Celtics-Jazz review: C's tune out Jazz in 4th

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Celtics-Jazz review: C's tune out Jazz in 4th

BOSTON The Boston Celtics once again found themselves in a nail-biter that wasn't decided until the final seconds of play.

And once again the C's managed to prevail as they held on for a 98-93 win over the Utah Jazz.

Boston came into Wednesday's game having with a margin of just 4.8 points in games they came away victorious.

Adding to the degree of difficulty on Wednesday was the fact that the C's played the entire fourth quarter and part of the third without point guard Rajon Rondo, who has a right ankle sprain and is questionable for Thursday night's game in Brooklyn against the Nets.

Boston got a ton of clutch plays most of the night from Rondo's replacement - Leandro Barbosa - as well as key reserves Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox.

But like most games, defensive play usually dictates who leaves with a win and who departs playing the 'what if..." game.

"Defensively, we're coming on," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "You know, we gave up a couple things that they shouldn't have had, but overall I think we're starting to understand that this 'single possession defensive team' mentality. Every single possession. I don't know if our new guys get that yet, but I think they're starting to."

Solid defense and timely shot-making once again proved to be a winning formula down the stretch for Boston. Here's a review of some keys outlined prior to the game, and how they ultimately played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Every team has a flaw that the opponent wants to exploit. For the Celtics, it is rebounding. I know ... shocking! Boston ranks dead last on the glass at 46 rebounds per game. They face a Utah team that once again is among the NBA's best on the boards. Utah hauls in 55 rebounds per game which ranks sixth in the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW: Not surprisingly, the Celtics were crushed on the boards by the Jazz in decisive fashion, 48-33. It was especially ugly on the offensive glass with the Jazz out-boarding them, 18-4. "When we get out-rebounded by what we did, 18-4 ... it's hard to win a basketball game. And yet we still won it."

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. Paul Millsap. Tonight's matchup here offers up a rare treat: two power forwards who are actually ... power forwards. Bass is the better face-up scorer, but you have to give Millsap the edge when it comes to rebounding.

WHAT WE SAW: Bass was no different than most power forwards Millsap faces, with Millsap showcasing an impressive game around the basket before finishing with 20 points and 12 rebounds to go with four assists and a couple blocks. Bass wasn't too shabby (eight points on 4-for-8 shooting) scoring the ball, but three rebounds? The C's need him to be better - much better - than that.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Chris Wilcox isn't putting up huge numbers for the Celtics, but he is contributing in ways that should help ease some of the interior pressure defensively that's squarely on the shoulders of Kevin Garnett now. It's well documented how significant the drop-off is when Garnett leaves the game to take a rest. Wilcox is rounding into shape so that Garnett taking a break may not necessarily be as big an issue in the future. "I'm getting there; I'm getting there," Wilcox told CSNNE.com. "I just have to keep on grinding man, making sure I do my part to help this team win. When I come in for KG, that means defense and rebounding."

WHAT WE SAW: Wilcox was among the reasons Doc Rivers was able to play Kevin Garnett the entire fourth quarter and not be worried about minutes played. Wilcox had seven points and five rebounds while playing just over 18 minutes. "At the end of the day, the biggest thing for me is just bringing the energy," Wilcox said. "Once I just bring the energy, start running the floor things just start falling into place."

STAT TO TRACK: Both teams have had some pretty good halftime spiels from their coaches, evident by the third quarter being so good to them offensively. Boston averages 25.6 points in the third quarter this season which ranks seventh in the NBA. Meanwhile the Jazz aren't too far behind with 25.2 points in the third quarter which ranks ninth in the league.

WHAT WE SAW: The third quarter was once again the Celtics best scoring quarter of the game. In the third, Boston had 29 points compared to 24 by the Jazz. "We're getting better," said C's forward Paul Pierce. "Like I said, it's a process."

WNBA: Sun blow 21-point lead before beating Liberty, 94-89

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WNBA: Sun blow 21-point lead before beating Liberty, 94-89

NEW YORK - Jasmine Thomas scored 23 points and Connecticut held on for a 94-89 win over the New York Liberty on Friday night after blowing a 21-point lead.

Jonquel Jones added 21 points for the Sun (6-5). Theyh ave won five straight games, including two over New York.

Connecticut was up 70-49 in the third quarter before New York rallied to tie it at 86 with 1:06 left on a layup by Shavonte Zellous. Courtney Williams then hit a jumper to give the Sun the lead and pulled down the rebound on the other end. Jasmine Thomas then hit a 3-pointer from the wing - the team's 12th of the game - with 24 seconds left to seal the victory.

The Sun were hot from the start from behind the arc, hitting five of their first nine 3-pointers and finished the first half with nine 3s to build a 46-32 advantage.

Tina Charles scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half to lead New York (7-5). Zellous added 18.

The Sun had been winning without Morgan Tuck (knee) and Lynetta Kizer (back), who are sidelined with injuries. Coach Curt Miller expects Kizer back sooner than Tuck.

The Liberty have only three home games in the next 45 days spending most of the month of July on the road.

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

BOSTON —  The Red Sox have become well known for their ceremonies, for their pull-out-all-the-stops approach to pomp. The retirement of David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday evening was in one way, then, typical.

A red banner covered up Ortiz’s No. 34 in right field, on the facade of the grandstand, until it was dropped down as Ortiz, his family, Red Sox ownership and others who have been immortalized in Fenway lore looked on. Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez. 

The half-hour long tribute further guaranteed permanence to a baseball icon whose permanence in the city and the sport was never in doubt. But the moments that made Friday actually feel special, rather than expected, were stripped down and quick. 

Dustin Pedroia’s not one to belabor many points, never been the most effusive guy around. (He’d probably do well on a newspaper deadline.) The second baseman spoke right before Ortiz took to the podium behind the mound.

“We want to thank you for not the clutch hits, the 500 home runs, we want to thank you for how you made us feel and it’s love,” Pedroia said, with No. 34 painted into both on-deck circles and cut into the grass in center field. “And you’re not our teammate, you’re not our friend, you’re our family. … Thank you, we love you.”

Those words were enough for Ortiz to have tears in his eyes.

“Little guy made me cry,” Ortiz said, wiping his hands across his face. “I feel so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to have the career that I have. But I thank God even more for giving me the family and what I came from, who teach me how to try to do everything the right way. Nothing — not money — nothing is better than socializing with the people that are around you, get familiar with, show them love, every single day. It’s honor to get to see my number …. I remember hitting batting practice on this field, I always was trying to hit those numbers.”

Now that’s a poignant image for a left-handed slugger at Fenway Park.

He did it once, he said — hit the numbers. He wasn’t sure when. Somewhere in 2011-13, he estimated — but he said he hit Bobby Doerr’s No. 1.

“It was a good day to hit during batting practice,” Ortiz remembered afterward in a press conference. “But to be honest with you, I never thought I’d have a chance to hit the ball out there. It’s pretty far. My comment based on those numbers was, like, I started just getting behind the history of this organization. Those guys, those numbers have a lot of good baseball in them. It takes special people to do special things and at the end of the day have their number retired up there, so that happening to me today, it’s a super honor to be up there, hanging with those guys.”

The day was all about his number, ultimately, and his number took inspiration from the late Kirby Puckett. Ortiz’s major league career began with the Twins in 1997. Puckett passed away in 2006, but the Red Sox brought his children to Fenway Park. They did not speak at the podium or throw a ceremonial first pitch, but their presence likely meant more than, say, Jason Varitek’s or Tim Wakefield’s.

“Oh man, that was very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I’m not going to lie to you, like, when I saw them coming toward me, I thought about Kirby. A lot. That was my man, you know. It was super nice to see his kids. Because I remember, when they were little guys, little kids. Once I got to join the Minnesota Twins, Kirby was already working in the front office. So they were, they used to come in and out. I used to get to see them. But their dad was a very special person for me and that’s why you saw me carry the No. 34 when I got here. It was very special to get to see them, to get kind of connected with Kirby somehow someway.”

Ortiz’s place in the row of 11 retired numbers comes in between Boggs’ No. 26 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.