Pierce out for Celtics opener

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Pierce out for Celtics opener

NEW YORK Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce arrived a few minutes ago, donning a blue suit with a red tie.

It's a look that unfortunately for the C's, he'll still have when the season tips off today against the New York Knicks.

The sore right heel injury that has kept him sidelined for most of training camp will keep him out for today's game as well.

"If there was a slight chance I could play, I'd definitely be out there," said Pierce, who added that an MRI recently revealed he has a bone bruise and remains questionable for Tuesday's game at Miami.

Not having their best scorer is certainly a blow; even more so when you consider what he has done on Christmas Day games.

Pierce has averaged 21.7 points in his three Christmas Day games, more than any player in franchise history. Trailing him are former Celtics legends Bill Sharman (20.8 points in 9 games); John Havlicek (20.67 games); Bob Cousy (20.311 games) and Jo Jo White (20.34 games).

If Pierce is unable to play, the C's are likely to go with Sasha Pavlovic or Marquis Daniels. Rivers is inclined to go with Pavlovic primarily because he likes the look of the second unit when it includes Daniels.

Newly acquired Mickael Pietrus will not be with the team for today's game. He told NBA.com that he hoped to join the C's in Miami for Tuesday's matchup with the Heat, but it's more likely that his first action with the Celtics won't come until the home opener Dec. 30 against Detroit.

Other Celtics-related notes:

Pierce isn't the only record-setting Celtic on this current team. Point guard Rajon Rondo holds the team record for assists in a Christmas Day game, tallying 12 against the Lakers in 2008.

That performance broke a franchise record that had stood for 41 years. The previous record holder was Havlicek who racked up 10 assists in the 1967 at the old Madison Square Garden.

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers had one of his best Christmas Day performances in 1987 with the Atlanta Hawks.

But that game, like many with Atlanta, was one in which one of his teammates -- Dominique Wilkins -- was even more impressive.

In Atlanta's 106-100 win over Philadelphia at the Spectrum, Rivers had 19 points and 11 assists.

But the star that night was Wilkins, who scored 45 points in 41 minutes of work.

Jermaine O'Neal will start at center, and the C's will look to him offensively more than they did last season. If that's the case, O'Neal may have a shot to do something a Boston center hasn't done in a while on opening night -- score in double figures.

Not since Mark Blount scored 19 points in 2005 did a C's starting center reach double digit points on opening night. The last time a Celtics starting center scored 20 points was Robert Parish in 1993 against today's opponent, the New York Knicks.

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

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Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?