Mitch's Sports Report: Olynyk Burns Celtics In Boston Return; Marner's Dazzling Goal In Leaf's Loss
The Boston Celtics welcomed back Kelly Olynyk for the first time since he signed a free agent deal with the Miami Heat, and let's just say Olynyk seemed motivated to show his former team what they gave up when they decided not to make a competing offer of their own.
After a rousing video tribute and standing ovation for the pony-tailed forward, Olynyk dropped 32 points on the Celtics, a career high, and that included an emphatic two-handed slam dunk late in the fourth quarter that helped Miami eke out a 90-89 win over Boston.
Kyrie Irving had 33 of his own for the Celtics, but even though he tallied one more point than Olynyk, he came up short on the last shot of the game, with an open look that would have given Boston the win at the buzzer, but the shot clanged off the rim to give Miami the upset victory. Rookie Jayson Tatum dislocated his right pinkie finger early in the game diving for a loose ball, but got it taped up and returned later on to score 11 points in the loss.
The Columbus Blue Jackets did the Boston Bruins a solid last night, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 in Ohio to keep the Leafs within the Bruins sights in the Atlantic division standings. The Blue Jackets had been routed by the Bruins a couple of nights earlier in a 7-2 loss in Boston, but returning home and getting a stellar 39-save performance from their back-up goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, the Jackets hung a loss on the high flying Leafs and the Bruins should say thanks because the result means they're just two games behind Toronto for second place in the Atlantic.
Defenseman Seth Jones had a goal and an assist for Columbus and despite the loss Toronto did get one of those you-gotta-see-this goals from Mitch Marner, who not only has a super cool first name , but is also one of the fastest skaters in the game and at one point went end to end the full length of the rink, skating by and around every defender who tried to stop him before ripping a wrist shot that caught the inside of the post and into the net for a truly amazing tally in the losing cause. Worth a look:
The Bruins have a chance to take advantage of that Leafs loss and can move within two points of second place tonight, but it won't be easy as they host one of the hottest teams in the league this season, the Winnipeg Jets, hovering near the top of the western conference and with one of the game's best young players in the league in Patrick Laine.
In Philadelphia, Sean Couturier broke a 3-3 tie in the third period, scoring off his own rebound to push the Flyers past the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. It was Couturier's 16th goal of the year, a career high.
And if you were a NY Islanders fan bummed out that the team born and raised on Long Island was moved a few years ago to Brooklyn and not re-named, there's some good-ish news. The Islanders have announced the team will be building a new arena and moving out of Brooklyn to play their future games at Belmont Park, which is east of New York City and technically on Long Island, so the name will once again make some sense.
If you're a Boston Red Sox fan lamenting your team's lack of movement in the free agent market so far this off-season, which I've dubbed the Empire State Strikes Back with the signing of National League MVP and last year's home run king Giancarlo Stanton by the NY Yankees, take some comfort that at least you're not waiting on the Baltimore Orioles.
With rumors swirling that the O's are trying to trade all-star third baseman Manny Machado, the team got some terrible news yesterday that their all-star closer Zach Britton ruptured his achilles tendon during a training session in California and will miss at least six months as a result. Two years ago Britton had one of the greatest seasons ever recorded for a major league closer and a lot of Orioles fans felt if the team was going to deal him they should have done it after that season when he could get maximum value in return, but if the Orioles are looking to rebuild and clean house now by dealing Machado and Britton, moving the reliever just became almost un-doable, and they'll have some hard decisions to make about what kind of squad they want to field this season.
Meanwhile, there was a trade of a player with a pretty impressive resume made yesterday as the Tampa Bay Rays sent 3rd baseman Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Denard Span, infield prospect Christian Arroyo and two minor league pitchers. Longoria has been one of the league's best slugging infielders for many years and has three gold gloves to his name, but is coming off a less than stellar year in 2017, at least compared to his career numbers, when he hit .261 with 20 homers and 86 RBIs.