Pierce bringing it with playoffs approaching

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Pierce bringing it with playoffs approaching

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The playoffs are going to be here before you know it.

No Boston Celtics player seems to understand this better than Paul Pierce, who delivered yet another big-game performance in leading the C's to a 102-95 win at Charlotte.

Pierce finished with a season-high 36 points in addition to grabbing 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double this season.

With the victory, the Celtics (27-22) move into a tie atop the Atlantic Division with Philadelphia which was idle on Monday.

'Idle' is certainly not a word anyone would use to describe Pierce's play in recent weeks.

While Pierce's attack-mode mentality was present from the opening tip-off on Monday against the Bob-kitties, uh, Bobcats, he has been approaching games with a go-for-the-jugular mindset for a while now. He's averaging 18.6 points per game this season, but has dropped more than 22 per game in the month of March. He has five games with 30 or more points scored, three of which have come in March.

"I been feeling that way for the last couple of weeks now," Pierce said. "It's that point of the year, we're 40, 50 games in so I think it's important that I start getting into a comfortable flow heading into the playoffs."

The most clear example of his aggressive, attacking nature on Monday was seen in him getting to the free throw line a season-high 18 times.

"From the beginning of the game he was in attack mode," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "That is why you have great players. One of them steps up and you can win a game."

Pierce indeed stepped up for the Celtics, and in the process, stomped out any hopes the Bobcats (7-40) had of rallying for a win.

Throughout the game, every mini-surge by Charlotte was countered with a big shot, or a big pass or a rebound, by Pierce.

"It makes it easier for everybody when he's attacking like that," Brandon Bass, told CSNNE.com.

Pierce's knack for getting to the line opened the free throw floodgates for his Celtics teammates, as Boston shot a season-high 45 free throws - that's 11 more than their previous high set against Oklahoma City on Feb. 22.

"I just wanted to take advantage of opportunities," Pierce said. "I saw lanes. I just tried to mix it up between driving, and taking the jump-shot."

And that kept the Bobcats defense off-balance all game, which in turn allowed Boston to pull away for a victory that now has them tied atop the Atlantic Division for the first time this season.

"It's good, but at the same time we haven't beat Philadelphia yet," Pierce said. "If it comes down to a tie record, they have the advantage on us. So it's good for now, but we still have a lot more ball to play."

Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox

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Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox

Andrelton Simmons drove in three runs, including a go-ahead two-run homer, Albert Pujols went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and the Los Angeles Angels rallied for a 7-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.

Simmons hit his 10th homer of the season to left and put the Angels ahead 4-3 in the third inning after falling behind early. Pujols doubled to score Yunel Escobar and Mike Trout to start the four-run outburst.

Pujols became the 26th player to score 1,700 runs when he touched home plate after Simmons went deep. Pujols joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez and Willie Mays in amassing at least 600 home runs and 1,700 runs.

JC Ramirez (9-8) recorded his second win at home in 11 starts, striking out six while allowing one earned run and five hits in six innings.

David Price (5-3) gave up five earned runs and seven hits in five innings, allowing more than three earned runs for only the second time this year.

The Red Sox got off to another fast start after scoring five runs in the first inning on Friday. Hanley Ramirez had an RBI single to start the game, and the Red Sox got two runs in the second after the Angels' franchise-record streak of 14 games without an error ended when Ramirez couldn't make the catch to complete a double play while covering first. Mookie Betts hit his 31st double to knock in a run and then was driven in by Andrew Benintendi for a 3-0 lead.

However, the Angels were able to respond after dropping the series opener. They added two runs in the fifth when Simmons singled, again bringing home Pujols, and he scored on a throwing error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Trout picked up an RBI in the sixth, giving him five in seven games this home stand.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Josh Rutledge (concussion) is likely to come off the disabled list on Monday. . Mitch Moreland was in the starting lineup at DH for the first time this season.

Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (strained oblique) pitched four innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake, giving up three earned runs and six hits.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-12, 4.60 ERA) has just one win in his last 10 starts, but it came against the Angels last month. Porcello has allowed two earned runs in 14 innings over his last two starts, striking out 13 without allowing a walk in that span, and still took the loss in both outings.

Angels: RHP Parker Bridwell (3-1, 3.18 ERA) went a career-high 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win against the Red Sox last month. Bridwell has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in five of his last six starts.

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More AP baseball:https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury help Revolution beat Galaxy 4-3

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Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury help Revolution beat Galaxy 4-3

Teal Bunbury scored twice, Diego Fagundez had three assists and the New England Revolution beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 4-3 on Saturday night to snap a four-game losing streak.

Bunbury gave New England (6-9-5) a 3-2 lead in the 70th. His pass down the right side led Kelyn Rowe, who played a perfect cross to a charging Bunbury for a header from the top of the 6-yard box.

Lee Nguyen opened the scoring for Revolution in the 16th, but Daniel Steres tied it in the 22nd. Kei Kamara put New England back on top going into halftime, and Steres made it 2-2 in the 53rd minute.

Bunbury's second goal put New England up 4-2 in the 73rd and Ariel Lassiter added a goal for the Galaxy in the 79th.

Los Angeles (6-10-4) has lost five in a row and has just one win in its last eight games.