Pierce's latest milestone testament to his versatility


Pierce's latest milestone testament to his versatility

BOSTON -- For years Paul Pierce was looked to as the floor leader for the Celtics. In spite of being a forward -- not a point guard -- he was the veteran captain and one of the few players with proven experience on an otherwise young Celtics teams. In other years, he was the go-to guy on struggling squads.

It was not uncommon to see Pierce with the ball in his hand, managing the court and directing his teammates. He averaged a career-high 5.1 assists per game during the 2003-04 season in which the Celtics finished 36-46, and dished over four dimes per game for six straights seasons through the Celtics championship run in 2008.

That has changed since Rajon Rondo's emergence as one of the NBA's best passers and ball handlers (he leads the league with 12.8 assists per game). But Pierce still has it in him.

On Saturday Pierce picked up his 4,000th career assist while dishing a season-high nine helpers in the Celtics' win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Rondo led the game with 11.

"I thought my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball in the post area," Pierce said. "I recognized the double teams and I was able to find people, and that's how I got the majority of my assists tonight."

Now in this 15th season, 35-year-old Pierce still draws defenders and is a threat when left alone with an open shot. He is averaging a team-high 19.2 points this season and remains a threat in clutch situations. That alone opens up opportunities for him to stifle his opponents and find his teammates for a shot.

Pierce is posting 3.6 dimes per game this season, down from 4.5 last season, but he has that ability to get his teammates going on any given night. His keen recognition of the open man enhances the Celtics' ball distribution, giving them another strong option in addition to Rondo.

"It's a mixture of both," Rondo said of Pierce's assists. "Paul making the right play and guys finishing for him and making shots. He got trapped, he invited a double team, and he played unselfishly and moved the ball and guys made shots for us."

Pierce's career high is 14 assists again the Orlando Magic last season on April 18. He currently ranks 17th among all active players with 4,006 assists.

BC's ACC losing streak reaches 12 after 28-20 loss to Syracuse


BC's ACC losing streak reaches 12 after 28-20 loss to Syracuse

BOSTON - Eric Dungey threw for three touchdowns, Ervin Phillips had a pair of scores and Syracuse beat Boston College 28-20 on Saturday, sending the Eagles to their 12th straight Atlantic Coast Conference loss.

Dungey went 32 for 38 for 434 yards. He also ran 17 times for 54 yards for the Orange (4-4, 2-2 ACC).

Last week, he became the first player in school history to throw for over 300 yards and rush for over 100 in an upset victory over then-No. 17 Virginia Tech.

Patrick Towles went 4 of 14 for 45 yards for Boston College (3-4, 0-4) but did run 75 yards for a touchdown. He was taken out of the game early in the fourth quarter and appeared to be favoring his right leg.

Back-up Darius Wade drove the Eagles deep into Syracuse territory, but was sacked and then threw incomplete on fourth-and-14 with just under 2 minutes left.

The Orange went 86 yards for a score to make it 21-10 after an interception by linebacker Parris Bennett inside their own 5.

Receiver Steve Ishmael made an 11-yard TD catch along the side of the end zone, making a leaping grab and getting one foot to touch before he was knocked out of bounds.

One play later, Towles broke around left end and went down the sideline for his score on the final play of the third quarter. Mike Knoll's second field goal - a 39-yarder - cut it to 21-20.

Dungey's third TD toss - a 68-yarder to Amba Etta-Tawo - made it 28-20.

BC's Myles Willis had an 89-yard kickoff return for a TD.


SYRACSE: The Orange didn't play smooth offensively, collecting a handful of false start penalties and turning the ball over three times, but they go into a bye week with a pair of key victories.

BC: The Eagles can't make key plays when the game's close. They were driving for a possible go-ahead score late in the third when wide-open receiver Michael Walker bobbled a pass - with the ball flying into the air and into the hands of linebacker Bennett.


SYRACUSE: Travels to No. 4 Clemson on Nov. 5.

BC: Faces North Carolina State on the road next Saturday.

© 2016 by STATS & The Associated Press.

Spooner to jump back in for Bruins, knows he 'wasn't good enough'


Spooner to jump back in for Bruins, knows he 'wasn't good enough'

BRIGHTON, Mass. – After serving as a healthy scratch for Thursday night’s home opener, Ryan Spooner will be back in the lineup manning the left wing position alongside David Krejci and David Backes as that line looks for an offensive breakthrough.

Spooner will also be looking to change his early season storyline as it’s clear that Claude Julien is looking for more from a player that looked a little too passive on the puck to start the season.

Spooner wasn’t really utilizing his speed to put pressure on opponents, he wasn’t creating enough on the power play and there were a couple of instances where his mistakes led to directly to goals against. That’s not a good combination from a B’s perspective with a player who has showed plenty of game-breaking talent while posting 13 goals and 49 points last season.

“I have to take [the scratch] as a message that I wasn’t the player that I can be,” said Spooner. “I have to use it as motivation and just go out there and play.”

The speedy, skilled forward had just a single assist in three games to start the season, but to be fair none of the three forwards on his line, Spooner, Krejci or rookie Danton Heinen, looked particularly good once Backes was moved to fill in for the injured Patrice Bergeron.

Instead, it looked like Krejci centering one player skating out of position (Spooner) and another young guy (Heinen) just trying to gain some confidence in the NHL and things looked much better for Krejci and Backes after being reunited on Thursday. Spooner’s speed and playmaking could be an asset there tonight vs. Montreal, and certainly could help a power play that is 1-for-14 through the first four games of the season.

“He just has to be better. That’s why we sat him out. He just wasn’t good enough and he’s capable of doing more,” said Claude Julien. “We expect more out of him. He’s a guy that can produce and can play the full game, and he’s shown that he can do it. It’s nothing something that he has to do, but it’s something that he can do. That’s what we want.”

So, Spooner was scratched for the home opener after totaling an assist and seven shots on net in the first three games, and knows that he needs to be better than he was in the early going.

“I wasn’t moving my feet. I think I was playing too much of a passive game. I need to use my speed a little more when I’m on the wing there,” said Spooner, who still hasn’t played much more than a couple dozen games at the wing over the course of his career. “The first two games I didn’t think I played good at all, and the last game against the Jets was just so-so. I don’t think it was good enough, so it needs to be better.

“At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter which players I was playing with, the game I was playing just wasn’t good enough. That’s on me and I need to change that.”

Spooner will get a big chance to change that conversation when he suits up in a top-six winger role with Krejci and Backes on Saturday night while looking to provide a little more balanced scoring against Montreal.