I’ve never been a huge

I’ve never been a huge fan of Sports Illustrated’s “Dr. Z” over the years, but you gotta love his assessment of the Patriots draft, especially since he begins it by telling of his experience being on a Boston sports radio station the day after the draft. The show was the Eddie Andelman show, and it was he that made the comment about it being a lousy draft. Dr. Z gives the Patriots the second highest grade in the draft:

New England B+ -- I was on a Boston radio show the day after the draft and the host said to me, "Well, another lousy draft for the Patriots," and I had to take issue with that. The point I tried to make was that you don't need a flashy name up on top to have a good draft list. Depth is important, too, and I can go through five rounds of New England's draft before I can find someone I don't think will help the Patriots this year. At the top is Ty Warren, a good, functionally sound DT. Eugene Wilson was in the thick of the CB mix, right after the elite pair of Terence Newman and Marcus Trufant. Bethel Johnson, also taken in the second round, was the second-fastest runner in the draft, at 4.30 in the 40, and he returns kicks, too. DT Dan Klecko (fourth) is the son of Joe, who should be in the Hall of Fame, and I've seen the same kind of comments I did when daddy was coming out -- lacking all the measurables except heart, desire and the ability to play football. Their other fourth rounder, Asante Samuel, is a nickel CB type with good ball skills. One round later is a hard-working center, Dan Koppen, who was ranked by some scouts among the top five at the position. That's six guys I think can help, before we get to QB Kliff Kingsbury, and who knows about QBs? I call it a pretty good draft, and they did more trading and hustling than any other team in the league, and sure, they traded away one of their first-round picks but what they're left with for next year's draft are two No. 1s, two No. 2s and three No. 4s.

If you’ve already done this,

If you’ve already done this, than thanks, but if not, could you please take a minute and fill out the demographic survey on this page it would help me very much in future endeavors for this site. Click on “take the poll” (or “cast your vote”) Please only take the survey once. You’re not required to give out anything personal like email, name, phone, address or anything else. It’s a very simple demographic poll.

Celtics could’ve put the series away last night, but couldn’t score a single point towards the end of the game and in the entire OT. How frustrating was that to watch? Every single play was the high post to Pierce, who was smothered by Ron Artest. Finally on one offensive possession, the C’s called time out, and I said, finally…they’re going to diagram a play, get Tony Delk (8-10) coming off a pick or something….the plan they came up with was to put Antoine on the high post. He did get fouled, but missed both. It was a perfect example of my frustration with Jim O’Brien…he’s done a great job with these guys, they play tough defense for him, they go all out for him, but offense is almost an afterthought. He’s got Pierce and Walker, so he just figures they can get him a hoop whenever he needs one. Who can figure this series? I can’t think of a single analyst or reporter who picked the Celtics to win the series, except Bill Simmons. Going into last nights game, I can’t think of a single media person who said the Pacers had a prayer. This game was of course right in Dan Shaughnessy’s wheelhouse and he is overjoyed that the Celtics lost, he’s sharpening his knives already as twice in the column he says the Celtics “better” win Thursday night. One item needs correction, however, he claims that: “Boston goes down as the first team in NBA history to throw a shutout in extra innings.” Wrong. It’s not even the first time this century it’s happened in a Pacers game. They threw a OT shutout at the Grizzlies in 2000. It’s also happened in the playoffs, albeit not since the 1950’s, but it has happened, according to ESPN and a a few astute readers here. Steve Bulpett compares losing the game last night to Bill Buckner letting the ball go through his legs. Shira Springer’s game story looks at the ugly O-for-overtime. Mark Murphy look at an exhausted Paul Pierce after the game last night. With only one day to rest, will the depth of Indiana be a factor? Peter May looks at the failure of the Celtics to score the last two minutes of regulation or overtime. No mention that perhaps the coach could’ve mixed things up on offense. Sarah Meinecke focuses on the efforts of Ron Artest, who not only smothered Pierce, but was also the leading scorer in the game. Hank Lowenkron looks at one of the heroes for the Pacers, old, out of shape, hobbling Tim Hardaway. Murphy also looks at the contributions the Celtics get…mostly off the court…from graybeards Grant Long, Mark Bryant and Bimbo Coles. Out in Indy, Bob Kravitz says the Pacers finally showed some heart. Sekou Smith looks at Pierce’s struggles down the stretch. Smith also looks at the Celtics failing to score in OT. Springer’s notebook has the Commish weighing in on the state of the league. Bulpett’s notebook looks at Olympic snubs for Pierce and Walker.

Paul Kenyon says that with each passing game, it’s apparent that these are not your grandfather’s Red Sox. They can do the little things required to win games. A nice look by Kenyon. Gordon Edes notes that despite all the bullpen struggles, these Sox are not only afloat, they’re cruising. Jeff Horrigan also praises the Sox small ball approach to the game last night, noting that the Sox didn’t appear all that impressed with the Royals. Speaking of the little things it takes to win, there appears no better example on the Sox then Bill Mueller, who did several things to contribute to the victory last night. Michael Vega has a look, as do Michael Silverman, David Heuschkel as well as Lenny Megliola. Mike Shalin notes that Tim Wakefield matched Bill Lee on the Sox all time win list last night, moving into a tie for 11th place on the Sox all time list. Christopher Price says that while Wakefield may not make great copy, he’s invaluable to the Sox in numerous ways. Jackie MacMullan looks at the return of Alan Embree last night. Silverman also looks at NH native Allard Baird, GM of the Royals who is enjoying his club’s fast start. Kevin Gray of the Union Leader also looks at the Rochester raised Baird. Shalin contributes a piece on Royals closer Mike MacDougal, having come back after a skull fracture in 2001. Sean McAdam has a piece on the Sox ongoing efforts to bring in more revenue. Edes’ notebook looks at the injury to Chad Fox, which could keep him out for a month…not a case of the “Hellenic flu”. In Horrigan’s notebook, Theo shoots down the rumored trade of Hillenbrand which was all over 1510 yesterday morning. I didn’t bother to mention it because the source was a Peter Gammons Diamond Notes column. The ProJo notebook has more on Fox and Mueller. Heuschkel’s notebook says there are fresh arms headed to the Sox bullpen in the form of Embree and possibly Robert Person soon. I was going to give the print media a nice round of applause for not even mentioning the media/Sox feud, but Steve Buckley in his pay column does enough backslapping and gladhanding for everyone. He says last night went smooth and everyone is just trying to get along. How quaint.

Jim Donaldson jokes that if history repeats itself, the Patriots will win the Super Bowl after the 2004 season and Kliff Kingsbury will be the MVP. He takes a further look at the Patriots draft picks and likes what he sees. Michael Parente has a look at second round cornerback Eugene Wilson, hoping to imitate Ty Law. A good look at Wilson there. Michael Felger looks at the Patriots practice of attempting to develop young quarterbacks. Bill Burt, while saying we need to wait until 2005 to judge this draft, gives us his early impressions.

Bud Collins remembers Clif Keane. Dan Shaughnessy takes a look at the new Celtics owners, and considers what fans want out of the owners of their sports teams.

In a special Media Blitz email, John Molori is reporting:

A source has told Media Blitz that NESN programming and operations chief Rick Abbott has decided to leave the network after just six months on the job. The source, a veteran Boston sports personality, says that Abbott announced his departure to his staff on Tuesday.

He goes on to note that “It has been speculated by some that his fresh approach and new ideas did not jive with those of the Red Sox”

A couple of items related

A couple of items related to this site:

If you could please take a minute and fill out the demographic survey on this page it would help me very much in future endeavors for this site. Click on “take the poll” (or “cast your vote”) Please only take the survey once. You’re not required to give out anything personal like email, name, phone, address or anything else. It’s a very simple demographic poll.

In another item, down in the left hand column of the page, you’ll see an Amazon.com bar with books about Boston baseball. Anything you order from there, I’ll get a miniscule percentage of. (It all adds up, though, right?) In addition, if you do any shopping at Amazon.com, if you could come to this page and click on the “shop now” section, you’ll be taken to Amazon.com and I’ll get a tiny percentage on whatever you buy, doesn’t matter if it’s sports related or not. Won’t cost you a penny more, either. It’s an easy way to support the site without having to make an actual donation to the page.

Now back to your regularly scheduled Red Sox/Media mess…

Something I missed this morning

Something I missed this morning in the links. Longtime Globe sports writer Clif Keane passed away last Friday at the age of 90.

Bob Gardner, who sent me the link, added these comments:

This is the big sports story for today. Clif Keane was a huge figure on the Boston Sports scene for many years. He was controversial, accused of having a "poison pen", of disliking latino ballplayers, and of racism when he had a radio show with Herald sportswriter Larry Claflin. Despite these negatives, he was an entertaining writer. In my opinion a lot better writer than Will McDonough. He was less of a power broker than McDonough which I think is also an advantage. In an ironic way, I think it's fitting that he should die at a time when the media and the players are feuding.

In other news, not a sports story really, but the AP is reporting the death of longtime WRKO host Jerry Williams.

The Celtics look to close

The Celtics look to close out the Pacers tonight in Indiana. Jackie MacMullan reports on the assistant coaches getting contract extensions, but there’s much more to this article. She writes about the learning process of the new ownership, the mistakes they’ve made and there were a couple items of interest to me in there. She notes that Steven Pagliuca loves Kedrick Brown and isn’t a big fan of the three point offense, they held a meeting with O’Brien during the team’s six game losing streak, and questioned some of his handling of the team. O’Brien is also quoted as follows:

When I met with them for the first time, I told them we were headed for a potential disaster. We had Vin Baker, who I suspected would struggle with us. We had Tony Battie, who doesn't have the strongest set of legs, and we had a previous owner who would not sign another player.

Good for O’Brien, and nice subtle slap at Chris Wallace as well. Bob Ryan examines five points about this series. A few interesting items in here. He seems to have insight into a return to Boston by Erick Strickland this summer, when discussing the coaching matchup, Ryan says: “All they need do is ask Strickland about the coaching difference, since he used to play here and probably will do so again.” Ryan also loves Ron Artest’s game, and says if the Celtics had Jermaine O’Neal, we “we’d all be talking junk while packing for the Finals.” If Pitino could’ve pulled off that trade for three # 1’s for O’Neal, he’d likely still be here. Steve Bulpett looks at the Pacers as a team of fine crystal…they make a lot of noise when broken. Gerry Callahan has a pay column on Pierce and the Celtics. He says you can count on the Pacers making a miraculous comeback and win the series. Why? Drew Rosenhaus told him so. The rest of his column is similar to Bulpett, in comparing the toughness of the Celtics and the ability of their role players to accept their parts on the team to the selfishness and brashness of the young Pacers. Mark Murphy writes about the Pacers bravely backing Isiah. Peter May looks at free-agent-to-be O’Neal, who will get a maximum contract this summer from someone, likely either Indiana or perhaps San Antonio. Bob Schron looks at what could be some of the keys to finishing off the Pacers. Carolyn Thornton notes that while the game is in Indiana tonight, the ball is clearly in the Celtics court. Jon Wallach notes that the only person in town who might not be happy with the play of the Celtics is Jim O’Brien. Shira Springer look at the Celtics determine to close out the Pacers tonight, and to do so with defense. Hank Lowenkron reports on what the Pacers plan to do to counter the Celtics. Out in Indiana, Bob Kravitz looks at Donnie Walsh’s carefully chosen words regarding Isiah’s future. Sekou Smith of the Indy Star also notes that the Celtics called off practice because of their starters having played so many minutes. Bulpett also reports on the C’s assistants getting their new contracts. Murphy’s notebook looks at the Pacers having to try to emulate the Celtics in some areas. Thornton’s notebook is a commercial for Walter McCarty’s debut CD, to be released within the next couple days, there’s even information on how you can order it. Hurry! Supplies are limited…

Bill Reynolds says this media hostility with the Red Sox is the same old story that has been going on for decades. I’m not sure I agree with this paragraph, but it’s the crux of the article:

It's even more than the fact the media is the conduit to the fans, so when players stiff the media they are, in a very real sense, stiffing the people who care the most about them. Or that all professional sports feed off the endless barrage of free advertising they receive from a rapacious sports media. It's also even more than the fact this all seems so childish, the players thinking they are somehow hurting the media by not speaking, like 12-year-olds taking their ball and going home. Even more so when you consider that Manny, Pedro, and Nomar are the three biggest fan favorites in Fenway Park, all but lionized and adored, with nary a negative thing ever said about them.

Ah, the old “if you don’t speak to the media you’re stiffing the fans” argument. I agree that the media is the conduit of information about the team to the fans, but they don’t speak for or represent the fan. I don’t particularly care if the players aren’t speaking to the media. As long as the reporters give me the news about team, and how that news affects the team, that’s what I’m looking for. Reynolds goes on to say even if the players would just speak in clich

Peter King, in his Monday

Peter King, in his Monday Morning QB column, has a conversation with Matt Millen, who strongly denies the Patriots ever made an offer for the # 2 pick. (He says the rumors are “totally false”…twice) On Sports Xtra last night, Ron Borges was just as adamant in claiming that the Patriots did make the offer and try to get into that spot and were turned down. So who’s right? King has quotes from the guy who would know, on the other side, who is Borges’ source? King later says that it won’t be long before Dan Klecko is as beloved in New England as Tedy Bruschi.

Here is a sampling of

Here is a sampling of reaction nationally to the Patriots draft:

USA Today’s Jarrett Bell gives the Patriots 4 1/2 (out of 5) stars and notes:

Wheeler-dealers got DT Ty Warren to pair next to playmaker Richard Seymour and a solid CB in Eugene Wilson. WR Bethel Johnson solid pick at the right time, and after getting Tom Brady in sixth round, why not pick pass-happy Kliff Kingsbury? Scored big in getting Baltimore's No. 1 in '04, when Pats will have eight picks in first four rounds.

Len Pasquarelli gives the Patriots an “A” for a grade, noting that:

Virtually every choice could be deemed a value selection, defined in our minds as landing a player at the right spot on the board, and neither reaching nor delaying to snatch him up. We particularly favor the two second-rounders, cornerback Eugene Wilson and wide receiver Bethel Johnson. The only caveat on the latter is the seven abdominal surgeries he has undergone in recent years. Keep an eye on rush end Tully Banta-Cain (No. 7), an "edge" player who can chase down quarterbacks.

John Clayton listed the Patriots as big winners of the first day of the draft.

Mel Kiper (Pay column) gives the Pats one of only four A’s in the draft, and says:

The Patriots did a great job organizing their draft. They got the defensive help they needed with Ty Warren at tackle and Eugene Wilson at corner, and I like what Bethel Johnson can bring to the offense. Dan Klecko will add some depth on the defensive line, and the rest of the picks were very solid.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sportsline hands out a B+, with the comment:

The Patriots had versatility with 13 picks, and they did a great job making moves. Getting Warren is a good pick for a defense that needs his help, as is second-round pick Eugene Wilson, a corner out of Illinois.

He lists Klecko however, as their worst pick.

Ron Borges on MSNBC puts the Pats under the “Need to try harder” category and gives them a C-. His comment:

The Patriots entered the draft with 13 picks, including five on the first day, and left with three players and Baltimore

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.

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?