Pierce one of just five Celtics named to 10 All-Star teams

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Pierce one of just five Celtics named to 10 All-Star teams

ORLANDO, Fla. The debate will go on for years as to where Paul Pierce stands in the pantheon of great Boston Celtic players.

While he's often compared to Celtics greats of the past, a more accurate measurement might be to compare him to his contemporaries of today.

But in doing so, it brings you back to what's clear.

Paul Pierce is without question, one of the greatest players to ever play for the C's.

And while the argument for him being near the top consists of a bevy of numbers, you can add one more number - 10 - to the list.

That would be the number of all-star appearances by the 34-year-old.

Only four other players in Celtics history have been to 10 or more all-star games.

Bob Cousy and John Havlicek were named 13 times each. Bill Russell was selected 12 times. And the man that Pierce recently passed for No. 2 on the franchise's all-time scorers list, Larry Bird, was a 10-time all-star as well.

Cousy. Havlicek. Russell. Bird.

Yes, when it comes to being an all-star, Pierce is indeed in pretty select company.

"It's a great honor," Pierce told Comcast SportsNet and CSNNE.com. "It's a tribute to the hard work that I put in over the years, and staying lucky to be injury-free. I'm very thankful, each and every time you get a chance to play in an all-star game, representing the Boston Celtics is a tremendous honor."

Making things even trickier this year was Pierce missing all of training camp except for one practice, and then having to sit out the first three games - all losses - because of a right heel injury.

Pierce did not look good during his first few games back, prompting some to wonder if it was him still recovering from the injury, or whether the Captain had lost a step or two.

Pierce soon put those doubts to rest with a blistering stretch of play that began with a 34-point, 10-assist, 8-rebound performance in a 100-94 win at Washington on Jan. 22.

Over the next 10 games, Pierce averaged 21 points, 7.1 assists and 6.7 rebounds while the C's went 8-2. In the mix of the that, Pierce was named Eastern Conference player of the week. For the season, Pierce is averaging a team-high 17.6 points to go with five rebounds and a career-high 5.3 assists.

While Pierce's play during that stretch certainly strengthened his all-star credentials, being part of All-Star weekend, he said, was never something he gave much thought.

"Coming into each and every season, it's not really a goal of mine to make the All-Star team," Pierce said. "I just go out there and do the best I can to help my team win. At this stage, in the last three or four years, I'm more about the team than individual things and trying to win a championship. Whatever comes out of that, comes. It just so happens that I made the all-star team on my individual performance. But without my teammates, without them, I wouldn't be here."

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

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Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals

QUOTES:

"We continually do a great job in creating opportunities and I'm confident that (the struggles with men in scoring position) will turn.'' - John Farrell

"When you start off with a five-run spot in the first, that's a tough deficit to overcome.'' - Steven Wright.

"That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes, we score when we're not expecting to and then when we need to score, sometimes it doesn't happen.'' - Mookie Betts on the team going 4-for-15 with RISP.

 

NOTES:

* The loss was just the third in the last 13 series openers for the Red Sox.

* The game marked the first time in 20 home games in which the Sox never led.

* Boston was 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

* The first four hitters in the order were 13-for-19 (.684). The fifth-through-nine hitters, however, were just 2-for-21 (.095).

* Mookie Betts (five hits) leads the majors with 55 multi-hit games.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in each of his last eight plate appearances.

* David Ortiz's double was the 625th of his career, passing Hank Aaron to move into 10 place in MLB history.

* Ortiz leads the A.L. in doubles (41) and extra-base hits (72).

 

STARS:

1) Eric Hosmer

Hosmer cranked a three-run homer into the Monster Seats four batters into the game, and the Royals were off and running with a five-run inning.

2) Ian Kennedy

The Royals starter wasn't dominant, allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he bailed himself out of a number of jams and limited the Sox to just two runs.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had his first career five-hit night and knocked in two of the three Red Sox runs, though he also got himself picked off first base.

 

Knighton on future after DNP vs. Panthers: 'If I'm here, I'm here...If I'm not, I'm not'

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Knighton on future after DNP vs. Panthers: 'If I'm here, I'm here...If I'm not, I'm not'

When Terrance Knighton was signed by the Patriots as a free agent this offseason, many assumed he would factor into the rotation that the Patriots would use on the interior of their defensive line in 2016. After not seeing a single snap against the Panthers on Friday night, it seems as though Knighton's roster spot in New England is no sure thing. 

"Everybody wants to play. I didn't get a chance to," Knighton said after the game. "That's the decision they made . . . I have faith in my ability. I have faith in, you know, the coaching staff's decisions -- whatever the decision was. I'm not looking for an explanation or anything. [I'll] show up to work tomorrow. I still got a lot of ball left in me so it is what it is."

The Patriots opted to go with rookie third-round pick Vincent Valentine as the defensive tackle starter next to Malcom Brown in Carolina. Even so, because Alan Branch -- who was re-instated from a week-long team suspension on Thursday -- was not in uniform it would have made sense for Knighton to see playing time. 

He admitted it was disappointing that he didn't. 

"It's disappointing just because I've played a lot of ball in this league," Knighton said. "I've seen a lot of things. I'm not gonna make too much of it. It is what it is. Whatever happens happens. If I'm here, I'm here. If I'm not, I'm not. I'm just taking it a day at a time."

Knighton is vying for a role alongside fellow defensive tackles Markus Kuhn, Joe Vellano, Anthony Johnson and Woodrow Hamilton -- all of whom saw some action in Carolina. The former Jaguars, Broncos and Redskins defensive tackle saw playing time against the Bears last week, but he was in the game late, and when he was on the field, he had difficulty holding his ground at times. 

After the Panthers game, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Knighton's lack of playing time, and he alluded to the fact that Knighton is still trying to pick up some of the techniques he's being taught in New England, where defensive tackles are expected to two-gap effectively. 

"Some new techniques, some new things...different things than what he's used to doing," Belichick said. "We played the younger guys tonight. We didn't get as much of a look at him as some other players. He played a little more last week. I think there's good competition at that position. We'll just have to see how it all plays out."

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.