Say hello to the 2012 Home Run Derby champ

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Say hello to the 2012 Home Run Derby champ

From Comcast SportsNet
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Prince Fielder made a splash at the All-Star Home Run Derby. Eight of them. The Detroit slugger joined Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to win multiple titles, thrilling the crowd at Kauffman Stadium with several shots into the right-field fountain and beating Toronto's Jose Bautista 12-7 in the final Monday night. "Just being mentioned with him is real special," said Fielder, who spent time at Griffey's house when he was a kid. "My dad would let me go over and play video games all day. He always took care of me when I was a kid." On a night when the Yankees' Robinson Cano was repeatedly booed and went homerless, Fielder put on the most powerful display among baseball's big boppers. Winner at St. Louis' Busch Stadium three years ago, Fielder had a total of 28 home runs over three rounds to cap the main event on the eve of the All-Star game. He hit the four longest drives of the night, including a pair at 476 feet. "They were far," he said. "That's not easy to hit it out there." While the ball stayed out of McCovey Cove during the 2007 Derby at San Francisco's AT&T Park and the right-field swimming pool last year at Chase Field in Phoenix, there was plenty of aquatic activity in Kansas City, second only to Rome for most fountains in cities around the world. After three splash shots among his five homers in the first round, Fielder started off the second round as the setting sun lit up clouds in a pretty pink behind the left-field wall. His mop of dreadlocks visible as he hit without a helmet, Fielder deposited four more balls into the 322-foot-wide water spectacular, which by then was illuminated in the twilight. He added another water drive in the final round, then leaned against one of his sons while he watched Bautista swing. "I'm a little disappointed," Bautista said. "I'm capable of doing more. I had a lot of fun doing it." When he won three years ago in St. Louis, Fielder's 23 homers included a 503-foot drive that disappeared between two sections of bleachers in right-center. Griffey won titles in 1994 at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium, 1998 at Denver's Coors Field and 1999 at Boston's Fenway Park. Cano set a final-round record of 12 en route to last year's title in Phoenix, where he hit 32 overall. This year he was the object of loud booing throughout by fans upset he didn't select the Royals' Billy Butler after promising to take a hometown player for his derby team. Fans chanted "Bil-ly Butler!" in between their boos. When it was over, Cano got hugs from Boston's David Ortiz and Yankees teammates Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia. "I was criticized before I got here. If you play for the Yankees you get booed everywhere you go," Cano said. It was the 17th time a player went homerless in the Derby, the first since Detroit's Brandon Inge in 2009. "that was the most interesting reaction to a home rum derby i've ever seen, but the fans were excited which is all that counts," Granderson tweeted. Carlos Gonzalez and Andrew McCutchen (four each) and Matt Kemp (one) also were dropped after the first round. Carlos Beltran (12) was dropped after the second round, when Mark Trumbo and Bautista were tied with 13 apiece, leading to a swingoff won by Bautista 2-1. Trumbo and Bautista each managed to put a drive into the small fountain beyond the left-field wall. Trumbo also hit a pair of shots over the Royals Hall of Fame in left, toward Interstate 70.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

BOSTON – Saturday was yet another night when the opposing team – this time it was the Portland Trail Blazers – that up the Boston Celtics with an avalanche of points that ended in a 127-123 overtime loss.

And yet through the rubble of all those lay-ups and put-back baskets and mid-range jumpers, Stevens saw something he has not seen in a while – hope that better days defensively were coming sooner rather than later.

“As crazy as it sounds with them scoring (127) … I actually thought we were a lot closer to defending the way we want to defend," said Stevens. "I thought we were really locked into those guards, and I thought we tried to make it as tough as possible. Those guys are really good players, obviously, but I thought, I thought we did a lot of good things in that regard.”

For the most part, Boston and Portland played a relatively even game that wasn’t decided until the final minute of overtime.

“They just made more plays down the stretch,” said Boston’s Al Horford.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

He tends to get second billing to Damian Lillard, but he was a first rate problem for the Celtics. He led the Blazers with 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting.

Damian Lillard

After a foul-troubled first half, Lillard stepped up like the All-Star he is in the second half to finish with 28 points and seven assists which included seven of Portland’s 14 points in overtime.

Isaiah Thomas

It was another dynamic scoring night for Thomas, finishing with a game-high 41 points which included 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime.


STUDS

Terry Rozier

Making the most of his chance to play due to injuries and illnesses, Rozier came up with a number of big shots all night. He finished with 15 points which included a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds in the fourth that forced overtime.

Mason Plumlee

In addition to doing a solid job protecting the rim, Plumlee also tallied a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds while dishing out a game-high eight assists.

Meyers Leonard

Easily the big X-factor of the game, Leonard had 17 points off the bench on 6-for-7 shooting.

 

DUDS

Celtics Turnovers

This is the one area where the Celtics have been really good all season. Saturday? Not so much. Boston turned the ball over a season-high 21 times which accounted for 34 points for the Blazers.