Celtics

Lester, Red Sox rocked by White Sox, 7-3

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Lester, Red Sox rocked by White Sox, 7-3

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Now that Jon Lester has gotten over his troubles in April, perhaps he can figure out what's gone wrong in May.

Lester was shelled for seven runs in 5 23 innings Monday night in a 7-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Though the loss was his first this month -- and first since April 12 -- the start pushed Lester's ERA in May to 5.50.

Lester issued four walks and hit two others batters. A one-out, bases-loaded bloop single to right by Alexi Ramirez snapped a 3-3 tie in the sixth and Carlos Quentin greeted reliever Dan Wheeler with a two-run single to tack on two more.

Before being lifted, Lester threw 127 pitches, becoming the third Red Sox pitcher to throw 125 or more pitches in a start this season.

The Sox got a solo homer from Adrian Gonzalez in the first and a two-run single by Dustin Pedroia in the third, but were blanked over their final six innings. Jake Peavy improved to 2-0, going seven innings.

Boston managed just seven hits and after scoring 14 or more runs three times in the span of seven games, the team has scored just seven runs in its last three games combined.

STAR OF THE GAME: Jake Peavy
Peavy missed the first five weeks of the season with an injury, but looked healthy against the Sox, allowing three runs in seven innings of work.

Unlike his counterpart Jon Lester, Peavy had sharp command, issuing only one walk.

HONORABLE MENTION: Paul Konerko
Konkero belted a solo homer that would have been over everything in left had it not first hit a sign atop the Monster Seats and also had a single that helped the White Sox grab a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Later, he was robbed of his third hit on a fine diving play by Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Jon Lester
Lester wasn't himself. He walked four, hit two others and had baserunners in every inning -- and multiple baserunners in four of the six innings he pitched.

By his own admission, Lester dind't have a good feel for any of his pitches except his cut fastball, which manager Terry Francona believed he overused at times.

TURNING POINT
With two on and two out in the sixth inning, Lester walked White Sox leadoff hitter Juan Pierre -- who is hardly known as a selective hitter.

That moved baserunners Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham into scoring position and when Alexi Ramirez dumped a single into shallow right, just beyond the reach of Adrian Gonzalez, the White Sox had two runs and were in the middle of a four-run inning.

BY THE NUMBERS
Adrian Gonzalez has 31 RBI this month, the most for any Red Sox player in a single month since David Ortiz knocked in 35 in July of 2006.

QUOTE OF NOTE
"I really didn't have a feel for anything. I stunk -- there's really no other way to put it.'' -- Jon Lester

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

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Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

As the wins continue to pile up for the Boston Celtics, so does the praise and adulation from others throughout the league. 

It’s a double-edged sword if you think about it. 

Acknowledging how good the Celtics are, is indeed a sign of respect. 

But it also means Boston plays every game with a large target on its back unlike any of Brad Stevens’ previous Celtics teams. 

And that means every game they play, even those like tonight’s matchup at Atlanta where they will be heavily favored, are dangerous matchups.

Because for some teams, the next best thing to competing against the champ (Golden State) is facing the team with the best record who just knocked off the champ. 

That will be one of the dynamics at work tonight when the Celtics (14-2) kick off a three-game road trip against a trio of sub-.500 teams beginning with the Hawks (3-12).

Boston has shown tremendous focus and attention to detail during their 14-game winning streak. But in that span, the Celtics have never had a trio of teams right behind each other that struggled as much as the Hawks, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks have this season. 

Not including games played on Friday, Boston’s next three opponents are a combined 11-33. 

All three of those teams would love to be the one to knock off the Celtics, the kind of victory that could significantly shift the direction of their respective franchises from their current downward spin. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will look to continue to play with the kind of defensive temperament that has catapulted them to the top of the NBA’s defensive standings in several categories. 

“The way they’re beating teams it ain’t pretty,” a league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. “But they win. Last I checked, that’s what matters most.”

And that success has to a large degree, put a bigger bullseye on the Celtics than ever. 

“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

Especially if they continue to defend at a level we haven’t seen in years. 

Boston has a league-best defensive rating of 95.4. A key component in Boston’s strong play defensively has been their ability to win the battle of the boards. They come into tonight’s game with a .530 rebounding percentage which is second in the league to Portland (.539).

And that defense, while praised for how it functions collectively, it also consists of some pretty good individual defenders as well. 

Among guards averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Boston has four players ranked among the top 10 in defensive rating (Marcus Smart, 93.5 defensive rating, 2nd); Jaylen Brown (93.6, 3rd); Terry Rozier (95.0, 5th) and Kyrie Irving (96.4, 8th). 

When you look at forwards, Brown headlines a trio of forwards that includes himself, Al Horford (94.2, 3rd) and Jayson Tatum (96.1, 7th). 

Aron Baynes has the best defensive rating (90.6) among centers, followed by Horford (94.2).

“Our guys are locked in and really trying and again we can really play some pretty ugly basketball at times,” Stevens said. “But I do think that we are competing which is really good.”