Paul Pierce tops Bird on Boston's scoring list

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Paul Pierce tops Bird on Boston's scoring list

From Comcast SportsNet
BOSTON (AP) -- Paul Pierce knew what was on the line with every shot. The pressure was quite clear to Pierce and anyone else in the arena as he stood on the verge of passing Larry Bird for No. 2 on Boston's career scoring list. He needed only 10 points to overtake Bird when the Celtics hosted Charlotte on Tuesday night and those final three seemed as if they would never come. They did early in the third quarter, then Pierce and the Celtics celebrated the milestone by increasing their season-best winning streak to five with a 94-84 win over the Bobcats. "It was a relief. So much was hanging over me the last couple of days. Just hearing about it and knowing that you've got a game to play," said Pierce, who finished with 15 points. "Just to be mentioned with him, with this organization, is a great honor." Pierce now stands alone at No. 2 -- and it is quite a list -- with 21,797 points, six more than Bird's total of 21,791. Only John Havlicek has scored more in team history with 26,395 points. Pierce didn't even try to calculate the gap or how long it could take him to reach Havlicek. "I think the fans would really appreciate another championship more than me passing Hondo," Pierce said. Pierce nearly celebrated with a triple-double, coming up just short with nine assists and eight rebounds. Rajon Rondo added 14 assists and 10 points, Kevin Garnett scored 22 and Ray Allen finished with 17 points on a night that clearly belonged to the team captain known as "The Truth" -- which Mickeal Pietrus had written in big letters on a towel he waved for Pierce. "I thought they tried so hard in the first half. I thought it was never going to happen," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "I mean, it was unbelievable how our guys were passing out shots. They were doing everything to try to get this thing." Derrick Brown went 10 for 10 from the field for 20 points for Charlotte, but the biggest shooter Tuesday was Pierce on what normally would have been an off shooting night for him. He had seven points at halftime, then got his big moment out of the way with 10:23 left in the third on a 3-pointer from the top of the key. "I'm not going to lie. It was hanging over my head too much," Pierce said. "You kind of just felt it. It was hard to really ignore it and just focus on the game." Reggie Williams scored 21 for the Bobcats, who lost their 12th straight despite staying within 11 points through the first three quarters. Kemba Walker had 16 points and seven assists for the Bobcats, who kept it close before Boston opened the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run. "When you have to play your main guys for as long as we do, it gets kind of tough," Charlotte coach Paul Silas said. "We've just got to keep battling." The outcome never seemed in doubt and fans focused on Pierce making history for a franchise loaded with it. There was no announcement -- or need for one -- as everyone seemed to know what Pierce's shot from the top of the key meant in addition to giving the Celtics a 48-40 lead early in the third quarter. Pierce knew he had it, raising his arms as Boston fans gave him a standing ovation. The applause lasted for several minutes as teammate Garnett waved the crowd on for more. The official announcement finally came during a time out with 5:14 left in the third and Pierce went to midcourt, blew a few kisses and bowed during another round of applause. There was one more when Pierce -- a Celtic his entire NBA career -- went to the bench with 3:57 left in the period. "Paul had a chance to leave us when we were bad and instead of moaning that he wanted to go to a championship team, he stayed," Rivers said. "And he said, I simply want to be a Celtic and I trust that we're going to win a title someday.'" Brandon Bass scored 13 and Garnett added seven rebounds for the Celtics. Boston led 45-38 at halftime and after an even third quarter, the Celtics pulled away in the fourth, leading by as much as 18 against the weary Bobcats. With Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers coming to town Thursday, the Celtics were especially relieved to have Pierce's accomplishment out of the way. "You've got to play some amazing basketball," Rivers said. "Passing Larry Bird -- that's impressive." Notes: Boston's five-game winning streak is its longest of the season. ... Rondo played his third straight game after missing eight with a sore right wrist. ... Charlotte last won on Jan. 14, beating Golden State 112-100. ... Charlotte (3-22) has the worst record in the NBA and fell to 1-14 on the road.

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled. 

A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman. 

Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won. 

Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day. 

“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”

It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island. 

The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied. 

“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”

Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw. 

“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.

No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.

“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”

The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.

“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

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AP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.