Bradley has career night for Celtics

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Bradley has career night for Celtics

BOSTON The Boston Celtics got a big-game performance from someone besides the Big Four, as Avery Bradley had a career-high 23 points in Boston's 88-76 win over Washington.

A good chunk of his scoring this season has come on lay-ups cutting to the basket.

He got plenty of those against a porous Wizards defense.

But he also started to knock down mid-range jumpers and a 3-pointer, creating the kind of scene that could have easily resulted in a, 'I told ya so,' from head coach Doc Rivers.

"One of the things I've said consistently all year is that he can shoot the ball," Rivers said. "And he was making me a liar for most of the year. It was great to see them go in."

Bradley, who got the starting nod for Ray Allen (ankle) and is expected to fill in for Allen on Monday at Charlotte, is no stranger to the starting lineup.

He came into Sunday's game having had 10 starts this year, all in place of Rajon Rondo.

So the opportunity to play with Rondo instead of filling in for him, was clearly something that brought out the best in Bradley.

"Playing with Rondo is better for him," Rivers said. "He could just run out. He didn't have to wait for the ball, he didn't have to call a play, he didn't have to think where everybody was at; he just ran."

And in the process, he ran all over the hapless Wizards.

But as well as his numbers were, Washington coach Randy Wittman was clearly not impressed with the second-year guard's play.

"I could have scored those lay-ups," Wittman said. "I am being serious. We didn't have anybody guarding him. He ought to send us a postcard of thank-yous or something for allowing him to score."

Not sure if the United States Postal Service could handle the enormous amount of post card thank-yous the Wizards would receive if every player who lit them up this season - and there have been a lot - took that approach.

It doesn't matter now, not with the Celtics (26-22) continuing their quest at claiming the Atlantic Division crown while the Washington Wizards continue to look more like the Washington Generals.

With the C's win coupled with a loss by Philadelphia to San Antonio, Boston now trails the Sixers (27-22) by half a game.

Boston's chances of moving up to the top spot can only be helped with performances like the one Bradley put on Sunday night.

Even though it was his scoring that garnered most of the post-game attention, Bradley insists his focus remains on getting the job done defensively.

"I was fortunate enough that my teammates could find me in transition," he said.

While that's true, Bradley also displayed the ability to score from the perimeter, something he has been reluctant to look for until recently.

"I think that it's just a confidence thing," Bradley said. "I'm feeling more confident out there. My teammates make me feel more confident, more comfortable, so then I am knocking down more shots."

You can add Paul Pierce to the growing list of Celtics excited about Bradley's big game, and look forward to seeing more big things from him in the future.

"It's just good to watch a guy like Avery mature right before your eyes over the last couple of years," Pierce said.

And that growth will go far in Boston making the kind of deep playoff run that they have come to expect annually.

"All the great teams and all the champions always have that player who can set up outside the stars and that's what makes a team, an even better team," Pierce said. "Each night we gotta have guys, and tonight it was Avery."

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley explode in shootout win vs. 49ers

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley explode in shootout win vs. 49ers

Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Todd Gurley ran for two TDs and caught another to help the Los Angeles Rams put up another big offensive performance with a 41-39 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

The NFL's lowest-scoring team last year looks like a completely different outfit this season under first-year coach Sean McVay thanks to vastly improved play by Goff after a rough rookie season as the No. 1 overall pick.

The Rams (2-1) have also been helped by the additions of receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods and the play-calling of McVay as they have scored 107 points through three games. That's the second-most in franchise history, trailing only the 119 by "The Greatest Show on Turf" squad in 2000.

This win didn't come easy as the Rams nearly blew a 15-point lead, giving up two late touchdowns, fumbling a kickoff return and failing to recover an onside kick. But Los Angeles managed to stop a potential game-tying 2-point conversion and then used an offensive pass interference penalty against Trent Taylor and a fourth-down sack by Aaron Donald to stop the Niners after the onside kick.

The 49ers (0-3) scored five touchdowns after failing to get any the first two weeks but still came up short in part because a missed extra point by Robbie Gould forced them to try for 2 on their late touchdown.

This time it was a tired defense that hurt San Francisco. After facing 79 plays in a 12-9 loss at Seattle on Sunday, the 49ers appeared to run out of gas on the short week as Goff frequently had wide-open receivers, especially on third down.

All three of Goff's touchdown passes came on third down, including a 13-yard pass to Watkins early in the fourth quarter that gave Los Angeles a 41-26 lead.

The Rams needed all that offense on a night where Brian Hoyer threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score.

QUICK START: The Rams took just 12 seconds to get on the board as Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Hoyer on the first play from scrimmage and returned it to the 3-yard line. Gurley ran it in on the next play to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.

DROUGHT BUSTER: The 49ers came into the game without a touchdown on the season but broke through in the first quarter with some help from the Rams. After Blake Countess jumped offside on a punt, the Niners took advantage of the second opportunity and drove to score on Hoyer's 9-yard run 126:43 into the season. That was the longest it took a team to score its first TD since 2006 when both Tampa Bay (143:03) and Oakland (127:10) took more time.

FOURTH DOWN CALLS: Both teams drove to the opposing 1 on their opening drives of the second half with help from a Willie Mays-style basket catch by Watkins and a perfect toe drag on the sideline by San Francisco's Pierre Garcon. But the Rams opted to kick a short field goal, while the 49ers went for it and converted on Carlos Hyde's 1-yard run that cut Los Angeles' lead to 27-20. Hyde added a second 1-yard run on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

INJURIES: Rams S Lamarcus Joyner left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. ... Los Angeles C John Sullivan injured his groin in the second half and Watkins and Tavon Austin left with concussions. ... 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), FB Kyle Juszczyk (neck), DL Tank Carradine (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (concussion) all left with injuries in the second half.

UP NEXT: The Rams travel to Dallas on Oct. 1. The 49ers visit Arizona.

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Boston Sports Tonight Podcast: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

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Boston Sports Tonight Podcast: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST.

0:41 - Tom E. Curran breaks down the ‘blueprint’ to beat the Patriots and if the Texans have the talent to do it.

5:27 - Michael Holley and Kayce Smith discuss Kyrie Irving’s comments that he made on Early Edition about going back to Cleveland for the opening game. 

9:52 - We take a listen to what Malcolm Butler had to say about his role on the team and discuss how the cornerback keeps saying all the right things. 

15:18 - Michael McCann, Legal Analyst for Sports Illustrated joins BST to talk about Aaron Hernandez’s brain found to have CTE and his family now suing the NFL and the Patriots.