Paul Pierce tops Bird on Boston's scoring list

665634.jpg

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 spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

BELT RIVER FIELDS, Ariz. — Earlier this spring, Brandon Belt moved his schedule around so he could get additional at-bats. That led to some random trips across the desert, but there was never any doubt Belt would be in Friday’s road lineup.

Belt demolishes the ball at Salt River Fields, spring home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks. After coming out of Friday’s win, he shook his head in mock disgust when talking about the day’s stats.

“One for four, you’ve gotta be kidding me,” Belt said. “That’s terrible.”

That one happened to be a homer, a three-run shot off Jon Gray, the likely opening day starter for the Rockies. Belt thought he crushed the ball but it ended up pretty high, so it simply dropped onto the berm in right. 

“It squeaked out,” Belt said. “Good mojo, I guess.”

The mojo kept his remarkable run going at Salt River. His updated career stats here: 22 for 35, with eight homers, four doubles, one triple and 18 RBI. Belt said he’s not quite sure why he turns into the flames emoji every time he steps onto this field. 

“I don’t know what it is, but I like hitting here,” he said. “Maybe it’s the batter’s eye?”

Salt River has a dark green batter’s eye with no distractions on either side, and the Giants certainly saw the ball well Friday. They had seven straight hits in the third before Gray was pulled with a sore foot. Belt hit second, and manager Bruce Bochy said that wasn’t simply because Joe Panik had the day off. Bochy will look at several different lineup permutations over the next week, and a Span/Belt/Pence/Posey/Crawford one-through-five is one option. 

“I like (that spot) a lot,” Belt said. “I feel good getting started and knowing I’ll get to bat in the first inning. It’s a good spot. I don’t think my approach changes that much: Get a pitch to hit and try to hit it hard.”

GAME RECAP: Jeff Samardzija was sharp in four innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three. He threw about 45 pitches on the field and then went down to the bullpen for 45 more. Samardzija certainly benefited from having Buster Posey back in the lineup. He said Posey noticed during warmups that Samardzija’s delivery was a little flat and his arm was dragging too low. 

“That doesn’t happen often,” Samardzija said of having a guy like Posey back there. “You have a lot of catchers who are afraid to say something.”

The rest of this one was a laugher until the ninth, when the Rockies rallied and brought the winning run to the plate. It hasn’t been a great spring for the bullpen.

STOCK WATCH: Chris Marrero hit a deep homer, his seventh of the spring. He also made a nice pick at first, where he looks much more comfortable. At this point, it appears it’s either Marrero or Kelby Tomlinson for that final bench spot.

TRAINER’S ROOM: The news on Will Smith was as expected. He will have Tommy John surgery next week. 

There is good news for Trevor Brown: The catcher, who has a sore ankle, took some swings and he’s feeling much better. Brown did not, as first reported, get hurt hiking on an off day. It happened during a game. Brown won’t be ready in time to return to Cactus League action, so he’ll likely stay here during the Bay Bridge Series and then travel home with Triple-A Sacramento. 

ICYMI: Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Mark Melancon are back in camp. Here’s a story on Posey’s WBC experience, with the catcher saying he’d like to play again in four years. Here’s Crawford on his month, which ended with him giving an NL West rival a slump-busting bat. 

ROSTER UPDATE: The Giants released David Hernandez, at his request. They have started to tell others that they’re not making the opening day roster, so there should be a series of minor transactions this weekend. (You know where to go.)

QUOTABLE: "I swung at a heater and a slider went right into my bat. I was happy to be able to track (pitches), and happy that the next time the bunt didn't go off my beautiful face." -- Samardzija, when asked about his double off the wall. 

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman/defensive end Clay Matthews Sr. passed away on Thursday, March 23rd at the age of 88. 

Matthews originally entered the NFL as a 25th round (247th overall) draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1949 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with San Francisco (1950, 1953-55), appearing in 45 games and registering one interception. After spending his rookie season of 1950 with the 49ers, he went on to spend two years (1951-52) in the United States Army where he served in the Korean War.

A native of Charleston, SC, Matthews attended Georgia Tech where he played guard, tackle and end while earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1948. In 1949, Matthews was the All-Southeastern Conference heavyweight wrestling and boxing champion at Georgia Tech.

Matthews was the first of three generations to play in the National Football League. His two oldest sons, Bruce and Clay Jr., each spent 19 seasons in the NFL. Originally selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after 14 Pro Bowl and seven First-Team All-Pro selections. Clay Jr. was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 1978 draft and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Three of Bruce’s sons, Jake, Kevin and Mike, and two of Clay Jr.’s sons, Clay III and Casey, either have spent time or currently play in the NFL. Clay III is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers and a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker while Jake is currently an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round (6th overall) by the team in 2014. 

49ers media services