Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories
1. RARE CELTICS PERFORMANCE: Paul Pierce posted a statistical performance that hadn’t been done by a Boston Celtics player in the playoffs since 1977. Pierce finished with 36 points and 14 rebounds, the first Celtic to reach those levels in a playoff game since Dave Cowens in 1977. Tommy Heinsohn in 1957 is the only other Celtic to accomplish the feat.
2. KOBE KEEPS SCORING: Pierce wasn’t the only NBA veteran with a big scoring performance on Tuesday. Kobe Bryant, at 33 years old, scored 38 points in a win against the Denver Nuggets. FROM ELIAS: It’s the first time that two players age 33 or older have scored 35 points on the same day in the NBA playoffs.
3. WALK-OFF WIN: Let’s go to the other end of the age spectrum for this note. FROM ELIAS: Brett Lawrie, who turned 22 in January, hit his second career walk-off home run in the Toronto Blue Jays’ win over the Texas Rangers. Lawrie is the only player born in the 1990s to hit a walk-off home run. He is one of three active players to hit multiple walk-off homers before turning 23 years old. The others: Carl Crawford and Ryan Zimmerman.
4. FAMILIAR HONOR FOR POPOVICH: He’s won four NBA titles, and Tuesday Gregg Popovich was awarded his second NBA Coach of the Year award. He becomes the seventh coach in NBA history to receive that honor multiple times. Pat Riley and Don Nelson are the only coaches to win three of them. But this year’s San Antonio Spurs aren’t the same as those of the past. The Spurs averaged 103.7 points (second in NBA) this season, tying their highest average under Popovich.
5. LOSING LONGORIA: The Tampa Bay Rays will be without Evan Longoria (hamstring injury) for 4-8 weeks. Over the previous three seasons (2009 to 2011), Longoria is second among all position players in wins above replacement. Only Albert Pujols contributed more during that span. On the bright side, the Rays were 18-11 in the 29 games Longoria did not play last season. That’s a better winning percentage than their 73-60 record in games he did play.