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.