Baltimore's Big Move

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Baltimore's Big Move

It's been a while since the Red Sox (or their fans) have had any reason to fear the Baltimore Orioles.

In fact, you probably have to go all the way back to 1997 the last season Baltimore finished with a winning record to find a time when a visit from the O's garnered anything more than chuckle, or indifferent shrug.

"Oh, the Orioles are in town? That's cool. But I think I'll watch something else."

Anything else.

But despite all that, there's no question that the Orioles are getting better. That Buck Showalter has instilled a competitive spirit into the clubhouse. That younger guys like Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are finally starting to realize their potential. That, for the first time in a long time, there's reason for optimism in Baltimore.

They arrive at Fenway tonight with a 16-9 record. They're 8-2 in their last 10 games. And you know there's nothing in the world this team wants more than to pile on Boston's baseball pain and embarrass the Sox in front of their home crowd.

Make no mistake, the Orioles hate Boston. They're to the Sox what the Buffalo Bills are to the Pats. The lovable losers that, over time, have built up so much jealousy and rage over, that they live for Boston failure. That's why they celebrated after knocking the Sox out in Game 162 of last season, and why they're no doubt getting a kick out of the way Bobby V and company have started this one.

In the past, an Orioles team would come into Fenway feeling over-matched and intimidated, and the result was predictably ugly. The worst stretch occurred between 2006-2009, when the Sox amassed a 55-11 record against the O's. But in recent years, Baltimore has narrowed the gap. In 2010, the teams tied the season series 9-9. Last year, the Sox eked out a 10-8 advantage.

Is this the year Baltimore finally gets the best of Boston?

Can't say it would be a surprise.

Then again, the last time the Red Sox lost a season series to the Orioles

Thing didn't turn out so bad.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

All-Stars, studs and duds: Westbrook's reign as MVP comes to an end

All-Stars, studs and duds: Westbrook's reign as MVP comes to an end

NEW ORLEANS – You don’t rack up triple doubles at a historically ridiculous rate the way Russell Westbrook does without being able to dish out an assist from time to time.

The biggest assist he made in the 66th annual NBA all-star didn’t make its way on to the stats sheet.

But it was historical in so many ways.

Westbrook’s advice to Anthony Davis on how to win the game’s MVP award was indeed taken to heart with Davis winning the award following the Western Conference’s 192-182 win over the East All-Stars.

Davis finished with a game-high 52 points, shattering the previous mark set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Davis won the MVP award after Westbrook had won it each of the two previous All-Star games.

Prior to the game, Davis said he did do a little lobbying among his fellow all-stars in the locker room.

“I stressed that, I think more than enough, to the guys in the locker room before the game that I wanted to get the MVP for this crowd, for this city, and I ended up doing it.”

Following the game, Westbrook acknowledged that he did speak with Davis about how to win the MVP award.

When asked about what he said, Westbrook replied, “I’m not going to tell you, but he did a good job and got it done.”

Despite not winning the MVP award, Westbrook had a dominant game of his own as he tallied 41 points which was one point shy of the previous record.

But after the game, it was clear that he was more pleased with the performance of Davis.

“It was great,” Westbrook said. “It’s definitely always a great thing to do, especially here where he plays in front of his fans, his family. It’s a great experience and definitely happy for him.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the 66th annual NBA all-star game.

 

STARS

Anthony Davis

The hometown team’s best player delivered a scoring night for the ages, finishing with an All-Star record 52 points on 26-for-39 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. The previous record of 42 points was set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Russell Westbrook

His All-Star reign as the game’s MVP came to an end after having won the award the previous two All-Star games. He finished with 41 points.

 

STUDS

Giannis Antetokounmpo

He was an above-the-rim monster, scoring 30 points primarily on a dozen dunks.

Kevin Durant

He was filling up the stat sheet in several categories for the West, finishing with a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Kyrie Irving

Arguably the best performer for the East, Irving had 22 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas

There were others who had a more prolific night shooting the ball, but Thomas’ impact off the bench was indeed felt. He led all East reserves with 20 points.

James Harden

The bearded one had a triple-double as well, although not the kind he would prefer. Along with scoring 12 points, and dishing out 12 assists, Harden also racked up a game-high 10 turnovers.

 

DUDS

None

There were some guys who didn’t do much statistically, but with this being such an exhibition-like event, putting too much stock in any player’s performance is a waste of time. They are among the top 24 or so players in the NBA. No amount of missed shots or turnovers will change that fact.

Talking Points: Bruins get win in return from bye week

Talking Points: Bruins get win in return from bye week

Joe Haggerty hands out his superlatives following the Boston Bruins victory over the San Jose Sharks

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