As you might imagine, a

As you might imagine, a ton of links this morning. We’ll start with the Celtics. Steve Bulpett writes that yesterday’s game was what’s known as a period piece. Simply put, the Celtics dominated for one period, the third, losing the other three 78-65. Shira Springer notes that the young Pacers seem a little confused, as Ron Artest can’t wait to come back here for game 7. Carolyn Thornton says that yesterday’s win was clearly a key one in this series, avoiding the Pacers tieing up the series, and regaining the home court edge. Christopher Price notes that Pierce tried to involve his teammates early in the game, but got greedy in the third, and that’s a good thing. Brett Mauser says that Pierce didn’t have many open looks, but was sticking them anyway. Bob Ryan comments that it was really defense that keyed the third quarter run, not solely Pierce’s heroics. He adds that yesterday you saw “your 2002-03 Boston Celtics, in all their flawed, goofy glory.” Mark Murphy has a further look at Paul Pierce, completely dominating a quarter for the second time in this series. Bill Reynolds looks at Pierce’s cat & mouse game with Al Harrington. Tim Weisberg has Isiah wrapping up the game by saying his team just couldn’t do anything with Pierce. Mark Blaudschun has more on Pierce and his effort. Jerry Trecker notes that Pierce was annoyed at himself after a “passive” first half. Gus Martins looks at the frustrated Pacers, Brad Miller is impressed with the Celtics, noting the “defensive pressure was unbelievable”. He also says his team has “given up” in the three games they’ve lost. Peter May takes at look at where the series stands, notes some Ron Artest comments, (if you want some laughs, read the Sport Xtra wrapup on the archives page to read more from Artest.) and concludes that things aren’t looking good for Indiana. Murphy also looks at Antoine Walker, noting that the Pierce/Harrington matchup wasn’t the only one with trash talking going on. Ron Mercer was doing a lot of chirping at Antoine in the first half. Jackie MacMullan loves Waltah. She looks at his versatility, his attitude and how he’s appreciated by teammate and foe alike. Jeff Jacobs looks at the fall of Reggie Miller, noting that “Somewhere Spike Lee must have been cackling.” after these two games in Boston. Mauser also says Miller was a no-show yesterday. Martins also looks at Tony Delk, who kept the Celtics within striking distance, being the only player who can make a hoop in the first. Michael Gee, in a pay column is gloomily that the Celtics are relying too much on Pierce, saying the Pacers have outplayed the Celtics for most of this series, and are in danger of burning out quickly. John Dennis, who predicted an easy Pacers win in this series, did some serious backpedaling this morning, going on the offensive, attacking Callahan because, according to Dennis, the Celtics have changed their style of play and that proves him right. The Celtics would have been blown out in this series if they played as they did in the regular season. Springer’s notebook has more on Delk, and notes that the Celtics locker room was jammed with owners and kids of owners following the game. In Bulpett’s notebook, Artest complains about sitting for 12 minutes yesterday, because he is “one of the best players in the league”. Bulpett also notes the zoo in the locker room after the game, with a nameless Celtic a bit disapproving of the scene. Thornton’s notebook has more on the disappearance of Reggie Miller.

Chad Fox coughs up another ninth inning lead, but the Sox win on a couple of back-to-back jacks in the 14th inning, thus improving their record to a deceiving 13-1 when leading after eight innings. Bob Hohler thinks maybe Pedro should stop talking to the bullpen instead of the media. David Heuschkel says Lo And Behold, the Sox were able to pull the game out on the Ortiz pinch-hit bomb. He notes that the steps of the dugout were pretty full whenever a foul ball went in the direction of Jennifer Lopez. Steven Krasner notes that despite Fox giving up the lead, Timlin and Mendoza were strong. Jeff Horrigan concludes the game stories, with a story totally different from the one he started with, in which he proclaimed the era of good feelings for the bullpen over. Tony Massarotti has a look at Doug Mirabelli, called by a scout “the consummate backup”. In his Baseball notes column, Alex Speier says the door is not yet closed on CBC. Fox and Lyon were to be the go-to guys for saves, though that might change after last night. Gordon Edes catches up with Fred Claire, the man who traded Pedro to Montreal, a decision he regrets. (ya think?) Hohler’s notebook looks at Derek Lowe’s no-hitter, a year later, with Kevin Millwood of the Phillies pitching one of his own yesterday. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Jeremy Giambi’s dad trying to help him get out of his slump. Krasner’s notebook has Nomar finally breaking into the hit column. Heuschkel’s notebook looks at John Burkett, followed by controversy.

Opinions on the Patriots draft are all over the place. Most of the national guys seem to think the Patriots did really well, with high marks being handed out in several places. Tom Curran says the team did not do a good job filling the holes they have. He lists linebacker as the most glaring omission. On D&C this morning, Curran gave the Pats a “B” as a grade. Ron Borges looks at the drafts of the four AFCE teams, and says Buffalo did the best, followed by the Patriots. He lists some of the concerns one of his contacts had with Warren, stuff he said on Sports Xtra last night. Nick Cafardo has a brief look at each of the Patriots second day picks. Kevin Mannix is disappointed in the Patriots draft, giving them a “C”, even though he admits they might’ve picked some very good players. He says there’s no way of knowing, saying Warren could either be Seymour or Chris Singleton, Wilson either Ty Law or Rod Smith and Bethel Johnson either Terry Glenn or Kevin Lee. Michael Felger says the Patriots stuck to their plan of adding bulk and speed on defense. He notes the best move might getting the Ravens # 1 pick next year. Mike Reiss says Belichick and Pioli are setting a foundation for the future, and acting like guys who are going to be here long term. Christopher Price has a quick look at Ty Warren answering his critics. Michael Parente says missing the playoffs at least meant the Pats had more time to evaluate players and determine what they wanted. Ian Clark says the Pats picked up some potentially good sleepers yesterday. The big name on the second day was Dan Klecko, and he’s the focus of several articles this morning, Alan Greenberg says the younger Klecko doesn’t hide from comparisons to his father. Paul Kenyon notes that scouts like Dan Klecko’s “agility and ability to make plays in pursuit. They like his ability to change directions. And almost universally they praise his hard work, hustle and intensity.” Michael Smith says that Klecko is pretty much everything the Patriots look for in a player. Parente also has a look at Klecko, joking that this could be a way of pulling a fast one on the Jets, drafting the son of one of their best all time players. George Kimball has a pay column on Klecko, noting he won’t be able to wear his dad’s # 73 with the Patriots, (retired by John Hannah) and saying that Joe Klecko called Steve Grogan the toughest man who ever lived. He also tells this little story:

One Sunday several years ago the Kleckos took in a Jets-Patriots game at Giants Stadium. In the tunnel afterward they ran into Brian Holloway, the Pats tackle, who displayed a hand missing a pinky finger.

``If it wasn't for your father,'' Holloway told young Dan, ``I'd still have this finger.''

Michael Vega looks at the three Boston College players drafted yesterday, including center Dan Koppen by the Patriots. Kenyon has more on Koppen and how BC continues to churn out offensive linemen. Parente also notes that Koppen pretty much learned how to play center from Damien Woody, and he’ll get to learn more now. John Connelly reports that undrafted Harvard receiver Carl Morris signed with the Colts last night. Dan Pires says there was no rest for trader Bill yesterday. Curran gets a jump on the 2004 draft as well. Gerry Callahan this morning on the radio said that the Bills taking Willis MaGahee was the worst pick in the draft. He says the Bills look like idiots for being duped by the agent. Cafardo’s notebook looks at Woody possibly helping to break in Koppen once again, as he did at BC. Felger’s notebook says that Bob Kraft has to be happy that Belichick and Pioli saved him some money this weekend. Curran’s notebook says that the Pats had targeted Asante Samuel, but when Klecko was still available, they maneuvered things so they could get both. He adds that California defensive end Tully Banta-Cain could possibly make a Tedy Bruschi-like switch to linebacker.

John Molori has a one-on-one with Gene Lavanchy, and takes a look at some NBA and NHL playoff notes.

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The Sunday Night Sports shows

The Sunday Night Sports shows recap is up. There is also a link on the archive page.

Here is also a game story, submitted by Dave, who was at the Celtics game this afternoon.

BOSTON – In the NBA playoffs, it’s not about how you start a game, but how you finish. Paul Pierce demonstrated the truth of that by struggling in the first half of Game 4 of the first round series between the Pacers and the Celtics. However, Pierce roared out of the break, sending a barrage of three pointers, field goals and free throws, leading his team to a 102-92 victory. By virtue of their win, the Celtics took a commanding 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven series, and could close out the series Tuesday night when it resumes at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Early in the game, the Celtics struggled mightily. The visiting Pacers jumped out quickly by scoring the game’s first 8 points. If not for Tony Delk’s shooting (21 points) early in the game, the Celtics might have been blown out early. Pierce managed to get his first field goal of the first half with just over 7 minutes to go, but he still had to work hard to get open, as the Pacers defensive seemed to focus on taking him out of the game. They seemed to succeed most of the first half, as the Celtics shot an abysmal 29% in the first half (after shooting an even more horrible 25% in the opening quarter).

On the other hand, the Pacers seemed to score at will early on, as they shot 56% in the opening half. They were able to dominate inside, thanks to the shooting touch of both Brad Miller (21 points) and Jermaine O’Neal (25 points). The Pacers outscored the Celtics 24-10 inside the point, which helped them build a 48-36 advantage at the break.

Coming out of the break, the Pacers looked to continue their dominating ways of the first half, as they jumped out to a 52-36 lead in the opening minutes of the third, their largest of the game. The Celtics then proceeded to go on a 15-0 run hit from behind the arc, drained a shot from atop the key, and then scored a 3-point play after getting fouled. During this run, the physical play that has come to characterize this series continued, as Brad Miller was called for a flagrant (type 1) foul as Tony Battie attempted a layup. Battie missed both free throws, but Pierce scored on the next possession to cut the margin to a single point, 52-51.

The teams then proceeded to match baskets until Antoine Walker (17 points) nailed a shot with 4:50, and the Celtics took their first lead of the game, 59-58. It would be the only lead change of the game. The Pacers were unable to match the defensive intensity of the Celtics, and on the next position, Walker hit another three, which ignited the FleetCenter crowd, forcing Indiana to call a timeout. At that point, Pierce picked up where he left off earlier in the quarter, as he nailed shot after shot. When he drained a 3 pointer at the end of the 3rd quarter with Ron Artest contesting the shot, the Celtics had taken a 73-62, and the Pacers looked like a shell-shocked bunch.

The Pacers had one more run left in them, and they made things interesting when Brad Miller drove the lane and made an uncontested dunk with just over 5 minutes left to play, to make it 81-76. Jim O’Brien was forced to call a timeout so his team could regroup, which it did. They came out and went on a 9-2 run, capped by a Tony Delk 3-pointer, causing near pandemonium among the sellout crowd of 18,624.

From there, it was mostly garbage time. In one moment in the final minute of the game, the Jumbotron showed a closeup for Reggie Miller stat line, which at that point read “31 0 0”, meaning no fouls and no points, which elicited a delirious chant of “Reggie, Reggie” from the Celtic faithful. Even though Miller was headed for an unprecedented second straight playoff game without a field goal in his career, he dropped a 3-pointer, ensuring that would not happen. A curious coaching decision had kept Miller on the bench during most of the second half when Boston had made their incredible run.

In the closing seconds, the Pacers continued to foul, sending the Celtics to the charity stripe for meaningless free throws. By the time the final buzzer sounded, Pierce had dropped in a game-high 37 points, and only missed a single free throw during the course of the game (14-15).

Even when the game was out of hand, Reggie Miller continued to foul, so the crowd let him know how they felt about prolonging the inevitable outcome. As the game clock wound down, it looked less and less likely that this series would return to Boston.

It was truly a game of two different halves. Just as the Pacers had shot lights out in the first half, the Celtics, led by Pierce, did so in the second half, as they shot over 62%. The Celtics continued to demonstrate their success when they are hot from the outside, as they shot 12-27 (44.4%) from behind the arc, in comparison to their regular field goal percentage of 43.8% (32-73).

NOTES: Tempers continued to flare in the series, as a pair of double technical fouls was called, first on Jamaal Tinsley and Paul Pierce, and later on Ron Mercer and Antoine Walker… Despite the loss, the Pacers maintained their dominance in the paint, outscoring the Celtics 48-26 in the lane… The Celtics are now 8-2 in the FleetCenter for home playoff games…. As they turn their attention to closing out the series in Game 5 in Indianapolis, the Celtics have a 15-6 record in those games when holding a 3-1 series lead.

Good Lord. I’m gone for

Good Lord. I’m gone for four days and all hell breaks loose around the media and the Sox. I spent the time secluded away from radio, cable TV, Internet and even newspapers. I couldn’t even get a USA Today to dig up some scores on. I’m still trying to sift through all the articles and comments, trying to piece together what has been happening. Seems like it’s been a zoo. The hard part about it is trying to figure out what is really happening. The only reports we’re getting are from the media themselves, and just what level of objectivity can we possibly hope to expect when the ones reporting the stories are the very ones involved in these confrontations? This is getting ridiculous. No one is going to call out a fellow media member, either, since it seems everyone in the media is connected to each other through some radio or TV outlet. The overexposure of these guys is also creating an atmosphere in which it’s all about scoops, and soundbites. Say, write or do something controversial, and you’re the star of the week.

The media oftentimes claims to represent the voice of the fan. Additionally, they may say that when the players refuse to speak with them, they’re in effect, snubbing the fans. I maintain that the average fan doesn’t care if Pedro talks to Bob Hohler. The question I have is, when do the fans start to turn on the media because they’re becoming so disruptive that they’re actually effecting the performance of the team on-field? Sounds silly…why would these professional players allow a few lousy reporters to mess with them so much that it effects their craft? It shouldn’t. Will it? I think it could.

Things have gotten awfully ugly awfully early this year. You’d figure these things would happen during a four game losing streak in the dog days of summer, not three weeks into the season, after a seven game winning streak.

Celtics…glad I missed Monday night, sorry I missed last night. Decent article by Shaughnessy today, but he couldn’t resist the “grown up” shot at Wyc Grousbeck. I’m being whispered at behind the scenes not to be surprised by these shots being taken at the Celtic owners by various Globies. If the Celtics try to wiggle out of a lease, or eventually build their own building, the Globe–>NESN—>Bruins chain could suffer.

Patriots…what better way to celebrate my return than with a Nick Cafardo blunder? On Tuesday, Nick wrote:

Koppen was coached by Dave Magazu, who spent four years as BC's line coach but left the Heights to join Jack Del Rio's staff (as a tight ends coach) in Carolina, where another former BC line coach, Mike Maser (1981-93) is the Panthers' offensive line coach.

Del Rio is the Jacksonville head coach. How good does it make you feel to know that the beat writer for the Patriots on the most prestigious paper in your city doesn’t know the head coaches in the NFL?

Bob Hohler recaps the Sox

Bob Hohler recaps the Sox lack of offensive firepower in their rain-delayed-by-nearly-90-minutes 6-1 loss to the Rangers. In his notebook, he reveals Pedro’s unique “western” attire. Jeff Horrigan’s notebook thinks “closer-by-committee” has now been reduced to “closer-by-a-couple.” Steve Krasner’s notebook also looks at Grady Little narrowing down his closer options as well. Tony Massarotti says Big Brother is watching MLB umpires, as he discusses details of a system used to grade the accuracy of their ball-and-strike calls. David Heuschkel says when it rains, it pours. Literally.

Peter May says don’t hold your breath waiting for Ron to go Artest on somebody and do something stupid in this series. Shira Springer has Antoine Walker calling Reggie “a big flopper.” Hank Lowenkron looks at former Providence College star Austin Croshere returning to New England. He also notes that the Pacers made the (rather strange) decision to “commute” to Boston for this series, as they will be leaving after tonight’s game and then flying back for Sunday’s game. Steve Bulpett worries that this series is uncomfortably resembling last year’s Eastern Conference Finals series against the Nets. His notebook has Jim O’Brien saying that the C’s will probably have to win at Conseco again to win this series, since “the league’s new, larger, and less personal arenas” tend to minimize home court advantage. Dan Shaughnessy reveals there may be trouble lurking with the C’s lease at the FleetCenter. He has this quote from Harry Sinden: “I’m sure they read the lease before they spent 360 million bucks. Maybe not though.” Ouch. Grousbeck counters that they read the lease, but the previous Gaston regime had not, since they didn’t know the exact date of the lease’s expiration. Kevin McNamara wonders what could have been had Pitino been able to trade for Jermaine O’Neal back in 2000. Christopher Price has O’Brien exclaiming that he doesn’t “think either team gives two hoots about the physical play” in this series, saying that’s just playoff basketball. Bob Schron has a more in-depth look at the series, citing the “Doug Collins” rule that this series has now begun (once each team has won a game in a series). I always thought the Collins rule was that a series really starts once a road team wins a game…

Tom Curran says Victor Green may be headed to the Saints. Nick Cafardo has the story of the Bengals reaching an agreement “in principal” with QB Carson Palmer. Michael Smith says BC’s Brian St. Pierre just hopes his name will be called. Smith also says be happy the Pats don’t have the problem facing several teams in this year’s draft, that of finding the right quarterback. Cafardo’s notebook writes that talks are on-going between the Pats and the Bears about trade possibilities. Michael Felger wonders if those trade talks have been blown out of proportion. Kevin Mannix speculates about just how high a pick McGahee will be, and has Raven head coach Brian Billick predicting “someone will take a flier on him.” Michael O’Connor talks with a few doctors about athletes returning from ACL injuries.

NESN has Sox-Rangers in an afternoon matinee (2 PM). Tonight, an NBA triple-header features an early 6PM game, as Pacers-Celtics comes to the FleetCenter, followed by Bucks-Nets at 8:30 and Lakers-T’Wolves at 11 on TNT. ESPN2 has the opening game of the Tampa Bay Lightning-NJ Devils series at 7.

Bob Hohler reports on the

Bob Hohler reports on the Sox returning to their winning ways with Pedro on the mound. His notebook says Everett is quite happy to be out of the Hub, directing a shot at the media when he says, “They never hear the truth in Boston.” Tony Massarotti offers his view of “The Truth.” He also wonders out loud whether Pedro’s hurt, and, since he’s not talking, in true Boston sports media fashion, says, “guess we’ll just have to speculate.” Jeff Horrigan writes that only Pedro could go 7 innings and give up only 3 hits and 1 unearned run and have people worried. He has Tony Cloninger complaining a bit about the “real tight strike zone” in there. His notebook includes this Totally Misleading Stat (by his own admission): the Sox are 6-1 in one-run games. Steven Krasner writes that the bottom line is that the Sox won last night. His notebook also talks about Everett and the “peace of mind” he’s enjoying these days in the Lone Star State. David Heuschkel worries about Pedro’s “uncharacteristic” outing and worries about his season-high pitch count.

Peter May discusses the growing hostilities between the Pacers and Celtics, noting that “what you’re getting is basic, simple, competitive dislike for the guy in your way.” Basically, playoff basketball. Shira Springer cites a whole bunch of statistics, but doesn’t say much that’s meaningful otherwise. Mark Murphy has the C’s looking forward to returning to the confines of the FleetCenter and the “rowdy” fans.

Michael Smith talks about draft prospect Carl Morris. He also previews receivers available in the draft. Ron Borges has excerpts from an interview with his favorite NFL genius. The interview will be aired on NESN after tonight’s Red Sox-Rangers game, and should be available on their website later tonight. Nick Cafardo discusses draft prospect Willis McGahee’s “dog and pony show” yesterday, and discusses several possible trade scenarios for the Pats. Michael Felger and Kevin Mannix preview offensive line prospects. Alan Greenberg worries about the Pats’ previous “faulty choices in recent years” as they approach this weekend’s draft. Mike Reiss writes that Damien Woody is ready for next season.

Douglas Flynn can’t remember the last time there were three Game 7’s in the NHL playoffs in one night, but is quite certain it happened before the remote control was invented (actually, it was 1996, but who’s counting). He laments the “good ol’ days” when Game 7s were regularly played at the Garden, and says none will be played at the FleetCenter any time soon. With more from the gloom-and-doom department, James Murphy wonders if unrestricted free agent-to-be Don Sweeney has played his last game for the Bruins.

Bill Griffith reports on Levan Reid’s departure from Fox 25, and gets Butch Stearns’ reaction. Reid will be giving up his part-time radio gig, and is making his final “Big Show” appearance this afternoon. Lenny Megliola has Kevin Winter gushing about his dream job on the Zone’s morning show.

NESN has the Red Sox continuing their series against the Rangers at 8. For hoops fans, TNT has a double header of Game 2’s, with Sixers-Hornets at 7, followed by Blazers/Mavs at 9:30.

Tough day in Boston for

Tough day in Boston for sports. First, the Sox break their winning streak, and then the C’s fall behind early in Indy and are never able to get over the hump, as the Pacers were the front runners all game. Coverage of the game on NBA TV made me feel like it was the 90s all over again, as “Snapper” Jones helped call the game, and they even had the NBC music going to time outs (weird). Bob Ryan says we should be happy the C’s managed a split. Shira Springer submits her game summary and writes about the physical play in the series. Her notebook reveals that Battie’s flagrant Type 2 from Game 1 stands, and gets his reaction. Steve Bulpett has the game recap for the Herald, and quotes Walker’s key to Games 3 and 4 is to “not get down 18 points.” (good idea) Bulpett and Ryan both chat with I-can’t-get-enough-of-this-game O’Brien, who says he “enjoys watching other coaches having their own anxiety attacks.” Bulpett’s notebook also has some news on the progress of Vin Baker’s rehab. Mark Murphy finds out that Reggie Miller is quite [expletive deleted] superstitious. Dan Hickling notes that Conseco Fieldhouse was noticeably short of a sellout.

Gordon Edes covers yesterday’s Sox loss, and notes that The Committee’s streak of 13 1/3 innings of not allowing a run (don’t blame me) came to an end. Dan Shaughnessy talks about one unique advantage of the Monster seats on Patriots Day. Mark Blaudschun says John Burkett was hoping for a better day yesterday (no kidding). Edes’ notebook previews a Sox showdown against streaking ex-teammate Carl Everett. Michael Silverman tries his hand at poetry (he should quit while he’s ahead). Alex Speier covers the game for Boston Metro. Kevin Gray writes, “What a difference a homestand can make.” Bill Reynolds says it’s too early to tell how this season will play out for the Sox. Joe Sullivan believes Nomar is the best Red Sox player in his lifetime.

Nick Cafardo weighs in on NFL draft prospects Jordan Gross and BC’s own Dan Koppen. Kevin Mannix previews defensive backs while Michael Felger looks at cornerbacks. Tom Curran looks at Kentucky’s DeWayne Robertson in this weekend’s draft.

Bill Griffith gets an up-close view of the Marathon. Jon Couture logs his Patriots Day entry. Again, check here for more coverage of the Marathon.

NESN has the Sox opening their series against the Rangers in Texas at 8. TNT has Bucks-Nets Game 2 at 7, followed by Lakers-T’Wolves at 9:30. The ESPN family has a “triple header” of Game 7’s for those NHL fanatics out there: ESPN has Toronto-Philadelphia at 7 followed by Minnesota-Colorado at 10, while ESPN2 has St. Louis-Vancouver at 10:30.

Well, the streak was short-lived.

Well, the streak was short-lived. The Sox lost 11-6 earlier today. If you want to get your minds on some football, Peter King has a chat with draft prospect Willis McGahee, and talks about the possibility of the Pats trading down, picking up “even more ammo” and still end up with him (if they want him).

Interesting debate on the tagboard earlier about whether you catch the games on FSNE or on the national feed (e.g. ESPN). Could be worse, you could have neither option, as the Indy Star reveals is the case for Pacers fans this evening. Of course, there’s always NBA TV. Speaking of which, a bit of news to those who might follow this website but not live in the immediate FSNE-served area and might rely on digital cable (and League Pass) to follow the C’s. Because TNT and ESPN are busy showing other games, the Celtics-Pacers game is scheduled for NBA TV, which up until this weekend was not available to digital cable customers due to a licensing fee dispute between the NBA and cable TV operators (see Marc Stein’s article a few weeks back about this outrage). However, I received an email over the weekend indicating that the NBA has reached a tentative agreement with a couple of major cable operators (including Comcast) to add NBA TV to the digital cable lineup on a “free preview basis,” starting yesterday, and ending two weeks from today, May 5. According to a Comcast executive I spoke with today, this is a limited-time only thing, and is not guaranteed to be in place next season. In addition, this is available to all digital cable customers in Comcast-served markets, not just those who subscribed to League Pass. At least those customers will not miss any playoff games now though.