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Bench Lifts Celtics to Tie Series

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 1 Comments

Bench Lifts Celtics to Tie Series

BOSTON – The fashionable "Beat L.A." chants had all but faded from TD Garden, the oxygen bled from the building by Ray Allen´s misfires, Kobe Bryant´s impossible jumpers and Derek Fisher´s intensity. An anxious air hung over the Boston Celtics on Thursday as they teetered on the edge of a heavy series deficit.

Then Glen Davis rumbled and shimmied, Nate Robinson bounced and bellowed and belief was restored. The crowd thundered anew – "Beat L.A.!" – and the Celtics bullied their way to a 96-89 victory over the Lakers, tying the N.B.A. finals at 2-2.

It was an unusual victory, built on the backs of the Celtics reserves, most prominently Davis, the hefty center, and Robinson, the diminutive guard. They suffocated the Lakers with boundless energy, combining for 15 points in the fourth quarter and propelling the Celtics to a permanent lead.

"I do not think that what we did today was really in the scouting report," Davis said. "A lot of things that we did was just will and determination and seizing the moment."

And a lot of things were just plain unusual, such as Davis doing a little shimmy after a big free throw, or celebrating a play so enthusiastically that drool spilled from his mouth. The image was captured by the network cameras, to the great amusement of his teammates.

"When you´re in the moment, you´re in the moment," the playful Davis said. "If I slobber, snot, spit, please excuse me. Kids, don´t do that. Have manners and things like that. Sorry about that. Did I catch you with some?"

Davis was free to roam the paint in part because Andrew Bynum, the Lakers´ long-limbed center, was forced out by a nagging knee injury. He played just 12 minutes, raising doubts about his availability.

Bynum´s absence "bothered us in the second half," Coach Phil Jackson said, but the Lakers are hopeful that he can return on Sunday for Game 5, after a two-day break. The series will return to Los Angeles for Game 6 and a possible Game 7.

The Celtics´ Rasheed Wallace left the game late in the fourth quarter after aggravating a back injury. He also picked up his sixth technical foul of the postseason, one shy of the limit. Another technical foul would trigger an automatic suspension. The Celtics´ Kendrick Perkins is in the same predicament.

On a difficult night for the Celtics´ starters, Coach Doc Rivers turned to Davis, Robinson, Wallace and Tony Allen, who joined Ray Allen to open the fourth quarter. They promptly turned a 2-point deficit into a 9-point lead.

Paul Pierce, who had been quiet for much of the night, secured the victory with 7 points in the final 2 minutes 17 seconds and finished with 19.

The Lakers, looking exhausted and frazzled, could not keep pace. Bryant, finding scant help, kept launching difficult jumpers, going 10 for 22 from the field, finishing with 33 points. He had to do most of his work on the perimeter, going 6 for 11 from the 3-point arc. He also had 7 turnovers.

"He was tired," Jackson said. "Physically, I thought he had to work too hard in the course of the game, and he couldn´t finish it out the way he wanted to finish it out."

The Lakers pulled within 6 points four times down the stretch, mostly on Bryant´s efforts, but Pierce responded each time. They finally got within 5 points on a meaningless Bryant 3-pointer with 11 seconds left.

Derek Fisher, the Lakers´ savior in Game 3, spent much of Thursday night on the bench with foul trouble.

The Celtics thoroughly dominated the boards, 41-34, and pulled down 16 offensive rebounds, leading to 20 second-chance points. Davis powered through repeatedly for putbacks and layups.

Emotions flared in the fourth quarter. After Lamar Odom knocked Robinson to the floor with a hard foul, Robinson leaped up and went nose to chest with Odom, drawing a technical. Wallace, who had drawn a technical foul a minute earlier, started berating the officials, and Rivers quickly called a timeout to calm everyone´s nerves.

"Somehow, we´re going to have to keep our composure," Rivers said.

Robinson played the first 9:09 of the fourth quarter, in place of the ineffective Rajon Rondo (10 points), and made several big plays, including a runner in the lane that gave the Celtics an 83-74 lead. Davis hit a pair of free throws to make it an 11-point lead.

Ray Allen, who missed all 13 of his shots in Game 3 bounced back slightly with 12 points. After going four days and nearly 61 minutes of basketball between field goals, Allen finally found the net, converting a fast-break layup a minute after tipoff. That ended an 0-for-16 streak that began in the fourth quarter of Game 2. When he landed, Allen clenched both fists in quiet celebration.

Allen missed his next five shots, starting with an errant a 3-pointer that had 18,624 people exclaiming "awwww" in unison. That left him 1 for his last 21. He did not make another field goal until late in the third quarter, hitting a 20-footer that drew the loudest ovation of the night and tied the score at 56-56.

Davis and Allen provided all the points in a 17-8 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters and wiped out the Lakers´ lead for good.

Then the celebrations began, with Davis whooping and the 5-foot 9-inch Robinson at one point leaping onto his broad back.

"You were on my back?" Davis said to Robinson, as they sat side by side on the interview podium.

"You didn´t even notice," Robinson said. "We are like Shrek and Donkey. You can´t separate us."

Everyone laughed and Davis concluded, "You should not have let us two get up here."

On this night, there was no containing either one.

Living , Sports , World Cup

Rousting Africa´s Sleeping Giant

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 1 Comments

Rousting Africa´s Sleeping Giant

South Africa Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira stood outside the auditorium at Soccer City Stadium on Thursday being interviewed by a television crew when word came that Mexico´s coach, Javier Aguirre, was arriving for his session.

An innocent enough encounter, one that coaches in the United States negotiate all the time. Their paths accidentally cross, they smile and shake hands, and then they go their separate ways.

But not here. Not at South Africa´s World Cup.

The South African delegation wanted to stop the interview on the spot and usher Parreira away from Aguirre so the two coaches would not meet face to face with their teams´ game a day away.

In his remarks, though, Parreira hardly seemed like the kind of person about to be intimidated by the presence of the opposing coach. "Playing in the opening match of the World Cup is special," he said. "But out there on Friday against Mexico it will be a battle – no, make that a war. And we are ready for it."

So this is Parreira – Bafana Bafana´s Brazilian-born, well-traveled mentor, whose task was to transplant his country´s soccer swagger to South Africa´s team.

So far, it has worked. Regardless of the results of Friday´s game, there has been a meaningful transition in the way the South African team conducts itself.

Yes, there have been technical improvements – better conditioning, a greater focus on playing with an accelerated pace and more efficiency.

But what Parreira has really delivered to his players is confidence, which is something that cannot be defended by the opponent. Under his guidance, Bafana Bafana has gone from losing and feeling it would continue to lose, to winning and feeling it will continue to do so. But what exactly did Parreira do to turn things around? Was it something physical, mental?

"Everything," midfielder Lance Davids said. "We improved mentally, physically, technically, everything that a football team can do."

On Thursday, during his news conference, Parreira spoke easily; joked with reporters; answered questions; and displayed his versatility with the languages of the World Cup.

He used English with English-speaking reporters, Spanish with Spanish ones, Portuguese with Portuguese ones. At one point, Parreira even broke in and answered a question meant for Aaron Mokoena, the team captain. Mokoena said that since Parreira took over last year, he had infused South African players with a sense of joy, a trait one normally associates with the Brazilian game that Parreira knows so well.

"We are more relaxed, much fitter and hungrier," Mokoena said. "This is a big game for our country. We know we have to go out there and get a result. But the coach has made it easy for us by keeping the pressure off us and keeping us relaxed. He has had experience of being in this position a number of times, and that experience has been a great help to us."

Parreira coached Brazil to victory in the 1994 World Cup, made subsequent detours to such places as Saudi Arabia and New Jersey, where he coached the MetroStars of Major League Soccer, and then became coach of Brazil again, although that team only made it to the quarterfinals at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

In the aftermath of that failure, Parreira soon resigned. He became coach of the South African team the next year, stepped down in April 2008, but then was brought back in October 2009.

None of this is that unusual in the transient world of elite soccer coaches. Meanwhile, for all the success he enjoyed at times as Brazil´s coach, Parreira has now been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and good will that has been showered on his South African players.

"In this country, soccer has been sleeping for many years now," he said Thursday. "And then suddenly, there was a ray of hope. This team has a face, this team has an identity, this team has confidence."

South African soccer had suffered from a lack of esteem that stemmed from decades of failure. It was undervalued, underestimated and marginalized.

When he took over in South Africa, Parreira instructed his players to put aside the overseas leagues that many of them played in.

"We are now World Cup players," he said he told them. "We are talking about a high level, where the demand is very high technically, tactically, physically and especially mentally."

As South Africa prepares for its debut as the home team in Africa´s first World Cup, Parreira has walked a razor-thin line between instilling confidence and selling false hope. A victory over Mexico on Friday would be spectacular – it would create great harmony and confidence, Parreira said, for his team and for the country.

If the South Africans don´t win, they aren´t done. But the mountain will get a little steeper for a Brazilian coach who has been in so many places in his long career, but perhaps never in a situation as significant as this one.

Living , Sports , World Cup

Children Of All Ages Delighted By Enslavement Of Topsy The Elephant

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 1 Comments

Children Of All Ages Delighted By Enslavement Of Topsy The Elephant

TUCSON, AZ

Entertainment , Living , News

The worlds largest super-ferry

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 1 Comments

The worlds largest super-ferry

Watching England warm up today, there was a overriding feeling that something was missing.

It was an eager Labrador of a player, whose spindly legs invariably protrude from a pair of shorts as he bats, bowls and fields with the sprightliness of someone 10 years younger, encourages players in his Geordie twang and makes the odd self-deprecating remark to a passing hack. I am talking of course of Paul Collingwood.Collingwood is the heart and soul of the England team, someone for whom nothing is too much trouble, who will stoically bowl in the nets when all the other players have dragged their enormous kit bags back to the dressing room, and linger afterwards for extra slip catching practice to the slow bowlers or a bit of throwing at a stump. He is never knowingly underprepared.

That is why it is right to give him a rest for this match and presumably series. He has nothing to prove and quite a lot to lose. His body is willing but his mind will be running on empty. After the exertions of the last 12 months, he will have been existing on adrenalin during the world T20. Now back in the real world he will need the nourishment of a bit of time off to rejuvenate his cricketing appetite.

There will be those who say that a month of his exertion was spent in sole self-advancement at the IPL. But his time in India wasn´t without benefit for England. He spoke before he went of the positive influences and sharing of ideas that involvement in the IPL brings, and the development of a different mindset it imbues. In short it banishes fearlessness, which, in a T20 match, translates as not worrying about losing your wicket. It was the hallmark of England´s approach and the reason they won their first world title. Keeping the scoreboard moving was more important than keeping your wicket intact. It´s a big step for naturally cautious, technique-obsessed English players to take. As a result of Collingwood, and Andy Flower´s input, they took it and it paid off. Even Kevin Pietersen reaped the benefit.

Living , Sports , World Cup

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