Pierce, Rondo named 'Second-half All-Stars'


Pierce, Rondo named 'Second-half All-Stars'

In a way, the NBA All-Star Game is unfair. It honors the players who excel in the first half of the season, when regular-season pressure is generally pretty low, and playoff spots are yet to be determined.

There should be some kind of award for those players who brought their games to another level in the second half of the season, right? That's where NBA.com steps in.

The site put together a list of the league's best players in the second half. No surprise, two Celtics -- Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo -- made the cut.

On Pierce:
He's averaging roughly 22 points, six rebounds and four assists since the break and showing no signs of wearing down as the playoffs approach. The Celtics snatched the Atlantic Division title from the Sixers in a year in which many predicted they could finish third. Pierce's outside shooting has been a big help, given Ray Allen's frequent absences. If nothing else, Pierce has cemented his rank among the five greatest Celtics of all time.

On Rondo:
The guy is an assist machine right now, racking up double digits since mid March, including 20 against the Hawks. His jumper remains about as pretty as a pimple, but when you dish the way Rondo has since the break, it rarely matters when his shot is off. His playmaking and ability to get easy shots for teammates is what drives the Celtics right now.

We understand the entire list can't be made up of Celtics, but why no love for Kevin Garnett? His move from power forward to center has arguably been the biggest spark in the C's torrid second-half run through the regular season.

Do you think the Big Ticket should be somewhere in this piece? Let us know what you think in the comment box below.

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

The Patriots and Raiders and neck-and-neck as the race for home field in the AFC turns for home. And, with four games left, the Raiders are ahead by a nose. The tiebreakers between the 10-2 teams in play currently? Common games followed by strength of victory. 

The first tiebreaker – conference record – is a deadlock as both teams are 7-1 in the AFC (the Brady-less Patriots lost to the Bills back in Week 4.

After conference record, it's the teams record in common games. 


So far in common games with the Texans and Bills, the Patriots have gone 2-1 and the Raiders have gone 2-0. The Patriots play the Ravens next week. Oakland beat them. The Patriots play Denver after that. Oakland beat them as well but have one more game against Denver in Week 17.

So if it comes down to common games the Patriots really need to win these next two games.

Or hope the Raiders stub their toe a time or two in their final four games which are at the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos with a home game against Indy in Week 16.

As for strength of victory, that too goes to Oakland at this point. The Raiders’ strength of victory is at .471. The Patriots’ is at .370.

But the tiebreaker that kicks in after conference record and before strength of victory – common games – is very much unresolved.The remaining picture as it stands right now? The Ravens are the No. 3 seed with a 7-5 record that leads the AFC North. The Texans’ 6-6 record is good enough to lead the AFC South. The 9-3 Chiefs are the top Wild Card. The 8-4 Broncos are the No. 6 seed.

The Patriots play the Ravens and Broncos over the next two weeks. Currently, the Dolphins (7-5) and Steelers (7-5) are on the outside looking in.

The Titans (6-6) will have a chance to get even with the Texans in Week 17 in head-to-head matchups but they host Denver and play at Kansas City the next two weeks so they have obstacles to clear before they get there.

AFC PLAYOFF RACE: Steelers end Giants' winning streak at 6 in 24-14 victory


AFC PLAYOFF RACE: Steelers end Giants' winning streak at 6 in 24-14 victory

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the New York Giants' winning streak with a familiar formula.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell rolled up 182 yards of total offense, and Pittsburgh's resurgent defense harassed Eli Manning into a flurry of mistakes in a dominant 24-14 win on Sunday.

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