Celtics

Pitcher throws 10 scoreless innings, doesn't win

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Pitcher throws 10 scoreless innings, doesn't win

From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Cliff Lee could appreciate a career performance even if he walked away from AT&T Park with no win to show for it.Typically, 10 scoreless innings should be more than enough for a victory.Lee and Giants ace Matt Cain combined to throw 19 scoreless innings in San Francisco's 1-0, 11-inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night, bringing back memories of those great old righty-lefty showdowns of Juan Marichal and Sandy Koufax.Melky Cabrera hit an RBI single in the 11th inning, ending a thrilling pitchers' duel that seemed as if it might go on all night.Strange that Cain and Lee have only a no-decision to show for their remarkable work."Both guys were absolutely tremendous," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.Cabrera came through against Antonio Bastardo (0-1), who allowed Brandon Belt's one-out single up the middle. Belt then advanced when third baseman Ty Wigginton couldn't control Angel Pagan's grounder.The sellout crowd of 41,860 got treated to a game that lasted just 2 hours, 27 minutes. And it left Lee still searching for his first win of the season after three starts."It was a classic pitcher's duel. It's the first time I ever threw 10 innings. It was neat," Lee said. "I'd rather give up two runs and get the win though. Any time you lose it's disappointing. I had a good changeup and I was throwing my curveballs for strikes. I don't usually do both in the same game. When things are going well I try to work fast. I try to keep a good pace. Everybody likes that. I was told I was done after nine, but I said I could easily pitch another inning. I tried it again after 10 but it didn't happen."The Giants won a third straight series after being swept in three one-run losses to open the year at defending division champion Arizona, while the Phillies dropped their third series in four.Lee's 10 innings were a career high and he became the first Phillies starter to go beyond nine innings since Terry Mulholland on May 8, 1993, against St. Louis. Lee allowed seven hits, struck out seven, didn't walk a batter and threw 81 of his 102 pitches for strikes.And Lee didn't throw his 100th pitch until strike one to Nate Schierholtz with two outs in the 10th."I haven't seen two pitchers pitch that well. What a matchup," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Terrific game by two guys that hooked horns and neither one was giving in."This one marked the second great matchup of aces in three games after Roy Halladay outpitched Tim Lincecum in Philadelphia's 5-2 win Monday night.Both pitchers worked quickly, each allowing only two base runners to reach second in their combined 19 innings."Just nonstop back and forth," Cain said. "Both of us tried to throw a lot of strikes and get guys out. We were both pounding the strike zone. We were through nine before two hours. It's not very often. That's pretty crazy."Carlos Ruiz led off the top of the 11th with a double against Sergio Romo for the Phillies' first extra-base hit of the game and just the second all game on a night nine innings were -- remarkably -- in the books after just 1:50.Ruiz moved to third on a sacrifice by Freddy Galvis, then pinch-hitter Jim Thome batted for Lee and struck out swinging against Javier Lopez.John Mayberry Jr. entered to pinch-hit and Bochy brought in winner Clay Hensley (1-0) as well as Belt to play first in a double-switch. Mayberry grounded out to end the inning."The way he was throwing you wanted to do anything you could to get him the W.' He deserved it," Wigginton said of Lee.Pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez reached on Laynce Nix's fielding error in the bottom of the ninth, but Lee induced the third of four double plays he got against the Giants.Cain dazzled for the second straight start, tossing nine scoreless innings in back-to-back outings for the first time in his career.Coming off a one-hitter in a 5-0 victory over the Pirates in last Friday's home opener in which the only baserunner he allowed was a single to pitcher James McDonald, Cain was nearly as good this time out."Awesome," Lopez said. "That was great. Two starters like that, I haven't seen that in a long time."Manuel mixed things up again, running out his 10th different lineup in the initial 12 games -- but Cain held everybody in check.Cain, who signed a new 127.5 million, six-year contract April 2, issued a one-out walk to Ruiz in the fifth before the right-hander retired the final 13 batters he faced in order before giving way to new closer Santiago Casilla. Cain gave up two hits, struck out four and walked one.Cain went three up, three down in the first on 15 pitches and was through four on 41 pitches, allowing only Galvis' one-out single in the third."That's as good as I've seen. They both threw strikes, pounded the zone and got into a rhythm," Thome said.Notes: Aaron Harang was the last pitcher to go 10 innings, July 23, 2007, with the Reds. Halladay also did it in April that year. ... Cain came in 1-4 with a 4.17 ERA in his previous seven starts vs. Philly. ... The Phillies, who play a four-game series in San Diego starting Thursday, went 23-9 against the NL West last year. ... The Phillies had been 4-2 in their previous six games at AT&T Park, outscoring the Giants 22-12 during that stretch. Philadelphia won three of four here last season for just their fourth series victory in the waterfront ballpark since it opened in 2000.

Celtics' cup has runneth over so far this season

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Celtics' cup has runneth over so far this season

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics are no different than the rest of us. They have a lot to be thankful for.
 
There’s the usual good health, family and friends. But they have a few more things to be thankful for, as well.
 
So as you take a brief time-out today from the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, here’s a look at five things the Celtics are thankful for this season.


 
KYRIE IRVING
 
The Celtics have had some solid players in recent years, but the addition of Kyrie Irving was a game-changer. He provides Boston with an unmistakable superstar who has a proven track record of success on all levels -- he's won an NBA championship and an Olympic Gold medal, and is also a four-time All-Star. Did I mention he’s just 25 years old?


 
AL HORFORD
 
His numbers will never adequately measure the impact Horford has had on the Celtics. The big plus with Horford was him simply agreeing to be a Celtic. For years this franchise has been built on the success of developing draft picks or trading for talented players. But rarely have they had the financial flexibility or, to be frank, the kind of appeal to free agents to go out and acquire a proven All-Star like Al Horford. His arrival has enhanced an already-established winning culture, one that has become a player on the free agency market ever since.


 
DANNY AINGE
 
Other than Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti, it’s hard to imagine another front office executive having as good an offseason as Ainge. He rolled the dice to go down two spots in last June’s NBA draft, and wound up with arguably the most NBA-ready player (Jayson Tatum) among those selected in last June’s NBA draft. (Remember, the likely rookie-of-the-year Ben Simmons did not play last year after Philadelphia drafted him with the top overall pick in 2016.) The free-agent pickups of Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis and Shane Larkin have all had moments where they carried the team to victory. Even second-round picks like Semi Ojeleye and two-way players like Jabari Bird have contributed to wins this season. Fans may not like some of Ainge’s decisions in the moment but he deserves a lot of credit for the team we see today, one that has played at a level few envisioned they'd reach this quickly.


 
BRAD STEVENS
 
And to think, the Big Three (Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford) Boston was planning to build around this season has played less than five minutes together. Stevens has been pushing all the right buttons, putting guys in unexpected positions to succeed with a cast that’s long on talent and well, well short on experience. Boston’s first win of the season came at Philadelphia, a game in which the Celtics played six different rookies. It’s not unusual for teams to use first-year players frequently, but for a team that was built to contend for a championship? That’s highly unusual. The biggest thing is despite the lack of experience on the floor, Stevens hasn’t allowed them to use that as a reason to fail. Instead, Stevens has had them lean heavily on film study and the wisdom of veterans, as well as empowered them to have a “next-man-up” mindset with one goal regardless of what they are tasked with doing: Get it done. No excuses.


 
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
 
Boston has spent most of this season atop the NBA standings, fueled in large part by a 15-game winning streak -- the longest of the Brad Stevens era and the fifth-longest ever by a Celtics team. But within that winning streak, there have been some noticeable areas of concern (i.e., bench scoring) that have made games more challenging. And that's what makes these Celtics so scary to the rest of the league. If they’re beating teams consistently now, how much better will they be when the offense catches up or, at a minimum, gains some ground on what has been an impressive stretch of play defensively? That’s why as good as this first full month of the season has been, there's reason to believe they’ll only get better. The Celtiheircs have seen  share of adversity. They've played without their All-Stars. They have fought back from double-digit deficits to emerge victorious. This is a young squad, but battle-tested already. Because of all that, they have a certain level of confidence that regardless of the situation, regardless of the score, they feel they will find a pathway to success. And that, Celtics Nation, is something to be thankful for.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

Blakely's takeaways: Moving on without the streak

Blakely's takeaways: Moving on without the streak

The streak is over! The streak is over!

We now return the Boston Celtics to their regularly scheduled pursuit of success without the growing pressure that comes with a historically relevant winning streak.

The 104-98 loss at Miami on Wednesday night brought an end to what had been one of the more unlikely winning streaks we’ve seen in the NBA for quite some time.

Boston reeled off 16 straight wins, many of which were the come-from-a-double-digit-deficit variety. In the end, the Celtics’ winning streak ranks as the fourth-longest in this storied franchise’s history.

“I told you, we’re not as good as the 16-game win streak,” Stevens said following the loss. “But we do have a lot of resolve.”

That resolve will surely be challenged with the Celtics taking Thanksgiving off, only to return and play three games in the next four nights beginning with Orlando on Friday, followed by a road game at Indiana on Saturday and a home date against the Detroit Pistons on Monday.

Here are five takeaways from the Boston Celtics’ 16-game winning streak.

KYRIE FOR MVP?

When the Boston Celtics traded for Kyrie Irving during the offseason, there was a sense that his presence would be a plus in some capacity, at some point. But few envisioned Irving would not only have a relatively seamless fit with the Celtics, but deliver in such a way that would catapult them to the top of the NBA standings and in doing so, establish him as one of the early front-runners for the league’s MVP award. This season, Irving is averaging a team-best 22.5 points and 5.2 assists while shooting 47 percent from the field but most important, the Celtics (16-3) have the best record in the NBA.

WANTED: BENCH SCORER

If you are a fan of good defenders, you probably love the Boston Celtics’ second unit. Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart are both ball-hawking defenders who can make some miserable times for opponents when they are on top of their game. Daniel Theis provides great energy on the glass and defensively. But the second unit needs a jolt offensively. Because as good as they can defend collectively, the Celtics have to have at least one starter on the floor most of the time because the bench doesn’t have an adequate collector of buckets that they can rely on consistently. Marcus Morris looks like an ideal choice for that role, but the left knee soreness that kept him out for eight games seems to be flaring up from time to time. Whether they address this with a trade or possibly with a player bought out, the lack of a second-unit scorer is very much an issue for this team.

BROWN EMERGES AS TWO-WAY TALENT

The plan was for Jaylen Brown to be an elite, shut-down defender this season. He has shown himself to be a good defender this season, but what has really made him stand out is the growth in his game offensively. The second-year wing has scored 20-plus points in three of Boston’s last four games. Doing that along with continuing to play good defense has him looking like one of the NBA’s promising young two-way talents.

TATUM’S GROWTH A SILVER LINING IN HAYWARD INJURY

You never want to see the Boston Celtics or any team for that matter, lose a player for the season let alone one who meant as much as Gordon Hayward to the Celtics. But if there is a silver lining in his ankle injury which is expected to keep him out all season, it is the opportunity it created for Jayson Tatum. The 19-year-old has been arguably the best player from last June’s draft class, playing major minutes with a major role for the team with the best record in the NBA. The opportunity to play around 30 minutes a game would not have been there for Tatum if Hayward didn’t get hurt. The challenge for Tatum going forward is to stay consistent, because now that teams have seen him for almost a quarter of the season, you can expect they will make some adjustments in how they defend him as well as try to attack him when he’s defending.

WE TALKIN’ ABOUT PRACTICE

During Boston’s 16 game winning streak, the Celtics played the last eight games in 16 nights. That’s a game every other night for more than two weeks. In that time, there’s little to no time for practice which has been a factor in Boston not being quite as sharp in the last few games, as they were at the start of the streak. After Thanksgiving, Boston plays three games in four nights with a pair of days off to follow before they return to action. There’s a very good chance that the Celtics will use one of those two days to practice, something this team desperately needs to clean up some of the minor mistakes that were big problems in their loss to the Heat on Wednesday.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE