Kings' Cousins shows Celtics what all the hype is about


Kings' Cousins shows Celtics what all the hype is about

SACRAMENTO DeMarcus Cousins is a man of many talents, many of which were on display in Sacramento's 118-96 thumping of the Boston Celtics.

The talented but at times troubled big man delivered his first career triple-double with 12 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds as the Kings (11-19) won at home for the sixth time in their last seven games.

With the rumors swirling that the Celtics have some interest in making a run at Cousins, Sunday's performance was just the kind of audition that has Celtics Nation salivating at the thought of him teaming up with Kevin Garnett in the frontcourt.

But it was the kind of game that justifies Sacramento's reluctance to make him available despite having to discipline him repeatedly for various team-related offenses.

And when he has guys around him knocking down shots, it makes him all that more difficult to deal with.

"That's why he was able to pick up 10 assists, because guys were setting up outside," said Kings forward John Salmons who had 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field. "Hopefully it'll get to the point where they can't double-team players because guys are making open 3s and that'll make it easier for Cousins to get in the lane."

Meanwhile, the Celtics (14-16) slip even further below .500 with the loss which will only extend the grumbling among Celtics Nation for the C's to do something to shake up their roster - like aggressively pursue a player like Cousins.

While he has had his share of problems in Sacramento, the one thing that has never been an issue is his talent.

When you look at the C's roster and see what Cousins brings to the floor talent-wise, it's hard to imagine the Celtics can put together a package that would entice the Kings to part with arguably one of the most talented big men in the NBA and wouldn't debilitate the C's core group.

His ability to score and rebound is well documented. But on Sunday he displayed the kind of court vision that speaks volumes about how talented he is now.

And the scary part is that he's just 22 years old.

Even though the Kings led most of the night, it was Cousins' play in the second half that put the Celtics away.

"Down the stretch is where Cousins just took the game over," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "We didn't want to trap and that's a great example of what we're doing defensively."

When too much attention was paid to Cousins, he wisely found teammates for lay-ups or open jumpers.

"We can absorb one big scoring," Rivers said. "But you can't when you start trapping and then everybody gets involved."

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"


Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game. 

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0


Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

HOUSTON - Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest, too, before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.