Patriots

Celtics-Wizards review: Garnett more rounded

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Celtics-Wizards review: Garnett more rounded

BOSTON A more assertive, more aggressive Kevin Garnett was in the building Wednesday night for the Boston Celtics.
And when he shows up, the Celtics usually don't lose.
That was indeed the case on Wednesday as Garnett led the way in Boston's 100-94 overtime win over Washington.
Garnett, who was encouraged by C's head coach Doc Rivers to be more assertive, took Rivers' words to heart at both ends of the floor.
He finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, with most of his board work -- seven rebounds, actually -- coming in the game's first quarter which set the tone for a strong start for Boston.
Following the victory,Rivers talked about some of the players who put forth great effort and displayed strong leadership skills.
"Kevin, always, I always exclude him because he always plays the right way," Rivers said.
In addition to his scoring and rebounding, Garnett was also a bit more attentive to Washington big man Kevin Seraphin.
When the two teams played on Saturday, Seraphin had 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting from the field.
Although Seraphin had another 19-point scoring game on Wednesday, he did so on 8-for-19 shooting.
In addition to Garnett playing a more well-rounded game, here are some other keys to Boston's win identified prior to the game and how the C's fared in those areas.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Boston's first win of the season came on a night when they jumped on the opponent (Washington) with a 17-2 run behind suffocating defense and timely scoring. Being the aggressor at both ends of the floor will once again be a key to the C's beating the Wizards again.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston came out the aggressor once again, putting together a strong showing defensively with an efficiently-run offense to bolt out to an 11-2 lead.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: The Celtics bench vs. Jordan Crawford: Had it not been for an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game, Crawford (21 points in 25 minutes) may have single-handedly outscored the entire C's bench. That should never happen. Jason Terry is more than due to have a breakout game. Ditto for Jeff Green.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston's bench was better while Crawford had problems most of the game. He had not practiced since suffering a left ankle sprain against the Celtics, and it showed. In 15 minutes, he had just two points while missing five of his six shot attempts.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney Lee has been OK, but an intangibles player like him tends to have a breakout performance when you least expect it. With the Wizards wanting to limit Paul Pierce from having another big game, and withstand the strong play of Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo, it seems an ideal scenario for Lee to be an unexpected difference-maker.
WHAT WE SAW: Lee had another nondescript game for the Boston Celtics. He didn't play all that bad, but it wasn't the kind of performance that will get you all lathered up with excitement, either. He's clearly still trying to figure out where his shots will come from, and the reality that there will be fewer attempts and thus a greater premium on him to make the ones he gets to take. He finished with just two points -- from the free throw line -- while missing all three of his shot attempts.

STAT TO TRACK: Doc Rivers loves to keep the Celtics turnovers to 13 or less per game. In Saturday's win, the C's turned the ball over just nine times. That was a significant improvement compared to the first two games in which the Celtics turned it over an average of 17 times per game.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston's turnover numbers were higher than what Rivers likes to see, and those miscues factored heavily into the game being a lot closer than the Celtics would have liked. Boston turned the ball over 19 times which led to 18 points for Washington.

Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

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Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season. 

Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder. 

Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick. 

Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury. 

Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad. 

Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.

The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues

Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

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Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

BRIGHTON -- Coming off a pair of back-to-back wins from backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are still undecided about what they’re going to do between the pipes Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

On the one hand, the Bruins are very tempted to ride the hot goaltending hand with Khudobin a strong 5-0-2 record on the season and a .935 save percentage that currently leads all goaltenders across the league. There’s a school of thought that the B’s should simply keep plugging Khudobin into the lineup until he actually loses a game, and begins to cool down a little bit between the pipes after stopping 63-of-65 shots against LA and San Jose.

At the same time it will be over a week since Tuukka Rask has played in a game if the Bruins go with Khudobin on Wednesday night against the Devils, and Bruce Cassidy was clear to stress that Rask is still their No. 1 guy. So that’s the dilemma the Bruins are facing with Cassidy calling it “a good problem to have” based on Khudobin’s strong play from the backup spot.

That is a far cry from what the Bruins experienced a year ago with the same goalie, and a reason for optimism that their goaltending situation will be better off throughout a long season.

“Do you go with the hot hand and leave your No. 1 sitting where he’s beginning to wonder what the hell is going on? That’s the decision,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We need to keep them both in a good place, and not lose out on [Khudobin’s] good run while keeping Tuukka focused and confident in his game. That’s what we’re battling and I talk to Goalie Bob [Essensa] about it every day. We’ll make our decision [on Wednesday] and we hope it’s the right one.

“It’s a long year so no matter who we use there are a lot of starts. I don’t think Khudobin is going to go ice cold if he use Tuukka tomorrow, and I don’t think Tuukka is going to blow a gasket if we go with the hot hand. For me I don’t think it’s that big of a decision.”

Perhaps Rask blowing a gasket wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world given the way he’s played this season.

The one underlying concern for Rask beyond the .897 save percentage this season is that his game has really been in a different place for the last three seasons. While his .922 career save percentage mark is among the best in the NHL, he has been below that mark in each of the last three seasons while struggling to maintain consistently behind a changing roster that’s turning over to youth and inexperience.

It certainly seems like the Bruins feel it’s premature to label Rask as anything but their No. 1 goaltender, but the pause they’re giving on Wednesday night’s starter speaks volumes about their current confidence level in each of their puck-stoppers.

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