From Comcast SportsNetPRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- In a courtroom, not an Olympic stadium, there was no click-click-click of Oscar Pistorius' prosthetic limbs. His only sound Friday was loud, uncontrollable sobs as prosecutors charged him with premeditated murder in the shooting death of his model girlfriend."Take it easy," Chief Magistrate Desmond Nasir told the Olympic star-turned-murder-defendant as his father, Henke, and his brother, Carl, reached out to touch his shoulder to comfort him.The 26-year-old Pistorius, the double-amputee sprinter who won world acclaim by competing in last summer's London Olympics, did not speak or enter a plea. He held his head and wept as he heard the charge, which carries a life sentence.A statement released later by his family and agent said Pistorius disputed the murder charge "in the strongest terms."The track star's arrest in the Valentine's Day killing of 29-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp shocked South Africa, where Pistorius was a national hero dubbed the Blade Runner for his high-tech prosthetics and revered for overcoming his disability to compete in the London Games.Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said he would pursue a charge of premeditated murder against Pistorius in the slaying of Steenkamp, a leggy blonde model with a law degree who had spoken out on Twitter against rape and abuse of women.She was discovered in a pool of blood before dawn Thursday by police called to Pistorius' upscale home in a gated community in the South African capital of Pretoria. Authorities said she had been shot four times, and a 9 mm pistol was recovered at the home.Throngs of reporters, photographers and videographers filled the brick-walled Courtroom C in Pretoria Magistrate's Court, where Pistorius appeared. Nasir's first ruling focused on the press as he dismissed requests from the state broadcaster and a private television station to air the hearing live.Nasir also ordered that no photographs be taken while court was in session. That left dozens of photographers kneeling less than a yard from the sobbing Pistorius to simply stare at a man many had photographed previously sprinting on his famous carbon-fiber blades.Police said investigators had conducted an autopsy on Steenkamp's body but the results would not be released.Pistorius' family left quickly after the hearing, without speaking to journalists. In a statement later Friday, the family and his London-based management agency questioned the criminal charge the athlete faces."The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms," the statement said, without elaborating. It added that Pistorius wanted to "send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva.""He would also like to express his thanks through us today for all the messages of support he has received -- but as stated our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family -- regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy," the statement read.Since news of the slaying, shock waves have rippled across South Africa, a nation of 50 million where nearly 50 people are killed each day, one of the world's highest murder rates. U.N. statistics say the nation has the second highest rate of shooting deaths in the world, behind only Colombia.Many wore black Friday to demonstrate against the high levels of violence against women in the country.Others focused their attention on Pistorius and his fascination with fast cars, cage fighting and firearms.Those who knew Pistorius, including a former girlfriend, weighed in on social media.Trish Taylor, mother of Pistorius' ex-girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, wrote on Facebook: "I'm so glad Sammy is safe and out of the clutches of that man."But another ex-girlfriend, Jenna Edkins, took to Twitter to defend him."All I am saying is let him speak, let his side be heard without jumping to conclusions," she tweeted, offering "love and support" to the Pistorius family."I have dated Oscar on and off for 5 YEARS, NOT ONCE has he EVER lifted a finger to me or made me fear for my life."At the defense request, the chief magistrate delayed a bail hearing until Tuesday for Pistorius, who was ordered held in a police holding cell, rather than transferred to a prison.In seeking a premeditated murder charge against Pistorius, prosecutors appear to be claiming they have evidence the athlete planned the killing ahead of time, said William Booth, a prominent Cape Town defense lawyer.Such a serious charge makes it more difficult for Pistorius to successfully apply for bail, Booth said, though it could also be a challenge to get a conviction."It's quite difficult to prove that in a situation where there isn't a witness," the defense lawyer said. "If I just plan it in my mind and I arrive at somebody's house and there's no witnesses and I shoot the person, it's really tough for the prosecution to show that planning."Pistorius made history at the London Olympics last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete at any games. He didn't win a medal but did make the semifinals of the 400 meters and the final of the 4X400 relay, propelling the world's best-known Paralympian to the level of an international track star and one of the world's best-known sportsmen.
MONTREAL – The Boston Bruins weren’t about to dance on any Montreal Canadiens’ graves after it was over and done with, but they effectively closed the door on any flickering playoff hopes for the Habs this week. It all ended with Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre that finished off the sweep of all three meetings between the two arch-rivals over an eight day span, and with the reeling Montreal a stunning 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
It was a close game nearly all the way through in Montreal until David Pastrnak and Riley Nash scored in the final few minutes of the third period, but the Bruins outscored the Habs by an 11-5 margin while clearly establishing they were the better team in all three contests. It all makes sense given the opposite directions that the two hockey clubs are headed at this point in the season, and because of that the Bruins were playing it pretty cool after burying the Habs.
“It was kind of a crazy week because we were playing them three times, so we obviously wanted to play good hockey,” said Tuukka Rask, who won all three games vs. the Habs while improving his lifetime record vs. the Habs to 10-15-3 in the process. “[We wanted to] get as many points as possible, and won all of those games along with the one on Long Island. So it was a great week for us.”
Certainly it seemed like there was more genuine emotion from the Bruins in Claude Julien’s return to Boston midweek, and perhaps a little more adrenaline in last weekend’s first game at the Bell Centre where rookies like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and Danton Heinen were dipping their toes into the storied rivalry for the first time.
But on this Saturday night it was more about a complete dismantling of the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge even as the Bruins initially fell down by a goal after a bad McAvoy turnover. Instead it was Boston’s Perfection Line that went to work with an efficient, dominant performance as David Pastrnak scored the game’s first goal and insurance third goal in the third period. They also accounted for the game-winner when Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak hemmed Montreal’s fourth line in the defensive zone, and Torey Krug eventually stepped up and rifled one short side on Carey Price.
Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak combined for two goals, six assists and a plus-8 in the resounding victory over the Habs, and had a dominant 12 of Boston’s 31 shots on net when the final horn had sounded. They simply overwhelmed Montreal with their depth, the high end quality of their lineup and the fact that Boston was rested while the Habs had to play in Washington DC on Friday night in a three games in four days stretch.
All of that allowed the Bruins to drive the final nail into Montreal’s coffin when the game was over, and it furthermore allowed Boston to keep worrying about the teams they’re trying to catch (ahem…Tampa Bay Lightning) rather than Eastern Conference bottom-feeders like the Canadiens.
“We talked about doing the job against them and finding a ways to push teams down while gaining ground on the teams above us,” said Patrice Bergeron. “I thought it was a great effort again. We knew that they would be ready for us, but we also knew that they had played last night. So maybe if we had a good start we could jump on them. I thought we had a good game.”
Clearly there have been ebbs and flows to the Bruins/Habs rivalry over their long history together, and both Boston and Montreal have been in the catbird at different times even in the recent editions of their history. But right now Boston is beating the Canadiens badly at their own skill and speed game and dominating thing with pure hockey rather than bullying, and that’s got to sting for a Habs group that simply couldn’t compete with the Bruins in three different chances to do so this week.
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BOSTON – When Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens was asked about what he saw in the team’s newest (10-day) addition Jarell Eddie, his response was, “shooting … shooting.”
Indeed, shot-making has been the one area of play that has been problematic for the Celtics most of this season.
Boston comes into today’s game against Orlando (13-32) shooting just 44.8 percent from the field which ranks 25th in the NBA.
In the month of January, Boston has been even worse, connecting on just 41.8 percent of their shots which ranks 29th in the league this month.
While the addition of Eddie had more to do with the recent flu bug that has made the rounds throughout the Celtics lineup and the uncertainty a couple days ago surrounding Kyrie Irving’s sore left shoulder (it has improved and he’s expected to play today), adding Eddie speaks to a greater problem – guys making shots – that has to be addressed in some capacity sooner or later.
Boston always has the option to pursue a trade. They also have an $8.4 million disabled player exception they can use on free agent players, with the most likely pool of talent that they will choose from consisting of players who would have been bought out by their current teams.
Or there’s raiding the G-League for talent, which is what they did in signing Eddie to a 10-day contract.
Regardless, there’s a growing sense that this team has to add more scoring punch to the mix or at a minimum, improve the overall offensive execution of the roster as it stands now.
“We have to do our stuff better,” Stevens said. “The start of the season it was predictable, losing Gordon (Hayward who suffered a dislocated left ankle injury in the season-opener) and having to adjust. The middle portion of games we were pretty darn good. And then I thought we were reasonable in London, reasonable against New Orleans. But the other three of the last five games, we weren’t very good.”
Boston’s offense should get a boost from Irving’s return to the lineup after missing Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia with a sore left shoulder.
And while it was just one game, Irving understands the challenge that lies ahead in getting Boston’s offense to play better and more consistently.
“We have very unique talents on this team,” Irving said. “When you’re trying to put that together and guys are coming back into the lineup and getting their rhythm still and guys are in and out sometimes … big picture, down the stretch, we’re going to need everyone to be on the same page.”
Marcus Morris has been one of the players who has been in and out of the Celtics lineup because of a sore left knee.
However, the schedule has eased up to where he’ll be able to play more games, for longer stretches.
He comes into today’s game having scored in double figures each of the last three games.
“I’m just trying to get healthy. I know what I can do,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “My confidence is always going to stay high, no matter if I miss or make shots.”
In the last three games, he has averaged 15.0 points while shooting 45.7 percent from the field.
While Morris’ play of late is promising, it doesn’t diminish the concern Boston should have for an offense that for the most part, has been sputtering this season.