Celtics done in by too many missed jumpers vs. Spurs

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Celtics done in by too many missed jumpers vs. Spurs

SAN ANTONIO Throughout most of Saturday's loss at San Antonio, Doc Rivers was fuming about what he saw as a lack of consistency in the calls on the floor.

Rivers' hunch was based in large part on the fact that the Spurs went to the free throw line 20 times compared to just eight trips for a Celtics team that averages 22.1 free throw attempts per game which ranks 18th in the league.

But the way the game was called should serve as a cautionary tale for teams like Boston that live by the jump-shot.

Finding a better balance between exploiting what is a clear strength - shooting jumpers - while exploring other ways to score going to the basket will be among the challenges Boston will have in Tuesday's game at Chicago.

Boston (12-11), riding a two-game losing streak now, has proven to be one of the league's better shooting teams when it comes to mid-range shots.

According to NBA.comstats, Boston is the connecting on a league-best 46.1 percent of their mid-range shots. Meanwhile the Bulls are shooting 42 percent on corner 3s which ranks seventh in the league.

While some might question the C's shot selection in Saturday's 101-88 loss to the Spurs as being too dependent on scoring from the perimeter, Celtics guard Jason Terry liked the looks for the most part the C's were getting.

"The shots we got were great," said Terry who had 18 points off the bench. "You can't turn those down. I know all of us want to say, 'Don't shoot jump shots. Get to the basket.' But a lot of them were wide open."

In the first half, he was right.

That is why Boston took 23 shots of at least 15 feet in the first half, and nailed 12 of them. In the second half, San Antonio's defense limited Boston to just 17 shot attempts of 15 feet or more with the C's hitting just four.

"We switched more (defensively in the second half)," explained Spurs guard Tony Parker who had a game-high 22 points to go with eight assists. "We just tried to play better defense. It sounds basic but that's what we did."

And the Spurs ability to pull away in the second half was also in part because of their ability to find a better balance between knocking down long-range shots while still getting points going to the basket or from the free throw line.

In the first half, San Antonio was 7-for-20 shooting on field goal attempts of 15 feet or further away. In the second half, they were 7-for-15.

And remember, both teams shot an identical 38-for-81 from the field.

While the Celtics have made progress in some areas since the start of the season, they still struggle to generate points around the paint other than Kevin Garnett post-ups and Rajon Rondo drives into the lane.

Paul Pierce still attacks the rim from time to time, but the 35-year-old is transitioning into being more of a perimeter shooter who doesn't generate as many points as he has in the past on isolation plays.

There's a growing concern among some Celtics players that they're having too many nights where the offense is dictating the play of the defense - a recipe for failure both in the short and long-term.

"If the shots don't fall, we have to have a defensive consistency," Pierce said. "We should be able to score between 90-96 points and still try to find a way to win the game with our defense."

Boston has to do what other teams are doing to them - make adjustments.

And one of the first needs to be to figure out other ways to generate points besides jumpers which as we've seen thus far this season, is an up and down affair - just like the Celtics record.

Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox

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Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox

Andrelton Simmons drove in three runs, including a go-ahead two-run homer, Albert Pujols went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and the Los Angeles Angels rallied for a 7-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.

Simmons hit his 10th homer of the season to left and put the Angels ahead 4-3 in the third inning after falling behind early. Pujols doubled to score Yunel Escobar and Mike Trout to start the four-run outburst.

Pujols became the 26th player to score 1,700 runs when he touched home plate after Simmons went deep. Pujols joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez and Willie Mays in amassing at least 600 home runs and 1,700 runs.

JC Ramirez (9-8) recorded his second win at home in 11 starts, striking out six while allowing one earned run and five hits in six innings.

David Price (5-3) gave up five earned runs and seven hits in five innings, allowing more than three earned runs for only the second time this year.

The Red Sox got off to another fast start after scoring five runs in the first inning on Friday. Hanley Ramirez had an RBI single to start the game, and the Red Sox got two runs in the second after the Angels' franchise-record streak of 14 games without an error ended when Ramirez couldn't make the catch to complete a double play while covering first. Mookie Betts hit his 31st double to knock in a run and then was driven in by Andrew Benintendi for a 3-0 lead.

However, the Angels were able to respond after dropping the series opener. They added two runs in the fifth when Simmons singled, again bringing home Pujols, and he scored on a throwing error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Trout picked up an RBI in the sixth, giving him five in seven games this home stand.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Josh Rutledge (concussion) is likely to come off the disabled list on Monday. . Mitch Moreland was in the starting lineup at DH for the first time this season.

Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (strained oblique) pitched four innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake, giving up three earned runs and six hits.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-12, 4.60 ERA) has just one win in his last 10 starts, but it came against the Angels last month. Porcello has allowed two earned runs in 14 innings over his last two starts, striking out 13 without allowing a walk in that span, and still took the loss in both outings.

Angels: RHP Parker Bridwell (3-1, 3.18 ERA) went a career-high 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win against the Red Sox last month. Bridwell has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in five of his last six starts.

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More AP baseball:https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury help Revolution beat Galaxy 4-3

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Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury help Revolution beat Galaxy 4-3

Teal Bunbury scored twice, Diego Fagundez had three assists and the New England Revolution beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 4-3 on Saturday night to snap a four-game losing streak.

Bunbury gave New England (6-9-5) a 3-2 lead in the 70th. His pass down the right side led Kelyn Rowe, who played a perfect cross to a charging Bunbury for a header from the top of the 6-yard box.

Lee Nguyen opened the scoring for Revolution in the 16th, but Daniel Steres tied it in the 22nd. Kei Kamara put New England back on top going into halftime, and Steres made it 2-2 in the 53rd minute.

Bunbury's second goal put New England up 4-2 in the 73rd and Ariel Lassiter added a goal for the Galaxy in the 79th.

Los Angeles (6-10-4) has lost five in a row and has just one win in its last eight games.