Valentine likes what he sees from Sox pitchers

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Valentine likes what he sees from Sox pitchers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Bobby Valentine got his first look at Red Sox pitchers throwing batting practice Thursday and came away impressed with what he saw.

"BP to hitters is always fun,'' said Valentine. "You know there's a little extra adrenaline for all the guys who get up on the bump. You get to see pitchers outside of a bullpen and that's a step in the right direction.''

Valentine offered his thoughts on the following pitchers:

Jon Lester - "I thought that Lester had really nice downward plane. I thought he was keeping the ball down well. He had pretty good control of his throwing-side of the plate.''

Daniel Bard - "Daniel Bard showed that changeup a few times, showed the breaking ball a few times. He had his two-seamer going well. He looked very healthy, throwing the ball nicely.''

Alfredo Aceves - "Aceves was in complete control of most of his pitches, I was enjoying his stuff as he went out.''

Andrew Bailey - "Seeing Andrew Bailey, first time in the middle of the diamond in a Red Sox uniform was great to see. I thought his curveball and his cutter were just where he wants to be this time of the spring.''

Additionally, Valentine watched as Daisuke Matsuzaka, recovering from Tommy John surgery and not yet ready to throw BP, had a bullpen session.

"That's the best bullpen session he's had,'' said Valentine. "He and pitching instructor Randy Niemann have done video work, they've done a little talking. Dice is trying to be himself.

"He had good finish to his pitches and his delivery. It was pretty good, actually, for a guy who's supposedly as far behind from returning as he is, he had a pretty good pen. I'd say I was surprised at his velocity.''

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

BOSTON – This continues to be a historic season for Isaiah Thomas as more records fell in Wednesday’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee, and the company he’s keeping becomes even more exclusive. 

Thomas had a game-high 32 points on Wednesday which included five made 3’s on nine attempts. That gave him 223 for the season which is a new franchise single-season record for made 3-pointers. The previous record was 222 set by Antoine Walker during the 2001-2002 season.

And his 32 points scored gives him 2,012 this season. 

Only six players in franchise history (Paul Pierce was the last to do it during the 2005-2006 season) have scored 2,000 or more points in a single season. 

Oh, there’s more. 

With Wednesday being the 66th time this season he has had 20 or more points, Thomas has now tied Pierce (2005-2006) and Larry Bird (1985-1986; 1987-1988) for sixth on the Celtics’ single-season franchise list. 

“I didn’t even know that,” a visibly disappointed Thomas said following Wednesday’s loss. “It doesn’t feel that good right now. But when I look back on it, probably in the offseason, I’ll appreciate it a little more. But I’m just staying in the moment and try and play as best I can to lead this team to as many wins as possible.”

Other season milestones Thomas is in the mix for include the following:

  • The 5-foot-9 guard is one of three players this season to have 50 or more games of 25-plus points, joined by Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (57) and Houston’s James Harden (54).
  • Thomas has made at least one 3-pointer in a franchise-record 50 straight games (Dec. 3 – March 29). That’s also the longest current streak in the NBA. 
  • With 66 games of 20 or more points this season, Thomas is second in the NBA to Westbrook (67).

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

BOSTON – One of the more bizarre plays in Boston’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee came in the second quarter, requiring some explanation from the officials afterwards. 

With 3:55 to play in the second quarter, the officials had originally called a foul on Marcus Smart which he verbally protested that eventually led to him being whistled for a technical foul. 

After the officials reviewed the play, they changed the call to a personal foul against Khris Middleton but no change to the called technical foul against Smart who objected to a call that, upon review, they agreed was the wrong call to make. 

Official Sean Corbin, through pool reporter Ken Powtak of the Associated Press, acknowledged that the original call was a loose ball foul against Smart. 

“The (officiating) crew got together, we met prior to video and we decided that we needed to look at video because both players were on the floor bleeding so we went to the video for a hostile act,” Corbin told Powtak. “In the review we noticed that Khris Middleton initially made contact to Marcus Smart’s face. That’s how the original contact to the play occurred.”

Fortunately for the Celtics, Middleton missed his technical free throw while Smart split a pair of free throws which cut Milwaukee’s lead to 49-40.

Still, that’s no consolation for Smart who was whistled for a technical foul on a play that the official acknowledged was the wrong call to make. 

In the fourth quarter, Smart was at the center of yet another controversial call that was also reviewed by the officials. The verdict wasn't nearly as good for Smart who was whistled for a flagrant foul after getting his feet tangled up with Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo who was called for a non-shooting foul in the play with 4:46 to play. 

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws and on the Bucks' ensuing possession, he was called for traveling.

Smart was unavailable to talk after the game in part because the aforementioned incident left an abrasion to his mouth and, because of the technical foul, a little lighter in the wallet as well.