Archives for November 2017
Colin Kaepernick (7)
Where: TD Garden, Boston
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics began a long homestand with a thud but will try to bounce back from the rare loss when they host the rival Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. Three contests after their 16-game winning streak came to an end, the Celtics’ eight-game run at home was halted with Monday’s 118-108 loss to Detroit, which kicked off their five-game stretch at TD Garden.
Boston was 12-for-21 from the foul line and coughed up the ball 17 times, matching its highest total since it committed 19 turnovers at Philadelphia on Oct. 20. “We had a chance to win, but we had too many mistakes,” center Al Horford told reporters after he and the rest of the Celtics’ frontcourt allowed Detroit’s Andre Drummond to go off for 26 points and 22 rebounds. Philadelphia’s star center, Joel Embiid, produced 25 points and 14 rebounds in Wednesday’s 118-113 home win over Washington but reportedly will sit out the second half of the team’s back-to-back contests. Former Celtic Amir Johnson could see an uptick in minutes with Embiid absent, while point guard T.J. McConnell is doubtful after leaving with a shoulder injury against the Wizards.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN Philadelphia, NBCSN Boston
ABOUT THE 76ers (12-8): Point guard Ben Simmons showed no ill effects of a sprained ankle in a 31-point, 18-rebound performance versus the Wizards, but his final line could’ve been much more impressive if not for his 15-for-29 effort from the foul line. The Wizards chose to send the 21-year-old to the line repeatedly down the stretch in an effort to extend the game, and other opponents may employ a similar strategy until Simmons makes them think twice. “I never want to come out of that situation,” Simmons, who is making 55.4 percent of his free throws, told reporters. “I’m not scared to shoot free throws.”
ABOUT THE CELTICS (18-4): Detroit’s 118 points represents a season high for an opponent against Boston, and the top scoring defense in the NBA (96.8 points) feels the problem existed above the shoulders. “We weren’t as connected as we usually are on defense as a group, and we had our times, but more often than not, we weren’t mentally,” Horford said. “Against that team, you have to be mentally engaged at all times, because if not, they’ll make you look bad, and they did.” The one bright spot in the loss was a 23-point effort from Marcus Smart, who is 15-for-21 in his last two games after shooting 26.5 percent over his first 18 contests.
1. Celtics PG Kyrie Irving is averaging 18.4 points on 40 percent shooting at home, compared to 26 on 52.2 percent on the road.
2. After hitting 16-of-34 3-pointers in a 130-point effort in a win over Orlando, Philadelphia is a woeful 6-for-46 over its last two games.
3. Boston has won six straight meetings at home.
NEW YORK – (Staff Report) – New England Patriots QB Tom Brady today named as the AFC Offensive Player of the Month. Brady threw for 833 yards with 10 touchdowns while leading the Patriots to wins in all three of its games. Brady has received the honor ten times in his career.
NEW YORK – (Staff report from Official News Release) – Fourth-ranked Villanova won a home game in an unusually intimate setting. Marquette set 3-point shooting records and Providence upped its winning streak to five games in Wednesday’s BIG EAST action.
Villanova, which is unable to play in the Pavilion this season because of renovations, played in its older campus home, the Jake Nevin Field House. In front of 2,200 fans – mostly students – the Wildcats (7-0) notched their 19th straight Philadelphia Big Five win, a 90-62 decision over Pennsylvania. Jalen Brunson scored a game-high 17 points and Phil Booth, Omari Spellman and Mikal Bridges each finished with 14 points.
Marquette (5-2) set a school record by making 18 3-pointers in a 95-69 win over Chicago State. Markus Howard nailed 11 of the long-range hoops to break his own individual school mark of nine. Howard shot 11-of-15 from beyond the arc to account for his game-high 33 points. Andrew Rowsey was “only” 6-of-12 from 3-point range and finished with 26 points. Marquette has had a different 30-point scorer in each of the past three games – Howard, Rowsey and Sam Hauser.
Providence’s game against Rider came down to the final minute before the Friars secured an 88-84 victory. Rodney Bullock led PC (6-1) with 23 points and six rebounds. Alpha Diallo recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He also blocked three shots. Kyron Cartwright had 14 points and seven assists.
Seton Hall (5-1) is the only BIG EAST team in action on Thursday. The Pirates meet No. 22 Texas Tech at Madison Square Garden in the Under Armour Reunion. Since 2014, Seton Hall has four wins against ranked opponents at MSG. FS1 has the game at 6:30 p.m. ET.
BIG EAST teams are a combined 52-13 (.800) this season going into Thursday.
BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Brad Stevens got to do something with his Boston Celtics on Wednesday he hadn’t been able to do in over a month.
Have a full practice.
A rigorous schedule that saw the Celtics play more games than all but one other NBA team through Tuesday meant a lack of quality practice time with days of rest, travel and shoot-arounds dominating the non-game days. After losing to the visiting Detroit Pistons on Monday night, the Celtics actually got in a full practice Wednesday, in advance of the Philadelphia 76ers coming to town Thursday night.
“A shoot-around is more like a walkthrough, making sure we understand the game,” Celtics forward Al Horford said. “But in practice, it’s very productive anytime we’re able to go out and actually have a good practice.”
Said Stevens: “It’s nice to be back out here. You’re obviously balancing the opportunity to practice with what’s coming ahead. And also the schedule you’ve just been through.
“I thought our attention was really good. I thought our purpose was good.”
There was another factor in Boston’s favor.
According to an interesting note posted on Celtics radio voice Sean Grande’s Twitter account, when the Celtics catch the Sixers on a back-to-back Thursday, it will end a run of 14 consecutive games in which Boston’s opponent had the same or more rest. The Celtics went 12-2 in that stretch.
The Celtics (18-4) had an eight-game home winning streak snapped by the Pistons. On Thursday, they will face a Philadelphia team that will be missing big man Joel Embiid. The Sixers beat the Washington Wizards 118-113 on Wednesday night, but Embiid and his legs still aren’t ready to play back-to-back games.
“That’s not my decision that I’m not cleared yet, but I hope the guys get a win tomorrow,” Embiid said.
Coach Brett Brown said, “I think Joel has always wanted to play in front of our fans — like he feels responsibility when we have choices to play in front of our own fans.”
Valuable 76ers guard T.J. McConnell sustained a shoulder contusion Wednesday, and he isn’t expected to play Thursday. Philadelphia rookie guard Markelle Fultz has missed the past 15 games with a shoulder injury.
Justin Anderson (shin splints) is also out for the Sixers (12-8).
Ben Simmons, whose rookie year was delayed until this season because of injury, sustained an ankle sprain Monday night and was a game-time decision Wednesday.
He played against the Wizards, scoring 31 points (despite going just 15-for-29 from the foul line) and grabbed 18 rebounds. Embiid had 25 points and 18 boards. The win ended a 4-2 homestand for Philadelphia.
According to the team, the only other Sixers rookie every to post at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in a game was Hall of Famer Billy Cunningham on January 9, 1966, at St. Louis.
The teams played Oct. 20 in Philadelphia, and the Celtics, who lost free agent signee Gordon Hayward for the year in the first quarter of the first game and dropped their first two, started a 16-game winning streak with a 102-92 win. Boston’s Kyrie Irving had 21 points and Horford 17 points and nine rebounds in that game.
Embiid scored 11 points and hauled down 14 boards in the loss, so his size and strength will be missed Thursday. Simmons collected 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in that game.
Thursday marks the return to TD Garden of Philadelphia’s Amir Johnson, who played the past two seasons with the Celtics before signing with the Sixers as a free agent. He is expected to start in place of Embiid. Johnson is averaging 4.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
The Celtics have won all six games against Philadelphia at TD Garden over the past three seasons
BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – It was a long time coming for Tuukka Rask.
“It’s great. It’s awesome. I needed that one,” the Boston goaltender said after his 19 saves helped the Bruins to a 3-2 victory over the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night — Rask’s first win since Nov. 5.
Rask, who had lost his last three starts, didn’t have the toughest night. But he made a big save on Nikita Kucherov at the end of the second period and then robbed Ryan Callahan with a stick save with just under three minutes remaining. He also got help from a goal post as a Tyler Johnson shot hit the inside of the far post and ricocheted back across but not in.
It was Boston’s fifth win in its last six games. Backup Anton Khudobin played all four contests of a four-game winning streak before Rask (4-8-2) returned and played in Sunday night’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
“I thought I played a good game against Edmonton,” Rask said. “I didn’t get the win obviously but good thing I had another opportunity.
“We felt as a group we didn’t play our best game and we wanted to bounce back today and we definitely did.”
With the Lightning on the back end of a back-to-back and at the end of a four-game road trip, the Bruins jumped them in the first period. They threw 19 shots (tying a season high for a period) at Andrei Vasilevskiy and scored twice. They made it 3-0 in the second but the Lightning (17-6-2) came back — Vasilevskiy keeping them alive.
“We looked like a team that was coming off a back-to-back in the first period. We didn’t have our legs,” said Steven Stamkos, who scored the second Tampa Bay goal. “They dominated us. They came out hard. Vassy gave us a chance to stay in this game, which he always does, and we gave ourselves a chance.
“If we had that same mindset that we had in the third to start the game that’s probably a different result, but we just looked like a team that was a step behind and we dug ourselves too big a hole.”
Rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy had a goal and an assist for Boston (11-8-4). Brad Marchand, returning from a six-game absence because of an undisclosed injury (reportedly a concussion), had two assists and played his usual sparkplug-like game for Boston.
“I felt pretty good,” said Marchand, who had three shots on goal, a pair of penalties and created traffic for the first Boston goal. “Our line (with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak) was clicking pretty well so that makes it a lot easier when we’re going like that.
“Just a lot of fun to get back into it.”
McAvoy, Riley Nash and Torey Krug scored to build the lead before Andrej Sustr (first goal of the season) and Stamkos (first goal in six games) answered for the Lightning, who finished 1-3-0 on their trip.
The Bruins spent much of the third period in their own end. But the Lightning could only score when Stamkos connected on the power play, off a cross-ice pass from Kucherov (his third assist in four games).
“You know they’re going to come at some point, so in the third I was proud of the way we battled and blocked shots,” said Rask, who stood and watched his team threaten to blow the game wide open only to have Vasilevskiy say no. “Besides that penalty kill we did a heck of a job.”
Rask improved to 14-6-1 lifetime against the Lightning, while the Bruins are 17-4-1 in their last 22 games against Tampa Bay.
Said Marchand: “Tuukks played awesome.”
It appeared Nash’s goal, his second of the season, deflected off Sustr and Sustr’s goal glanced off Nash.
Vasilevskiy made 33 saves but fell to 16-4-1. He is 0-2-1 lifetime against Boston.
McAvoy, whose goal was waved off for goaltender interference on Marchand but then reversed on a challenge, registered his third two-point game of the season.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was just happy to get through a game without any of his players getting hurt, saying, “Speaking of injuries, we didn’t have any tonight, so we’ll have 10 extra minutes to talk about the game.”
NOTES: The Lightning have scored a power-play goal in five straight and 10 of their last 11 games. … In addition to getting LW Brad Marchand back, the Bruins also got a quicker-than expected return by RW David Backes (colon surgery). David Krejci (upper-body injury) and RW Jacob DeBrusk (upper body) were out. Backes was supposed to miss eight weeks after having some of his colon removed and made it back in 27 days. … RW J.T. Brown (undisclosed) returned after missing three games for the Lightning. … Tampa Bay opens a four-game homestand against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night. The Bruins visit Philadelphia and Nashville on Friday and Monday.
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Seventeen of the world’s best golfers will be among the field this week at the PGA Tour’s 19th Annual Hero World Challenge in New Providence, The Bahamas.
All the talk around the golf world, however, has been about the 18th member of the roster of players for this tournament, one Eldrick “Tiger” Woods, arguably the greatest golfer of all time.
Woods is the host of this select $3.5 million event but that’s not what’s been causing all the ruckus. What’s got folks excited is that Woods will play in the tournament, marking his first official competition on Tour since a missed cut last January in the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open.
The fact that Woods is back and playing without pain is huge in the golf world. Nothing moves the interest meter for the sport more than when Woods plays. How he fares when the tournament tees off for 72 holes of competition beginning Thursday at the 7,309-yard Albany course is not really as important as the fact that he’s actually playing and competing.
Do people really expect Woods to contend for the $1 million that goes to the winner here? That might be unrealistic. Woods said Tuesday that he’s just happy to be on the course and testing his rebuilt game against the world’s top players and hoping to bring some of the mojo he’s built in practice rounds and fun competitions away from the spotlight into play this week.
“To come out here and be able to do what I’ve been doing the last few weeks with the guys, it’s been a lot of fun,” Woods said after his Tuesday practice round.
“I played some great rounds with the guys at home. They’ve been fantastic, to be honest with you, because I’ve gotten to know a lot of them through the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cups and I’ve really become very close with a few of them. It was fun to be able to do that again, which I hadn’t done in years.”
Woods played in this event last year as well, leading the field in birdies on the way to a 15th place finish that created hope that he would be able to return to the Tour full time. He then hurt his back playing in a European Tour event in Dubai and tried to return in San Diego before deciding on additional back surgery.
He says that things are different this time around.
“Last year I was still struggling with a little bit of pain,” Woods explained. “I was able to hit some good shots, able to play, but in looking back on it now, I look on it as playing in slow-mo but it was as hard as I could hit it. I didn’t realize how bad my back had become and how much I was flinching and just how slow I was.
“I didn’t realize it because it’s been a slow degrading process. I thought I had some speed, thought I was playing halfway decent, shot some good scores, but now I’ve looked back on it and man, I didn’t even have much at all.”
This year’s participants include Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood of England, Rickie Fowler, Charley Hoffman, Dustin Johnson, Kevin Kisner, U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Francesco Molinari of Italy, Alex Noren of Sweden, Patrick Reed, Olympic gold medal winner Justin Rose of England, British Open titlist Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson of Sweden, and FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas, the reigning player of the year.
In all, seven of the 18 players have won major championships. Matsuyama will attempt to join Woods (2006-07) as the only players to win the Hero World Challenge in back-to-back seasons.
“I’m glad to be here,” Thomas said. “Obviously you’re doing something right if you’re playing in this tournament in this part of the year. Anytime you’re in the Bahamas it’s usually a good time, so looking forward to hopefully a good week.”
Woods’ enthusiasm about his return is palpable and shared with the rest of the field.
“He looks good, and just his demeanor and how positive and upbeat he sounds when he talks about how he feels with his golf game is more important than anything,” Thomas said of Woods. “The fact that he can just go through life let alone golf pain free is great for us all to hear, you know? You don’t want to see any of your friends hurt or be in pain, so it’s nice to hear that he’s been doing so well.