BOSTON – Kevin Garnett stole the ball from his friend and put the finishing touch on an emotional night with a layup that helped him and Paul Pierce become winners in their return to Boston.It started with pregame standing ovations for the leaders of the Celtics last championship team and ended with an 85-79 win for the Brooklyn Nets after Garnett picked off Rajon Rondo’s turnover and dribbled in slowly for an uncontested basket with 20 seconds left Sunday night.“I knew they needed a 3 at that point and I just played the passing lane,” Garnett said. “I thought I was going to get caught, but I got it.” That gave Brooklyn an 82-77 lead.It was a rare highlight for the returning stars in a game in which they fought to control their emotions while still trying to contribute to their current team.“I had lumps in my throat and I tried to focus as much as I could,” Pierce said. “I’m happy we got it over with and I can go back to playing basketball.”Pierce, the second leading scorer in Celtics history, and Garnett scored just six points each, and Pierce missed eight of his 10 shots. But they received several standing ovations on the court where they won the team’s 17th championship in 2008. They also were honored in tributes shown on the video screen early in the game six months after a blockbuster trade sent them to Brooklyn.“It was, by far, the hardest day that I had to focus,” said Garnett, a 19-year veteran. “It’s a good homecoming.”Andray Blatche scored 17 points and Alan Anderson and Andrei Kirilenko had 11 each as the Nets won for the 10th time in 11 games.The Celtics, losing for the 17th time in 20 games, were led by Brandon Bass with 17 points. Rondo had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists one night after having dinner with Pierce and Garnett.During the video tribute to Garnett in a timeout with 2:25 left in the first quarter, he stood near his bench with a white towel draped over his head. He smiled, pounded the left side of his chest and waved several times to the crowd.The tribute to Pierce at the end of the first quarter was longer and drew a louder ovation. He looked up at the video board above center court with a somber expression. The camera panned to him on the court showing him repeatedly mouthing the words, “thank you.”Celtics coach Brad Stevens quickly gave his players instructions then let them watch the tributes. “It was the right thing to do,” he said. “Not much in my life is bigger than the next possession, but that is.”Pierce spent 15 seasons with the Celtics after they drafted him with the 10th pick in 1998. Garnett was obtained in a trade with Minnesota before the 2007-08 season and, with Pierce and Ray Allen, led Boston to their most recent championship.But the Celtics are in full rebuilding mode now and trailed 59-53 after three quarters then allowed the first six points of the fourth as the Nets led by 12. Boston cut the lead to 73-70 on a 3-pointer by Chris Johnson, playing on a 10-day contract, with 4:37 remaining.The Nets scored the next five points on a layup by Kirilenko, a free throw by Deron Williams and a jumper by Pierce. That made it 78-70.With the score 80-72, Boston cut the deficit to three on a field goal by Bass and a 3-pointer by Rondo, two of only five current Celtics who played with Pierce and Garnett last season.“We got caught up in (their return),” Bass said, “but for the most part we had a job to do.”Joe Johnson then missed his shot and Rondo rebounded, giving Boston a chance to tie with a 3-pointer. He moved the ball upcourt only to lose it to Garnett, who went in for Brooklyn’s final field goal.“He’s done it all year for us defensively,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s always in the right place at the right time.”Pierce scored his first two points of the game on free throws 1:08 into the third quarter then hit his first field goal, a 16-foot jumper that capped a 10-0 Nets run 2:51 into the period.“It was just a special thing for me,” Pierce said, “through my bad times, through my immature times, through my growing up, becoming a man for this city and winning a championship, everybody sticking with me. I would just like to tell them, ‘thank you.’ ”(Howard Ulman, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shares
Panama World Cup 0:36 Perhaps we should start with a note of caution. The opposition will not always be this obliging and nobody, surely, can expect Harry Kane to keep scoring so prodigiously throughout the rest of the World Cup. Maybe England have peaked too soon. And no doubt the most overheard line over the coming days will be that, yes, it was only Panama. Stay calm, it was only Panama. Share on Facebook Reuse this content All the same, it was difficult to come away from this freewheeling win for Gareth Southgate’s increasingly convincing side without the overwhelming feeling that it has been a long time since an England team have played this freely.It was their biggest World Cup victory and at half-time, no kidding, there were people in the press box flicking through the history books to find out how many more goals were needed to establish the biggest ever win in the history of this competition.England were 5-0 ahead at that stage courtesy of two penalties from Kane, a pair of headed goals from John Stones and a beauty from Jesse Lingard. Kane’s hat-trick followed in the 63rd minute and, after that, it came as a jolt that the only other goal was delivered by a Panamanian boot. World Cup 2018 Share on Messenger Should England take it easy against Belgium? World Cup permutations explained Read more World Cup Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email Panama hammered by England in World Cup walkover – in pictures England Topics match reports England had not scored five first-half goals in any game since doing just that against Luxembourg in 1999, and it is only the third time since 1950, out of 24 attempts, they have begun a major tournament by winning back-to-back matches, emulating the World Cups of 1982 and 2006. It is still only two games but something important is happening. England are becoming the team their supporters want them to be. And it is great fun.Panama’s ordeal did at least include the consolation of a 76th-minute goal and their supporters were still partying at the end. Ultimately, though, the imbalance of talent was far too great for a team fielding four players from Major League Soccer and others from the Romanian and Slovakian leagues. Panama had to resort to other measures. They argued with the officials. Their goalkeeper, Jaime Penedo, seemed to be threatening a one-man protest before Kane’s first penalty, and it was incredible, in particular, to see their tactics from England’s corners.Even by modern standards, has there ever been another set of players so dedicated to restricting the mobility of their opponents? Their approach led to Kane’s penalty, to make it 5-0, when Aníbal Godoy manhandled him to the floor. Yet that was the norm, rather than the exception, for every corner and an argument could be made that Panama also got their just deserts for the opening goal.For that one, Harry Maguire was brought to his knees twice because of Gabriel Gómez’s attempts to pin him down. Godoy was clinging to Kane like a mollusc on the side of a ship. Twice, the corner had to be delayed to sort out the chaos. Nobody, however, seemed to designate Stones as a potential danger. Trippier swung the ball over from the right and Stones powered in his header from eight yards.Even by that early stage, eight minutes in, it had become clear it was going to be harder to like this Panama team than many of us imagined. Indeed, England ought to have had a penalty inside 90 seconds after Gómez swung an elbow into Lingard’s jaw. Gómez, a repeat offender, went down clutching his own face and the Egyptian referee, Gehad Grisha, was taken in by the deception. Later, an elbow from Armando Cooper bloodied Maguire’s nose. Román Torres responded to Maguire’s complaints by flicking his opponent’s nose and pushing in his forehead in the manner of a rutting stag. Southgate had told his players not to react to any provocation and they did not let him down. Play Video Hungary’s 10-1 win against El Salvador in 1982 will have to be a target for another day. Thursday, perhaps, when Belgium are the opposition, to establish which team wins Group G.Already, it is mission accomplished as far as qualification is concerned and, on this evidence, it is no exaggeration to say England should not fear anybody in the knockout stages.Kane is now the leading scorer in the tournament, with five goals, and Gary Lineker is the only player, through all the ages, who has accumulated more World Cup goals for England. Yet the acclaim here should not just apply to the Tottenham striker when Stones has been so effective, when Kieran Trippier’s supply line has been so instrumental, and Lingard is emerging as a genuine category-A player. Read more England fans celebrate 6-1 World Cup win over Panama – video Share on Pinterest Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Lingard’s was the pick of them all, exchanging passes with Raheem Sterling before running across the line of the penalty area, left to right, and curling a shot that went in off the underside of the crossbar. Yet the fourth goal was brilliantly worked, too. This time, Trippier played a free-kick short to Henderson. A first-time cross was headed down by Kane and Stones put in the rebound after Penedo had blocked Sterling’s close-range effort.The second half was an exercise in damage limitation for Panama and, to give them their due, Kane’s hat-trick goal was a fluke, Ruben Loftus-Cheek letting fly from 20 yards and the ball striking his teammate on the heel to loop in.England’s lingering imperfections were briefly exposed when Felipe Baloy, one of Panama’s substitutes, turned in a free-kick with an outstretched leg. Yet Southgate and his players can still enjoy the view from the top of Group G, with the same points and goal difference as Belgium but ahead on fair-play rules, and the manager was pumping his fists at the end, no matter that it was only a few days since he dislocated his shoulder. Nobody should get too carried away but, good heavens, it can be hard sometimes. View gallery Share via Email Share on WhatsApp England 6-1 Panama: how the World Cup 2018 players rated in Nizhny Instead, this was a performance that brought to mind the old line from Frank Sinatra that the best revenge is massive success. Kane’s first penalty came from Fidel Escobar bundling over the energetic and elusive Lingard. Kane struck the ball high, to the goalkeeper’s right, in a style reminiscent of Alan Shearer. For good measure, he did the same for the fifth goal.