Pierce, Celtics get past Cavs

Although it wasn’t their best performance, the Celtics were able to get past the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-91 at the TD Garden. Despite the win, there shouldn’t be much stock put into it as the Cavs came into the game with just five wins on the year. Paul Pierced led the charge with a season-high 40 points. Pierce also added eight rebounds and five assists. Rajon Rondo added 20 points and eight assists in the win. With the win the Celtics improve to 13-12 on the year.

The big news of the day came off the court when Doc Rivers announced a change in the starting lineup. Kevin Garnett would move from his usual center spot to his natural position of power forward, meaning Jason Collins would now start with Brandon Bass coming off the bench. Also, Jason Terry will now replace Courtney Lee. It was a move Rivers needed to make in an effort to change things up after losing their third straight game Tuesday night.

Paul Pierce scores 40 vs. Cavaliers- Amalie Benjamin looks at just how good Pierce’s performance was.

No fooling Paul Pierce, C’s– Mark Murphy gives his take on Pierce’s night.

Paul Pierce shaper than ever– Chris Forsberg says this was one of Pierce’s all-tie best.

Captain Pierce leads the way– A. Sherrod Blakely has Pierces stepping up as a captain when his team needed him most.

Wilcox sits vs. Cavaliers, stays positive– Jessica Camerato has Wilcox’ reaction to not playing at all due to the lineup shift.

The Red Sox formally announced the signing of Ryan Dempster at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. Although it may seem like a minor signing, Dempster could be a very nice addition to the back end of the starting rotation next season.

Ryan Dempster adds leadership and character to Red Sox rotation– Nick Cafardo looks at what Dempster brings to the table.

Ryan Dempster delivers– Michael Silverman says innings pitched will be very important for the Red Sox’ newest pitcher.

Ryan Dempster, Sox seek rising tide– Gordon Edes looks back at the 36-year-olds career and what he brings to the Red Sox.

Searching (hard) for how the Jaguars could beat the Patriots– DJ Bean tries to find a way for the Jaguars to beat the Patriots this coming Sunday.


Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 33 vs. the 76ers

Celtics (25-7) vs. 76ers (23-9)
December 19, 1979
Boston Garden

If the Celtics ever made a statement game in December, then this was the one.

And really, was there any doubt the Celtics would lose game #33 of this season?


“You can call it a glamour game if you like,”  Celtics coach Bill Fitch told Larry Whiteside in the Boston Globe’s game preview.  “I don’t think crucial is the right word.  Not this early in the season.  It’s a very important game, but no matter what happens, we will still be in first place…”

The game, which was not televised but heard locally on WBZ Radio, packed a capacity crowd of 15,320 to see the Celtics hammer the Sixers and eradicate a few demons in the process.

There is a purpose to what these Boston Celtics are doing this year, Leight Montville wrote in the December 20, 1979 edition of the Globe. found in the Boston Globe Archive access.  They are not just playing a random 82-game set of basketball games, are they?  They are settling scores.

Somewhere in the back of their minds, or folded up and kept in the secret compartments of their wallets, there is a tattered and oft-handled list that was compiled during two long years of trouble.  All the names and all the numbers are on the list.  All the transgressions, real and imagined.  All the humiliations.  Somewhere there is this list and now, one by one, the names and numbers and embarrassments are being checked off.

The Bullets … the San Antonio Spurs … the Atlanta Hawks … the screamers behind the bench in New York… the yahoos in Houston … Elvin, EEEEEEEEE, Hayes … Larry, Dr. K., Kenon … Don Nelson and the Milwaukee Bucks.  One by one.  One after another.  Night after night.

And now … the biggest one of all.  The Philadelphia 76ers.

Philly suffered a setback with the loss of Doug Collins with a stress fracture of the right foot and a bone spur on his right ankle a week prior in back-to-backs with the Hawks (a surprising 4-0 so far against Philly).  Julius Erving, who dropped a line of 37/10/8 on the Celtics in their first meeting, was held to 20 points on this evening at the Garden, and the Celtics defense was not intimidated by brute forward Darryl Dawkins.


And so we give you Boston 112, Philadelphia 89, wrote Bob Ryan in the 12/20/79 Globe.  We give you 15,320 stomping, roaring, cheering fans who, on a night of countless ovations, saved their biggest for Jeff Judkins when took a pass on a fast break, dribbled backward into the right corner and swished a three-point jumper to give the Celtics a 108-81 lead with 3:12 left.   As his coach frantically signaled for timeout.  It is ever thus for these star-struck athletes.  Were a Celtic to throw a brick through a department-store window at high noon on Washington Street, he undoubtedly would be given a civic citation.  The Celtics have won six straight.  They have a three-game lead over the 76ers.  They can do no wrong.

The Bird Era had officially begun.

“People can’t keep us down,” Chris Ford told Bob Ryan.  “Not as a unit, anyway.”

What the Celtics did to their chief divisional rivals was keep the visitors from getting inside, take care of themselves on the backboards (even winning the second-chance point battle, 10-8) and then run like hell.

With the defense sagging masterfully on the cold-shooting 76ers, and with the Celtics connecting on 1 of their first 16 second-quarter shots en route to a 38-point period (18 on the fast break), Boston expanded a shaky 22-18 one-quarter advantage into such comfortable margins as 37-20, 44-26 and 56-35 in the second period.


Leigh Montville’s column added to the excitement of the Celtics’ rebirth.

How many sad nights had the Celtics spent with these same Sixers in the two woebegone years?  How many cruises had they seen by the Good Doctor, the estimable Mr. Julius Erving from the University of Massachusetts?  How big had the manchild, Dr. Dunkenstein, Darryl Dawkins seemed?  How far away had the greatest rivalry in the NBA slipped, the Sixers off to division championships and folderol, the Celtics off to dark places and quiet conversation?

“I’d have had to have been very skeptical about it, don’t you think?” Cedric Maxwell replied.  “I mean, we were looking forward, but this … this is just a plus, everybody coming together this way.  All the turmoil, all the animosity of those two years are gone.  It’s just beautiful.”

The tune that the Celtics did on the Sixers last night at the Garden was nothing less than the answer to one of their fans’ most wild dreams for two long years.  The Celtics didn’t just beat the Sixers, 112-89, last night.  The Celtics humiliated the Sixers, 112-89.

Philadelphia.  Check.  The rivalry has been born again.

The Celtics returned to action by hosting the Spurs on Friday, and then a quick return bout in Philly on Saturday.


More Patriots-49ers reaction

In what was one of the weirdest, craziest, wildest, and longest game of the year, the Patriots eventually fell to the 49ers 41-34. With the loss the Patriots will likely be the AFC’s No. 3 seed, meaning they will be forced to play on Wild Card weekend and then pending a victory would likely play at No. 2 seed Denver. Much of the sports media and radio airwaves focused on that potential matchup today, and whether or not the Patriots could make it to New Orleans playing two road games. Also, there were the usual day after a loss over-reactions on a number of players and performances.

Other topics looking back at the game included whether or not the loss could be looked at as a positive and a way to to improve upon things going into the playoffs. While the Patriots certainly showed a lot of heart and desire coming back from a 28-point deficit, you certainly would hope and expect they will would never be put in that situation again. Reports from the stadium following the game was that it was a very angry locker room so I wouldn’t want to be the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, the Patriots have some anger to be unleashed.

For full Patriots coverage, visit Patriotslinks.com.

New England loses grip on No. 2 seed in AFC– Shalise Manza Young looks at the Patriots chances as the No.3 seed, and having to play on Wild Card weekend.

Patriots got what they deserved vs. 49ers– Tony Massarotti says San Francisco was the better team Sunday night and deserved to win.

Patriots lost but showed there’s no stopping Tom Brady and Co.– Gerry Callahan has despite the loss he still believes they are the best team in the AFC.

Patriots report card– Ron Borges hands out his grades for the week, most of them fairly average.

Kick team gets the boot– Jeff Howe looks at the Patriots special teams units, who were uncharacteristically poor on Sunday.

Belichick: I thought they fought hard– Tom E. Curran has Belichick’s thoughts following the game.

Early Miscues Cost Patriots Dearly

The Patriots likely cost themselves a first-round bye last night, and appears that they set themselves a date to play in Denver for the Divisional round.

In a sloppy game in which the California team was taking advantage of miscues in the wet cold weather, the Patriots found themselves trailing 31-3 midway through the third quarter. One score coming from old friend Randy Moss. The Patriots were the ones turning the ball over and the 49ers were capitalizing. Unlike some of their opponents this season, however New England didn’t just fold up shop and call it a day. They scored four touchdowns in a row to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter, but the Patriots special teams gave up a long kickoff return, and a one-play touchdown drive pretty much killed the momentum for New England. There are no moral victories in the NFL, as Ron Borges gleefully reminds us this morning. (Sorry Ronnie, no link for you. You either, Jackie.)

The loss puts New England behind Denver in the AFC playoff race for the number two seed, and with two layups on the schedule for the Broncos, it appears a first round bye is out of reach for the Patriots. If they’re going to go to New Orleans, they’re going to need to hit the road to do it.

Patriots angry at themselves after loss to 49ers – Tom E Curran has an angry Patriots locker room following the game.

What we learned: If Sunday was prelude to Super matchup, Patriots have work to do – Christopher Price says that despite the loss, the Patriots have a few things they can hang their hat on for a potential rematch.

Patriots’ offense at best, worst – Mike Reiss says that the team’s second half resurgence is hollow without the victory.

Hopefully a lesson learned for Patriots defense – Greg A Bedard says that this was a much-needed reality check for the Patriots, and they’ll be better for it in the long run.

MONDAY MORNING QB – Peter King’s crush on Roger Goodell is downright embarrassing at this point.

Check all the other Patriots stories today at Patriotslinks.com.

A few other links this morning:

Adam Jones to be new evening host on The Sports Hub – From the weekend, Chad Finn’s report that Jones has been chosen to replace Damon Amendolara. For those who love Felger, you’ll love Jones. The evening show will basically be a continuation of the afternoon show now.

Sox add Stephen Drew on 1-yr deal – The Red Sox have apparently added the former A’s and Diamondback shortstop, continuing their pattern of veteran offseason signings.

J.D. Drew can feel Mike Napoli’s pain – Rob Bradford talks to Stephen’s big brother J.D. about the delay in finalizing Napoli’s contract, a situation that is very similar to his own when he sign with Boston.

Celtics need everybody to contribute or the season could be lost – Gary Washburn with a strong look at the Celtics struggles, with a lot aimed at the disappointing season of Courtney Lee thus far.

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 32 vs. the Nets

Celtics (24-7) vs. Nets (12-19)
December 16, 1979
Rutgers Athletic Center

A night after the Celtics stole a game in Madison Square Garden on Walt Frazier Night, the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan continued to be amazed with this Celtics team.  In the Sunday edition of the Globe on December 16, 1979, courtesy of the Boston Globe Archive access, here is how he began his recap of the C’s victory in MSG:

The Designated Saviour scored 31 points and hauled in 13 rebounds.  The Captain again gave a demonstration of how to shoot 3 for 19 while playing otherwise fabulous basketball.  The Playmaker submitted a valuable 19 points and 7 assists.  And – get this – The Bench shot a collective 11 for 12.  And, oh, yes, two steals in the final 23 seconds provided the star-struck Celtics with a 99-96 triumph over the amazingly self-destructive New York Knicks last night before a sellout crowd in Madison Square Garden.  It was, in other words, just another routine evening in the life of the NBA’s most lovable team.

Continue reading “Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 32 vs. the Nets”

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 31 vs. the Knicks

Celtics (23-7) vs. Knicks (14-17)
December 15, 1979
Madison Square Garden

Though the Celtics were in a grueling stretch of basketball, timing was in their favor.  After catching Milwaukee twice during their losing streak, the Celtics focused their attention on Red Holzman’s Knicks.  The night before, New York hit a new low point, losing their fourth straight game to drop to three under .500.  To make matters worse, the loss was suffered in humiliating fashion across the Hudson to the New Jersey Nets.  Buoyed by an eight point fourth quarter by old friend Don Chaney, the Celtics kept their winning streak — and NY’s losing streak — alive to hold on in NYC to defeat the Knicks, 99-96.

Continue reading “Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 31 vs. the Knicks”

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 30 vs. the Bucks

Celtics (22-7) vs. Bucks (19-13)
December 14, 1979
Boston Garden

The Celtics opened their third straight weekend set of three-games-in-three-days with the Western Conference’s Milwaukee Bucks.  The two teams squared off just five days earlier at the MECCA and were set to conclude the season series at the friendly confines of the Boston Garden.  Don Nelson’s Bucks had started off the season with championship aspirations in November, winning 15 of their first 20, but were stumbling through the month of December.  Including the loss at home to the C’s, Milwaukee had dropped five in a row and six of their previous seven.  This game at the Garden would not provide any the remedy to the Bucks’ woeful streak, as the Celtics provided its sellout crowd of 15,320 some holiday spirit in 97-94 victory.

Continue reading “Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 30 vs. the Bucks”

Sox Go Dempster Diving, 49ers Coming To Town

The Red Sox agreed to terms with free agent pitcher Ryan Dempster yesterday, reaching agreement in principle on a 2-year $26.5 million deal with the 35-year-old former Cub and Ranger.

Red Sox, Dempster agree to two-year deal – Sean McAdam says that Dempster gives the Red Sox a reliable innings-eater. You know, another Wakefield.

What are they doing? Explaining Red Sox’ offseason moves – Are the Red Sox merely on a path of mediocrity, or do they have a plan? Alex Speier and Gerry Callahan take different approaches.

The San Francisco 49ers are coming into town this weekend for a Sunday Night Football Matchup on NBC. Locally, the media seems convinced that the 49ers will offer a much more strenuous test for New England than did the Houston Texans. That wouldn’t be hard to do, but I worry that we won’t learn anything about this team during this game.

Catch all the Patriots/49ers coverage at Patriotslinks.com.


Potential successors to Damon Amendolara narrowing – Chad Finn surveys the field for the opening, noting that Marc Bertrand is no longer a candidate, and that Jon Meterparel is among those in contention.

Rene Rancourt to sing anthem in Worcester on Sunday – Bill Doyle has the Bruins National Anthem singer stepping out during the lockout.

ESPN, WGBH team up to track concussion data – My SB Nation Media column is on the collaboration between WGBH’s FRONTLINE and ESPN’s Outside The Lines on the concussion issue, including the new Concussion Watch website.

Q&A with NESN’s Dale Arnold

One of the most accomplished members of the Boston sports media is Dale Arnold. Arnold is currently working with NESN, hosting NESN Daily and pre/post game coverage of Bruins games. Previously he co-hosted The Dale & Holley Show show middays on WEEI, although he still hosts weekend shows, including NFL Sunday on Sunday mornings. Before coming onto the Boston scene he did play-by-play for the New Jersey Devils for two seasons. Arnold, a graduate of Bowdoin College is the only person in Boston sports history to do play-by-play broadcasts for all five of the area’s major professional sports franchises. Boston Sports Media Watch had the chance to catch up with Arnold, touching on a number of subjects.

Dale Arnold is the only person to call play-by-play for all five of the major Boston sports teams.
Dale Arnold is the only person to have done play-by-play for all five of the major Boston sports teams.

BSMW: What does it mean to be the only person in history to call play-by-play for all five major Boston sports teams?

In some cases, guys like Curt Gowdy, guys like that could have done anything but there was no soccer when they were around. I was lucky enough to be here when there were five teams to do. Now that there’s lacrosse I should have tried to work that in there as well. The fact that no one’s ever done it, all five teams, means a lot to me that I was able to pull it off.

BSMW: Do you have a favorite moment or game that you’ve called?

It’s so hard. There were individual things here and there. The Red Sox last game of the regular season in Baltimore (2011) wasn’t a favorite, but it was memorable. The Doug Flutie “icky balloky” game wasn’t a favorite, but it was memorable in that regard. I’ve had the opportunity to do some games that mattered in the NHL both here and in New Jersey. Truly if I looked back on the whole thing, from start to finish the most fun I had doing a game was a Maine Mariners-Sokol Kiev (from the then Soviet Union) game. It was the end of the Cold War, and the Russian’s just started coming over. I worked with a state department translator for about a month to get the pronunciations, and just being able to do that was unique at the time.

BSMW: You’ve called play-by-play, hosted radio shows, anchored television shows and worked pre and post game shows. Do you have a favorite or a preference?

Anybody who has done play-by-play will always tell you they always think of themselves as a play-by-play announcer. I mean I like a lot of the other things, I enjoy doing the radio, I’ve enjoyed hosting Bruins, but there is something about calling a game live, for guys who do it they’ll tell you it’s the most fun they have.

BSMW: Everyone knows what happened at WEEI a few years ago, are you happy with the way things turned out at NESN, or do you wish you were on the radio everyday?

I wish I was doing both. I’m thankful for NESN because they gave me an opportunity to stay in the market and do something that I really love, but it’s not like it’s an either or proposition. The time frame of doing Bruins and the time frame of when you host middays you could do both easily.

BSMW: How long did it take you to get over not being on the radio everyday?

I’m not over it now. It’s something that I liked, egotistically I thought I was reasonably good at it. I wish I was still doing it now.

BSMW: You’ve worked with a number of different people over the years, do you have a favorite person you’ve worked alongside?

Probably Michael (Holley). Neumy (Bob Neumeier), he and I got along great and I don’t mean to slight him when I say that, but Michael and I developed a pretty unique and pretty interesting chemistry. I thought it worked pretty well.

BSMW: What are your future plans? There have been rumors of you being interested in the play-by-play gig with the Patriots, would you be interested in going back there?

What rumors? … Nobody has ever asked me. I am not sure that there is a rumor that’s true, no one has ever asked me. As I’ve said, anyone who has been a play-by-play announcer thinks of themselves as a play-by-play announcer. I enjoyed the time I had with the Patriots, the three years I was there. I am certainly a different, and better broadcaster now than I was then, that was a long time ago. Like I said, nobody has ever talked to me about it, nobody has ever said anything to me about it.

BSMW: What are your thoughts on the NHL lockout and do you think there will be a season?

I do. Maybe I am just whistling past the graveyard here, I guess I think they are too close to kiss off a season at this stage. I mean my feeling is that they are not that far apart. I’m not sure they are as close as Donald Fehr says, but I also don’t think they are as far apart as Gary Bettman says. Everybody I’ve talked to in the hockey media, everybody I’ve talked to in the hockey community, is convinced that somewhere around December 31 or January 1 there will be a deal and they will be playing again.

You can follow Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 29 vs. the Nets

Celtics (21-7) vs. Nets (11-17)
December 12, 1979
Boston Garden

A fully-rested Celtics team built off the win in Milwaukee and improved to 13-1 at the Garden with a 116-102 win over the New Jersey Nets.  After splitting six games, the Celtics won their second in a row and looked to poised to kick off another lengthy winning streak.  This game already marked the third time Boston faced New Jersey, and the Celtics were feasting on the inferior competition.  For two vastly different teams in terms of talent level, it is mind-boggling to think that New Jersey had eight more wins than the Celtics the previous season.  That, of course, was life before Larry Bird, who acted as a one man gang against the Nets, torching the troubled franchise for 21 points, 11 assists, and 5 rebounds.



Before becoming a mildly successful coach in the Continental Basketball League (bringing the Alany Patroons their first title) and Puerto Rico’s National Superior Basketball, Phil Jackson rode the pine for the Nets.  He only played in 16 games before retiring in 1980, and the once-important piece to the Knickerbockers’ two championships was now a shell of himself.  Jackson was connected to Celtics coach Bill Fitch.  In another phenomenal article, Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum explains:


An ambitious young basketball coach named Bill Fitch first visited with Jackson on a bitter spring afternoon in Williston, where, in Fitch’s car with the heater running, the coach persuaded Jackson to come to the University of North Dakota. Williston’s cold, windy weather—”You can fly a kite there forever,” says Fitch—made the people tough and competitive, and the loose-limbed Holy Roller was as tough and competitive as anyone. Jackson’s fastball drew the attention of baseball recruiters, but Fitch wanted him only for basketball. “It was the right choice,” said Fitch, who went on to coach in the NBA with Cleveland, Boston, Houston and, now, New Jersey. “He couldn’t find home plate with a Geiger counter.”


The Evolution of Phil Jackson does a wonderful job recapping Jackson’s many looks.

Unlike Jackson, who couldn’t stay on the court, Dave Cowens still had a place on the court.  Cowens paced the Celtics with 24 points and 10 boards, again showing how dangerous the Celts could be with strong play in the post.  Cedric Maxwell added 7 boards and 13 points off a tidy 6-for-8 from the field, Chris Ford drilled three more 3-pointers in an 18-point night, and Tiny Archibald kept humming with seven more assists.  Sixth man Gerald Henderson, playing only 13 minutes, dropped in 12 points.  The game did not sell out.

Although they allowed over 100 points, the Celtics played lock-down defense, forcing the Nets to shoot under 40 percent from the field.  New Jersey’s Cliff Robinson (not the headband-wearing Clifford Robinson, who played 18 seasons in the NBA and made the playoffs all 18 years, who didn’t enter the league until 1989) was the only Net to reach 20 points.  The Celts won the rebound and assist battle (though both teams scored 18 points off turnovers), and high scoring first and third quarters put NJ in a whole from which they could not recover.

Philadelphia defeated Milwaukee to improve to 22-7, the same record as the C’s.  The two teams were set to square off at the Garden on Wednesday, December 19.  In the meantime, the Celtics returned to action for a rematch (and the start of another three consecutive games) with the Bucks at home on Friday night.