Rivers: Smith, Rondo both leaders, but Rondo's path tougher

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Rivers: Smith, Rondo both leaders, but Rondo's path tougher

ATLANTA There's rarely a day that passes where there isn't a story out there about an NBA player beefing with his head coach, having a run-in with a teammate or some other knuckle-head like act being committed.

For years, Atlanta's Josh Smith was among the players you could lump into that category.

But this season, the 27-year-old is showing the kind of growth and maturity on and off the court that has helped elevate the Hawks' status and his stature as a leader.

Smith comes into tonight's game against the Celtics averaging 17 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.45 steals. In addition to stuffing the stat sheet with all those numbers, the 6-foot-9 Smith is also averaging 2.31 blocks per game which ranks sixth in the NBA.

He is the only player in the top-10 blocked shots leaders who is under 6-10.

"Numbers-wise, he's an all-star," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "From what I know, he just seems like he's been a leader, a positive influence on the team. No emotional hijacks, he's been phenomenal for their team."

Smith evolving into a leader is in some ways similar to that of Boston's Rajon Rondo, Smith's former teammate at Oak Hill Academy.

"I think we still forget he (Smith) was young when he came to the league," said Rivers, referring to Smith being 18 years old when the Hawks drafted the Georgia native with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft. "It takes time. Not only the basketball part, but your maturity and your leadership and all that. So it looks like he's getting it."

And while Rivers agrees that there are similarities in the maturation of Smith and Rondo, he's convinced that the road Rondo has had to go has been tougher.

"Rondo's the point guard of the team, a team that has not just Hall of Famers, but HALL OF FAMERS!" Rivers said. "You're talking about Paul (Pierce), Kevin (Garnett) and (former Celtic) Ray (Allen) and you're the guy that has to tell them, 'no you can't have the ball this time.' That's hard for someone, anyone. I just think it's a little different. But in a lot of ways it's the same with their youth."

Eduardo Rodriguez strong, Red Sox down Mariners for 5th straight win

Eduardo Rodriguez strong, Red Sox down Mariners for 5th straight win

BOSTON (AP)  Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings and the Boston Red Sox took advantage of a sloppy performance by the Seattle Mariners to earn their season-high fifth straight win, 3-0 on Friday night.

It was the third consecutive win for Rodriguez (4-1), who went six innings, gave up just five hits and struck out four while throwing a season-high 112 pitches. Craig Kimbrel earned his 13th save.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span.

The only run support Rodriguez needed came in the second inning, when Hanley Ramirez scored on Josh Rutledge's RBI groundout. Boston added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball.

Yovani Gallardo (2-5) took the loss. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and was responsible for all three of Boston's runs. Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help from his defense. Jackie Bradley Jr. had a pair of nice plays, getting an outfield assist in the second and running down another ball on the warning track in the sixth.

In addition to the pitching miscues, the Mariners had all kinds of issues in the wet conditions, committing two fielding errors.

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, leaving the door open for the Mariners to get back in the game. But Seattle couldn't capitalize, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners also left seven runners stranded.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left forearm) was slated to make a rehab start Friday night in Double-A Arkansas. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5. He could be activated for a start at the end of the month against Colorado.

Red Sox: Infielder Marco Hernandez will be out the remainder of the season after undergoing stabilization surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. Hernandez was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a left shoulder misalignment. The 24-year-old hit .276 with two RBI in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what manager John Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his major league start since last season with Atlanta. He will be 12th different starting pitcher the Mariners have used this season.

Red Sox: LHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be making his second major league start this year and third of his career.

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