Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sports Chowdah Update- Jersey Chore, Devils Fall Into 0-2 Stanley Cup Hole; Jays-ed & Confused, Toronto Touches Up Bard; Heat Wilt In the Garden

BOSTON CELTICS- After putting the Miami Heat in a big hole early in Game Four on Sunday night, the Celtics managed to squander an 18 point lead against the visiting Miami Heat in the 4th quarter at the Garden.

However, for all the talk of offensive prowess and superstars like LeBron James, the turning point in Sunday night's game [and possibly the series- NANESB!] came courtesey of somebody who had exactly zero points on the night. With the contest tied at 89-89 at the end of the 4th and heading to OT.

Although the Celtics managed to take a 1-point lead, but not before Paul Pierce had fouled out of the game less than a minute into OT. One of the biggest plays in OT for Boston came not from Rondo or Garnett, but Mickael Pietrus who had a grand total of zero points on Sunday night. With less than two minutes to go and the C's desperately clinging to a 92-91 lead, Pietrus came up with two huge offensive rebounds to keep the clock going and retain posession for the C's after two missed shots. Then, with Miami heading back up the court, Pietrus drew the sixth foul of the evening on LeBron James- the first time LeBron fouled out of a game as a member of the Miami Heat.

With less than 25 seconds to go in OT, the C's made it a two point game when Rajon Rondo went 1 for 2 from the free throw line to make it 93-91. On the Heat's next possession, Dwayne Wade let loose from outside the line with a shot that looked like it was going to make it and give Miami the lead as time expired, but it ultimately clanged off the rim.

The Celtics didn't win this one so much as survive it. Paul Pierce had 23 points on the night along with 6 rebounds before lgetting tossed out of the game in OT. Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 15 assists while Mickael Pietrus had the two pivotal offensive rebounds in OT.

The win is Boston's second in a row in the Eastern Conference Finals and sends the series back to South Beach knotted up at 2 games apiece. Although the Heat could do little to stop Rajon Rondo, who had an NBA playoff-best 44 points in Game 2, Miami was ultimately victorious in that contest. So far, each team is undefeated in their home arena in the Eastern Conference finals.

With the series knotted at 2 games each, this basically becomes a best-of-3 series. Game 5 will get underway from South Beach on Tuesday night with a tipoff time of 8:30 ET on ESPN.

The winner of the Miami-Boston series will take on the winner of the San Antonio-Oklahoma City series out west. Like the Eastern Conference, the Western Conference finals are also knotted up at 2-2.

STANLEY CUP FINALS- Two games at Newark's Prudential Center, two overtimes but despite the best efforts of New Jersey's veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur, the Los Angeles Kings are seperated from Lord Stanley's cup by all of two wins.

After an Anze Kopitar tally broke a 1-1 deadlock in OT of Game 1, the Devils found themselves trailing again for most of Game 2 on Saturday night after an unassisted Drew Doughty goal in the first before Ryan Carter knotted the contest up at 1-1 with a goal early in the 3rd. Nothing was resolved in the rest of regulation, so like the series opener Game 2 went to OT. Also like Game 1, the deadlock was broken by the Kings in overtime after Jeff Carter figured out how to get one by Brodeur with 6:18 remaining in OT.

With the Kings two wins away from clinching the Stanley Cup Champioship, the series heads out to the West Coast beginning Monday. The puck drops at 8:00 ET, 5:00 PT at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Network and the CBC.

BOSTON BRUINS- Goalie Tim Thomas announced that he plans on taking next season off. The late-blooming netminder said in a message on his facebook page "At the age of 38, I believe it is time to put my time and energies into those areas and relationships that I have neglected, That is why at this time I feel the most important thing I can do in my life is to reconnect with the three F's. Friends, Family, and Faith".

Thomas reportedly told Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli that he was considering taking a year off on Friday. However, Thomas left open the possibility of a return to the NHL and expressed an interest in trying out for the US Olympic team in the 2014 Winter games. Had Thomas simply announced that he was retiring, the Bruins would've been responsible for a $5 million annual cap hit. Instead, Thomas is due $3 million for the 2012-2013 season although he had waived his no-trade clause back in 2010.

Although Thomas' plans to miss the 2012-13 season to take a sabbatical come to a surprise as some, the Bruins would still be in pretty good shape as far as goaltending is concerned. The Bruins still have Tukka Rask [although he becomes a restricted free agent in July- NANESB!] as well as Anton Khudobin as their top two goalies.

MLB- For the first time in their 51 year history, the New York Mets have a no-hiter to their name. The Mets milestone was reached on Friday night when starter Johan Santana threw a complete game no hitter against the St Louis Cardinals in their 8-0 shutout of the defending World Series champions. Santana threw a career high 134 pitches in the franchise's first ever no-hitter. Former Met Carlos Beltran, appeared to break up the no-hit bid in the top of the 6th with a liner over 3rd base, but it was immediately ruled foul by the 3rd base umpire- despite the fact that it kicked up some chalk.

Left fielder Mike Baxter preserved Johan's no-no bid at great personal expense, crashing into a wall while successfully chasing down a Yadier Molina fly ball [As of Sunday, Baxter was on the 15 day DL with a displaced right collarbone- NANESB!]. Mets catcher Josh Thole caught a foul tip off the bat of 2011 World Series MVP David Freese on a 3-2 count to complete the game.

With the Mets no-hitter in the books, this leaves the San Diego Padres as the only MLB franchise that doesn't have a no-hitter to their name.

OTHER METS NEWS- Noted misogynist and HBO talk show host Bill Maher announced on Sunday that he recently became a minority shareholder of the team. After being sued by one of the trustees for victims of embezzler Bernie Madoff last year, the Mets ownership decided to raise funds by The Mets management selling an undiclosed number of limited partner shares for $20 million each. Although Maher declined to say how much he paid for his share if the Mets, but the sale reportedly took place around the same time as the limited partner shares were made available.

RED SOX- Although the weekend got off to a promising start for the Red Sox, Sunday ended with a fizzle for the Sox as Daniel Bard got touched up for five runs in 1⅓ innings, including a 3 run homer by Jose Bautista. Boston would go on to win by a final of 5-1, with Boston's only run coming in the top of the 5th thanks to a Kelly Shoppach solo homer. Boston won the first two games of the weekend series thanks to strong outings by Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront. However, Boston lost Subday afternoon's game by a 5-1 final.

The Sox return to Fenway on Tuesday to take on the Orioles, who were knocked out of first place by Tampa Bay over the weekend [after the weekend, Boston and Toronto are tied for last place in the AL East, although both teams are only 3 games out of 1st place- NANESB]. Jon Lester [3-4; 4.79 ERA] is scheduled to get the start against Baltimore's Jason Hammel [6-2; 3.06 ERA] on Tuesday night at 7:10 PM. The game will be televised on NESN.

OTHER BLUE JAYS NEWS- Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie left a food court at a popular Toronto mall seconds before a gunman opened fire on patrons, killing one and wounding several others.
Lawrie was one of the first to break the news on Twitter on Saturday evening. He had gone to the mall with a friend shortly after the Blue Jays lost to the Boston Red Sox in a Saturday afternoon game.

''Pretty sure someone just let off a round bullets in eaton center mall ... Wow just sprinted out of the mall ... through traffic,'' Lawrie tweeted. ''People sprinting up the stairs right from where we just were ... Wow wow wow.''

He later tweeted that he was ''Rattled right now.''

On Sunday, Lawrie said he felt lucky because he left the food court 10 seconds before the shooting.

''It was instant panic,'' Lawrie said before Sunday's game against the Red Sox. ''It was as if you stepped on an ant hill and then everyone just flooded out of the place. ... I just got out of there as fast as possible. I was the first person out of there.''

Lawrie said he wanted to get the news out fast.

''I just thought I'd give it out there just to anybody that could have been in the mall or anybody that needed to get there ASAP, I thought I could give them a good piece of information,'' he said.

Lawrie, a Canadian, said he never thought something like that could happen at the Eaton Centre, a Toronto landmark that is popular with tourists.
Toronto police identified the slain man as Ahmed Hassan and believe the shooting is gang-related. Although shootings have been on the rise in recent years north of the border, they are still relatively rare in Canada and Toronto prides itself on being one of the safest metropolitan areas in North America. Although the gunman wasn't publicly identified, a Toronto police spokesman said that between video survaillence footage, eyewitness accounts and the deceased's gang affiliation, they know the identity of the shooter.

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