Celtics rout Magic, 87-56, thanks to stingy defense

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Celtics rout Magic, 87-56, thanks to stingy defense

BOSTON It doesn't make any sense.

No starting backcourt. Down three of your top reserves.

Facing an Orlando Magic team that's among the top teams in the NBA this season, and is led by the most dominant inside force in the game, Dwight Howard.

So what do the Celtics do?

Blow them out, of course.

In what may be one of the NBA's biggest upsets of the season - not only because of the outcome, but the lopsided nature it came about - the Celtics had a shockingly easy go of things in beating the Magic, 87-56.

For Boston (7-9), it was their second straight win, and third in their last four games. More important, it was the Celtics' first win over a team with a winning record.

Setting the tone on Monday, just like he did in Sunday's win at Washington, was Paul Pierce.

His ability to score while creating scoring opportunities for his teammates, gave the Magic problems all game.

Pierce finished with 19 points, sharing game-high scoring honors with Brandon Bass.

Defensively, Boston had statistically maybe their greatest game in franchise history, holding the Magic to just 24.6-percent from the field -- the second-lowest opponent field goal percentage allowed ever by the C's. Not coincidentally, the Magic's 56 points was a franchise worst (previously 57), and tied a Celtics franchise-best for points allowed in the shot clock era. Magic Superstar Dwight Howard had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Magic (11-5), but on 4-15 shooting.

In addition to Pierce, it was clear from the outset that the C's were the aggressor, the team that was on the attack.

Avery Bradley, making his third straight start for Rajon Rondo at the point, went into Honey Badger mode defensively in locking down Jameer Nelson which included stripping him, forcing a backcourt violation and blocking one of his shots.

Former Celtic Glen Davis made his first appearance at the TD Garden since the sign-and-trade that sent him (and Von Wafer) to Orlando, for Bass.

Davis had a Davis-like game, finishing with six points and nine rebounds. Bass had an even better game for the Celtics, scoring 19 off the bench to go with eight rebounds.

Figuring out the key to Boston's success was clear: it was their defense. Orlando, which came into the game as the 11th-best shooting team from the field this season, was off - way off - all night.

At the half, Orlando was shooting a frigid 28.9 percent from the field and the second half was just as bad.

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

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Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, lefthanded hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike 3 — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.

Red Sox win 4th straight behind stellar outing from Pomeranz, 6-2

Red Sox win 4th straight behind stellar outing from Pomeranz, 6-2

BOSTON - Drew Pomeranz pitched six strong innings and tied his career high with 11 strikeouts to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday night.

Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero hit their first home runs of the season helping Boston to their fourth straight win.

Pomeranz (4-3) made it as far as six innings for the third time this season and beat Texas for the first time in nine career outings.

Elvis Andrus homered and Nomar Mazara had two hits and an RBI for Texas, which has lost four of five overall and has lost 15 of 21 on the road.

Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland had RBI singles in the first inning as Boston got to Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez (1-3) early.