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Rajon Rondo hopes Boston Celtics 'try to take the East' (February 08, 2016)
Chris Forsberg [ Source: ESPN ]

Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo, right, looks for an opening around Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley, left, in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

BOSTON -- When the final buzzer sounded on the Boston Celtics' 128-119 triumph over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday afternoon, Rajon Rondo first embraced former backcourt mate Avery Bradley, then stood near half court as a stream of his former coaches and teammates came over to share a moment. It almost looked like a receiving line, those on Boston's side maybe expressing their condolences for the Kings' struggles and Rondo complimenting his former squad on the progress it has made.

Rondo's return to Boston on Sunday -- only the second visit since he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in December 2014 -- served as a reminder of just how far the Celtics have come since his departure. Boston was 9-14 when team brass made the surprising decision to take the team in a different direction. It was the start of a string of moves that completely overhauled the roster -- only seven players remain from Rondo's time here and only three of those bodies played more than those 23 games with him -- and helped Boston start accelerating through what's typically a slow rebuilding process (right, Kings?).

With Sunday's win over Sacramento, Boston improved to 62-50 (.553) since it dealt away Rondo. What's more, the Celtics have now played exactly 82 games since acquiring Isaiah Thomas -- their new All-Star point guard -- and own a 51-31 mark (.622) in that span.

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D-League

MANILA, Philippines – The old league mighty powers and rulers are still the ones favored to figure prominently in the race to the top in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup that unfolds Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Talk n Text is determined to defend the crown, San Miguel Beer is raring to stretch its title run to three conferences while Alaska Milk, Rain or Shine, Barangay Ginebra and Star are teams likely to play their roles as perennial contenders.

Globalport will also be on the spotlight with Terrence Romeo, Stanley Pringle and their teammates out to prove that their fourth-place in the Philippine Cup is for real.

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Paul shakes off awful start, leads Clippers past Heat 100-93 (February 08, 2016)
Associated Press [ Source: ESPN ]

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) drives to the basket past Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) and forward Amare Stoudemire, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI -- Chris Paul had the worst possible start to his shooting day.

His finish, however, was perfect.

Paul's consecutive 3-pointers in the final minutes were daggers to a Miami comeback, and his game-high 22 points helped the Los Angeles Clippers hang on to beat the Heat 100-93 on Sunday.

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Avery Bradley's 25 points helps Celtics beat Kings 128-119 (February 08, 2016)
Associated Press [ Source: ESPN ]

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, left, gestures as Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) steps on the court in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Sacrament Kings, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Boston. The Celtics won 128-119. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

BOSTON -- Avery Bradley scored 25 points, Isiah Thomas had 22 and the Boston Celtics held off the Sacramento Kings 128-119 on Sunday for their ninth win in 10 games.

Jared Sullinger matched his season high with 21 points and reserve Tyler Zeller had a season high 17 with seven rebounds for Boston, which committed a season high 24 turnovers but shot 56 percent.

DeMarcus Cousins led Sacramento with 31 points. Marco Belinelli and Darren Collison each had 16 points. The Kings have lost seven of eight.

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Magic beat Hawks on Vucevic's shot (February 08, 2016)
Associated Press [ Source: ESPN ]

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic, left, shoots in front of Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Orlando, Fla. -- Another big lead got away from the Orlando Magic in the fourth quarter Sunday, but one big shot got it back just in time.

Nik Vucevic hit an 18-footer at the buzzer and the Magic beat the Atlanta Hawks 96-94, winning for only the third time in 18 games in 2016.

"It's been a rough month for us, a lot of losses, so it's good to get a win against a good team," said Vucevic, who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, but had three fourth-quarter turnovers to aid Atlanta's comeback. "I wasn't happy about those and I wanted to make up for it."

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Meralco taps Onuaku for injured Thomas (February 08, 2016)
Waylon Galvez [ Source: Manila Bulletin ]

 Arinze Onuaku

The Meralco Bolts have tapped the services of Arinze Onuaku for the upcoming PBA Commissioner’s Cup to replace the injured Malcolm Thomas.

Meralco Coach Norman Black said Thomas sustained a knee injury during practice and missed the Bolts’ 112-101 victory over the Globalport Batang Pier during a tune-up game last Saturday, prompting the team to sign Onuaku.

Onuaku is expected to arrive today in time for the Bolts’ Commissioner’s Cup opener against the Star Hotshots on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The former Syracuse Orangeman is coming off a stint in a pro league in Israel, averaging almost four points and five rebounds as a backup center.

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Mudiay, Nuggets hand Knicks fifth straight loss (February 08, 2016)
Associated Press [ Source: ESPN ]

NBA

NEW YORK -- Emmanuel Mudiay's first game at Madison Square Garden was going so poorly that he apologized to his coach at halftime.

The rookie had nothing to be sorry about by the end.

Mudiay scored nine of his 15 points during a decisive fourth-quarter run, and the Denver Nuggets beat the fading New York Knicks 101-96 on Sunday.

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NBA

NEW YORK -- In case you needed any, here’s more evidence that Rajon Rondo probably won’t be on the New York Knicks' free-agent wish list this summer.

Knicks coach Derek Fisher took a dig at Rondo on Sunday when asked about the Sacramento Kings point guard’s thoughts on the triangle offense.

Rondo said Friday that he is unlikely consider the Knicks in free agency because of the triangle offense.

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Townsend offers to assist Gilas (February 08, 2016)
Joaquin Henson [ Source: Philippine Star ]

International Basketball

MANILA, Philippines – Raymond Townsend, the first Fil-Am ever to play in the NBA, said the other day it would be an honor to assist Gilas in preparing for the FIBA Olympic qualifiers and he could fly over from his home in San Jose, California, at the drop of a hat to help out in any way.

Townsend, 60, resides alone in San Jose. His two children are now grown-up and live on their own. “I’m now working out details with NBA Asia on going to the Philippines as a basketball ambassador,” said Townsend in an overseas phone call. The plan is to conduct clinics for kids from the fifth to 11th grade in five camps, including two in Manila and one in Batangas where my mother (the late Virginia Marella) was from.”

If given the chance, Townsend said he’d like to assist the Philippine national basketball team in any capacity. He’s aware that the Philippines will vie for one Olympic slot in a six-nation qualifying tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on July 5-10. Townsend also knows that Andray Blatche will anchor Gilas as a naturalized player.

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Familiar names lead stellar cast of Commissioner’s Cup imports (February 08, 2016)
Randolph B. Leongson [ Source: Inquirer ]

Balik-imports and last year's finals protagonists Wayne Chism of Rain or Shine and Ivan Johnson of Talk 'N Text. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Reigning Best Import Wayne Chism and fierce rival Ivan Johnson banner the stellar cast of reinforcements set to make waves when the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup tips off on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Chism will be hoping that the third time’s a charm as he hopes to finally bring a championship to Rain or Shine in his third tour of duty for the Elasto Painters.

But standing in his way will be 11 other imports led by Ivan Johnson, Denzel Bowles and Rob Dozier, who are also making their anticipated PBA return.

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