Rondo: First half, suspension behind us

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Rondo: First half, suspension behind us

ORLANDO, Fla. When the news came that Rajon Rondo would not be an all-star, he did what most NBA players do during the All-Star break - he made plans to soak in the warm, balmy beach weather of the Bahamas.

Then came word that he would in fact be an All-star replacement for Atlanta's Joe Johnson.

Bye-bye Bahamas.

Hello, Orlando.

Rondo made it into town early Friday morning and discussed a number of topics, chief among them being his two-game suspension for throwing a basketball at official Sean Wright at Detroit on Sunday, and the role that he has to play in the Celtics turning around what has been a disappointing first half of the season.

Not surprisingly, Rondo didn't have much to say about the suspension which not only hurt the Celtics (15-17) in their loss to the Pistons, but was certainly a factor in the two games he did not play in because of the suspension.

Both ended in losses for the Celtics, who come into the break with a five-game losing streak.

As far as the ejection at Detroit - the first of his career - Rondo said fans and foes shouldn't get too comfortable with him having that kind of outburst.

"I don't think you guys will see that again," Rondo told reporters on Friday. "So obviously, I learned from it. I'm an emotional player. I just felt things were different. And I reacted the way I reacted."

Moments before Rondo tossed the ball at Wright's chest, he drove into the lane and missed a shot. After the miss, Pistons center Greg Monroe landed on him. Rondo thought he was fouled, and didn't waste any time voicing his displeasure to Wright about what he felt was a bad non-call.

Next thing you know, Rondo has the ball in his hands. The ball leaves his hands with some serious torque, hitting Wright in the cheststomach area.

Just like that, two technicals and an automatic ejection for Rondo.

"That's in the past," Rondo said of the incident. "I made a mistake. It is what it is."

He's right.

At this point, there's no reason for Rondo or the Celtics to dwell on what happened, or view it necessarily as a major issue.

The bigger concern for them has to be how to turn around their season which is spiraling in the wrong direction - unless they want to be in the NBA lottery.

When you look at the C's roster, there's no shortage of players who need to perform at a higher level, more consistently.

Despite this being his third straight all-star appearance, Rondo includes himself in that group.

"I can do a lot more," he said. "I hold myself to a high standard. I'm not pleased with the way the team is playing, so I think I can do a better job of maybe being vocal, speaking up as far as things needing to get done."

Rondo added, "I'm not satisfied where we are. I'm not satisfied where I am. I want to continue to get better for my team. I really do believe we'll be better before the end of the year."

Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

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Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Notes, quotes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Rays:

QUOTES:

* "There's not much I can do about it now. It's kind of a waiting game and hopefully, the tests come back clean.'' -Andrew Benintendi, on the uncertainty surrounding his knee injury.

* "Sometimes, I like that, sometimes I don't because I'd kind of take a couple of quick outs in place of those to get a couple of more innings out there.'' -Drew Pomeranz on his career high 11 strikeouts.

* "That's probably the spot that looms the largest. Jackie's become more aggressive early in the count, but at the same time, that aggressiveness can work against you.'' -Farrell on Jackie Bradley Jr. swinging at the first pitch following a walk with the bases loaded.

NOTES:

* Drew Pomeranz recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts

 * Since moving to the leadoff spot, Dustin Pedroia has a slash line of .397/.418/.460 in 16 games.

* Pomeranz has yielded two runs or fewer in five consecutive starts.

* On the just-completed road trip, the Red Sox led in all but one game.

* Thursday's loss was the fourth this season in which the Sox allowed two runs or fewer.

 * The past 18 Red Sox losses have come by a combined 37 runs.

* Until Thursday, the Red Sox had won 20 of their past 31 day games.

* The bottom third of the makeshift Red Sox lineup combined to go 2-for-12.

* The Sox missed out on a chance to have an eight-win road trip, which would have been their first since 2011.

STARS:

1) Jake Odorizzi

The Rays started, facing a depleted Red Sox lineup, limited the Sox to a single run over seven innings, allowing just five hits and getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam by allowing just one run.

2) Mikie Mahtook

Mahtook was 0-for-34 when facing Drew Pomeranz in the seventh inning, but that didn't stop him from doubling home Steven Souza Jr with what proved to be the winning run.

3) Dustin Pedroia

The Sox couldn't generate much of anything at all offensively, but don't blame Pedroia. The leadoff hitter had three hits and a walk and was on base four times for the Sox.

Benintendi's MRI inconclusive; will undergo more tests Friday in Boston

Benintendi's MRI inconclusive; will undergo more tests Friday in Boston

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Andrew Benintendi saga will continue for at least one more day, as an MRI taken here Thursday morning was, in the words of John Farrell, "inconclusive" and the rookie left fielder will undergo more tests Friday in Boston.

"Our doctors want to get him back to a full exam with (team orthopedist) Dr. [Peter] Asnis," Farrell said after the 2-1 loss to the Rays, which concluded the team's 11-game road trip. "Hopefully, when I speak to you all [Friday] afternoon (at Fenway Park, prior to the team's game against Royals), there will be a little more information on this."

Farrell said Friday's tests "will include some other imaging".

The Sox placed Benintendi on the 15-day disabled list after he injured his left night while running the bases Wednesday night. 

"We're going to do some more tests tomorrow and take it day-by-day," he said. "There's not much I can do about it now. It's kind of a waiting game and hopefully the tests come back clean.''
 
Benintendi found one sliver of hope:
 
"The more I walk on it, the better it feels. I'm going to stay as positive as I can.'' 

Branch reinstated by Patriots after week-long suspension

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Branch reinstated by Patriots after week-long suspension

Alan Branch has been reinstated by the Patriots after the team suspended him prior to last week's preseason game with the Bears, according to Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran. 

When Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Branch's absence last week, he replied, "It's a club matter."

What got Branch suspended by the team is still unknown, but he is expected to be a contributing player on the interior of the Patriots defensive line in 2016. He started in 17 games last season, including both playoff games, often lining up alongside fellow defensive tackle Malcom Brown. 

Through training camp the Patriots have also used Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine, Anthony Johnson and Joe Vellano on the interior of their defensive front. Branch, however, has consistently been used with the team's first defensive grouping. It's unclear how a week away from the team might impact his spot on the depth chart. 

Field Yates of ESPN was the first to report the news that Branch had been reinstated.