Spurs continue streak, best Celtics, 87-86

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Spurs continue streak, best Celtics, 87-86

BOSTON The Boston Celtics had their chances. But in the end -- literally -- it just wasn't meant to be, as Paul Pierce's last-second jumper hit the back of the rim and rolled out, which secured San Antonio's 87-86 win.

With the loss, Boston's five-game winning streak was snapped while the Spurs continue to roll along, now having won a season-best nine in a row.

Fortunately for the Celtics (30-23), the loss won't have an impact on their quest to win the Atlantic Division with the Sixers getting thumped by 21 points at home by Toronto.

After spending most of the game trailing, Boston finally broke through in the fourth when Pierce connected with Avery Bradley doing what he does best -- cutting to the basket.

The end result was a lay-up that put the Celtics ahead 81-79, their first lead since about midway through the first quarter.

But the Spurs responded with an 8-0 run, capped off by a buzzer-beating jumper from Matt Bonner to give San Antonio an 87-83 lead with 46.5 seconds to play.

But Ray Allen, returning to the starting lineup after missing the previous six games with a right ankle injury, drained a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game.

After getting a defensive stop, the Celtics' Rajon Rondo got the ball past halfcourt, seemingly in attack mode.

He didn't see anything initially, so the C's called a time-out with 7.9 seconds to play.

After San Antonio's defense prevented them from in-bounding the ball when they wanted to, Rondo called a second time-out, which set up Pierce's last-second shot that hit the back of the rim before rolling out.

Boston seemed on the verge of getting blown out behind a strong second quarter by the Spurs bench which pushed their lead to as many as 17 points. But the C's began to make it a game in the third quarter, limiting the high scoring Spurs to just nine points.

However, the Celtics weren't that much better at scoring the ball in the third, which was why they went into the fourth trailing 68-64.

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?