Rivers' postgame comments after Bulls loss motivate C's

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Rivers' postgame comments after Bulls loss motivate C's

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics have won their last two games by a combined total of 38 points and have held their opponents to an average of just 75.5 points.

Their commanding victories in back-to-back contests against the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers have made their disappointing loss to the Chicago Bulls last Thursday seem like weeks ago.

But Doc Rivers comments after that game are still fresh on the Celtics minds.

I think it kind of woke us up and let us know, man, we were bull-expletive-ing, said Brandon Bass, who scored 18 points in Sundays 103-79 win over the 76ers. Thats what it was. After that, everybodys just been locked in. I wasnt surprised by Rivers comments because that wasnt even bad to me, I didnt think. Not with the way we played.

After the Celtics blew an 11-point halftime lead, Rivers deemed the 93-86 defeat the worst loss of the season. He said the Derrick Rose-less Bulls were too tough for his team, who he thought played like "the cool Boston Celtics," that night. Rivers called the game "unacceptable" and, when asked about the postseason, said the playoffs were the "furthest thing from my mind right now."

Just four days later, the Celtics (32-24) have a three-game lead in the Atlantic Division and are seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference with 10 games left in the regular season. They were not pleased with their loss to the Bulls, or their one-point defeat to the San Antonio Spurs the previous night at home, and are motivating themselves even when Rivers isn't speaking out.

He was frustrated, but we all were frustrated, said Paul Pierce (17 points, five rebounds, 3 assists against the 76ers). Of course we were frustrated from losing a game that we all feel like was a very winnable game. As veterans, we know how to respond, we know how to take our game up another level. You felt the frustration from the coach, but we felt it ourselves. Even if Doc didnt express it, I think we would have come out and played the way we played the last couple nights.

This weekends bounce-back wins were critical as the Celtics begin one of the most challenging stretches of their season on Tuesday with upcoming opponents including the Miami Heat (twice), Atlanta Hawks (twice), Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, and Milwaukee Bucks.

They will play their final 10 games, including two awayhome back-to-back series and a back-to-back-to-back series on the road, of the regular season over the next 17 days.

We all were disappointed, said Greg Stiemsma (2 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks against the 76ers). We all kind of felt like we let the San Antonio one kind of go before that. In the Chicago one, we just didnt have it. We know weve got to be better than that. Weve played at such a high level at times that weve got to stay at that high level all the time to finish this stretch out. Everybodys got a tough stretch left. Ours is really tough. So we cant make excuses, weve just got to go out and play our games.

We all kind of felt that he (Rivers) was just resonating how we were feeling. He didnt have to say a whole lot, but what he said was meaningful enough to get us going.

Top Red Sox prospect Sam Travis out for year with torn ACL

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Top Red Sox prospect Sam Travis out for year with torn ACL

As good as things have gone for the Red Sox so far in 2016, their 2017 prospects took a bit of a blow over the weekend.

Sam Travis -- one of the organization's top prospects, and someone who opened a lot of eyes with an impressive spring-training showing this year -- suffered a torn ACL on Sunday while playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox and will be lost for the rest of the season. He was hurt while playing first base, collapsing as he chased down an opposition baserunner during a rundown play. He had to be helped off the field, and the extent of the injury was announced on Monday.

With David Ortiz retiring at the end of this season and Hanley Ramirez expected to replace him as the full-time designated hitter, the door was open for Travis to become the Red Sox' first baseman next year. Playing at Triple-A for the first time, the 22-year-old Travis -- honored by the Red Sox as their Minor League Offensive Player of the the Year in 2015 -- was hitting .272/.332/.434 with 10 doubles, 6 home runs and 29 RBI in 47 games.

Now, however, it's almost a complete certainty Travis won't be able to start next season in Boston. And depending on what the Red Sox do in the offseason to replace Ortiz, such as a signing a free agent to a multiyear contract, Travis' path upward in the Sox organization may become less wide open . . . if not blocked.

Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

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Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

OAKLAND, Calif. - As Stephen Curry dribbled out the clock in a raucous Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant could only stand and watch.

The Golden State Warriors are heading back to the NBA Finals, while Durant's future in Oklahoma City is much less certain.

Two nights after blowing an opportunity to close out the defending champion Warriors at home, the Thunder got sent home for the summer when they lost Game 7 of the Western Conference finals 96-88 on Monday night.

Instead of becoming known as the team that knocked off the Warriors after their record-setting 73-win regular season, the Thunder will be remembered for a playoff collapse. They became just the 10th NBA team to lose a playoff series after taking a 3-1 lead and now head into an uncertain offseason with Durant eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

If he does leave the only franchise he has played for in his nine-year career, he will do it having failed to deliver the championship to Oklahoma City. The closest the Thunder have gotten in Durant's tenure was when they lost the NBA Finals in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012.

They then lost in the second round the next season, in the conference finals in 2014 to San Antonio before missing the playoffs entirely because of an injury to Durant last year.

But under first-year coach Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City earned the third seed in the top-heavy Western Conference this season and then upset 67-win San Antonio in the second round. The Thunder followed that by winning three of the first four games against the Warriors, with a pair of lopsided wins at home.

But after losing Game 5 on the road, the Thunder blew an opportunity to eliminate the Warriors at home on Saturday night. Oklahoma City led by seven points with less than five minutes remaining but made only one basket and committed six turnovers down the stretch of a 108-101 loss that could haunt the franchise for years.

The Thunder responded on the road in Game 7 by taking a 13-point lead in the second quarter. But once Curry and Klay Thompson started hitting Oklahoma City with a flurry of 3-pointers, the Thunder had no answer. The Splash Brothers combined for 13 3-pointers as Golden State outscored Oklahoma City by 30 points from behind the line.

Oklahoma City's stars were no match. Russell Westbrook missed 14 of 21 from the field and shot just 36.8 percent in the three potential clinchers. Durant finished with 27 points but took only 10 shots in the first three quarters.

Durant did score seven straight points to cut an 11-point deficit to four with 1:40 remaining. But Serge Ibaka then fouled Curry on a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down, allowing Golden State to build the lead back to seven.

Durant then missed two shots and could only stare blankly when Curry ended Oklahoma City's season with a 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left. Now the Thunder can only hope it doesn't end Durant's tenure in Oklahoma City as well.