The Celtics were letting the Suns have their way on offense in the second quarter last night. It needed to stop. Phoenix had scored 57 points by halftime, and Doc Rivers let his club know at the break that they needed to play a little defense. They did, holding the Suns to 40 second half points, and cruising to a 117-97 win at the Garden over Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and company.
Marc J. Spears has both Kevin Garnett (30 pts) and Paul Pierce (27pts) submitting MVP-type performances last night. Mark Murphy has Pierce making up for his worst performance of the season in the first game against the Suns with a strong outing last night on national TV. Bill Doyle says that the Celtics didn’t do anything new on defense in the second half, they just tightened down and did the same things they’ve done all season. Jim Fenton has the Celtics getting back on track for the league’s best record. Jessica Camerato kept a blog of the game for Hoopsworld.
Bob Ryan says that Garnett won’t win the NBA MVP award, but he is the Celtics Most Vital Presence, and Most Valuable Acquisition. Steve Bulpett has Rajon Rondo again holding his own against a top point guard, something he has done time and again over the last couple of weeks, and all season. Matt Langone has the Celtics getting back on track against Shaq and the Suns. Mike Fine has Kendrick Perkins taking another giant step forward with his tough play against Shaq last night.
Kevin Cullen jumps on board the idea of changing the name of Causeway Street to Red Auerbach Way.
Peter May has Shaq giving his MVP vote to Kobe Bryant, and dismissing Garnett because: “Garnett doesn’t play defense.” Yeah, read that again. As May asks, What games have you been watching this season? Garnett doesn’t play defense? Bulpett has the Suns saying that Shaq makes them better equipped to go deep in the playoffs and match up better against teams like San Antonio. Lenny Megliola says that this type of game at the Garden whets your appetite for the playoffs. Kevin McNamara has many hands making the load light for the Celtics last night.
Spears’ notebook has the Celtics offering some thoughts on the impending Sonics move to Oklahoma City. Murphy’s notebook has Pierce and Garnett propping each other up as the MVP. Doyle’s notebook has Pierce and Doc Rivers both saying that Garnett is the MVP for how he has changed the entire culture of the Celtics in one season.
The Red Sox ended up with a split in Japan of the two regular season games they played. Gordon Edes says that the A’s were the home time in name only during this series. Michael Silverman has the Sox moving on to LA after the game for three exhibitions with the Dodgers. Jeff Goldberg has some thoughts on yesterday’s game, as well as on the impact of the trip on the Red Sox. Bob Stern has Theo Epstein at the top of his game right now.
Gerry Callahan says Jacoby Ellsbury was everywhere yesterday. Everywhere except where he should have been, namely in the starting lineup and playing centerfield for the Red Sox. Callahan says that playing Ellsbury over Coco Crisp should be a no-brainer for Terry Francona. Dan Shaughnessy is caught up in the time travel aspect of leaving Tokyo and returning to Los Angeles. Sean McAdam says that the Red Sox enjoyed their time in Japan. Jon Couture says that the loss yesterday doesn’t mean much in the long run for the Red Sox.
Amalie Benjamin has lack of control once again coming back to haunt Jon Lester. Rob Bradford says that Lester was underwhelming right from the start yesterday. McAdam has Lester struggling right from the start yesterday, and putting himself and the team in a hole. Silverman has J.D. Drew iffy for the Dodger series this weekend because of his back. McAdam has more on Francona putting Coco Crisp in the lineup yesterday ahead of Ellsbury.
The Globe notebook has Brandon Moss getting sent down to Pawtucket following the game. The Herald notebook has Josh Beckett making progress in Florida and getting ready to rejoin his teammates. McAdam’s notebook has Bartolo Colon set to start against the Dodgers tomorrow night.
Fluto Shinzawa has David Krejci proving himself an able fill-in for Marc Savard in Tuesday win over the Maple Leafs. Stephen Harris says that the Bruins still have a lot of work to do in in the final six games if they hope to make the playoffs. Mike Loftus has the Bruins 4th line coming up big when needed.
Mike Reiss has Jabar Gaffney preferring to stick around Foxborough rather than shopping his wares on the open market this offseason. Karen Guregian has Matt Light saying that the offensive line shouldn’t be kicked to the curb for one poor performance.
Over in the Metro I’ve got a short piece entitled On Bill Belichick’s secret service.
David Scott has an update on the ESPN.com Cory Lidle transaction gaffe from yesterday.
Buddy Thomas isn’t pleased with the coverage of March Madness.