Red Sox

All-Star Game Review: What we saw . . .

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All-Star Game Review: What we saw . . .

ORLANDO, Fla. The legend of LeBron James not closing out games continues. Despite having a really strong game all night, a costly turnover late in the game by James proved costly, as the West hung on for a 152-149 win.

James had 36 points, six rebounds and seven assists in leading the East. But it was his fourth and final turnover, an errant cross-court pass picked off by Blake Griffin, that folks will remember in a game that really didn't pick up until the fourth quarter.

It's not just fans who get on James when he makes those kind of end-of-the-game mistakes.

Following the turnover, West perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant had some words for him as well.

"He (Bryant) was telling me to shoot it," James said. "I seen my teammate open for a split-second, I told him I seen him open the first time and I didn't release the ball. When I tried to throw it late, that's what usually happens and it results in a turnover. Definitely wish I could have that one back."

James' late-game turnover was certainly one of the factors in the game's outcome. We examined some prior to tip-off. Here we'll take a look and see how those factors played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR - With Dwight Howard demanding a trade earlier this year, it'll be interesting to see just how the fans will embrace him. So far, Magic fans have shown him nothing but love. And to Howard's credit, he told the media immediately upon the interview sessions that he's only answering all-star related questions this weekend. Still, if you see him on the break and he's catching lob dunk after lob dunk from New Jersey's Deron Williams (who is trying to convince him to come to New Jersey next season), how's that gonna play out with the Magic fans at the game?

WHAT WE SAW - Dwight Howard said all the right things before the game, but didn't exactly seem all that engaged during the game. In fact, it seemed as though he went out of his way to not score. He finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. Big men rarely put up big numbers in all-star games, but nine points from the most dominate center in the NBA? Unacceptable, even in an All-Star game setting.

MATCHUP TO WATCH - LeBron James vs Kevin Durant: Not only are they among the NBA's best scorers, they're arguably the two front-runners for the league MVP award this season. In addition to James having an edge in statistics this season, the Heat may finish with a better record in what's turning out to be an unprecedented season of success in Miami.

WHAT WE SAW - James and Durant went back and fourth for most of the night, with each finishing with 36 points. Durant, who also had seven rebounds, three steals and three assists, was named MVP in part because of the win, but also in coming through with clutch plays down the stretch while James committed a costly turnover in the game's closing moments to help seal the fate of the East team. "It's just exciting to be named an All-Star," Durant said. "But to step it up another level and become MVP, it's only something that as a kid you dream about. Coming from where I come from, I didn't think I would be here. Everything has just been a blessing to me. I'm excited."

PLAYER TO WATCH - As an Eastern Conference All-Star replacement, it'll be interesting to see how much Rajon Rondo plays tonight. Most of the All-Star veterans like to take it easy unless they have it going offensively. That's not likely to happen with Rondo, who will most likely do what Rondo does best - pass to guys who want to score.

WHAT WE SAW - It didn't take Rondo long to find fellow All-Stars in position to score. Despite playing just under 16 minutes, Rondo finished with eight assists. "I had a good experience," Rondo said. "It's always an honor to be named an All-Star. And I had fun. I spent a lot of time with my family; I enjoyed myself."

STAT TO TRACK - Scoring is, as expected, higher than usual in the all-star game. But there's one number that all but guarantees you a win - at least it has the past few years. The last three winners scored at least 140 points.

WHAT WE SAW - True to form, this was yet another high-scoring All-Star game with both teams cracking the 140-point plateau. This was the second year in a row, and fifth time since the first All-Star game in 1951, that both teams eclipsed the 140-point plateau.

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

BOSTON — Brad Ausmus was the second person to interview to replace John Farrell as Red Sox manager, baseball sources confirmed Monday afternoon. The Sox are expected to interview Ron Gardenhire, the Diamondbacks' bench coach, as well.

But the net might not be cast too wide. More and more, it sounds like the Sox already know whom they want.

Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who met with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on Sunday, appears the frontrunner to take the reins next year. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has reported that to be the case multiple times, and for some inside the Sox organization, that's a growing feeling as well.

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The criteria the Sox value most isn't hard to guess: a strong connection with players, an ability to incorporate data and analytics; and someone who can handle the market.

"I knew Alex for a couple of years before getting a chance to work with him and had tried to recruit him to work a few years ago and he had other options," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday in New York, before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. "To watch him develop relationships with the players, he's all about baseball. He's all about the competition and small advantages within the game, one of the brightest baseball intellects that I've been around. And to see him pass some of that on and transition from player to TV personality to coach, he's had a ton of impact.

"He challenges people. He challenges me. He's someone who's all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he's got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That's why he's the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so."

Cora joined the Astros before this season.

Ausmus, whom Dombrowski hired in Detroit ahead of the 2014 season, grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth. The 48-year-old spent 18 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last in 2010. He was working for the Padres before Dombrowski gave him his first shot at managing the Tigers. 

Ausmus went 314-332 in four years managing the Tigers, a more veteran team than might have been ideal for him as a first-time manager.

Ausmus pulled out of the running to interview with the Mets, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag while Cora was expected to interview with the Mets on Monday or Tuesday, per the New York Post's Mike Puma.

What could change from here? One baseball source indicated a second interview with Cora was expected. Asked if he plans a second round of interviews generally, Dombrowski did not say.

"We have started the interview process," Dombrowski wrote via email. "I do not have any specific time frames at this point. Will wait and evaluate as we go through the process."

The Boston Herald's Chad Jennings first reported Ausmus' interview.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

CLEVELAND – For the third year in a row, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics is unable to come to terms on a contract extension prior to the deadline.

That means Marcus Smart will become a restricted free agent this summer. Last year it was Kelly Olynyk (now with the Miami Heat) and in 2015 it was Jared Sullinger (now with Shenzhen Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association).

Both the Celtics and Smart's camp intensified their discussions in recent days as the October 16th 6 p.m. EST deadline drew near.

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While there was progress made, there wasn’t enough to get a deal done.

Smart has repeatedly indicated that he wants to re-sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.

And the market for the 6-foot-4 guard became clearer based on the contracts that some of his fellow rookie class of 2014, were receiving.

Denver’s Gary Harris agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract after establishing himself as one of the better young two-way talents in the NBA last season. And at the other end of the financial spectrum, you would have to look at Phoenix’s T.J. Warren who signed a four-year, $50 million contract.

More than likely, Smart’s deal next summer will fall somewhere between the deals those two players received.

As much as Smart would have preferred to get a deal done heading into the season, it’s not something that he’s going to cause him to lose any sleep.

“Get it done now, or get it done in six months, I’m OK either way,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m not worried about it.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE