Bruins

Waters sought own level of excellence

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Waters sought own level of excellence

FOXBORO - Rank Brian Waters' signing as one of the best of the Bill Belichick Era. For an offensive line in desperate flux all season, he's been an amazingly steady, dependable part.

Think about it, heading into this season, the Patriots hadn't really replaced right guard Stephen Neal, they just "next man upped" the position and let Dan Connolly have it.

Then a ton of their offensive line depth got ripped through. Guys like Rich Ohrnberger wound up on IR before the season started and injuries to Dan Koppen and Connolly brought the shuffle on.

Into the breach has stepped Waters, signed September 4 to a two-year, 3 million deal that is a steal. He brings talent, smarts and tremendous leadership to the team and seems so genuinely happy to be here after spending his entire 11-year career in Kansas City before this year.

"The year itself has been really good for me because I've come to a place where I've been accepted and I feel very comfortable here so that's been the most positive part for me," said the 35-year-old Waters, a Pro Bowl selection this year for the sixth time in his career.

New England wasn't something the Dallas native necessarily sought. But after three playoff appearances - all losses - in Kansas City, his current reality is very acceptable.

"You have to be a fool to be in this game this long and think you're going to play your entire career in one place," said Waters. "It's a difficult thing to think about until you're actually in it. It wasn't anything that passed over my mind a lot until the situation presented itself."

When it did, Waters came willingly and hit the ground in Miami running, plugged into the Patriots lineup right away.

It's been a terrific fit for both sides.

Morning Skate: Carey Price struggled with chronic fatigue

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Morning Skate: Carey Price struggled with chronic fatigue

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while happy to be done driving back and forth from Montreal for a little while. 

 

*Carey Price was reportedly suffering from chronic fatigue at the beginning of the season related to some vitamin deficiencies. That’s got to be re-assuring to an NHL hockey team when their $10 million a year goaltender is starting to complain about chronic fatigue in the very early stages of his gigantic contract. It makes any complaints about Tuukka Rask making $7 million a year to be child’s play in comparison. 

 

*It just keeps getting better with Isles rookie Mat Barzal as this weekend Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane was raving about him and the way he plays hockey. 

 

*Good for old friend Chris Kelly, who says that a gold medal for Team Canada at the Olympics would be a great capper to his hockey career. 

 

*In an amazing story, the Vegas Golden Knights just keeping better and more powerful in their inaugural seasons. Pro Hockey Talk has the details. 

 

*In an interesting twist and a harbinger of more changes to come for the organization it would appear, Paul Coffey was named as a skills coach within the Oilers organization. 

 

*For something completely different: Tom Brady getting in touch with some F-bombs prior to today’s game against the Jaguars. 

Celtics' losing streak reaches a season-worst three games with loss to Magic

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Celtics' losing streak reaches a season-worst three games with loss to Magic

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics’ defense had its moments on Sunday. 

Ditto for the offense. 

But overall, the sense of urgency that we saw when they reeled off 16 straight wins and skyrocketed to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, was nowhere to be found on Sunday against the Orlando Magic. 

And because of that, the Celtics now find themselves riding a season-worst losing streak that has reached three games. 

While it may not seem like that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, Boston understands all too well how momentum works. 

It is a catapulting force that can elevate teams for a stretch of games, or set them back which is exactly what’s happening now with the Celtics (34-13).

“In my eyes, I feel like we’re fighting for our lives,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “That has to be our mindset gong into Tuesday’s game (against the Los Angeles Lakers).

Horford added, “We have to understand that teams are coming for us. I felt that we’ve handled it okay this season. We have to do a good job of making sure we’re bringing the fire and them not bringing it to us.”

Lately, that has proven to be easier said than done. 

At the end of the day, Boston’s success comes down to one thing and one thing only – improving their play. 

“You know, you’ve got to play well,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “We haven’t played well consistently on both ends for a while now.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 103-95 loss to the Orlando Magic which snapped the Celtics’ 13-game home winning streak against Orlando. 

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving: The Celtics came up short, but that doesn’t diminish a strong bounce-back game for Kyrie Irving. Irving, who did not play in Boston’s loss to Philadelphia on Thursday, returned to the floor and dropped 40 points on 14-for-23 shooting. He also had seven rebounds and five assists with just one turnover.

 

STUDS

Elfrid Payton: By no means did he shut Kyrie Irving down, but his scoring off the dribble certainly provided a much-needed boost for Orlando. He had a team-high 22 points on 9-for-16 shooting along with six rebounds.

Evan Fournier: He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (8-for-19), but made some clutch baskets for the Magic in pulling off the upset win. 

Aaron Gordon: He tallied his 10th double-double of the season and second straight on Sunday, finishing with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Marcus Morris: Getting the starting assignment, Morris gave the Celtics a nice lift with 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting to go with five rebounds.

Jaylen Brown: Early on, Brown and Kyrie Irving were the only sources of offense for the Celtics as they combined to score 23 of Boston’s first 25 points. For the game, Brown had 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting to go with seven rebounds.

 

DUDS

Celtics third quarter: There were other less-than-stellar stretches of play for Boston, but this game was truly decided by Boston’s horrific play at both ends of the floor in the third quarter. That is when the Magic outscored Boston 32-12.

Celtics transition offense: Easily one of the keys to Boston’s inability to get over the hump once after spending most of the second half on the comeback trail. Boston had six, fast-break points while shooting a woeful 3-for-9 in those opportunities. The Magic had almost twice as many fast-break points (11) while doing so on fewer fast-break field goal attempts (8).

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