Rivers admits flawed gameplan

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Rivers admits flawed gameplan

TORONTO Part of the game plan on Friday was to find a way to get his starters some in-game rest by subbing some of them out early, and bringing them back into the game late in the second quarter.

Needless to say, that plan is likely to find a place on the playbook scrap heap following the Boston Celtics' 84-79 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

C's coach Doc Rivers acknowledged his plan to rest some of his players may have been a contributing factor to the team's less than stellar play against a Raptors team that has had very little success this season.

"I messed their rhythm up a little bit in the first half," Rivers said. "I told them I wasn't going to play them a lot of minutes and give them rest, and then try to make a charge in the second half. I don't think we handled that very well."

The starters pulled ahead by as many as nine points in the first quarter, and the bench helped extend the lead to as many as 13 points in the second quarter. Rivers then brought back most of his starters to close out the second quarter.

And that's when trouble arrived.

The double-digit lead was cut all the way down to just six points, 36-30, at the half. And the momentum gained by Toronto to end the half, carried over into the third quarter.

"We knew we had this game in the first half," said Toronto's DeMar DeRozan who had a game-high 22 points. "It was a six-point game at halftime and we knew if we turned it up and just started to be aggressive on both ends, we could win this game and that's what we did."

For Rivers, it was yet another lesson that he hopes both he and the C's can move forward from and maybe most important, build off of tonight against New Jersey.

"Again, you keep learning your team," Rivers said. "I thought we came out almost in a slow, cool mood, and I thought I activated that somehow."

Although most of his players were on the floor for their usual allotment of minutes, it was how those minutes were doled out that Rivers, in hindsight, saw as being problematic.

"By sitting them that long and not playing them a lot in the first half, I thought I may have lost their rhythm."

There was no question that from the C's perspective, there was a lack of fire from the very start of the third quarter. And even as the Raptors steadily pulled away, the urgency was still missing up until the last couple of minutes.

"We should have come out with better urgency in the third quarter," said Paul Pierce. "When you give a team like this some confidence, anything can happen in an NBA game. I thought we gave them a lot of confidence in the third quarter and it carried over."

Said Rajon Rondo: "Give them credit. We dug a hole too deep and we couldn't get out of it."

Fortunately for the Celtics, there's no time to dwell on what went wrong against the Raptors, not with a road game at the New Jersey Nets Saturday night.

The C's will certainly try and get back on track, and they'll look to do so with Rivers likely to go back to playing and resting his starters the way he has done for most of this season - a quick but necessary departure from the plan implemented on Friday that by all accounts - Rivers included - simply did not work.

"I won't do this," Rivers said. "That's for sure."

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tyreek Hill had touchdowns receiving and on a punt return, Kansas City's defense made life miserable for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, and the Chiefs beat the Raiders 21-13 on a frigid Thursday night to take control of the AFC West.

Charcandrick West also had a touchdown run for the Chiefs (10-3). They moved into a first-place tie with Oakland (10-3) but holds the tiebreaker with two wins over their longtime divisional rival.

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