Celtics

Orioles defeat Yankees in 13, force Game 5

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Orioles defeat Yankees in 13, force Game 5

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- These Birds don't rattle easily.A day after a demoralizing defeat, the Baltimore Orioles won a test of wills and Game 4 of the AL division series, bouncing back to outlast the New York Yankees 2-1 in 13 innings Thursday night on J.J. Hardy's RBI double.Now, after playing past midnight to even things, the Orioles will get a chance to finally overtake the Yankees in a winner-take-all Game 5 Friday. The teams have already split 22 games this year, and it all comes down this: a matchup for a spot in the AL championship series against Detroit."We just kept telling ourselves, this is not the last night of the season," Hardy said.Game 1 winner CC Sabathia was set to pitch the deciding game for the Yankees against Jason Hammel.With the innings and hours piling up, the Orioles were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position until Hardy doubled off David Phelps with one out to score Manny Machado, who had doubled."There hasn't been a whole lot of opportunities to score runs," Hardy said, "so when there are those opportunities, I think we're trying a little bit too hard."Phelps had relieved in the 12th after Joba Chamberlain was hit by a flying broken bat, forcing him to leave with a bruised right elbow.Jim Johnson returned from allowing Raul Ibanez's pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning Wednesday to earn his second save in the series with a perfect 13th."I don't take for granted at any time what these guys are accomplishing so far," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "They know that. I have so much respect for our guys."Hours after learning Joe Girardi had kept quiet that his father died last Saturday, the Yankees couldn't rally late. This time, Girardi called upon Eric Chavez to pinch hit for slumping Alex Rodriguez. He lined out to third base to end it.Baltimore's win pushed all four division series to five games for the first time since the round began in 1995.The Orioles have been pursuing the Yankees all season, cutting a 10-game deficit in July to zero in early September. Baltimore and New York were tied 10 times atop the East in the final month but the Yankees never completely relinquished the lead and wrapped up the division on the final night of the regular season.Baltimore advanced to the division series with a win over the West champion Texas Rangers in the wild-card playoff."You know, we played an elimination game last week to start our postseason. It's like a Game 7," reliever Darren O'Day said. "I think we all got as much playoff experience as we need, especially considering how many times we've played them this year. And tonight was an elimination game and tomorrow will be another one"After dropping Game 1, the Orioles rebounded with another one-run win in a season in which they had the best record in the majors in such games at 29-9. But they lost in stunning fashion in 12 innings Wednesday night, when Ibanez homered twice in his two at-bats after pinch-hitting for Rodriguez.Didn't affect these late-inning savants.They came right back Thursday for their first win in extras against the Yankees this year. They also lost twice to New York in extra innings in the regular season before going on a run of 16 straight wins after the ninth inning.It wasn't easy, though. Nate McLouth homered off Phil Hughes to start the fifth, but Baltimore wasted three shots with a runner on third base in the first four innings. They struggled against New York's bullpen.McLouth also made a leaping catch against the left-field wall to save a run.Matt Wieters knocked Chamberlain out of the game with a broken-bat single to lead off the 12th inning that struck his surgically repaired right elbow. Fans sat silent as Chamberlain bent over in pain. He was checked out by trainer Steve Donahue and Girardi.Chamberlain tested the elbow with three pitches before walking off the field. X-rays were negative. He's not sure if he'll be available for Game 5."You kind of see how it feels and go from there," Chamberlain said. "It's definitely not as stiff as it was when it first happened."Many of the Orioles gathered near their bat rack in the dugout for an impromptu cheer before the 13th and Machado then led off with a double.One out later, Hardy hit a one-bouncer off the wall in left field for his first RBI of the series.The hit came after another Orioles quirk -- the players held Gatorade bottles and wiggled them in the dugout, trying to conjure up a rally.Showalter professed confidence in the 51-save Johnson before the game. He backed it up by calling on him for his fourth appearance of the series. He lost the opener after giving up five runs in the ninth and sandwiched saves around his trying homer to Ibanez.Seven Baltimore relievers pitched 7 1-3 innings of four-hit ball."There's really good pitching," Girardi said. "You're seeing some really good pitching in these four games."Baltimore needs it because their top hitters are missing a lot. Mark Reynolds is 3 for 16. Hardy is 3 for 18. Wieters is 2 for 17 and Adam Jones is 2 for 19.The Yankees held a moment of silence for Girardi's dad, Jerry, who died Saturday at 81 and had a long bout with Alzheimer's. Joe Girardi stood alone in front of the Yankees dugout and wiped his eyes after the national anthem. He blew a kiss to someone in the stands, then fist bumped several coaches and players.Facing elimination for the second time this postseason, Showalter turned again to Joe Saunders. Acquired by Baltimore on Aug. 26 from Arizona, Saunders pitched 5 2-3 innings of one-run ball in the wild-card win over Texas.He was just as crafty against New York, engaging with Phil Hughes in a duel of who could get out of the tougher jam.The Yankees put a runner on in every inning against Saunders but failed to score until the sixth.Derek Jeter lined an outside pitch to right field for a leadoff double in sixth, showing no ill effects of a bruised left foot that kept him from playing shortstop in the postseason for the first time in his career.He advanced on Ichiro Suzuki's sacrifice and scored on Robinson Cano's grounder to second. Showalter then lifted Saunders for right-hander Tommy Hunter to face Rodriguez. A-Rod struck out to loud boos and tossed his bat.NOTES:Highlights of Ibanez's two homers in Game 3 received loud cheers each time the clips were showed on the video board. ... Curtis Granderson has struck out nine times in 16 at-bats this postseason. ... Hughes and Saunders combined to walk seven after there were no walks Wednesday in 12 innings. ... Jeter got his 199th postseason hit.

All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday

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All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- A sprained left ankle injury kept LeBron James out of all but one of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason games, and has created a certain element of uncertainty as to whether he’ll play against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. 
 
While it has yet to be determined for sure if he’ll play, all indications are that the 15-year veteran will be in the starting lineup as the Cavs kick off their quest to remain the team to beat in the East.

“I never hide stuff from you guys. I really don’t know,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said when asked if James would play against the Celtics. “Depending on how he feels, but I really don’t know.”
 
However, James looked pretty comfortable shooting the ball after practice with a trio of former Celtics in Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Jeff Green. 
 
And if you listen to the man who would likely start in James’ place -- J.R. Smith -- there’s nothing to worry about Cavs Nation. 
 
According to Smith, James will play. 
 
“We were talking about it, he’s never missed, since he was 8 years old and he started playing, he’s never missed a first game,” Smith said. “I’m preparing for him to play.”
 
Despite having played more than 41,000 minutes -- only 33 players in NBA history have done so -- James has been one of the game’s more durable players. Last season James he sat out only eight games, and that was the most he has missed in a single season.
 
 "He's gonna go [Tuesday]," Smith said. "He's gonna go, trust me [on] that. I don't care what he's gotta do, he's gonna play."
 

Celtics may spend a good part of the year playing 'Getting To Know You'

Celtics may spend a good part of the year playing 'Getting To Know You'

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- It’s hard to believe the Celtics are just hours away from their first regular-season game after having been together for less than a month. 
 
The quick turnaround isn't all that different than it is for the other 29 teams in the NBA.  But the Celtics, who advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season, are returning only four players -- and just one starter -- from last year.
 
Training camp was indeed a crash course called Getting to Know My Teammates 101.
 
But listening to the players, and coach Brad Stevens, it’s clear there will be lessons learned all season long.

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“We have a good feel about how things can look, in the preseason,” said Al Horford. “But it is the preseason. Now it all starts. And right away we face a tough test (in the Cavaliers). But yeah, we’ll start learning even more. We’ve already learned a good amount, but even more when Tuesday rolls around.” 
 
That's when the Celtics kick off the regular season at Cleveland, which will once again be the favorite to advance to the NBA Finals.
 
Not too far behind (right behind them, by most accounts) are the Celts, whose season ended in the Conference finals a year ago in a five-game loss to the Cavs.
 
And the Boston players collectively feel that, despite the short amount of time together, they’ve developed a good sense of chemistry and understanding of how to play effectively with one another. 
 
Having said that, they also understand that there’s still plenty of room to grow. 
 
“I don’t expect it to be perfect by any means at all,” said Gordon Hayward. “We’ll definitely have some ups and downs this season. Like I said, one thing is we’ll be able to compete every night. We’ll be able to play together. Those things should stay the same.”
 
In many respects, the Cavaliers are going through a similar challenge this season.  They've added Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder -- and, when he recovers from his hip injury, Isaiah Thomas -- to a core group that’s led by LeBron James. 
 
While the increase in talent is undeniable, it’ll take some time before they too develop the kind of on-the-court cohesiveness that comes with time. 
 
“It’s gonna take time,” Rose said. “It’s going to be a process for everybody to learn their roles, learn everybody’s tendencies, and not think while they’re out there.”
 
And while there’s a heightened level of uncertainty as to how things will play out with the Celtics this season, Stevens embraces the unknown. 
 
“I think we're going to be learning about ourselves through the middle of the season,” Stevens said. “I think you do that with every team, but I think that's especially the case now. But this is, I've said this before, like, the first week, the first 10 days, the first few weeks, we have such great and unique challenges that it's gonna be really good for this team regardless."
 
Stevens added: “Because, to have to go into Cleveland with that level of intensity, with that level of attention, distraction, etc., is great. It's great to experience that in game one. A tremendous learning experience for our group. So, we're preparing to play as well as we can. And we know that they're really, really good. But this is, I'm looking forward to it because I want to find out where we are.”

Hayward added, “It’s a fun first game to start the year. Regardless of what happens, we’ll have some improving to do and things to get better at.”
  
 

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