Capitals

Rivers says roles won't change without Rondo

Rivers says roles won't change without Rondo

WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce showed up for his pre-practice meeting with reporters carrying a basketball, which he bounced from time to time while answering questions.

Get used to it: Pierce will have the ball in his hands a lot more from now on.

Two days after learning that Rajon Rondo has a torn knee ligament that will keep him out the rest of the season, the Celtics returned to practice for the first time to work on an extended future without the All-Star point guard. Pierce is the most likely player to handle the ball at key points in the game, but coach Doc Rivers says everyone will have to work to replace Rondo.

``It's just basketball,'' he said. ``There's no point guard. It's just basketball by committee. I don't want a guy thinking now he's Rondo.''

Rondo was averaging 13.7 points, 11.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game, with triple-doubles in back-to-back games when he was scratched from Sunday's game against the defending NBA-champion Miami Heat. He was sent to the hospital to check on what the team believed was a hyperextended right knee.

The actual diagnosis: A torn anterior cruciate ligament that required surgery and a recovery period of up to a year.

``Everybody was in a fog almost,'' center Kevin Garnett said at the team's workout facility. ``I think it's kind of settling in and I think everybody is trying to put their arms around the concept that he's actually hurt, hurt to the point where he can't play. That's what had everybody in a fog, even him.

``He came in this morning and seeing him in there was kind of unreal. The fact that it is real, everybody is going to consolidate and pick up the pieces and try to carry this thing.''

Rondo was injured in a double-overtime loss to Atlanta on Friday night, a game in which the Celtics blew a 27-point lead. Despite playing without their floor leader on Sunday - players didn't know the extent of the injury until after the game - they beat the Heat in Boston in double overtime to improve to 21-23 and hold onto a 2 1/2-game lead over Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

They are back at the TD Garden on Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings. Rivers said he isn't sure who will bring the ball up the court - it will probably change from game to game depending on what the opponent is doing - but once the offense is set up he will expect everyone to be involved.

That's the way the Celtics played against Miami on Sunday.

Now they need to do it the rest of the season.

``It's a no-point-guard system,'' Rivers said, noting that his second unit has been playing that way all season. ``Now the entire team needs to do it. We have a lot of guards. We just don't have a lot of point guards.''

Rivers said Courtney Lee, who has been averaging 7.2 points and 1.4 assists in 22 minutes, will start for now. Leandro Barbosa, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Jason Terry will also have the ball more without Rondo on the floor.

``I don't know if that's a role I'm going to have,'' said Barbosa, who backed up Steve Nash in Phoenix and is averaging 4.7 points and 1.2 rebounds in 11 minutes in his first season with the Celtics. ``I'm not Rajon Rondo; I'm Leandro Barbosa. What I'm going to do is different for the team.

``I will do my best, but I'm not a point guard; I'm a shooting guard. I will do my best, but I'm not a Rajon Rondo.''

There is also the possibility that general manager Danny Ainge would sign a player; former Celtic Keyon Dooling, who's working for the team in community relations, has been mentioned as a possibility. The Celtics, who were already languishing below .500, could also trade one of their stars and begin rebuilding.

``Danny has not brought up anything,'' Rivers said.

Rivers said he won't worry about Pierce being asked to do too much.

``I don't think Miami worries about running too much through LeBron (James),'' he said. ``I don't think the Lakers worry about running too much through Kobe (Bryant).''

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Three reasons the Capitals lost to the Panthers

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USA Today Sports

Three reasons the Capitals lost to the Panthers

Friday’s game had a little bit of everything. After spotting the Florida Panthers a 4-1 lead, the Capitals furiously battled back to tie the game at 4, then tied the game at 5 with just 1:25 remaining in regulation to earn an improbable point. The comeback ultimately fell short, however, as the Panthers earned the 6-5 shootout win.

Here are three reasons the Caps lost.

Bad puck management

A disastrous first period saw the Panthers score four goals and the biggest reason for that was the Caps’ puck management. They were sloppy with the puck leading to a number of costly turnovers, and Florida took advantage.

A good illustration of this game with Washington already trailing 2-1: Jakub Vrana made a lazy pass in the defensive zone that was easily intercepted by Jonathan Huberdeau, who forced a really nice save from Braden Holtby.

Whew, bullet dodged. Actually, not so fast.

Brett Connolly won the resulting faceoff, but Michal Kempny attempted a backhanded pass behind the net that was easily stolen away by Vincent Trocheck. Florida went tic-tac-toe with Trocheck to Huberdeau to Colton Sceviour who finished off the play for the goal.

No control in front of the net

Trocheck scored a rebound goal from the slot that bounced off of Lars Eller and into the net. Evgenii Dadonov scored from the slot on the power play. Sceviour scored from the high-slot after what was a generous pass from Huberdeau who looked like he could have scored from closer in…from the slot. Jared McCann pounced on a loose puck in the slot to beat a sprawling Holtby and Huberdeau scored off a rebound right in front of Holtby.

See a pattern?

The Panthers had complete control in front of the Caps’ net and all five of their goals came from in close.

Penalties

The Caps had a pretty good start to the game, but that was derailed by a Jakub Vrana penalty just 6:10 into the game. Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for hooking about 10 minutes later and Dadonov scored to put Florida up 2-1.

Despite the penalties and going down 4-1 in the first, the Caps battled back to a 4-4 tie in the second. Then the penalties popped up again.

Alex Ovechkin was called for interference on Aaron Ekblad late in the period. It was a tough call as the puck as was at Ekblad’s feet, but Ovechkin made no attempt to play the loose puck at all and simply hit Ekblad, drawing an interference call. Less than a minute later, the Caps were called for too many men giving Florida 1:15 of a two-man advantage to work with and Huberdeau scored the go-ahead goal.

After three-straight goals, the Caps’ penalties completely derailed them and swept momentum back in the Panthers’ favor.

But wait, there’s more.

With the time ticking away on the too many men penalty, Kuznetsov was tossed out of the faceoff dot. He argued with the linesman and apparently argued a bit too hard because the linesman went to the referee and Kuznetsov was booked for unsportsmanlike conduct giving Florida another 10 seconds of 5-on-3.

Despite all of that, the Caps still managed to tie the game with just 1:25 remaining in the game. Matt Niskanen, however, took a penalty with just 23 seconds left. With a 4-on-3 power play to start overtime, 

Overall, Washington gave the Panthers seven power play opportunities including two 5-on-3s, gave up two goals on the man advantage and completely killed their own momentum.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

10.19.18 Rick Horrow sits down with Zach Leonsis of Monumental Sports

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USA TODAY Sports

10.19.18 Rick Horrow sits down with Zach Leonsis of Monumental Sports

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

Top 3 sports biz items of the week:

1) The NHL’s new season has been infused with a bit of flare and fun that it is not used to. According to The Hockey News, players across the league have started to show a bit more personality on the ice, something that fans have been “begging for” for years. The highlight of the first week came during a wild 7-6 win for the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Chicago Blackhawks. Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews and Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane exchanged jeers after each scored a goal within the final minutes of regulation. Meanwhile in Raleigh, the Hurricanes now have one of the league’s best post-game celebrations. After a win, the whole team applauds the crowd before “skating from their own blueline to the other end of the ice and jumping into the boards.” This playful nature is one thing that the NHL has lacked compared to its NBA and NFL counterparts. With more fun, expect more fans. And to the fun mix add Gritty, the startling new Muppet-like orange Philadelphia Flyers mascot, who calls his fans “Gritizens,” has been on with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, and after mere weeks has amassed over 136,000 Twitter followers.


2) E-commerce giant Amazon is used to disrupting industries in a quick and swift fashion, but its dive into sports broadcasting has been described as “humble.” According to SportsBusiness Journal, Amazon has been linked with some of the world’s biggest leagues and tournaments, such as the NFL and Premier League, despite not being a longtime player in the sports broadcasting industry. “There is more to come from Amazon, full stop. We are in it for the long-term, that’s for sure,” said Amazon Prime Video European Managing Director Alex Green. “We just get our heads down and try and do the best possible job. We are quite humble about it. Amazon may be a big name but in sports broadcasting we are not. Let’s face it.” Amazon recently celebrated its first exclusive sporting event broadcast when it streamed the U.S. Open to tennis fans in the U.K. as part of a $40 million, five-year deal. While that effort did not go smoothly, with thousands of fans unable to access the livestream, Amazon has assured its current and would-be broadcast partners that their humbling performance would only improve.


3) NFL owners are preparing for a big vote at their fall meeting this week regarding cross-ownership. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the decades-old rule currently prevents “owners of other big four sports teams in NFL markets from buying a football team,” while also preventing NFL owners from buying non-NFL Big Four sports teams in an existing NFL market. The ballooning of franchise valuations has led owners to reconsider the rule due to the shrinking pool of potential buyers for clubs. To illustrate this, when the Carolina Panthers came up for sale earlier this year, only three bidders emerged before David Tepper bought the team for $2.275 billion. Even that NFL record setting sale came in under expectations. However, the league has not strictly upheld the cross-ownership rule. Back in 2010, Stan Kroenke exercised an option to buy the then-St. Louis Rams despite owning the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. Kroenke skirted around the rule after he handed off the Colorado teams to other family members, setting precedent and setting up the NFL for a sensible rule change.