Patriots

Bulls roar past Celtics, 89-80

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Bulls roar past Celtics, 89-80

CHICAGO Can't beat the woeful Detroit Pistons at home, but can beat the best team in the East (Chicago) in Boston, and then take them down to the wire less than a week later on their turf?

The Boston Celtics continue their consistently inconsistent ways with yet another good, but not good enough performance in losing 89-80 to the Bulls Thursday night.

For the Celtics (15-14), it's their fourth loss in the last five games which came on the heels of them winning 9 of the previous 10.

After falling behind by as many as 16 points on Thursday, the Celtics fought back and eventually took a brief lead in the fourth quarter.

However, after a Ray Allen jumper tied the game at 69-69, Chicago went on a 12-0 run that proved to be too much for the Celtics to overcome.

Kevin Garnett, who returned to the lineup after missing one game with a hip flexor injury, had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

And Allen, who has been in a shooting slump lately, had a strong second half against the Bulls and finished with 12 points.

As for the Bulls, who continue to play without reigning league MVP Derrick Rose (back), Carlos Boozer had 23 points and 15 rebounds while newly-named All-Star Luol Deng had 23 points and 10 assists for the Bulls who came into the game looking to avenge a 4-point loss to Boston earlier this week. The Bulls (25-7) also got huge production from Joakim Noah who had 15 points and 16 rebounds.

The loss continues the kind of trend -- a losing one -- that the C's want no part of.

Unfortunately for them, things won't get any easier anytime soon.

They play at Detroit on Sunday -- the same Pistons team that beat them by 10 points earlier this week -- followed by road games in Dallas and Oklahoma City.

HOT SHOT: Luol Deng was the best all-around player on the floor Thursday night. His 23 points were impressive. But he also tallied 10 assists for his second straight double-double, as he tries to fill the void left by point guard Derrick Rose still being out with a back injury.

"With Derrick out, the ball is in Luol's hands a little more," said Bulls coach and former Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau. "Luol is a much better pick-and-roll player than you realize. He has good size, he has vision and he can score on the drive. I like having the ball in his hands."

IN-N-OUT: Paul Pierce got off to a great start and . . . nothing. After making his first three shots, Pierce only made 3 of his next 13 attempts before finishing with 14 points. Pierce's fast start with little afterward, was indicative of the kind of game it was for the Celtics' entire team.

"I thought we got kind of stagnant at times (offensively)," Pierce said. "They made their adjustments."

SUPER SUB: Mike James continues to make the most of every shot he gets to play with the Bulls. Chicago's game-changing run in the second quarter did not begin until James stepped on the floor. He finished with eight points along with playing tough defense on Rajon Rondo.

"I was shocked when Thibodeau called my name," said James, who was recently signed by Chicago to a 10-day contract. "You have to take pride on defense. You have to take pride on being able to stop somebody when you are on the court, understanding that Rajon is a very good basketball player."

The former Celtic, who is 6-foot-2, was determined to not allow Rondo (who is 6-1) to post him up the way he did other Chicago guards.

"I'm not going to let no one smaller than me post up," James said. "I'm not the biggest guard but I have some size on me. Guards have never posted me up and that's not something new that I'm going to start allowing."

TURNING POINT: Leading 84-78 with little more than a minute to play, Luol Deng hit a 3-pointer -- his sixth of the night -- to put the Bulls ahead by nine with 47 seconds left.

BY THE NUMBERS: 52: That would be the number of rebounds Chicago had, compared to 37 for Boston.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They crushed us on the glass all game and that was the big difference."- Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

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Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.

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“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”

Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September. 

Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:

Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout." 

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

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HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press