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Celtics-Nets preview: Christmas in Brooklyn

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Celtics-Nets preview: Christmas in Brooklyn

NEW YORK The addition of Jarvis Varnado was designed to bolster the Celtics' frontcourt, which took another hit with Chris Wilcox's thumb injury that'll keep him out for almost a month.

The C's will need all the help they can muster on the boards on Christmas Day when they face the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.

A few more rebounds - OK, a lot more rebounds - would be the perfect gift for the Celtics on Christmas Day especially when you consider that it is easily their biggest weakness.

Each of the two previous matchups between these two, both Brooklyn wins, included the Nets outscoring the C's 23-11 in the second-chance points.

Brooklyn won the rebounding battle in both games as well, by an average of six rebounds per game which is slightly above the rebounding deficit the C's face most games.

By no means is the addition of Varnado viewed as a savior of sorts for the Celtics rebounding woes - it's not a given that he will even play - but having another body can only help in the one area that the C's desperately need to make strides towards improving to have any shot at having the kind of deep playoff run they envision.

Here are some other keys to the game as the Celtics (13-13) look to draw even with the Nets (14-12) for the second-best record in the Atlantic Division behind New York.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Both Boston and Brooklyn have had their issues at times this season in limiting opponents to shooting a low percentage. Teams are shooting 45 percent against the C's this season, which ranks 18th in field goal percentage defense. Nets' foes have connected on 45.9 percent of their shots which comes in at No. 24.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jason Collins vs. Brook Lopez: This is the kind of matchup that should validate why Collins is in the starting lineup. He's not going to outscore Lopez unless Lopez gets tossed in the game's first minute. But if Collins is doing his job, he'll be making it a lot tougher for Lopez, who has averaged 16.5 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots while shooting 62.5 percent from the field against the C's this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jason Terry will surely have something to prove. He is coming off a 1-for-15 shooting performance, the kind of game that he has bounced back from quickly. He has had four such games this season in which he made one field goal or less. In the four games that followed, Terry has shot 50 percent from the field (17-for-34) while averaging 11.5 points per game.

STAT TO TRACK: The three-point shot has not been a weapon of choice by the Celtics, who come in averaging 5.4 threes per game, which ranks 28th in the league. They have been even worse in their two games against the Nets this season, shooting 8-for-20 on threes. Boston's ability to hit the long ball will go far in their quest to defeat Brooklyn.

Chiefs suffer fourth loss in five games, 12-9 in o.t. to lowly Giants

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Chiefs suffer fourth loss in five games, 12-9 in o.t. to lowly Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- Roger Lewis Jr. made a spectacular catch to set up the winning 23-yard yard goal by Aldrick Rosas in overtime and the New York Giants responded from weeks of adversity to beat the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs 12-9 on a blustery, cold Sunday.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Giants (2-8) and sent the Chiefs (6-4) to their fourth loss in five games.

The winning kick came two plays after Lewis was yanked to the ground on a deep pass from Eli Manning, but still caught the ball while flat on his back for a 34-yard completion on a fourth-down heave. Had he not caught it, flags flew for pass interference.

It was an unexpected was for a team that came into the game in turmoil, with questions about the future of coach Ben McAdoo and many wondering whether the Giants had quit in one-sided losses to the Rams and then the winless 49ers in the past two weeks.

Few expected them to beat the Chiefs, especially with Andy Reid's record coming off a bye week. He was 16-2.

The Giants not only won, they intercepted Alex Smith twice, setting up their first nine points. Orleans Darkwa scored on a 1-yard run after Damon Harrison's interception. Rosas, who missed the extra point after the Darkwa TD, kicked a 26-yard field goal to give the Giants a short-lived 9-6 lead with 1:38 left in regulation after Janoris Jenkins' interception.

With one time out, Smith drove the Chiefs 69 yards in nine plays, the big shot a 32-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Harrison Butker tied the game with a 23-yard field goal - his third short one - with :01 left in regulation. The drive was kept alive when Jenkins' interception was nullified by a pass interference penalty against him.

McAdoo pulled out every trick in his book, using a fake punt; a halfback option that was intercepted; an odd formation with his tackles lined up 5 yards wide; and then the decision to go on fourth-and-5 from the Chiefs 36 with just over two minutes to play.

The Giants took the lead early in the second quarter after defensive tackle Harrison intercepted a deflected shovel pass and returned it to the Kansas City 26-yard line. Led by DT Robert Thomas' blocking, Darkwa scored from 1 yard after Marcus Peters was called for pass interference in the end zone.

Rosas, who had missed a field goal in each of the last four games, had his extra point pushed wide right by the wind.

Kansas City cut the lead in half on the next series, driving 61 yards in more than nine minutes. Butker ended up with his first 31-yard field goal.

GIANTS RESPOND

The Giants' unexpected performance came less than a week after co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said the embattled McAdoo would remain in charge through at least the end of the season. Days later, McAdoo and his team held what he termed "a brutally honest" team meeting in which mistakes and lack of effort plays were shown for all to see after the two losses by a combined 82-38 margin.

INACTIVES

The Giants were missing two key starters. WR Sterling Shepard was out after having a career game against San Francisco, making 11 catches for 142 yards. He was added to the injury report Saturday with an illness and could not play. CB Eli Apple was at home with his mother, who had brain surgery on Thursday. "He's My best friend, my nurse and part time ninja," Annie Apple tweeted Sunday morning. ...Thanks for being my side every step of the way."

UP NEXT

Chiefs: Host Buffalo next Sunday.

Giants: at Washington on Thanksgiving night.

Dolphins lose 30-20 to Bucs, continue sinking in AFC East

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Dolphins lose 30-20 to Bucs, continue sinking in AFC East

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, Patrick Murray kicked a 35-yard field goal with four seconds remaining and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers snapped a six-game road slide by topping the penalty-prone Miami Dolphins 30-20 on Sunday.

O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson caught those scoring throws for the Buccaneers, who outscored Miami 17-0 in the second quarter.

They also stuffed three straight 1-yard-to-go runs by the Dolphins at the Tampa Bay 34 in the fourth quarter, forcing a turnover on downs on a day where Miami had more mistakes than points.

Miami (4-6) tied the game at 20-20 on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Matt Moore to Kenny Stills with 3 minutes left. Fitzpatrick coolly moved the Buccaneers 58 yards on the ensuing drive, and Murray delivered what essentially was the winner.

Adarius Glanton got a bonus touchdown for Tampa Bay (4-6) on the final play, when the Dolphins' lateral-filled last-ditch attempt at a kickoff return turned into a Bucs' score.

Jay Cutler threw three first-half interceptions and didn't play in the second half because of what the Dolphins said was diagnosed as a concussion. Moore went 17 of 28 for 282 yards and the touchdown in relief, but Miami couldn't overcome five turnovers and 17 penalties - one shy of the franchise all-time record.

Stills caught seven passes for 180 yards, and Jarvis Landry had six catches for 95 yards and another touchdown for Miami, which has lost four straight for the first time since 2013.

A pair of short drives gave the Bucs control in that big second quarter. Howard's score came on a two-play, 6-yard drive after an interception, and Jackson's score capped a four-play, 37-yard drive following a Miami fumble.

BIG PLAYS

The Dolphins had their three longest passing plays of the season - the 61-yard touchdown pass to Stills, a 49-yarder to Landry and another 45-yard strike to Stills. Before Sunday, Miami's longest pass play was a 36-yard throw from Cutler to Stills against the Jets on Oct. 22.

INJURIES

Buccaneers: RG Evan Smith left in the first half and was diagnosed with a concussion.

Dolphins: Besides Cutler's concussion, the Dolphins lost RG Jermon Bushrod in the third quarter to a left foot injury. LB Chase Allen, who started in place of Rey Maualuga - who was arrested early Saturday in a dispute over a bar tab and quickly waived by the Dolphins - also was evaluated for a concussion in the second half. LB Stephone Anthony had a knee injury, the specifics of which were not announced.

PLENTY OF BIRTHDAYS

Howard, the Bucs' rookie tight end, celebrated his 23rd birthday Sunday. For the Dolphins, CB Cordrea Tankersley turned 24 and DE Terrence Fede turned 26.

UP NEXT

Buccaneers: Visit Atlanta on Nov. 26, the second game in a three-week stretch of road contests.

Dolphins: Visit New England on Nov. 26, the start of a three-week stretch where Miami will see the Patriots twice.