Bergeron: I didn't see Marchand dive

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Bergeron: I didn't see Marchand dive

BOSTON -- Brad Marchand has always had the ability to get under his opponents skin, but now hes become the subject of fan scorn in Washington.

After the Little Ball of Hate hit the deck following a collision with Jason Chimera at the end of the second period -- a play that led to a the game-tying goal for the Capitals in Game 6 -- the Caps fans have taken to attacking No. 63 as a diver.

Replays show Chimera grazed Marchands upper body, spinning the fiery right winger like a top and dropping him to the ice.

Marchand was left far behind the play following the collision, and Chimera was able to beat Dennis Seidenberg to the net for the goal when the German defensemans skate blade broke at the worst possible moment.

But Marchand, often one of the smallest guys on the ice, has been the target of Washingtons heavy hits throughout the series, whether it was Jason Chimera spearing him between the legs or Karl Alzner grazing his face with an elbow during Bostons Game 3 victory.

Marchand's also in the business of attempting to draw penalties in a series where one power play goal could mean the difference between advancing or being on a golf course next week. Because of that, Marchand has been anointed by Capitals fans as the Bruins resident flopper.

Claude Julien has always prided himself on coaching a team that doesnt embellish or flop to curry favor from the officials the way the Canucks and Canadiens have done rather flamboyantly in the past.

Marchands teammates quickly arrived at Marchand's defense when presented with the question of whether or not somebody nicknamed named Nose Face Killah could possibly be on a diving team.

"I dont have anything to say with it to be honest with you," Patrice Bergeron said. "I didnt see him dive, but Brad Marchand plays the game hard, plays the game with a lot of pride. Last year Marchands play was a huge reason why we went all the way. Im very happy to have him on my side.

A couple things in Marchands defense on the diving plays in question: Alzner approached Marchand apologize for nearly taking him out with a head shot that even the Washington defenseman admitted he felt badly about in Game 3, and Marchand was spitting blood immediately after the collision with Chimera that led to Washingtons goal in Game 6.

So perhaps that whole Marchand diving thing isnt quite as black-and-white as some Capitals pom-poms would have one believe.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

BOSTON –  For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics were hosting a team eager to get off a losing skid.

But a strong surge near the end of the second quarter gave the Celtics a 65-56 halftime lead over Portland which came into the night having lost four straight.

Boston opened with a 12-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder – his second within the game’s first couple minutes.

But the Blazers were being carried by C.J. McCollum, half of the most explosive backcourt in the NBA. His 12 first-quarter points were crucial to keeping the Blazers within 28-26 at the end of the quarter.

McCollum continued to out-perform everyone else on the floor, even Isaiah Thomas who had a quieter than usual first half.

But the 5-foot-9 Thomas continued to make all the plays needed to put the Celtics back on top courtesy of a 12-3 run that put them ahead 57-49 with 1:55 to play in the half.

From there, Boston was able to maintain control of the game.

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

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

While there’s still talk about whether Damian Lillard will be an All-Star this year, McCollum has played well enough to where he’s at least worthy of a mention in the All-Star conversation. He certainly carried Portland in the first half with 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

As usual, Thomas drew a considerable amount of attention from the opposing defense. And slowly but surely, he found cracks that he could exploit. At the half, he had 17 points, four assists and three rebounds, one of which was an offensive board that he put-back in for a lay-up.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He put the Celtics on a good path from the outset, knocking down a couple 3’s in the first couple of minutes. He finished the half with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included a trio of 3-pointers.

Meyers Leonard

He was 3-for-4 in the first half which included a pair of powerful dunks over Boston’s Jordan Mickey. At the half he had eight points and two rebounds.

 

DUDS

Damian Lillard

It was a rough half for the two-time All-Star, tallying just three points on 1-for-5 shooting. A big part of his problem? Foul trouble. He played just 10 minutes in the first half due in large part to having three personal fouls.