Tony Gonzalez's career ends in disappointment

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Tony Gonzalez's career ends in disappointment

From Comcast SportsNetATLANTA (AP) -- The only thing missing from Tony Gonzalez's impressive resume is a Super Bowl championship.One of the greatest tight ends in NFL history will have to settle for that omission after the Atlanta Falcons wasted another postseason lead.Matt Ryan passed for 396 yards and three touchdowns, but the Falcons were shut out in the second half of their 28-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game Sunday."I'm not going to cry about it," Gonzalez said after the conclusion of his 16th season. "I walk away with the satisfaction I left everything, absolutely everything, every time I was on the field."I wish it would have culminated with the Super Bowl, but it didn't."The 36-year-old Gonzalez still has a 13th Pro Bowl to play in, but after spending the season saying he was 95 percent certain he'll retire, he sounded like he's now at 100 percent.The Falcons led 17-0 in the first half and 24-21 entering the fourth quarter. Frank Gore's second touchdown run midway through the final quarter gave San Francisco its first lead.Ryan and the Falcons were left 10 yards short of their chance for a second straight last-minute comeback this postseason. The quarterback led the Falcons from the Atlanta 20 to the 49ers 10. On fourth-and-4 from the 10, Ryan's pass over the middle for Roddy White was deflected by linebacker NaVorro Bowman."On fourth down we tried to make something happen and we just couldn't get it done," Ryan said. "We fell a little short. I thought everybody battled real hard, we just didn't make enough plays to get it done."It was the second straight week the Falcons blew a big lead. They led Seattle 20-0 in the first half of last week's divisional playoff game, but needed a late field goal by Matt Bryant for a 30-28 win. The field goal was set up by Ryan's two clutch passes.This time, Ryan, Gonzalez and the Falcons came up short in the fourth quarter.Gonzalez had eight catches for 72 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown reception with 25 seconds remaining in the first half. The Falcons didn't score again.Gonzalez wasn't the only Atlanta player wondering if he would come so close to the Super Bowl. Center Todd McClure, 35, and defensive end John Abraham, 34, each said he plans to play at least one more season. Even so, they were hit hard by the loss.McClure had to stop and gather his emotions during his postgame comments."It's really tough," McClure said. "You play your whole career to get in this situation and to come up short, it's tough."Asked how he felt, Abraham said, "It's a feeling I can't comprehend and can't even speak about because I thought I was going to go on."No one in this locker room has any vacation plans because we all thought we were going to the Super Bowl," Abraham said. "You don't get many chances in life to get something you want so bad and to have it taken away from you, it hurts. You never know when you'll get the chance again."The Falcons had one last chance, taking the ball on their 41 with 6 seconds remaining. Ryan completed a pass to Julio Jones at the 49ers 35 as the game ended.Ryan said the last pass was intended to be the start of a razzle-dazzle, last-gasp attempt at a big play."It was one of those where we toss it all around," Ryan said, adding the play wasn't executed properly.Ryan took a hit on his left shoulder during the game but said it was "good enough to go" late in the game.The Falcons (14-4) were denied their second Super Bowl appearance. They lost to Denver in the Super Bowl following the 1998 season.Despite all the passing yards, Ryan was hurt by two turnovers: an interception and a lost fumble on a shotgun snap.Penalties didn't help, either.The Falcons set NFL record lows for a 16-game schedule with 55 penalties for 415 yards, but coach Mike Smith bemoaned two personal fouls against his team. Linebacker Stephen Nicholas was called for unnecessary roughness in the first half.A more crucial call came late in the third quarter when defensive end Cliff Matthews hit 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's helmet. If not for the roughing the passer penalty, the Falcons would have had a third-down stop."I asked and it was explained to me as forcible contact to the quarterback on the third down that would have gotten us off the field," Smith said. "By rule if it's forcible, it is a penalty. If it's a grazing blow, it's not a penalty."

Booker scores 70 points, but Celtics beat Suns, 130-120

Booker scores 70 points, but Celtics beat Suns, 130-120

BOSTON –  The Boston Celtics could not have scripted a better start to Friday night’s game against Phoenix.

Phoenix, a young, scrappy team – actually, the youngest starting five in NBA history – found themselves looking up at a 22-3 deficit to start the game, with Boston’s lead peaking at 26 points.

Phoenix, courtesy of a career night from Devin Booker, were able to chip away at Boston’s lead but the Celtics’ control of the game was never in question before they finally put the Suns away for a 130-120 win.

Boston (47-26) has won three straight, and six of their last seven games. In addition, the Celtics remain 1.0 game behind Cleveland (47-24) which defeated Charlotte 112-105 on Friday.

But the story of the game was Booker who finished with a career-high 70 points, the most scored ever at the TD Garden.

He was that good, folks.

The rest of his teammates?

Non-factors in every sense of the word, showing the kind of youth and inexperience you would expect from a team full of players in their late-teens, early 20's.

Boston’s Isaiah Thomas had a strong night as well, finishing with 34 points and seven assists. Al Horford flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Gerald Green gave Boston a nice lift off the bench, scoring all 15 of his points in the first half.

But the man who had most in the TD Garden oohing was Booker who had 40 points after just three quarters of play.

Of course, one of the keys to Booker’s big-time scoring night was the absence of Boston’s Avery Bradley (sick) who missed his 24th game of the season.

Even with him scoring at will, the game should have never been just a 10-point affair (124-114) with a minute to play, especially when you consider who the Celtics were playing and what that team’s focus has been on recently.

Unlike some of the teams they face that have sub-.500 records, the Suns are doing all they can to be competitive but not competitive enough to win.

That’s why you see players like Eric Bledsoe (a borderline All-Star), Tyson Chandler (a former league Defensive Player of the Year) and Brandon Knight (borderline starter/solid rotation player) all not play due to … rest?

Rest is what you do when you are trying to preserve your body for the playoffs?

When you’re 22-50, resting good players is as clear a sign as any that you are trying to gather as many ping-pong balls in hopes of landing one of the top picks in June’s NBA draft.

So with that backdrop, it’s not surprising that the Celtics opened the game with a blistering 22-3 run.

The Suns had nothing to gain by being competitive, while the Celtics still have their eye on claiming the top seed in the East or better solidifying their position as the No. 2 seed.

The Celtics have been saying for weeks that they are maturing into a team that can take care of business against all comers.

It certainly looked that way early on, only to give way in the second half to them reverting back to the playing with little passion and little to no force which gave the Bookers – I mean, the Suns – a tremendous jolt of confidence.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: A number of Celtics off to good start

Halftime stars, studs and duds: A number of Celtics off to good start

BOSTON -- Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds at the half, with Boston leading Phoenix 66-43

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

He is one of the many Celtics off to a good start with 14 pts.

Devin Booker

Booker may be young but he's ready to play with the big boys, leading all scorers at the half with 19 points.

Gerald Green

The former Sun leads all Celtics with 15 points off the bench.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Giving the game what it needs, he has six points and eight rebounds at the half.

Jaylen Brown

Filling in for Avery Bradley (sick), Brown has seven points and seven rebounds.

 

DUDS

Marquese Chriss

He was scoreless in the first half, missing all seven of his shots from the field.