumors. And while he says he tries not to let it affect him, he's averaging a career-low 16 points per game. It's hard to imagine that the one year where he's a focal point of trade talk just so happens to be the same year in which he struggles offensively.
WHAT WE SAW: This matchup was all Gasol, who scored 25 points on 12-for-20 shooting. He also managed to grab 14 rebounds. As for Garnett, he'll be the first to tell you that he had an off - really off - night shooting the ball. He had 12 points on 6-for-23 shooting. "I know myself, I probably rushed a couple things," Garnett said. "I was more than hype. I should have calmed down; go to a meditated state, do some yoga on the side. But for the most part, I thought when we needed to get stops, we got stops. It came down to overtime. If you in your building, that's what you want."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo has steadily regained the form we saw prior to his right wrist injury. But he hasn't had the breakout-type game he's so overdue to have. This could be that night, especially against Derek Fisher who still a solid defender, but has clearly lost a step or two.
WHAT WE SAW: Rondo had a solid, but far from spectacular game against the Lakers. He had 14 points on 7-for-13 shooting. He also had seven assists. But there was never really moment on Thursday when Rondo took over.

STAT TO TRACK: One of the Celtics' strengths of late has been their ability to score in the paint. During their current five-game winning streak, Boston has outscored opponents by 4.8 points per game in the paint. With the Lakers' Twin Towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, points in the paint will be hard to come by for Boston.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston's inability to rebound the ball was a major factor in their loss to the Lakers. The C's were out-rebounded 55-45, and Los Angeles outscored them 24-13 in second-chance points, and 46-38 in points in the paint.

Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17


Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17

ARLINGTON, Texas - Maybe the Cowboys will be OK without quarterback Tony Romo this time. The future of the Dallas running game with Ezekiel Elliott looks pretty good, too.

Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass in fellow rookie Elliott's first 100-yard game, and the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.

With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without the injured Romo over three seasons before the fourth-round pick showed up.

Prescott's first TD pass was a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he's up to 99 throws without an interception to start his career. Philadelphia's Carson Wentz has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals for a rookie in NFL history.

"Dak's handled every opportunity he's had right from the start really, really well," coach Jason Garrett said. "No different tonight."

Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox.

Making his 27th career start for his fourth different team, Hoyer was 30 of 49 for 317 yards - a good portion of that with the game out of each late in the fourth quarter - and threw for two scores to Zach Miller.

"We haven't played a complete game," Fox said. "This week was the reverse of what we've had. We played very poorly in the first half."

Elliott finished with 140 yards on 30 carries, including a 14-yard run when he hurdled safety Chris Prosinski. The Cowboys kept giving him the ball while trying to work the clock with a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter a week after he was benched because of two fumbles in a win over Washington.

"Made a lot of good runs tonight, a lot tough runs, a lot of NFL runs," Garrett said. "He's physically tough. He's mentally tough."

It didn't even bother Prescott that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith missed just the second game of his six-year career after his back tightened up during the week.

Prescott was 19 of 24 for 248 yards in Dallas' first home win since last year's opener, which was a week before the first of two broken left collarbones that kept Romo out of 12 games last season.

Romo is expected to miss about another month after breaking a bone in his back in the preseason.

Prescott had one of three rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys, who have seven this season after getting eight all of last year, when they finished 4-12.

Because the Bears fell behind again, they couldn't do much with the running game. They had just 15 carries for 73 yards and lost leading rusher Jeremy Langford to an ankle injury in the second half.