Veteran offense allows Celtics to hang on late

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Veteran offense allows Celtics to hang on late

Doc Rivers said before Monday nights tilt with the Bulls that he hoped his Celtics team could play a solid, 48-minute game.

Rivers didnt get his wish, as the Celtics nearly lost a 13-point fourth quarter, but their veteran leadership and ability to regroup late wouldnt let them falter down the stretch in their 101-95 win in Chicago.

The Celtics had moved through three quarters without any hiccups, scoring 82 points against a Bulls defense that hadnt allowed 100 points in 15 straight games. But following a Kevin Garnett jumper at the 10:08 mark of the fourth quarter, the Celtics went more than five minutes without scoring. They missed nine shots and allowed a 10-0 Bulls run that pulled Chicago pull within three with five minutes to play.

But Rivers group righted the ship down the stretch, connecting on five of their last eight shots to end the game. Jason Terry, who had six of his 13 points in the final quarter, ended the Celtics scoreless streak with a jumper and said Monday night was a position many of the players in the Boston locker room dont mind being in.

We're a veteran ball club and we thrive in situations where it's a tight ball game, he said. We've all been in that situation plenty of times. We know what we have to do to close games out. On one end it's get stops defensively, and offensively make or miss the shot that we want and we were able to do that.

Fourth quarter is my time of the game, and I'm just happy to be out there with players that feel the same way, Terry added. So it gives us multiple options.

The Celtics entered the fourth quarter with momentum, following a Jared Sullinger 3-pointer to beat the buzzer at the end of the third. It gave Boston an 82-70 lead, and Paul Pierce said he thought the Celtics could have pulled away with a good start to the quarter.

I thought a few times, when we were up 12, 14 points we had a chance to push the game to 20 but we didn't, Pierce said. That just shows you that they're a resilient team, well-coached, and they have players that are more than capable.

The Celtics didn't pull away, following the stagnant offensive stretch, but Kevin Garnett, who scored six in the fourth quarter, was happy with how the Celtics moved the ball late against to get the offense back in rhythm. Boston assisted on each of their final five baskets.

I thought we did a good job of moving the ball tonight, Garnett said. Against a great defense you have to do that, and I thought we shared the wealth tonight.

Rajon Rondo had four assists in the quarter, including three in the final two minutes to keep his streak of games with 10 assists or more alive at 31, and efforts from a clutch Terry late and even Chris Wilcox, who added two crucial free throws in the final minutes, drew praise from head coach Doc Rivers.

Overall I just told them I thought it was a good team win, Rivers said. I thought every single guy did something, from Jared's 3 to Chris Wilcox's 3-point play and Jason Terry comes off the bench when they're making a run.

It was just a lot of great efforts tonight.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

PHOENIX – Rob Manfred is open to the idea of an All-Star Game at a fully renovated Wrigley Field, but the Major League Baseball commissioner won't make any guarantees about the 2020 target date the Cubs have proposed in a joint lobbying effort with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.

"I'm not going to get into specific years," Manfred said Tuesday during a Cactus League media event at the Arizona Biltmore. "Because there's a number of clubs – we're fortunate – that have interest in particular years. And I don't want to say anything that would suggest that I'm anywhere near making a decision."

During last month's Cubs Convention, president of business operations Crane Kenney expressed optimism in a Super Bowl-style bidding process, and not the old way of simply alternating the showcase event between the American and National leagues each year.

The Cubs will point to their starring role in a World Series that beat the NFL's "Sunday Night Football" in head-to-head TV ratings and saw more than 40 million people tune in for Game 7. By 2020, the $600 million Wrigleyville development is supposed to be finished, and Emanuel helped broker the deals that moved the NFL draft to Chicago the last two years after a long run at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

"I will say this: A renovated Wrigley Field would be a great location for an All-Star Game," Manfred said. "Chicago is a great city. And over time, we have tried to go to cities that would be great locations for the game – and to reward cities that had made substantial investments in either new or renovated facilities."

The Cubs still see potential roadblocks, needing City Hall's help with an increased security presence around an urban neighborhood ballpark that hasn't hosted the Midsummer Classic since 1990.

Kenney also acknowledged that All-Star Games have been used as bargaining chips in public negotiations in cities like Miami and Washington – Marlins Park (2017) and Nationals Park (2018) will make it four straight All-Star Games for NL stadiums – while the Ricketts family used private mechanisms to fund the project after striking out on other proposals. 

Nemanja Nikolic channels his inner MJ in jersey number

Nemanja Nikolic channels his inner MJ in jersey number

Jersey numbers can be a big deal in soccer. Who is the team's No. 10? Who is the No. 9?

Nemanja Nikolic, a forward who joined the Chicago Fire this offseason as a Designated Player, didn't have the choice of either number that is famously associated with marquee attacking players because both were taken by returning players on the Fire. Instead, he landed on a number more famous in Chicago sports than in soccer.

Nikolic will be wearing 23.

The Fire announced the jersey numbers for the 2017 season with Nikolic's 23 a part of the list. Every returning player kept the same number as last season.

It goes without saying that wearing the No. 23 in Chicago comes with an extra bit of notoriety. Ever since Michael Jordan donned the No. 23 for the Chicago Bulls, it has been a common sight to find the best player on a Chicagoland high school basketball team wearing No. 23. That doesn't translate to the world of soccer, but in Chicago fans will notice.

A spokesman for the club said the number was more coincidence than intentional MJ reference, but if Nikolic has a good season don't be surprised to see signs at Toyota Park referencing Nikolic's jersey number.

In the preseason some of the players have been wearing different jersey numbers from what they will in the regular season. Nikolic has been wearing No. 9 in preseason matches.

Here is a list of the other newcomers and the numbers they will be wearing:

Jorge Bava: 1

Dax McCarty: 6

Djordje Mihailovic: 14

Juninho: 19

Daniel Johnson: 20

Stefan Cleveland: 30