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Pierce scores 40 to lead Celtics over Cavs 103-91

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Pierce scores 40 to lead Celtics over Cavs 103-91

BOSTON (AP) Paul Pierce scored 25 of his season-high 40 points in the second half, carrying the Boston Celtics to a 103-91 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

Pierce made 10 of 11 shots from the floor after halftime, hitting his first eight - including his initial three 3-point attempts. He finished 13 of 16 from the field.

Rajon Rondo added 20 points and eight assists for the Celtics, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Jason Terry had 15 points and Kevin Garnett 12.

Kyrie Irving paced Cleveland with 22 points.

Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao, the league's leading rebounder, missed the game with a bruised right knee after he was hurt in Tuesday's home loss to Toronto. Tyler Zeller got his first career start and had 20 points for Cleveland.

The Cavaliers lost their fifth straight and fell to 2-14 on the road.

Boston pushed the lead to 80-60 late in the third quarter, but the Cavaliers went on a 20-2 run spanning the end of the third and start of the fourth, closing to 82-80 on Zeller's three-point play 3 minutes into the final quarter.

Rondo's long jumper then started a game-breaking 14-4 run. Pierce, who nailed two jumpers and two free throws in the spurt, finally missed his first shot of the second half - a 3-point attempt from the top with 6:15 to play - after going 8 for 8 from the floor.

Pierce's fadeaway in the lane made it 96-84 with 3:59 remaining.

The Celtics held an eight-point lead at the half and used an offensive outburst by Pierce to open their 20-point advantage. The team captain scored Boston's initial five points, nailing a 3-pointer to make it 59-51 early in the quarter. After the teams traded baskets, Pierce scored all of the points in a 12-2 run over the ensuing 3:37, capping it with consecutive 3s from nearly the same spot on the left wing 63 seconds apart to make it 75-57.

Following two free throws by Cleveland's Tristan Thompson, Jason Terry nailed a 3 from the right corner, pushing Boston ahead 78-59 with 4:18 left in the quarter. Terry's jumper made it 80-60 with 3:33 left. Pierce, who was replaced with just under 4 minutes left in the quarter and left to a loud ovation, went 7 for 7 from the floor in the quarter.

After Pierce and Garnett went to the bench, Cleveland scored 12 of the final 14 points in the third, pulling to 82-72 heading into the fourth. Irving scored the final seven points of the quarter.

Boston led 27-25 after one and used an 8-0 run midway in the second en route to its 54-46 edge at halftime. Pierce nailed a 3 and hit two free throws in the run.

In the first half, the Celtics made 10 more free throws in 15 extra chances.

NOTES: Zeller was without a face mask for the first time since breaking his cheekbone in early November. ... Boston coach Doc Rivers changed his starting lineup and inserted G Terry and F Jason Collins. Rivers said he wanted to get Terry in the starting lineup because ``he needs to be on the floor with a point guard that can get him the ball.'' Terry had just two shots in Boston's loss at Chicago on Tuesday night, but hit a 3 on his first attempt early in the game. Rivers wanted Collins in there to limit Garnett from playing center the entire time he was on the floor. ... The Celtics held a moment of silence before the National Anthem and showed all the names on the Jumbotron to remember the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. ... The Celtics didn't get home from Tuesday night's game in Chicago until about 2 P.M. due to mechanical problems with their plane. ... Cleveland's only two road wins came in November, against the Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta.

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10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No Redskins receiver broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2017, and bluntly, the receiver position did not unfold like the front office designed.

Terrelle Pryor proved a free agent flop, and while Josh Doctson flashed talent, the consistency did not follow. Jamison Crowder led Washington with 789 receiving yards while 34-year-old tight end Vernon Davis was the team's second leading receiver. 

The Redskins need more at wideout in 2018, and the front office acted on it. 

The team signed Paul Richardson in free agency, and advanced statistics suggest he could make an impact right away. Richardson has vertical speed in a way the organization hasn't had since DeSean Jackson went to Tampa two seasons ago. 

Doctson could emerge as a true No. 1 WR, and Richardson's speed will help. Sources inside Redskins Park question if Doctson is the type of wideout that can beat cornerbacks off the line. Instead, the team believes Doctson is best when using his athleticism to go up and get balls. That skillset was best illustrated for Doctson in the end zone, where he grabbed six TDs last season. 

Crowder could again lead the Redskins in receiving yards. New QB Alex Smith likes to look to his inside receivers, and with defenses having to account for more speed on the field in Richardson, Crowder should get plenty of open looks. 

Ultimately, the question is if the Redskins will have a 1,000-yard receiver. The answer is an unknown, but the evidence suggests they won't.

No 1,000-yard wideout does not spell doom for Washington. In the last two seasons, eight of 12 NFC playoff teams had a receiver get into four digits. Among the teams that did not get that kind of production from one wide receiver: 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. Remember, that team won the Super Bowl. 

Further down the roster, Washington has contributors but unlikely a breakout star. Maurice Harris has great hands and Robert Davis has shown plenty of athleticism, but significant production would be a surprise. Rookie Trey Quinn could be a player that helps the 'Skins, particularly should Crowder get banged up this year like he did last year, but a 1,000-yard season for a 7th-round rookie seems pretty absurd. 

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Jeff Green hopes recent playoff success can rub off on Wizards

Jeff Green hopes recent playoff success can rub off on Wizards

Jeff Green's basketball résumé got a significant boost this spring and summer as his Cleveland Cavaliers marched all the way to the NBA Finals before they were swept by the Golden State Warriors. It was Green's first time going past the second round of the playoffs and the experience, he says, was invaluable.

Green has come about as close to winning a championship without actually winning one and he certainly hopes to get back in that position. Green believes his new team, the Washington Wizards, have the tools to make a deep playoff run and it's one of the reasons why he signed a free agent deal to join them.

"Being there last year myself with Cleveland, I know it takes a lot. It takes a lot of pieces. I feel like this team has them," he said. "We can get back to that point. When I got the call, I felt like it was the best opportunity for myself to get there."

The Wizards' franchise has not been past the second round of the playoffs since 1979, when they were known as the Bullets. That was before anyone on their roster was born.

But Green pointed to the open Eastern Conference and the talent on the roster as reasons to believe they can accomplish some things that they haven't in decades. They may be capable, but putting it all together is easier said than done.

Green hopes to be one of the glue guys necessary for the Wizards to reach their potential, in part by sharing the lessons he learned.

"Never take it for granted. There are a lot of greats that have never been there," he said. "Getting to the Finals and being part of that was beyond amazing. With the experience and seeing what it took, I can bring that here and get everybody on the same page of knowing what it takes and the sacrifices that you have to do to get to that point."

Green over and over mentioned how it takes a collective effort to go to the conference finals and beyond, but he did show some self-awareness and a sense of humor about his own experience in Cleveland. All teams are different and the one he just left was a unique situation.

"You can’t get there individually. I mean, you can, we did last year. I mean, LeBron [James] carried us all the way there," he joked. "But there’s only one LeBron, but to get there you have to have team unity. You all have to be on the same page and sacrifice to make sure you’re doing what it takes to get the team there. I think that’s the biggest key. It’s not an individual thing… unless you’re LeBron."

If the Wizards are to reach their goals and go to the conference finals or the NBA Finals, they will have to do it differently than the Cavaliers did. They do not have a player on the level of James who can do much of it by himself. But Green said the process of imparting his wisdom has already started.

"I talked to John [Wall]," Green said. "Knowing that he wants to get to the Finals, I was just picking his brain and what he thinks is needed to get there. And me sharing my experience of getting to the Finals and what it takes."

The Wizards have reached a point as an organization where they have urgency to reach new heights. Green believes he can help them get there.

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