Stellar third quarter could turn C's season

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Stellar third quarter could turn C's season

ATLANTA It usually takes more than a half of good play to win a game. But for the Boston Celtics, one half of exceptional play may have turned around their entire season.

The Celtic's dominant third quarter performance against the Atlanta Hawks not only propelled them to a 89-81 comeback win, but may have been just what this team needed to jumpstart their season.

In the third, Boston outscored the Atlanta Hawks 33-9 with Paul Pierce leading the way with 17 of his team-high 26 points in the third.

"Coming out there and throwing that first punch" was how Celtics guard Courtney Lee described the C's efforts in the third. "They were too comfortable ... way too comfortable."

Lee was speaking specifically about Lou Williams and Jeff Teague who had 21 and 13 points, respectively, in the first half. In the third quarter, Williams had five points while Teague missed his lone shot attempt from the field.

The ease at which Williams and Teague were scoring was something that
Lee and the rest of Boston's perimeter defenders took to heart coming out to start the half.

"We wanted to pick up the intensity, try to make everything hard on their guards," C's guard Avery Bradley told CSNNE.com. "Pick up the tempo on defense."

Added Jason Terry: "We took it personal. You come in at halftime, Lou Williams has 21 points, primarily on easy baskets. He was in rhythm, just catching it and letting it fly. And so we wanted to invade his space; we wanted to get up in Teague and make him work a little bit harder. And as we did that, our bigs were playing great 'D' all night. As we did that, we started to get more and more stops. And with stops, we got some of the best offensive weapons in the game."

The most lethal of those weapons was Pierce. But as impressive as his scoring binge in the third quarter was, the C's are mindful that their success on Saturday - and to a large degree this season - will have to be in their defense which was on full display in the third quarter.

"We're starting to commit ourselves towards the defensive end," said Kevin Garnett. "Defense takes a lot of energy, takes grit and each guy was willing to do just that. These last two games, you've been seeing us a lot more firm than we had been in the previous. These last two games, we have been firm, aggressive, going for steals and it starts with Rondo and Avery."

At the half, Rondo and Bradley stayed in the locker room a little while longer than the rest of their teammates watching film, looking for ways to limit dribble penetration by Teague and Williams which was the primary reason the C's were in such a deep hole.

"We wanted to make them playmakers," Rondo said. "They're both scoring guards. We tried to make them make plays."

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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