Celtics

Red Sox lose fourth straight, 7-4 to White Sox

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Red Sox lose fourth straight, 7-4 to White Sox

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Whatever momentum the Red Sox built on their recent 5-2 road trip has since been squandered by the poor start to the club's homestand.

The Red Sox dropped their fourth straight -- and third in a row at Fenway -- 7-4, to the Chicago White Sox, who arrived in Boston Monday seven games under .500 but scored 24 runs in sweeping Boston.

The Red Sox had a 3-0 after two innings thanks to an RBI double from Jed Lowrie and a two-run single from Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

But the White Sox clawed back against Tim Wakefield with one run in the fourth, two in the fifth and another in the sixth.

David Ortiz's second homer in as many games tied things at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth, but the White Sox netted a run off Matt Albers in the seventh then padded the lead on a two-run homer from Paul Konerko off closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.

Lefty reliever Rich Hill, who has not allowed a run this season, grabbed his left forearm in pain after walking Adam Dunn in the seventh game and immediately left the game.

STAR OF THE GAME: Paul Konerko
Konerko delivered a run-scoring single off Matt Albers in the seventh to snap a 4-4 tie and two innings later, he added a two-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon to provide some extra padding for the White Sox.

Konerko has driven in runs in each of his last five games, including, obviously, all three of the games against the Red Sox.
HONORABLE MENTION: Gavin Floyd
Floyd was roughed up for seven innings in the first two innings, but settled down thereafter, allowing just two more hits the rest of the way.

He retired 10 consecutive batters from the second through the fifth while his teammates caught up at the plate and improved to 5-0 lifetimes against the Red Sox.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Matt Albers
After David Ortiz had tied the game with a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth and taken starter Tim Wakefield off the hook, Albers came in and faced four hitters, allowing three hits, a run and a wild pitch.
TURNING POINT
After the Red Sox had seven hits in their first 10 plate appearances, Floyd made some adjustments and allowed just one hit over the next 18 hitters.

BY THE NUMBERS
Over the last 18 games, Red Sox catchers (Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek) have combined to knock in 15 runs.

QUOTE OF NOTE
"I thought it was a poor call and a poor explanation. I asked him to get help. He said it was his call. I wish he'd gotten it right.'' - Terry Francona on 2nd base umpire Marty Foster, who called Juan Pierre safe despite replays showing that Dustin Pedroia tagged Pierre attempting to steal second.

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.”