Pierce passes Bird for second on C's all-time scoring list

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Pierce passes Bird for second on C's all-time scoring list

BOSTON A big shot-maker.

A lottery pick.

A father.

A stabbing victim.

An NBA champion.

Paul Pierce is known for many things during his time with the Boston Celtics.

Here's one more - one of the franchise's all-time greats.

Pierce's 14-year NBA career has been one filled with various milestones surpassed, but few compare to what he did on Tuesday.

At the 10:23 mark of the third quarter, Pierce scored career point 21,792 and with it, he became the No. 2 all-time scorer for the most storied franchise in the NBA. He surpassed Larry Bird's 21,791 career points scored mark, and now only trails John Havlicek who racked up a franchise-record 26,395 points while playing for the Celtics.

Following the 3-point shot which was part of a 94-84 win over Charlotte, a loud, boisterous eruption of jubilation engulfed the TD Garden. Pierce, soaking it all in, raised both hands in appreciation of the crowd in attendance, uttering the words, "Thank You!" to them all.

Kevin Garnett gave him a hug, followed by a tap on the backside from Charlotte's Kemba Walker who starred at nearby UConn and led the Huskies to a national championship last season.

To see the crowd respond the way it did, speaks to more than just their appreciation for what Pierce had accomplished.

It was also an acknowledgment of how far the 34-year-old had come.

"They've seen it all from my younger days, from my trials and tribulations, to this point today and it's just a great honor to just for them, to be able to stand up and give me that type of ovation," said Pierce, who had 15 points and has now scored 21,797 for his career. "Being a Celtic for all these years and understanding what it means to be a Celtic and the ups and downs you go through, and just to come to this point in your career it really means so much, just the support that they have given me over the years."

Few would have envisioned the kid who grew up in Engelwood, Calif., a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan, would eventually become one of the greatest Celtics players ever.

And the idea that his name is mentioned in the same breath as Larry Bird - and deservedly so - is mind-blowing to Pierce.

"I'm not gonna sit here and say that I'm anywhere near his accomplishments," Pierce said. "But just to be mentioned with him, with this organization is a great honor."

And while Pierce did a good job of not getting too emotional about the moment, the Celtics' in-arena folks didn't make things easier with a moving, video montage of Pierce that played on the Jumbotron during a time-out at the 5:14 mark of the third quarter.

"I actually saw glimpses of it," Pierce said. "I'll probably soak it in a little bit more once I go home and sit down and realize what's really going on. Right now it's just, it's so fresh in my head right now that the game is over."

Yes, the C's actually played a game before and after Pierce's record-climbing moment.

And while the Celtics were in control most of the game, knowing he was so close to surpassing Bird had an impact on all the C's who seemed determined to get him the record as early as possible.

He came into the game needing just 10 points, which isn't that big a stretch when you consider he came into the game as the team's leading scorer at 18.6 points per game.

"Whenever you pass anybody in Boston, that means you're old," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "That's the only way you can get there. You will have had to play a long time. The history of this franchise, and the numbers that have been amassed, it's just amazing that his longevity he's been able to play relatively injury-free. He's been so consistent throughout his career.

Rivers added, "passing Larry Bird in anything is pretty impressive."

And Bird, currently the president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers, recognizes Pierce as one of the league's premier scorers.

"Paul is one of the best offensive players in the NBA and what makes him effective is he has done it a variety of ways, whether it's hitting the big shot, getting to the free throw line, whatever," Bird said. "He can hit the 3 and he's deceptive in his ability to to getting to the basket."

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES:

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one had a chance to be ended right there.'' - John Farrell on David Ortiz's at-bat with no out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

"I feel like I can locate it better - outside, inside corner -- so it's given me more confidence.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on the improvement with his slider.

"I always look forward to something (good) happening; it just doesn't work out all the time.'' - David Ortiz on his ninth-inning at-bat.

NOTES:

* The Red Sox saw a seven-game winning streak at Fenway -- their longest of the season -- snapped.

* Boston has homered in 13 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox bullpen has posted a 1.17 ERA since July 6.

* Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox hitter to hit 20 homers in a season before he turns 24 since Nomar Garciaparra.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 30 straight games.

* The eight strikeouts posted by Eduardo Rodriguez were a season high and one shy of his career high.

* The loss was only the 15th this season in games in which the Red Sox score first.

* Rodriguez has not allowed an opposing baserunner to steal a base since July 5, 2015.

STARS:

1) Kyle Gibson

Don't let the 5.12 ERA he had coming in fool you. Gibson worked out a little jam in the first, then completely shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and one walk after the first.

2) Brian Dozier

Dozier homered in the second to tie the game, singled in the fourth, walked in the sixth and singled again in the eighth -- reaching base in all four plate appearances.

3) Miguel Sano

Sano invited trouble when he dropped a routine pop-up to allow the Red Sox to put the potential tying run on base in the eighth. But he had three base hits on the night, including a run-scoring double that put the Twins ahead to stay in the sixth.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam