Celtics grab a win, dodge a bullet

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Celtics grab a win, dodge a bullet

The Garden will be rocking when the Bruins take the ice tonight, and I'll have something on the B's a little later this afternoon. But first, I want to quickly touch on Wednesday night's Garden fiesta.

First of all, the Celtics are on another planet.

Last night, they were up against a young, athletic, well-rested and massively-motivated Hawks team, whose star, Josh Smith, was hotter than Minka Kelly. On top of that, the C's were less than 24 hours removed from their biggest regular season win in years, had traveled through the night and didn't make it back to Boston until 3 a.m. To make matters worse, they were forced to play without their new sixth man and still-crunch time shooting guard Ray Allen. And it didn't help that all three refs had money on the Hawks.

Still, through it all, the Celtics came out on top. They've now won four straight, eight of their last 10, and 11 of their last 14 games. For the first time all season, they now own home court advantage in the playoffs and are only two games behind the Pacers for the third seed in the East. As a result, the vibe around this team is better than it's been at any point since the Kendrick Perkins trade. Whether or not anyone really believes the C's have what it takes to win four four-game series and hoist another trophy, I'm not sure. But everyone's having fun. And after all this team has been through since that aforementioned trade, peace and happiness alone almost feels like a victory.

But for all the goodness that came out of last night's win, the memory that will stick with me most is much more somber. A reminder that even though the C's are currently on another planet, they're at the same time so perpetually close to plummeting back to Earth.

"Noooo!"

"It's like we've just been waiting for that."

"Bass = done"

Those were three texts that simultaneously popped up on my phone during last night's overtime, in the seconds after Brandon Bass collapsed to the parquet, clutching his knee, after suffering an injury that looked like every ACL tear that we've ever seen.

In that moment, the Celtics were done. All they'd achieved, all the strides they'd made since the All-Star Break, since the trade deadline, since they embarked on this ridiculous April schedule, were crumpled up in a ball and shoved down our throats. And it hurt.

Of course, Bass got up. Somehow, by some ridiculous stroke of luck, not only was his season saved, but he was able to finish the game. He helped carry the Celtics to victory. But in that brief moment, we were all reminded of just how fine a line the C's are walking on this unbelievable, inexplicable run back to the top of the Eastern Conference.

On that note, I'd just like to give a quick shut out to the Basketball Gods:

"Guys, we get it! No need for anymore reminders!"

Next up for the Celtics, three road games in three days.

Next up for Boston, the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

I'll have more on that coming up next.

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

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz the oldest to hit 30 home runs in a season

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz the oldest to hit 30 home runs in a season

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays:

QUOTES:

"It's one of those freak things. You don't plan on it happening, but it's one of those things. So we'll just see what the results say and move on from there.'' - Andrew Benintendi on his knee injury.

"That's kind of a routine 3-1 play. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when you've got two outs and a guy on the move. But that's a routine play.'' - John Farrell on the deciding play in which Heath Hembree couldn't hold onto the ball at first.

"I felt good. I felt strong.I felt good out there the whole game.'' - Rick Porcello, asked how he felt going back out for the eighth inning.

"I think everybody in the ballpark knew that that ball was leaving.'' - Porcello, on the hanging curveball to Evan Longoria.

 

NOTES:

* The loss snapped a five-game winning streak against the Rays for the Red Sox.

* Three of the four Red Sox walk-off losses this season have occurred because of errors.

* The homer by Evan Longoria was his first off Rick Porcello in 40 career at-bats.

* Rick Porcello has now pitched seven innings or more in six straight starts, the longest run for a Red Sox starter since John Lackey did it in 2013.

* David Ortiz is now the oldest player to ever hit 30 homers in a season

* Ortiz has now reached the 30-homer, 100-RBI level 10 times with the Red Sox, including the last four years in a row.

* The loss was the first of Heath Hembree's career, in his 67th major league appearance.

* Dustin Pedroia tied a career high with two stolen bases, the 12th time he's swiped two bases in the same game.

 

STARS:

1) Evan Longoria

The Rays were down to their final five outs when Longoria struck, hitting a game-tying homer off Rick Porcello.

2) Brad Miller

Miller's two-run double in the third enabled the Rays to stay close until Longoria's homer tied things up five innings later.

3) Rick Porcello

Porcello gave the Sox length and was brilliant in getting out of some early jams before settling in through the middle innings.

 

Shaughnessy: Everything Farrell does blows up in his face, particularly in 8th inning

Shaughnessy: Everything Farrell does blows up in his face, particularly in 8th inning

Dan Shaughnessy joins Sports Tonight to discuss Rick Porcello giving up a game-tying homerun in the 8th, and explains why John Farrell has been very unlucky with any decision he makes.