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.