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Rondo, Pierce help Celtics rally past Hawks

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Rondo, Pierce help Celtics rally past Hawks

ATLANTA (AP) After listening to Doc Rivers lecture the Boston Celtics at halftime, Paul Pierce told his teammates to respect their coach and follow orders.

``We were kind of bickering at each other a little bit too much, figuring out what defense we were going to run,'' Pierce said. ``And I just had to say that the fight ain't with one another. It's against the other team on the court.''

The Celtics responded in the second half, with Rajon Rondo finishing off a triple double as Boston rallied for an 89-81 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

Pierce scored 17 of his 26 points in the third quarter as the Celtics erased a 19-point deficit and went on to consecutive wins for the first time since late November against Oklahoma City and Orlando. Rondo had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Boston, which beat Indiana 94-75 on Friday night, had lost four straight road games.

Rivers insisted that despite the first-half struggles against the Hawks, the game plan would not change.

``I was like, `This ain't it, don't get mad at Doc, he's coaching,''' Pierce said. ``We've got to get mad at this other team.''

Lou Williams scored 21 of his 28 points in the first half for Atlanta, which has lost two straight. Jeff Teague added 17 points, and Josh Smith, who was 2 for 12 in the second half, finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Hawks got off to a fast start, then fell apart in the third quarter as Boston began doubling ballhandlers on the perimeter and clamping down on Atlanta inside.

``They just climbed up in us defensively,'' Teague said. ``They got physical and they brought pressure and got us out of our comfort zone. We just didn't respond.''

The Celtics trailed by 19 with 6:20 left in the second, but went up 61-60 on Jared Sullinger's alley-oop layup with 3:47 left in the third. It was their first lead since the game's first minute.

Boston opened the third with a 14-1 run to pull within one. Hawks coach Larry Drew, whose team missed its first five shots from the field to begin the second half, called timeout at the 7:29 mark, but Teague lost the ball out of the bounds on the ensuing possession.

Atlanta, which had 13 turnovers and three assists in the second half, was just 2 for 14 from the field in the third and trailed 71-62 heading to the final period.

Kevin Garnett's fast-break layup with 8:53 remaining gave the Celtics their first double-digit lead at 79-68. Garnett finished with 14 points.

``The second half was completely different,'' Rivers said. ``We worked the set. The first play went from one side to the other on offense. On defense they were late in the shot clock because Avery (Bradley) and Rondo both were up ball pressuring. And it changed the game for us.''

Williams had outscored the Celtics 13-10 by the 5:47 mark of the first, connecting on his first seven shots from the field. His 16th point came on a layup for Atlanta's first double-digit lead at 23-12 late in the first.

But the Hawks could not overcome the absence of injured shooting guards Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow. Kyle Korver then fouled out with 6:37 remaining, and DeShawn Stevenson played only 13 minutes because of sore knees.

Drew called it ``probably the most disappointing loss of the season'' considering the Hawks have gone soft with big leads all season and backed down from the team that eliminated them in the first round of the playoffs last season.

``We've seen this kind of scenario before where we've played well and then when it starts to get more physical, we don't respond,'' Drew said. ``That was clearly what happened tonight.''

Jason Terry, in his first season with Boston and 13th overall, credited Pierce with backing up Rivers and straightening out the team's collective attitude.

``We took the challenge,'' Terry said. ``We took it personal. You come in at halftime, and Lou Williams has 21 points, primarily all easy baskets. He was just letting them fly. So we wanted to invade his space. As we did that, we started to get more and more stops.

``Paul Pierce got it rolling. He really made his imprint on the game.''

NOTES: Korver fouled out for the first time in 27 games this season and finished with nine points. ... Atlanta scored 31 points in the first quarter, tying for the highest by a Boston opponent and the most since the Celtics opened the season Oct. 30 at Miami. ... The Hawks' nine points in the third were a season low by a Boston opponent. ... Harris missed his ninth straight game with a sore left foot. ... Morrow was sidelined for the fifth straight game because of a strained right hip.

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NBA Rumors: Lakers reportedly waive DeMarcus Cousins

NBA Rumors: Lakers reportedly waive DeMarcus Cousins

After signing Markieff Morris to a contract following the former Wizard's buy out from the Pistons, the Lakers reportedly waived center DeMarcus Cousins to open a roster spot. 

Health has been a major issue over the last two years for Cousins. He hasn't played a game this year thanks to a torn ACL he suffered before the season, and he missed all but 30 games last year due to an Achilles injury he suffered with the Pelicans midway through the 2017-18 season. 

Before injuries robbed Cousins of the majority of his prime, he was arguably the best big man in the game. Prior to his Achilles injury in New Orleans, he was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists while shooting 47% percent from the floor and 35.4% from three on 6.1 attempts per game. 

For the Wizards, Cousins could represent another low risk, high reward big man acquisition that the Lakers couldn't find any use for. Washington acquired both Thomas Bryant and Moe Wagner from LA for practically nothing and both have played well after their relocation to D.C. 

Also, John Wall played with Cousins at the University of Kentucky and both have mentioned a desire to play together again at some point. Neither player is expected to return from injury this season, so they could both go on an NBA revenge tour together alongside Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans and Rui Hachimura. 

In the meantime, we'll have to wait and see what Cousins decides to do. According to ESPN's Bobby Marks, Cousins won't officially be waived until Sunday. The team who claims him will be able to offer him up to $4.2 million in salary this summer. 

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Three things to look for during the Orioles first spring training game Saturday

Three things to look for during the Orioles first spring training game Saturday

Baseball isn’t quite in full swing yet. But it’s close enough. 

The Orioles will open up their spring slate of games on Saturday against the Braves in North Port, Fla. It’s both the first game of spring training for both teams. 

The game can be listened to on Orioles.com or on the MLB At-Bat app. 

So here are three things to pay attention to during the first game of the spring: 

1. The starting pitching

The pitching was, to be frank, atrocious last season for the Orioles. 2020 doesn’t figure to showcase a large jump, either. 

Baltimore will start Chandler Shepherd against the Braves, a pitcher who started three games last season in Baltimore. He allowed 23 hits and 14 earned runs in 19 innings pitched and posted a 6.63 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.

Ty Blach will pitch in relief of Shepherd. Blach pitched in five games last season for the Orioles and threw 20 ⅓ innings with an ERA 11.32. 

While neither will likely make the Opening Day roster, it’ll give an interesting look at what could be in store for the rest of spring training in Sarasota. 

2. How much the prospects play

For most major league clubs, there’s not much to get excited about for the first few games of spring training. The Orioles, though, are in a bit of a unique circumstance. 

In the second year of a rebuild, the Orioles are placing their future in the hands of younger prospects, meaning there’s always a chance for a few players to stand out in the first weeks of camp. 

While the lineups aren’t known yet, both for Saturday’s game and for the immediate future, getting a glimpse at some of the younger prospects like Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, Gunnar Henderson, and DL Hall is what fans have been clamoring for. 

3. The return of baseball

It’s not the return of baseball in the truest sense of the phrase.  

The Orioles aren’t going to play their top of the line prospects, or their major league club. But the first game of the spring means that baseball, officially, is back for Baltimore. 

Even though the 2020 season almost assuredly won’t be one that resembles any kind of contention, the Orioles hitting the field once again is always an exciting time.

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