Patriots

Celtics not putting teams away when given the chance

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Celtics not putting teams away when given the chance

BOSTON Putting teams in a deep hole seems to be getting easier of late for the Boston Celtics.

Now keeping them there is another matter.

The woeful Charlotte Bobcats were the latest team that the Celtics allowed to keep the game closer than it should be, before Boston ultimately pulled away for the win.

Boston (27-22) has won four of its last five games, and have led by double digits in all five. And of the four games the Celtics won, all but one ended with a single-digit Celtics win.

C's coach Doc Rivers has been harping on his players to improve in all phases of their play, including how to put a team away when they get up comfortably.

"He wants us to be creatures of habit on the defensive end and offensive end," Celtics forward Brandon Bass told CSNNE.com.

Doing so is easier said than done, especially when playing on the road.

In Boston's last five games, all but the Washington game on Sunday was on the road.

That also happens to be the Celtic's only double-digit win (88-76) among their last set of five games, although a 12-point win doesn't look all that appealing when you consider Boston led by as many as 25 points.

Coincidence?

Unlikely.

Still, that doesn't explain away how an 18-point lead at Charlotte, the worst team in the NBA, is a game that wasn't really decided until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Bass attributes part of the challenge in burying a team like Charlotte, to how they view the C's coming to town.

"We know teams like the Bobcats, they mark us on the schedule," Bass said. "They look forward to playing against us. We knew they were going to fight, but we wanted to make sure we got the win."

The Celtics did just that.

But as the playoffs get closer, just winning games can't be enough. Because a number of Boston's opponents down the stretch don't have impressive records, the C's can't just win - they have to win playing well.

And the easiest way for that to happen, is to take control and not allow the game to get close once they establish control.

More than anything else, Boston's inability to bury teams after getting a sizable lead, comes down to being more consistent.

"We can't play in spurts," said C's Paul Pierce. "We're trying to build for the playoffs. It's good that we can build big leads. But the thing is, we give them up and feel like we can build them back up again. In order to win in the playoffs, you have to start building habits now. When you have a chance to put a team away, you gotta do it. That's where we're trying to get to."

Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official

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Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official

NEW YORK - Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch was suspended for one game without pay by the NFL on Friday for shoving a game official during the Raiders' victory over Kansas City on Thursday night.

Lynch was ejected from the game after he shoved line judge Julian Mapp.

The scuffle started when Oakland quarterback Derek Carr was hit late on a run by Kansas City's Marcus Peters midway through the second quarter. Raiders offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn immediately confronted Peters, and Lynch sprinted onto the field from the bench to join the fray. Mapp tried to break up the fight, but Lynch pushed him and grabbed his jersey. Lynch also got a personal foul.

NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote a letter to Lynch, saying:

"You made deliberate physical contact with one of our game officials as he was diffusing an active confrontation between players. You were disqualified for your inappropriate and unsportsmanlike actions. Your conduct included pushing the game official and grabbing his jersey. ... You were not directly involved in the active confrontation that the game official was attempting to diffuse, nor were you a participant in the play that initiated the confrontation. You were the only player from either team who ran from the sideline to midfield to insert himself into a situation in which he was not directly involved."

Lynch will be eligible to return to Oakland's active roster on Oct. 30, the day after the Raiders' game against the Buffalo Bills.

Lynch finished the game with two carries for 9 yards.

The Raiders rallied to win 31-30 on a touchdown pass by Carr on the final play, and Lynch was in the locker room after the game congratulating his teammates.

Lynch came out of retirement this season and was traded from Seattle to the Raiders. Lynch said he wanted to make a comeback so he could give something back to his hometown of Oakland before the Raiders move to Las Vegas in 2020.

Lynch has rushed for 266 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.

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Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

PHILADELPHIA – Despite playing its second straight game without a key rotation player, the Boston Celtics did just enough to get their first win of the season, 102-92, over Philadelphia.

Boston (1-2) was led by Kyrie Irving’s game-high 21 points, but it was Shane Larkin's floor game down the stretch that truly catapulted Boston to its first win of the season.

Larkin, who was seeing action in large part because Marcus Smart was out with a left ankle injury, provided a huge spark in the fourth before finishing with 10 points and four assists.

He drained a 3-pointer that tied the game at 75-all, which was part of an 18-9 Celtics run.

The Sixers (0-2) were led by J.J. Redick and Jerryd Bayless who had 19 and 18 points, respectively. Joel Embiid got off to a slow start, but finished with a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Boston played with a lead for most of the first half, but Philadelphia took over with a 7-0 run to end the second quarter and had the Celtics playing catch-up for all of the third and some of the fourth quarter.

Boston was once again short-handed, with Marcus Smart out with a left ankle injury. He replaced Gordon Hayward, whose left ankle injury in the first quarter of Boston’s loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, is expected to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

But with players out, that opens up opportunities for others to step up.

Larkin, who walked away from a contract overseas that would have paid about $5 million more than he’s making with the Celtics, was one of those players.

Aron Baynes, who got the start with Smart out, had 10 points and eight rebounds. Boston also got another strong game off the bench from Terry Rozier who had 14 points and seven rebounds

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