Rondo a 'sore loser' as C's struggle with trust defensively

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Rondo a 'sore loser' as C's struggle with trust defensively

WALTHAM The losing ways of the Boston Celtics has impacted the entire team - even if they all don't necessarily show it.

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been around the game too long to get too caught up in how players are expressing their disappointment in the team's lackluster play thus far.

"I don't notice," Rivers said. "I don't know what that does. You still have to learn from losing and learn from winning at the same time. Clearly there are guys who are more emotional than others. That doesn't mean the other guys take it just as poorly. I've learned you don't read into that."

One player who isn't taking the Celtics losing too well is Rajon Rondo, who will be the first to acknowledge that he's a "sore loser."

The C's (14-17) are very much a team in search-and-recovery mode as far as searching for an identity that they hope will recover some of the success they anticipated having this season.

Rondo said the search for who they are as a team isn't the most frustrating aspect of what's happening this season.

"The frustrating part is we're losing," he said. "Regardless of how many combinations we've had, how many different starting lineups we've had, we're still losing. I'm a sore loser. It's tough to lose."

Avoiding that feeling won't get any easier with the Indiana Pacers coming to town on Friday and a road game at Atlanta the following night.

"I'm a confident player. We're a confident team," Rondo said. "We just haven't found our way now."

In some ways, the Celtics' struggles this year are similar to what they dealt with a year ago when they advanced to within one game of getting to the NBA Finals.

Sitting on a 14-16 record now, the Celtics were just 15-15 at this same point last season.

But as players and coaches will attest to, this is a different season and the Celtics are a different team.

"Right now, we're at a tough point in the season," Rondo said. "We've lost four in a row. We have some big games coming up. It's not an easy stretch."

For the Celtics' season-worst four game losing skid to end, it will require something that we haven't seen much of this season - trust defensively.

Rondo breaks it down.

"Say a guard gets beat off the dribble and KG comes to help. And the other guard, the weak-side guard, is supposed to crack back down on his big," Rondo explains. "Say KG tries to contest the shot, his man gets the offensive rebound for a lay-up. It's kind of hard to trust. He might be hesitant to help the guard when he gets beat off the dribble because he's worried about his man who the opposite guard didn't crack back on.

Professor Rondo's not done.

"Or say me and Paul are in a pick and roll, and I'm thinking he'll switch and he doesn't switch, then my man turns the corner ... there's a lot of different roles they can play in, breaking down trust defensively. It all comes with being on the same page. And right now, all five guys on the court are not. Maybe two or three guys know the rotation and what we're doing, but the other two may not and it leads to easy buckets."

Regardless of the reason, the end result far too often has been the Celtics coming up short which has Rivers continuing his search for the right buttons to push to get the C's back on track.

"You look at some of our seasons, we've had some great ones and some rocky ones and turn out to be good at the end," Rivers said. "But there's no guarantee. You can't push the button from last year or past years and assume that it's going to come. So every year it's hard in that way. You fight to get the guys back in their roles and this year, new guys to buy into their roles and your system; buy into less minutes. I don't think any year is any harder."

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

As the NBA trade deadline gets closer and closer, A. Sherrod Blakely helps shed some light as to why the Boston Celtics may be unwilling to part ways with Jae Crowder