Bruins

Celtics re-discover defensive dominance

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Celtics re-discover defensive dominance

BOSTON At the end of the first quarter, the Boston Celtics had almost twice as many made field goals (11) as the Sixers (6).

That, combined with a slight rebounding advantage (10-9) at that point positioned them to do what Doc Rivers has been patiently waiting to see all season - a sustained night of good defense.

Rivers got his wish on Saturday as the Celtics defeated Philadelphia 92-79 in a game that they led from the beginning until the final horn sounded.

Focusing on the Celtics' 53.3 percent shooting as being the key to their win over the Sixers is easy.

But knocking down all those shots had little to do with one of the Celtics delivering one of their more dominant defensive performances this season.

"Our defense is why we won," Rivers said.

And it wasn't your typical, man-to-man garden variety, either.

There was a lot of that, but Rivers also used some zone defense along with an occasional double-team just to keep the Sixers off balance.

It worked.

Evan Turner, who lit the C's up for 26 points and 10 rebounds on Friday night, had just 13 points and three rebounds on Saturday.

And Jrue Holiday, a player Rivers has pointed out repeatedly as a likely all-star this season, had just 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting from the field.

"When you play defense like that, you usually win games," Rivers said.

And that is where the Celtics should be at right now.

There's no denying that they have made progress on several fronts in the past couple of weeks.

But that progress at some point has to result in victories which have been few and far between for Boston (11-9) this year.

"We see we're getting better day-in and day-out on tape," said Celtics wing Courtney Lee. "But when we see it when we lose, we kind of look back at it like, 'are these things working for us? But like I said, you can see us coming together. Our rotations (defensively) and everything is getting better so we just have to stick with it."

For veterans like Paul Pierce, the idea of committing to being a defensive-minded team is easy to do.

Under Doc Rivers, there's really no choice in the matter.

Players understanding this principle isn't the issue. It's how they go about applying that knowledge to their actual play.

Part of his job as a leader on this team is to remind some of the new guys and some of the returners too, that they are making progress towards becoming the type of team defensively they have to evolve into in order to be successful.

"We know when we commit to that end of the floor and we're all on the same page, that's what we are," Pierce said. "We saw glimpses of that (Friday night in Philadelphia) for most of the game and I told the guys after the game if we continue to play like that, then we're going to win a lot of games than we have. So we have to stick to our principles and stay consistent with that and continue to improve."

And win ... don't forget to win, Celtics.

Bruins blow three-goal lead, lose to Sabres in OT, 5-4

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Bruins blow three-goal lead, lose to Sabres in OT, 5-4

BOSTON – The Bruins had things set up for a solid win against an Atlantic Division doormat on Saturday night, but then they went and blew a three-goal second period lead and a two-goal third period lead en route to a deflating loss. 

Ryan O’Reilly scored during a wild scramble around the Boston net in the 3-on-3 overtime and the Bruins dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to Buffalo at TD Garden. So now the Bruins have lost to two of last year’s worst teams in the league, Colorado and Buffalo, and an expansion team within the first seven games of the season. 

The Bruins were all over the Sabres in the first period squeezing off 13 shots on net, and getting goals from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand to get things going. The Pastrnak score was a clean-up job at the front of the net after Tim Schaller had crashed the net with the puck, and Marchand scored a goal just two seconds into a PP possession after Marco Scandella coughed a puck up right in front of the Buffalo net. 

Marchand struck again on the first shift of the second period when he snapped home a backhanded drop pass from Anders Bjork, and then Jason Pominville and Pastrnak traded scores to give the Bruins a comfortable three-goal lead. Chelmsford’s own Jack Eichel scored on the rebound of a Scandella shot to make it a two-goal game going into the final period of play, and Benoit Pouliot potted his first goal with the Sabres to make it really close down the stretch. 

Anton Khudobin and the Bruins tried to hold strong in the closing minutes of the third, but couldn’t overcome a shaky interference call on Brandon Carlo that ultimately led to a game-tying Evander Kane score after the PP had expired.