Hawks struggle vs. undermanned C's

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Hawks struggle vs. undermanned C's

ATLANTA The Atlanta Hawks moved one step closer to clinching home court in the first round of the playoffs with Friday's 97-92 win over the Boston Celtics.

But Hawks coach Larry Drew was in no mood to celebrate the win, not when it came down to the final minute despite Boston playing without five of its top seven players who were either out because of an injury or simply had the night off.

"As far as I'm concerned," said Drew, "whether Boston lost the game or not, they accomplished what they wanted - to have his reserves come out and compete at a high level, and to take us down to the wire the way they did."

With a lineup on the floor that included E'Twaun Moore, Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, Jajuan Johnson and Ryan Hollins, the Celtics had the ball with a chance to take the lead with the Hawks clinging to a 79-78 lead.

A jumper by Johnson was off the mark. Boston got the offensive rebound, but Moore missed a 3-pointer that seconds later resulted in a 3-pointer by Atlanta's Willie Green.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers heard a lot of praise bestowed upon his players who put up the kind of fight few not on the Celtics' payroll, anticipated.

"Nobody gave us a chance in hell tonight," said Celtics guardforward Marquis Daniels who hd a season-high 12 points. "We gave ourselves a chance to win the game. We were a couple shots away from it."

For Rivers, he was proud of how his team fought through some less-than-stellar circumstances. But regardless of who plays, the goal remains the same.

Because of that, the C's are able to keep Friday's loss in perspective.

"We didn't win the game," Rivers said. 'And that was our goal."

The same goes for the Hawks, who were able to come away with the victory.

But there's no question that it didn't sit well with them, especially knowing that there's a very good chance these two will see each other in the first round of the playoffs.

And the C's will have most, if not all, of the guys missing on Friday, back in the lineup.

Joe Johnson led all scorers with 30 points, and he acknowledges that the Hawks don't feel all that great about Friday's victory.

"For us," Johnson said. "It definitely sits a little uneasy. I don't feel like we brought our "A" game, particularly given they had a few guys out."

More than anything, it becomes a game in which a team's mental toughness and ability to focus on the job at hand - regardless of the opponent - is put to the test.

And the Hawks, truth be told, barely passed.

"As I told our players," Drew said, "I understand the psychological and mental side of a game like that where a team doesn't have its top six or seven players. I've been around this league long enough to see that situation. Either you handle it or you don't, and we didn't handle that side of it."

Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

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Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while hoping everybody on this Memorial Day takes some time to appreciate all of those that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. We should also take a moment to say thanks to people like the three heroes in Oregon that stood up to a hateful bigot earlier this week, and in doing so reaffirmed what the majority of people living in the US believe we are all about while trying to live up to that ideal every day.
 
-- A number of NHL legends are shaking their heads at the dirty play that we’re seeing in these playoffs, particularly those plays targeting the superstars that people pay big money to see in the postseason. Why should anybody be shocked by this? The rooting out of enforcers, and fighting, has taken accountability out of the game for the cheap-shot artists and dirty players, and leaves little real deterrant for players looking to take out opponents with dangerous plays. I wrote about this a couple of years ago when the NHL threw the book at Shawn Thornton for going after Brooks Orpik, and in doing so chose to protect somebody trying to hurt opponents (Orpik) and punish somebody trying to protect his teammates (Thornton). It was a sea change for the league, and something players didn’t forget as more and more enforcers were quickly weeded out of the NHL. This is what the rule-makers and legislators wanted, and now it’s what they’re getting just a couple of years later with dangerous stick-work, cheap shots and a general lack of respect for fellow players.
 
-- Here's why the Tampa Bay Lightning would consider trading a player like Jonathan Drouin, and the major impact that could have on the offseason trade market.
 
-- Down Goes Brown has a Stanley Cup Final rooting guide for the other 28 other fan bases now that Nashville and Pittsburgh are in the final series.

-- So which goaltender has the edge in the Stanley Cup Final: Nashville's Pekka Rinne, or Pittsburgh's two-headed monster of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury?
 
-- Scotty Bowman says winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles has become monumentally difficult since the advent of the salary cap.
 
-- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are pushing each other to be betters, and showing exactly how a team should be led by its superstars in the salary-cap era for the league.
 
-- For something completely different: We can confirm through this report that a lot of hot dogs are eaten in the summertime. So glad we have people to research these kinds of things.
 

Third inning: Red Sox 1, White Sox 0

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Third inning: Red Sox 1, White Sox 0

CHICAGO -- David Price came out firing Monday in his first major-league outing since last year's playoffs, striking out the first batter he faced while burning just 14 pitches in a 1-2-3 first inning against the White Sox.

The lefty's elbow had him touching 96 mph on the final pitch of the first inning, which produced an easy groundout to shortstop from first baseman Jose Abreu.

More importantly, the command problems that plagued Price in two outings for Triple-A Pawtucket didn't crop up at the outset.

White Sox leadoff man Tim Anderson swung and missed at a 2-and-2 cutter to start the inning, before Melky Cabrera grounded out to first base with Price covering for the second out.

Price was staked to a 1-0 lead before he threw a pitch.

Mookie Betts' leadoff double against Chicago's David Holmberg gave way to a run thanks to some great Betts base running. He took third base on Dustin Pedroia's ground out and then scored on a foul pop up that Abreu, the first baseman, snagged in foul territory with a basket catch — a rare sacrifice fly to the first baseman.

Click here for the game summary.