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Friday, November 30, 2012

Who Needs Rajon Rondo Anyway (Ducks)?


It happens so rarely these days that you have to enjoy it when the Celtics throw somebody a good old fashioned beating. Tonight's victim was the Trailblazers as Portland (6-10, 2-7 away) came to TD Garden and was humbled 96-78 by Boston (9-7, 5-4 home).

The funny parts about this blowout is that A) Rajon Rondo was serving his first game of the two-game suspension for his melee with Kris Humphries on Wednesday and B) the Blazers had lost to the Wizards (their first win of the season) on Wednesday. With those facts, we can deduce that Rondo is not important to the Celtics anymore and Portland is by far the worst team in the NBA. Haha just kidding.

The two players that have been the biggest disappointments through 15 games stepped up for one night at least. Jeff Green had a season-high 19 points off the bench while Courtney Lee took over point guard duties and turned in 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Jason Terry scored 17 points while Paul Pierce (12 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) and Kevin Garnett (10 points, 5 rebounds) played 27 and 23 minutes respectively-the most important number of the game. Jared Sullinger added nine points and eight rebounds while Leandro Barbosa scored nine as well. Boston's bench took advantage of the extra garbage time, outscoring Portland 41-22.

I have a feeling it's going to be a long season for the Blazers and their superb fans. Portland has LaMarcus Aldridge (23 points, 8 rebounds) and who else? That is no way to survive in the Western Conference. J.J. Hickson and rookie Meyers Leonard were the only other Blazers in double figures, they both scored 11.

For the third time in a month, the C's will face the Bucks (7-7, 3-4 home), tomorrow night (8:30 p.m., CSN) at the Bradley Center. Milwaukee won 99-88 on November 2 in Boston's home opener then the Celts returned the favor on November 10 (96-92) in Milwaukee. Without Rondo, on the road, in the second game of a back-to-back means that the Celtics will have their hands full.








Week 13: Patriots At Dolphins Injury Report

It has been longer than usual between regular season games for the Patriots since they last played on Thanskgiving against the Jets. Even weirder, it is now December and Sunday (1 p.m., CBS) will be the first time this season that the Patriots (8-3) and Dolphins (5-6) meet. Miami comes to Gillette Stadium in Week 17.

Today, the injury report came out for Sunday's game at Sun Life Stadium. Miami's only questionable player is running back Jorvorskie Lane (knee). As always, New England spent much more time playing needless mind games with the list. Rob Gronkowski (forearm), Chandler Jones (ankle) and Logan Mankins (ankle/calf) have all been ruled out for the Pats so they probably missed out on a free trip to South Beach.

15 other guys on New England are questionable but we all know that doesn't really mean anything. Ron Brace (elbow), Patrick Chung (shoulder), Dan Connolly (back), Julian Edelman (concussion), Aaron Hernandez (ankle), Dont'a Hightower (hamstring), Brandon Lloyd (knee), Kyle Love (knee), Nick McDonald (shoulder), Matthew Slater (concussion), Brandon Spikes (knee), Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee), Wes Welker (ankle), Tracy White (foot) and Markus Zusevics (illness) are all "50/50" to suit up in the AFC East matchup.

In other Patriots news, cornerback Sterling Moore was signed off New England's practice squad by the Cowboys so that's a bummer. Stay tuned as I'll update this when I hear more information before kickoff. Keep in mind the Patriots can clinch their ninth division title in 10 years with a victory.

UPDATE 12/1: Something called Mitch Petrus, that is an offensive lineman for the Patriots, is questionable for tomorrow because he's sick. OK then.








Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rondo, Humphries & Wallace Ejected As Celtics & Nets "Fight" NBA Style

Tonight was one of those games where nobody will remember the final outcome but for reasons other than wins and losses, it was particularly memorable for an NBA regular season contest.

With 29 seconds left in a terrible first half (Boston trailed Brooklyn 51-35), Kevin Garnett (16 points, 10 rebounds) was fouled hard by Kris Humphries as he went to shoot. Rajon Rondo reacted by pushing Humphries into the crowd behind the basket as all hell broke loose, well as much as that can happen in an NBA game. Rondo, Humphries and Gerald Wallace were all ejected but it probably didn't matter since Brooklyn (10-4, 3-3 away) still rolled over Boston 8-7, 4-4 home) 95-83 at TD Garden.

There is little doubt that all three players, particularly Rondo since he started the whole mess, will likely face suspensions from the NBA. Brooklyn beat Boston for the second time in less than two weeks thanks to a great night from its bench: Andray Blatche (13 rebounds) and 38-year-old Jerry Stackhouse (five 3-pointers) both scored 17 points while C.J. Watson added 13 points.

Old friend Joe Johnson was the only Nets starter in double-figures with 18 points and six assists. Brook Lopez (9 points, 10 rebounds) and Deron Williams (8 points, 7 assists) were both held in check but it didn't matter since Brooklyn led from start to finish and Boston never really pushed them. It helped that the Nets hit nine more 3-pointers (10-1), grabbed 10 more rebounds (50-40), handed out seven more assists (21-14) and recorded five more steals (12-7).

Brandon Bass scored 16 points, Paul Pierce (14 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) wasn't that far off from a triple-double and Jason Terry scored 13. The Celtics needed more than usual from their bench with Rondo out but instead they were blitzed 52-18 by their Nets counterparts.

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers rightfully blasted his team after the game, calling them soft. Maybe that will inspire them to become more consistent and figure things out defensively. I assume that Rondo will appeal his suspension or it won't go into effect right away but you can bet that he is going to miss a chunk of games in the near future.

Boston hosts Portland (6-9) on Friday (7:30 p.m., CSN) at TD Garden. The Blazers should be in a great mood themselves since they lost to 0-12 Washington tonight (84-82).

UPDATE 11/29: Rondo was suspended two games so he will miss Portland tomorrow night and Milwaukee on Saturday night. Garnett was fined $25,000 for his actions but those are the only two punishments for Boston.

UPDATE 11/30: Forward Kris Joseph was called up from the Red Claws for tonight, meaning either Jeff Green (knee) or Chris Wilcox (illness) is out vs. Portland. We shall see.





Monday, November 26, 2012

Jermaine Cunningham Suspended 4 Games By The NFL For PEDs, It All Makes Sense Now

We all thought Patriots defensive end Jermaine Cunningham would be cut in this past preseason, so it was somewhat of a surprise that not only did he find himself on the initial 53-man roster out of training camp but he was actually making a few plays. Today, he was suspended without pay by the NFL for four games after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs so I guess we know we he morphed from a complete bust (2nd round pick, 2010) to a bust.

It's not like he has been setting the world on fire (23 tackles, 2.5 sacks) but at least he was playing (in 2011, he had 1 tackle in 9 games) and when he got a chance, stepping up once in a while. He had appeared in all 11 games for New England in his third season out of Florida. He becomes the second Patriot (rookie running back Brandon Bolden was the other) suspended this season for PEDs. Bolden can return next Monday and then appear in the game on Sunday, December 10 vs. Houston. Cunningham can return on Monday, December 24 and appear in the regular season finale against Miami on December 30. He'll miss this week against the Dolphins, next week against the Texans, the Niners and Jaguars.

Cornerback Aqib Talib was also popped for PEDs (Adderall) when he was employed by Tampa Bay earlier this season. Not to speak in hyperbole but the NFL is currently fighting an epidemic of PEDs, Seahawks cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman also tested positive last weekend and they could be facing a four-game suspension although they appealed so they can play on Sunday. Brandon Spikes was caught two years ago in his rookie season.

For our purposes, Cunningham's absence is bigger than you might think at first blush. It all depends on Chandler Jones' status since he didn't play on Thanksgiving against the Jets due to an ankle injury. Cunningham is the first sub for the defensive ends so if Jones is out again on Sunday (1 p.m., CBS) at the Dolphins, it means that veteran Trevor Scott along with rookies Justin Francis and Jake Bequette will see much more playing time.

The best part of these failed drug tests is that we almost never know what the player got caught taking. Wouldn't it make more sense to be transparent and tell everyone what it was? Oh well, maybe it was just some Adderall for Cunningham (wink wink, nudge nudge). Let's just hope that the most important players on the Patriots are only drinking milk every night and maybe the occasional protein shake. Enough with these suspensions, no playoff team can withstand too many of them.

UPDATE 11/28: 7th-round draft pick Jeremy Ebert, a poor man's Julian Edelman, was resigned to the practice squad while fullback James Develin (formerly a defensive lineman at Brown) was activated to the 53-man roster today.





Celtics Survive Overtime In Orlando, 116-110

I'm not saying that it's right but it is at least understandable that the Celtics would have a letdown after their emotional win against the Thunder on Friday-their best victory of the young season. Luckily for them, tonight they played the Magic and not a better team that probably would have beaten them.

Boston (8-6, 4-3 away) needed overtime at the Amway Center but they outlasted Orlando (5-8, 4-3 home) 116-110. Kevin Garnett had a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 23 and Rajon Rondo just missed out on a triple-double with 15 points, 16 assists and nine rebounds.

Brandon Bass (13 points, 12 rebounds) added a double-double while Leandro Barbosa (15 points) and Jared Sullinger (11 points, 6 rebounds) were stellar off the bench for the Celts.

Some of the Magic took a time machine back to their college days as J.J. Redick had a team-high 21 points off the bench, Jameer Nelson scored 20 while Arron Afflalo had 15 points and seven assists and former Celtic Glen Davis added 15 points and seven rebounds. Josh McRoberts had 14 rebounds and former Celtic E'Twaun Moore notched eight points.

For once, Boston dominated inside-something which is very rare these days. They outscored Orlando 60-34 in the paint, grabbed nine more rebounds (51-42) and had eight more points off turnovers (23-15) thanks to Rondo's excellent performance.

The Celtics return home for a few days of practice followed by a rematch with the Nets (8-4, 2nd in Atlantic Division) on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., CSN). It'll be basically two weeks (Thursday, November 15) since Brooklyn edged Boston 102-97. They are a quality team now and not the pushover they have been in recent years.






Friday, November 23, 2012

Did That Game Really Just Happen Or Was I In A Food Coma?

I think we all knew the Jets were a mess but that still couldn't have prepared us for what transpired tonight at MetLife Stadium as the Patriots embarrassed the home team 49-19 in a game that wasn't nearly that close. Bill Belichick celebrated his 200th career win (including playoffs) by probably ending the Rex Ryan/Mike Tannenbaum era in New York. Look for major changes to be made there in the offseason.

New England (8-3, 4-2) won its fifth consecutive game thanks to an explosion in the second quarter that included three touchdowns (3!) in 52 seconds. Believe it or not, it was scoreless after one quarter before New York (4-7, 2-4 home) decided to self-destruct to an unbelievable level.

Lighting up the scoreboard in the past four games has been a common occurrence for the Pats. They've put up 190 combined points which is the most in a four-game span since the Rams in 1950 (208 points). Tom Brady (18 of 28, 323 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) was nearly perfect again; he's had 14 TDs and 0 INTs in their last five games. New England's 108 points in the last two blowout victories is the third highest total in NFL history.

For the second week in a row, the Patriots scored touchdowns in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams. Wes Welker's (7 catches, 71 yards) 3-yard TD catch got the feast started in the second quarter. That was followed by Shane Vereen taking a swing pass 83 yards for a score, Steve Gregory (2 fumble recoveries, INT) scooped up a fumble 32 yards and took it to the house while Julian Edelman returned a fumble on a kick return 22 yards for the third touchdown in under a minute.

Speaking of Edelman, for good measure he added a 56-yard touchdown grab which put New England up 35-0 in the second quarter. Their 35-point quarter tied a franchise record. It also gave him four touchdowns in the last two games. The only downside is that he got crushed in the third quarter by LaRon Landry and it looked like he sustained a concussion.

New York couldn't get out of its own way and seeing Mark Sanchez (26 of 36, 301 yards, TD, INT) comically run into the back of his own lineman (in the most Jets play of all-time) and fumble then having Joe McKnight cough it up on the next play was something out of Football Follies. All that was missing was some Benny Hill music.

Credit to Rex Ryan and his team though as they scored 12 straight points to make it interesting. Haha yeah right. Nick Folk's 32-yard field goal with two seconds left in the first half broke the shutout. A chop block in the end zone led to a safety for the Jets and Bilal Powell had a 4-yard TD run in the third quarter.

New England went back to trolling New York as Brady had a 1-yard quarterback sneak and Stevan Ridley (21 carries, 97 yards) was rewarded for a solid night with a 9-yard touchdown run.

For some reason, the Jets dressed Tim Tebow even though after the game he admitted that he has two broken ribs. That meant all the Tebow talk during the broadcast and chants by their miserable fans were pointless, he wasn't coming in no matter what. Third-string quarterback Greg McElroy must feel good about his work situation.

Dustin Keller had a 1-yard touchdown catch with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter for the final margin. New England leads the NFL with 32 takeaways, they improved to 7-1 against the AFC and 4-0 against AFC East foes-they are done with the Bills and Jets. Jerod Mayo had 11 tackles (8 solo), a sack and tackle for loss while Dont'a Hightower had four tackles (3 solo), a sack and tackle for loss.

It was a very physical game and especially considering the short week of preparation, the Patriots were outstanding. Yes, the Jets helped them out with most of their five turnovers but New England also made the plays. Like last season, they are showing the knack for getting turnovers on defense which is a great sign. The No. 3 team in the AFC will get this weekend off and then next week they'll begin work on the Dolphins (4-6, hosting Seattle on Sunday). The Patriots travel to Miami on Sunday, December 2 (1 p.m., CBS) to face a team that started out looking so promising but they have lost their last three.

UPDATE 11/23: Kyle Arrington was fined $23,000 today for his helmet to helmet hit on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck on Sunday. No word yet on any fines from last night's game vs. the Jets. Also, Greg Salas was claimed off waivers by the Eagles.






Thursday, November 22, 2012

Excuse Me, Has Anybody Seen The Celtics' Defense? They Seem To Have Misplaced It

It is pretty easy to figure out why the Celtics are struggling so much at the moment: they've allowed 102+ points in three of their last four games (all losses). For whatever reason, the defense that they've been famous for since Kevin Garnett (14 points) came aboard in 2007 has been mostly non-existent this season.

San Antonio (9-3, 5-1 away) came to TD Garden tonight and laid a 112-100 beating on Boston (6-6, 3-3 home) that truly wasn't that close. The Spurs shot 58% and had six guys in double figures. They led from start to finish, outscoring the Celts in three quarters and tying them in the third.

For the Celtics, it's hard to come up with an excuse since they are healthy and hadn't played since Sunday's no-show in Detroit. The Tony Parker (26 points, 6 assists) vs. Rajon Rondo (22 points, 15 assists) matchup didn't disappoint but basketball remains a team game and the Spurs helped Parker more than the Celtics performed well around Rondo.

Ageless Tim Duncan had 20 points and 15 rebounds and the mysterious Tiago Splitter scored 23 points off the bench. San Antonio's superb role players did their part: Gary Neal had 12 points while DeJuan Blair and Danny Green both had 10 (they both start, amazing).

Paul Pierce scored 19, Brandon Bass had 16 and Jason Terry notched 12 points. Along with defense, Boston's other major issue is rebounding. Would you believe that they had one offensive rebound all game-by Bass late in the fourth quarter? San Antonio crushed them on the glass (41-25) which led to a 58-34 advantage for points in the paint.

With Darko Milicic leaving the team today for good to be with his ill mother in Serbia, Danny Ainge has a roster spot to play with. You have to think he'll look search far and wide for any available big men with a pulse. Hello Kenyon Martin!

The C's might have flunked their first test against one of the Western Conference's elite squads but they have another chance to redeem themselves on Friday (7:30 p.m., CSN) as Kendrick Perkins and the Thunder (9-3) visit. They only play each of those teams twice this season so you have to savor them. We'll probably never get a Celtics-Spurs NBA Finals (last season was mighty close with both in their conference finals) but we can still dream about that or Celtics-Thunder (halfway true last June).





Please Tell Me That Jonny Gomes Won't Be Starting On The Red Sox Next Season

In the Red Sox' apparent quest to solidify their weak bench this off-season, they made their second move: today, they signed free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes to a 2-year, $10 million deal.

You'll remember him from his days in Tampa Bay, he played for the Rays for six seasons (2003-08). Since then, he's bounced around from Cincinnati to Washington and Oakland where he spent last season. He's known around MLB as a great clubhouse leader and teammate which is something that the Red Sox have sorely lacked in their most recent few seasons.

I'm assuming that Boston sees him strictly as a platoon for DH/corner outfield. Last season against lefties (164 ABs), he hit .299 with a .413 OBP and .561 SLG. In 99 games with the A's in 2012, he hit 18 homers and 47 RBIs with 10 doubles, 46 runs and 73 hits with .262 AVG, .377 OBP and .491 SLG.

For his 10-year MLB career, the new 32-year old Gomes (his birthday is Thanksgiving) has 136 homers, 411 RBIs, 646 hits and 123 doubles with .244 AVG, .344 OBP and .455 SLG. He is a dead pull right-handed hitter, his last 25 home runs have been to left or left center so that should project well in Fenway full-time with the Green Monster. In 31 career games at Fenway, he's hit .262 with three homers and seven RBIs.

Like David Ross, the best we can hope is that this is only the start of something bigger. Cody Ross is still out there, along with Adam LaRoche and Nick Swisher to name a few prime free agents that would fit great on the Red Sox. Gomes certainly doesn't make anybody excited so this signing is somewhat bizarre for Boston who still has numerous huge holes left to fill.

UPDATE 11/28: The Red Sox made a flurry of worthless moves today, HOT STOVE! They finally decided on a hitting coach-Greg Colbrunn-and made three very minor trades. Pitcher Zach Stewart went to Pittsburgh for a player to be named later, third baseman Danny Valencia went to Baltimore for cash considerations and pitcher Sandy Rosario was dealt to Oakland for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Alrighty then.

UPDATE 12/1: The Red Sox didn't tender contracts to Rich Hill, Scott Atchison and Ryan Sweeney, making them all free agents. However, Hill and Atchison could still return on minor league deals in Spring Training. David Carpenter was claimed off waivers by the Braves. Finally, Victor Rodriguez was named assistant hitting coach which apparently is a real position.





Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Week 12 Injury Report: Patriots At Jets (Thanksgiving Night)

While you are falling asleep tomorrow night and fighting over the remote with your dear extended family, the Patriots and Jets will be hard at work. New England (7-3) travels to New York (4-6) for a sneaky big AFC East matchup at 8:30 p.m. on NBC. If the Pats win, they could effectively bury the Jets for good this season. If the Jets come out on top, they could actually make a playoff run since the rest of their schedule is cake.

Today, the injury report was released with three New England players out already. Of course, Rob Gronkowski (forearm) won't play for a while. Also, Chandler Jones (ankle) and Logan Mankins (ankle) will be on the sidelines for the holiday.

13 Patriots are questionable: Tracy White (foot), Steve Gregory (hip), Ron Brace (elbow), Wes Welker (ankle), Dont'a Hightower (hamstring), Aaron Hernandez (ankle), Dan Connolly (back), Sebastian Vollmer (back), Patrick Chung (shoulder), Trevor Scott (hamstring), Nick McDonald (shoulder), Brandon Spikes (knee) and Brandon Lloyd (knee).

For the Jets, seven guys are questionable: cornerback Aaron Berry (quad), linebacker Bart Scott (toe), defensive tackle Sione Pouha (back), running back Joe McKnight (ankle), quarterback Tim Tebow (ribs), wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (heel) and defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis (knee).

If I can push away from the dinner table for a second before the game, I'll try to update who else will be inactive.

UPDATE 11/22: Greg Salas was waived and the Pats activated offensive tackle Greg Zusevics from the reserve/non-football injury list. Hernandez is active while Vollmer, Marquice Cole, Jake Bequette and Zusevics are all out. Kerley, Tebow and McKnight are all active for the Jets. New York's inactives are quarterback Greg McElroy, running back Kahlil Bell, Berry, defensive tackle Damon Harrison, guards Caleb Schlauderaff and Hayworth Hicks plus tight end Hayden Smith.





Sunday, November 18, 2012

Blowing Out Indy Comes At A Huge Cost: Gronkowski Breaks Forearm, Expected Out 4-6 Weeks

A few measly hours, that's all the time Patriots fans got to bask in the glow of a resounding 59-24 blowout victory against the Colts this afternoon at Gillette Stadium. 59 points ties a Patriots team record set in 2009 vs. Tennessee (that crazy snow game).

Reality came calling way too soon as we all (7-3, 4-1 home) found out that Rob Gronkowski (7 catches, 137 yards, 2 TDs) broke his forearm and is expected to miss somewhere in the 4-6 weeks range. The worst part (well besides the injury) is that it happened in garbage time, on the final extra point with 3:55 left in the fourth quarter. Rightfully, that opens up Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to a deserved cacophony of criticism asking why the best tight end in the NFL was still out there. Ugh!

Before I go to sleep depressed, let's remember that this was a very nice win. Indianapolis (6-4, 2-3 away) might have beaten up on some bad teams and taken advantage of a weak schedule but they are a good squad. Also, let's hold off the NFL Hall of Fame induction for Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck (27 of 50, 334 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs). After getting touchdowns on their first two drives of the game, Indy was outscored 52-10 the rest of the way. He looked rattled and made a couple terrible decisions/throws. What's more, he easily could have had a few more interceptions.

The Patriots scored touchdowns thanks to all three phases: offense, defense and special teams. Cornerback Aqib Talib's (7 tackles, 5 solo) debut for New England included a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown. Rookie Alfonzo Dennard (4 tackles) topped that with an 87-yard interception return for a score. Julian Edelman had the best game of anyone (and his anonymous career) since he scored on a 68-yard punt return, caught a 2-yard touchdown and also had an end around for 47 yards. Incredible.

Tom Brady (24 of 35, 331 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) has put himself right in the thick of the MVP discussion (assuming people talk about that in mid-November) with another excellent performance. Wes Welker added seven catches for 80 yards.

Four turnovers by Indianapolis were way too much to overcome, especially since New England took care of the ball and never coughed it up. Rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton had six catches for 100 yards and two TDs while Reggie Wayne notched seven catches for 72 yards. Patriots icon Adam Vinatieri (47-yard field goal, 3 PATs) was repeatedly booed by the brain dead crowd at Gillette, those people can't be serious. Who does that to him?

Rob Ninkovich had a very solid game with eight tackles (four assists), a sack, two tackles for losses and two quarterback hits along with a forced fumble that he recovered. Stevan Ridley (3-yard) and Shane Vereen (4-yard) had touchdown runs in the fourth quarter when it spun way out of control for the Colts.

He didn't play today but Aaron Hernandez is expected back on Thursday night (8:30 p.m., NBC) as the Patriots visit the Jets (4-6) at MetLife Stadium. New York won 27-13 this afternoon in St. Louis and you'll remember that they choked against New England on October 21 in a game the Pats ended up winning 29-26 in overtime.

Ironically, that gift has propelled to New England to their current four-game win streak. The Jets are not a good team and they won't go to the playoffs this season but they usually play the Patriots tough and anything can happen in a short week, especially against a divisional rival and without one of your best players.

UPDATE 11/19: Deion Branch cleared waivers so he's a free agent. The Patriots signed wide receiver Kamar Aiken to the practice squad, he's previously been on the Bills and Bears after entering the NFL as a rookie free agent in 2011.





Celtics Post Their 1st Blowout Win Of The Season, Vs Hapless Raptors Of Course

Even though the circumstances were strange-a ultra rare Saturday afternoon game at home-the Celtics still dismantled the Raptors, 107-89 at TD Garden in their first blowout victory of the season. As such, we were treated to the usual performance of KG geeking out while watching Geno disco dance on the jumbotran. Now that's entertainment!

There are few things left in this world that you can count on besides death, taxes and the Raptors (2-7, 1-4 away) being awful. Well at least they have a dedicated fanbase. Oh. The Celtics (6-4, 3-2 home) on the other hand are starting to look like a different team, in a good way.

After missing Thursday's game in Brooklyn, Rajon Rondo returned and put up an easy 20 assists (in 32 minutes; his 33rd straight game with 10+ assists). Jason Terry had a season-high 20 points, Paul Pierce had 19 points and six rebounds while Kevin Garnett tallied 15 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes. The best part of the final margin is that it let the starters get some additional rest going into tomorrow's game (the fourth in five days).

It might not be long until rookie Jared Sullinger is pushing to be back in the starting lineup again, especially when Brandon Bass is slumping. Sullinger recorded his first NBA double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. All the bench guys seem more comfortable as they feel out their respective roles. Jeff Green scored nine points while Chris Wilcox and Leandro Barbosa each had eight points.

Unless Toronto's ultimate goal is to lose a bunch of games every season and then make stupid draft picks, I honestly can't comprehend their team-building strategies. They actually have some decent individual players but nobody that will ever sniff an NBA All-Star Game and as we all know, the NBA more than any other sport is a star's league. Andrea Bargnani had 15 points, Jose Calderon added 10 points and nine assists and DeMar DeRozan notched 10 points. John Lucas scored 15 points off the bench with Linas Kleiza and rookie Terrence Ross checking in with 10 points apiece.

Even on the second night of a back-to-back and very busy week, the Celtics should still roll over the Pistons (1-9), one of the NBA's worst teams, tomorrow night (7:30 p.m., CSN) in Motown. Make sure to tune in after the Patriots-Colts (4:25 p.m., CBS) game ends. Former Boston assistant coach Lawrence Frank is Detroit's head coach who could be on the hot seat if his terrible team keeps playing at this pitiful level.





Saturday, November 17, 2012

Do They Have Johnny Rockets In Austria?

It is way too late and furthermore, the NHL lockout makes me simultaneously want to bang my head on the wall and burst into tears but I felt the need to pass along this news item: Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk left for Austria today. He will play for the Salzburg Red Bulls in the Austrian First Division Hockey League.

If you're scoring at home, that makes 11 Bruins-most in the NHL-that are currently plying their trade in Europe. Four of the projected top six defensemen for Boston are over there and that's not including Dougie Hamilton, who is still playing OHL junior hockey with the Niagara Ice Dogs. Like with Chris Kelly-the last Bruin to leave-it is not a good feeling when a guy that had seemingly stuck it out here, gives up and leaves. That can't be a good sign for the NHL's going-nowhere labor negotiations.

The NHL has already lost the first two months of its 2012-13 regular season and I feel like pretty soon, we'll be hearing that the entire campaign is cancelled. If that is true, save a spot for me on the Tobin Bridge. I'm sure it'll be a busy day if and when that happens.





Week 11: Patriots-Colts Injury Report

Sunday (4:25 p.m., CBS) should be a fascinating game as rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and the overachieving Colts (6-3) visit the underachieving Patriots (6-3) at Gillette Stadium.

Today the injury report was released and it features 16 Patriots that are questionable and two Colts that are out.

Logan Mankins (ankle/calf) is all banged up, illustrated in the fact that New England pulled out the doubtful label for the first time this season. Ron Brace (elbow), Deion Branch (hamstring), Patrick Chung (shoulder/hamstring), Dan Connolly (back), Steve Gregory (hip), Rob Gronkowski (hip), Aaron Hernandez (ankle), Dont'a Hightower (hamstring), Brandon Lloyd (knee), Nick McDonald (shoulder), Trevor Scott (hamstring), Brandon Spikes (knee), Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee), Wes Welker (ankle), Tracy White (foot) and Malcolm Williams (thigh) are all questionable.

It was reported by multiple sources that Hernandez was going to miss his fourth straight game so it is surprising to see him listed as 50/50. I tend to believe all the clued in reporters (ESPN's Adam Schefter foremost) rather than the Patriots.

For the Colts, rookie tight end Coby Fleener (Luck's teammate at Stanford) is out with a knee injury while former Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis (reluctant star of Hard Knocks this summer) will miss this key AFC battle due to a shoulder injury.

With the late kickoff on Sunday afternoon, we probably won't know until an hour or two before who else will miss this game. Keep in mind, some names often pop up on Saturday nights so I'll have the latest information when I hear it.

It was a rough day to be a bank account in Foxborough as Spikes ($25,000), Jerod Mayo ($10,000) and Alfonzo Dennard ($7875) were all fined for unnecessary roughness (Spikes) or late hits (Mayo and Dennard) against the Bills last Sunday.

UPDATE 11/17: The Patriots made a flurry of moves today as they released Branch for the second time this season and also wide receiver Jarred Fayson off the practice squad. They activated cornerback Aqib Talib and wide receiver Greg Salas (from the practice squad).

UPDATE 11/18: Hernandez, Mankins, Chung, Connolly, Daniel Fells, Jake Bequette and Justin Francis are all inactive for New England.





Friday, November 16, 2012

Without Rondo, The Celtics Put Up A Good FIght But Ultimately Lose 102-97 To The Nets

When word came over on Twitter tonight that Rajon Rondo would miss Boston's game in Brooklyn (due to his sprained ankle), that coupled with the fact that it was the second night of a back-to-back (a mortal enemy of the Celtics) made me think they would mail it in.

I have to give them credit, they fought way more than I expected but they still fell short as the Nets (5-2, 4-1 home) won their fourth straight game, 102-97 over the Celtics at Barclays Center. Boston saw their three-game win streak snapped.

Everybody has been high on Brooklyn coming into this season and for good reason, it looks like they might finally give the C's some competition in the usually terrible Atlantic Division. Deron Williams had 24 points and eight assists while Brook Lopez also put up 24 points along with six rebounds and four blocks. Former Celtic Joe Johnson had 19 points and eight rebounds while Kris Humphries notched 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Paul Pierce had 22 points and seven assists, Leandro Barbosa started at point guard and continued his strong play from last night with 17 points. This game was also notable since it was Courtney Lee's best one in a Celtics uniform (not that there were many to choose from): 13 points, nine rebounds and three steals off the bench. Jason Terry scored 10 points but Brandon Bass (8 points) and Jeff Green (5 points) were nowhere to be seen. I guess they stayed back in Boston.

The only reason the Celts had a chance to win is because of their excellent third quarter (29-15). Other than that, they were outscored 87-68 including 28-18 in the fourth quarter when predictably, their legs gave out. I can't explain how but Boston had 14 more fast break points (19-5) and 10 more points in the paint (46-36).

Boston is off tomorrow then has two more games this weekend as the Raptors (2-6) come to TD Garden on Saturday afternoon (12:30 p.m., CSN) then the C's head to Detroit (1-8) on Sunday (7:30 p.m, CSN). Playing four games in five days is certainly not preferable but everybody has a stretch like this at some point in the NBA season. Even without Rondo, the Celtics should be able to beat what are probably the two worst teams in the Eastern Conference. I'm sure I'll watch both games but could you think of a less appealing weekend?





Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rondo Sprains His Ankle But Celtics Beat Jazz Thanks To Green & Barbosa

Finally, that was the Celtics' depth that we've been hearing so much about. Rajon Rondo (6 points, 10 assists) left the game with a sprained ankle in the 3rd quarter tonight but Boston (5-3, 2-2 home) was able to temporarily withstand his absence in a 98-93 win over Utah (4-5, 1-5 away) at TD Garden.

Their bench outscored Utah's 47-25. The two main reasons that the Celts still had energy and points even without their point guard were Jeff Green (16 points) and Leandro Barbosa (16 points). Green shook the Garden with an insane dunk over Al Jefferson (13 points, 14 rebounds) while also getting to the free throw line (6 of 7) and converting. Barbosa took over point guard duties from Rondo and it seemed like he was attacking the basket at will with a variety of shots.

Paul Pierce had a game-high 23 points and Kevin Garnett had 11 points and eight rebounds while Brandon Bass scored eight in Boston's third straight victory. The Jazz are a solid team but without a true star, they are destined for nothing but first-round exits in the Western Conference playoffs. Paul Millsap had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Mo Williams and Gordon Hayward had 14 points while Derrick Favors added 14 points off the bench.

An injury to Rondo can never come at a good time but tonight was the beginning of a brutal four games in five nights stretch for the C's. Needless to say, they'll need him back on the court as soon as he can go. Utah led 25-20 after the first quarter and 46-44 at halftime. Boston took control in the third quarter (29-24) thanks to plenty of fast break points (20-8 overall). The C's also got the job done in the fourth, 25-23.

Boston had a 10 percent advantage in shooting (50-40%), six more assists (24-18) and five more steals (8-3). Utah hit three more 3-pointers (7-4), grabbed 15 more rebounds (48-33, including 18-4 offensive) and had two more blocks (6-4). Four more turnovers (13-9) for the Jazz and two less made free throws (22-20) were probably the difference in a tight game.

Tomorrow night (8 p.m., TNT) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is their first look at the Nets (4-2), who many feel could be a contender in the Atlantic Division. Any team with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries among others is no joke, even with puppet Avery Bradley working the sidelines.





Monday, November 12, 2012

Celtics Record Their First Quality Win Of 2012-13 Regular Season

Well that was more like it. In their seventh game of the 2012-13 regular season, the Celtics finally decided to show up and display some of the traits that make them one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference. Boston (4-3, 3-1 away) held off Chicago (4-3, 3-3 home) 101-95 tonight at United Center.

In getting over .500 for the first time, the Celts also notched a victory against a legitimate playoff team. This wasn't the Wizards or Bucks, the Bulls aren't a title contender without Derrick Rose in the lineup but they are still pretty damn tough to play against.

Rajon Rondo (20 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds, 5 steals) just missed out on a triple-double but he continued his double-digit assist streak (31 games and counting, 3rd longest in NBA history). All five Celtics starters were in double figures and their bench outscored Chicago's 27-18, something they've struggled with in this young season. Brandon Bass had 16 points, Kevin Garnett scored 15, Jason Terry added 13 and Paul Pierce notched 10.

I officially dub Luol Deng (game-high 26 points, 11 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (17 points, 11 rebounds) Celtics killers, assuming I hadn't done that already. It seems like they always have great games when they face Boston. Carlos Boozer had 15 points and former Celtics guard Nate Robinson put up 11 points and seven rebounds filling in for Rose and Kirk Hinrich, who got hurt over the weekend.

Boston shot 50.6% to 45.9% for Chicago. The Bulls made eight more free throws (24-16) but at least the Celts hit all their free throws, four costly misses down the stretch in the fourth killed Chicago. You'd expect the Bulls to have more rebounds (40-34) but the C's had four more assists (28-24), four more blocks (5-1) and three more steals (9-6) so there. Most telling, Tom Thibodeau's team had six more turnovers (14-8).

The Celtics jumped out to a 33-27 lead after one quarter and a 58-46 halftime advantage (their second largest margin of the season). Both teams scored 24 in the third quarter and Chicago made it interesting in the fourth (25-19) but they couldn't complete the rally.

Boston returns home for one game: they host Al Jefferson and the Jazz (4-4) on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m, CSN). Utah beat Toronto 140-133 tonight in triple overtime, no joke. Hopefully, they will be a bit fatigued from that insane contest as the Celtics shoot for their first three-game win streak of the season.

UPDATE 11/14: Rookie forward Kris Joseph and rookie center Fab Melo were sent to the Portland Red Claws today, Boston's D-League team. They have just opened training camp and it makes perfect sense since Melo has yet to play for the C's in the regular season and Joseph played once (for three minutes). They need to play a ton of minutes and that won't happen anytime soon with the Celtics.





Get A Load Of These Lame Jerseys The Celtics Will Wear On Christmas

You gotta love the NBA: if there is a way to squeeze an extra dollar out of their fans, you can count on David Stern, his minions and greedy owners to do it. Today, the NBA released a screen shot on NBA.com of the horrid green on green jerseys that the Celtics will wear on Christmas Day when they visit the Brooklyn Nets.

Call me a purist or traditionalist but with a team like the Celtics that has so much history, I don't see the need to go with any other looks. Boston wears the white jerseys at home and the green jerseys on the road. The alternate jerseys (green with black trim and numbers) that they wear once in a while are decent too, I have no major problem with those. All I know is that if my parents, girlfriend or other relatives buy me one of these all green jerseys for Christmas, I will probably return it a few days later.

I'd like to meet the people that designed these, haha they must have put in a lot of sleepless nights coming up with this super original design. Or they were hungover on the day they were supposed to present them and stumbled upon this look. Who knows? It's probably Stern's grandkids or some other lucky sperm.





Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nobody Makes You Feel Worse About A Win Than These Patriots

I thought I had run out of ways to describe a terrible win a few weeks ago when the Patriots were handed a 29-26 overtime win against the Jets in Week 7. New England (6-3, 3-1 home) outdid themselves this afternoon at Gillette Stadium with a 37-31 "victory" over the Buffalo Bills (3-6, 2-4 away).

I hate repeating myself but in this case, it's totally necessary. Once again, New England's defense couldn't get off the field or stop one of the worst teams in the NFL. Also, their offense similarly couldn't get their job done either since they had a chance to ice it with a long drive and TD but they had to settle for a field goal.

Therefore, we had to sweat out a two-minute drive by Ryan Fitzpatrick (27 of 40, 337 yards, 2 TDs, INT, fumble) that looked destined to end with a touchdown. That is until the Harvard product remembered who he is and what he does in that type of situation: Devin McCourty (8 tackles, 4 solo, forced fumble, pass defensed) picked him off in the end zone to finish it.

Exhale. Buffalo hasn't won in Foxborough since 1999 (hello Doug Flutie) and they probably would have done it today if they didn't continuously shoot themselves in the foot with penalties (14 for 148 yards) and costly turnovers (3). Tom Brady (23 of 38, 237 yards, 2 TDs) improved to 20-2 in his career against the Bills and the Patriots swept the season series against Buffalo in 2012.

It's hard to explain how a team that had an extra week to prepare, against a divisional opponent that they know very well, could still struggle so badly on defense. I guess the best we can muster for an explanation is that the Bills' skill players are a matchup nightmare for the Patriots.

Buffalo easily could have scored 45 points if Fitzpatrick had thrown a touchdown at the end and Fred Jackson (80 yards rushing, 2 TDs; 35 yards receiving) hadn't fumbled at the 1-yard line. C.J. Spiller (70 yards rushing, 61 yards receiving), Steve Johnson (6 catches, 86 yards), Donald Jones (6 catches, 74 yards, TD) and Scott Chandler (5 catches, 65 yards, TD) made their fantasy owners happy.

On the positive side, when the Pats had the ball, they toasted Buffalo's defense. Stevan Ridley had 98 yards rushing and a touchdown, Wes Welker had six catches for 74 yards while Danny Woodhead had two touchdowns and Rob Gronkowski caught a touchdown (something he's done in all six games against his hometown team).

Stephen Gostkowski's 43-yard field goal and a 1-yard touchdown run by Ridley were the only points in the first quarter. Rian Lindell got Buffalo on the board with a 41-yard field goal before Woodhead's 15-yard TD run made it 17-3. Jackson answered with a 14-yard TD run and the teams traded scores as neither defense could get off the field. Gronk had a pretty diving 2-yard TD catch but Chandler had a 3-yard TD catch with 31 seconds left in the 1st half.

Woodhead's 18-yard catch and run increased New England's lead to 31-17 in the third quarter but Jackson's 1-yard run showed the Bills weren't going away. Gostkowski had a 48-yard field goal in the fourth before Jones caught a 2-yard touchdown. Gostkowski's 27-yard field goal provided the final points.

With the Dolphins (4-5) loss and the predictable Jets (3-6) no-show in Seattle, the AFC East is the same graveyard it has been for much of the last decade. More importantly for the Patriots, who have won three in a row, they can find out where they stand against some real teams beginning next Sunday. The Colts (6-3) led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck come to Gillette (4:25 p.m., CBS) riding a four-game win streak.

UPDATE 11/12: Linebacker Jeff Tarpinian was released (he still has practice squad eligibility left) with cornerback/savior Aqib Talib taking his place on the 53-man roster.

UPDATE 11/13: The Pats signed free agent guard Mitch Petrus (a former Giant) to the roster and released linebacker Jerrell Harris from the practice squad. Additionally, Tarpinian was re-signed to the practice squad.





Celtics Exact Some Revenge On The Bucks, Left Over From Last Week

Do the Celtics play any teams from the Western Conference this season? They do? Just wondering because after six games (all against mostly average Eastern Conference teams) including two apiece against the Wizards and Bucks, I'm ready to see something new.

Tonight, Boston (3-3, 2-1 away) won 96-92 over Milwaukee (3-2, 1-2 home) at BMO Harris Bradley Center in the second night of a back-to-back (after losing at home to Philadelphia on Friday). The Bucks had ruined the Celtics' home opener with a 99-88 win on November 2 so tonight was a fitting way to pay them back for being so inconsiderate.

Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 25 points and nine rebounds, Kevin Garnett had 18 points and six rebounds, Jason Terry scored 15 in a rare start and Rajon Rondo kept his double-digit assist streak going (at 30 games) with 10 points and 10 assists. The most valuable part of the win for me was Jeff Green's 12 points off the bench. For once, he was aggressive and went to the basket (6 of 8 on free throws).

Monta Ellis was unstoppable, he led Milwaukee with a game-high 32 points and eight assists. Samuel Dalembert had 14 points and eight rebounds and Ersan Ilyasova added 10 points and six rebounds. The Bucks probably lost since their best player-Brandon Jennings-was held to four points on 1 of 11 shooting. Former Celtics great Marquis Daniels had 12 points off the bench and Larry Sanders added 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Milwaukee outscored Boston in the first three quarters: 22-20 after one, 42-39 at halftime and 68-64 after three. It's not like it was a big deficit but it was nice to see the C's rally with a superb fourth: 32-24.

Shooting better (44.4%-39.8%) from the field, on 3-pointers (5-3) and from the foul line (27-19) allowed the Celtics to overcome another awful performance in the paint: they were outscored 48-32 by the Bucks, who also had four more rebounds (44-40) and three more steals (7-4).

Boston receives a day off tomorrow but they conclude this busy stretch with a game in Chicago (8 p.m., CSN) against the Bulls (4-2), their third game in four days. They are not the same without Derrick Rose-duh!-but former Celts assistant Tom Thibodeau's teams are always tough and play great defense. That's why these games are usually close and similar to playoff contests.





Red Sox Begin Their Offseason By Addressing Their Biggest Need: Backup Catcher, Wait What?

You know that absolutely nothing of note happened in MLB today since Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal actually wrote a short article about the Red Sox' latest move: they signed catcher David Ross to a two-year deal, worth $6.2 million.

The best part was when he referred to Ross as "perhaps the best backup catcher in baseball." Listen, I'm not here to make fun of Rosenthal, who as far as I'm concerned does a decent job, but I just thought it was a funny way to describe a player. Talk about a backhanded compliment. It's like in football if you called someone the best backup quarterback, what does that even mean?

Semantics aside, this was Boston's first official move of the offseason and it can mean only one thing: either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway will be traded soon enough. The last thing they need is three mediocre catchers that are all in the same range in terms of ability. Saltalamacchia has the most power but he strikes out way too much and is average at best defensively. Lavarnway's best asset is that he's young and cheap, which ultimately might push him past Salty.

Ross will be 36 next season so he certainly won't be the starter. In 62 games with the Braves last season, he hit nine homers and 23 RBIs with a .256 batting average, .321 OBP and .449 SLG. The Red Sox are his sixth team and ironically enough, he actually was here for eight games in 2008 (which I totally forgot). In his 12-year MLB career, he's sported a .238 batting average, .324 OBP and .444 SLG so I'm going to assume he's known more for his work behind the plate.






Saturday, November 10, 2012

It's Only November, But The Celtics Are Not Right

Does someone want to let the Celtics know that the 2012-13 season has begun? For a team that has been known for its slow starts the last few years, I think it's safe to say they would be staring squarely at 0-5 right now if they hadn't played the Wizards twice already.

Boston (2-3, 1-2 home) fell 106-100 to Philadelphia (3-2, 2-1 away) tonight at TD Garden in a game that didn't seem that close since the Sixers seemingly led by nine or 10 points the whole time.

Rajon Rondo (14 points, 20 assists) and Kevin Garnett (19 points, 10 rebounds) have been themselves and this evening, Paul Pierce (24 points, 5 assists) decided to join them. Jason Terry was the only other guy in double figures with 13 points off the bench. The problem has been that the rest of the team hasn't really shown up yet, at least not consistently. And that's more than you can say for their so far invisible defense that allowed the NBA's lowest scoring team (that hadn't scored over 88) easily reach triple-digits, on the road.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the Sixers won since for whatever reason, they've been a bad matchup for the Celts the last few seasons. This was the same team that pushed them to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals in May. Evan Turner (25 points, 11 rebounds) and Jrue Holiday (21 points, 14 assists) seem to be progressing into the stars that franchise desperately needs. Dorell Wright and Thaddeus Young both had 15 points while Nick Young scored 10 off the bench.

Philly led 23-20 after one quarter and 57-45 at halftime. It turns out that was too much for Boston to overcome since the C's outscored the Sixers 29-26 in the third and 26-23 in the fourth but it wasn't enough.

The Sixers hit three more 3-pointers (7-4), grabbed seven more rebounds (38-31), had five more steals (12-7) and four more blocks (7-3). The numbers that really stand out for Philadelphia were their advantage in fast break points (26-9) and points in the paint (56-48). The Celtics aren't going anywhere allowing that type of differential to a team without a dominant point guard (sorry Jrue) or big guy.

Boston travels to Milwaukee tomorrow night (8:30 p.m., CSN) to face the Bucks (3-1). You'll remember that Milwaukee spoiled the Celtics' home-opener a week ago, 99-88. That no show was the first sign that this team has some major issues to address.





Week 10: Patriots-Bills Injury Report

It seems like a year ago that we last saw the Patriots (5-3) in action-crushing the Rams in London before Halloween. They meet the Bills (3-5) on Sunday (1 p.m., CBS) at Gillette Stadium and this afternoon, the teams submitted their official injury reports.

Coming off the bye week, you would assume that New England is healthier than they've been since the preseason. However, they still managed to list 14 players as questionable. In addition, three guys are already declared out. Rookie running back Brandon Bolden has been suspended four games by the NFL for using PEDs while defensive end Trevor Scott (hamstring) and linebacker Tracy White (foot) are still nursing old injuries.

The Patriots that are questionable represent basically the same group that was questionable earlier this season: Cornerback Kyle Arrington (concussion), defensive tackle Ron Brace (elbow), safeties Patrick Chung (shoulder) and Steve Gregory (hip); tight ends Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle); linebackers Dont'a Hightower (hamstring), Jerod Mayo (elbow) and Brandon Spikes (knee); wide receivers Brandon Lloyd (knee) and Wes Welker (ankle); guard Logan Mankins (calf/hip), offensive lineman Nick McDonald (shoulder) and offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee).

The Bills defense is particularly banged up, they've already ruled four players out including three on that side of the ball. Defensive end Mark Anderson (knee), cornerbacks Terence McGee (knee) and Aaron Williams (knee); offensive tackle Erik Pears (hip) will all be on the sidelines.

Buffalo might be terrible as usual but at least they seem to be learning something from New England: they list six guys as questionable. Defensive tackles Spencer Johnson (ankle) and Kyle Williams (ankle); wide receiver Stevie Johnson (thigh), defensive end Chris Kelsay (neck), linebacker Shawne Merriman (chest) and guard Kraig Urbik (foot) are all 50/50 to play on Sunday.

Stay tuned tomorrow and Sunday afternoon as we find out who else will be missing when these AFC East rivals take the field.

UPDATE 11/11: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Hernandez won't play tomorrow. Consequently, the Patriots have activated Visanthe Shiancoe, who has yet to appear in a game for New England.

UPDATE 11/11: Defensive end Jake Bequette, Brace, Chung, Hernandez, Scott, White and cornerback Malcolm Williams are all out for the Patriots. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, linebacker Kirk Morrison, cornerback Mena Silva, offensive tackle Thomas Welch, Williams, McGee and Anderson are the Bills that won't play.





Thursday, November 8, 2012

If Only Every Team In The NBA Were As Hopeless As The Washington Wizards

Thank God the Celtics only play the Wizards one more time this season and it's not until April 7 at that. These past two games between the teams have been so awful, for many reasons, that I'm happy to say Boston (2-2, 1-1 home) won't see Washington (0-3, 0-2 away) again for a long time.

Tonight at TD Garden, the C's followed the same pattern from Saturday's closer-than-it-should-be win in DC: they got up early then let the Wizards hang around for way too long. Luckily, since they are one of the worst teams in the NBA, Washington managed to crap its pants once again, allowing the Celts to escape with a 100-94 win in overtime.

Kevin Garnett led Boston with a game-high 20 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks, Rajon Rondo had 18 points, 14 assists and three steals while Paul Pierce had 15 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. Jason Terry finally looked like himself with 16 points off the bench and Brandon Bass added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Rookie Bradley Beal, Kevin Seraphin and Martell Webster each scored 16 points for Washington. Former UConn point guard A.J. Price had 15 points and seven assists while Chris Singelton added 14 points off the bench.

All we can hope is that once Boston starts playing some better teams, they will increase their performance level since right now through four games they've looked terrible.

Washington hit six more 3-pointers than Boston (10-4) but the Celtics prevailed because of the fact that they made 22 more free throws (28-6). The Celtics led 11-2 right away but only 21-16 after one quarter. Washington jumped ahead 42-37 at halftime. The C's got back in control with a good third quarter (29-16) yet they couldn't seal it (just like on Saturday).

The worst part is that with their last shot at the buzzer, they elected for a 3-pointer from Rondo when the score was tied at 88. You can never convince me that was the best look they could find. Bass scored five straight points in overtime, including an excellent dunk off a steal and pass by Rondo.

In a rematch of last spring's Eastern Conference semifinals (that went 7 games), the 76ers (2-2) visit Boston on Friday (7:30 p.m., CSN). They traded away Andre Iguodala to Denver and Lou Williams signed in Atlanta so Philadelphia will look much different. They have Andrew Bynum now but he has yet to play this season as he deals with his myriad injuries.





Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Red Sox Hire Their New Pitching Coach: Juan Nieves

In the major sports that I enjoy, I've decided that there aren't many things that make me more bored to tears than MLB's off-season. Even worse, the hot stove is upon us with GM's meetings kicking off tonight in California. We interrupt your winter hibernation with this information: today, the Red Sox hired Juan Nieves to be their pitching coach.

It is a bit of a surprise since it seemed like manager John Farrell and the front office were wholeheartedly pursuing famed pitching coach Rick Peterson. Not that you can believe most of the clowns that cover the Red Sox full-time. Nieves is a former MLB pitcher that spent the last five seasons as bullpen coach for the White Sox.

I love when people try to project whether managers or coaches in baseball will be effective or not. Haha who knows? The most important factor by far is talent. If Boston doesn't severely upgrade its starting rotation, Nieves will continue on the carousel of pitching coaches the last four seasons for the Red Sox: Farrell, Curt Young, Bob McClure and Randy Niemann.

The only pitchers I have really heard out there that Boston could be interested in are free agent Dan Haren and former Red Sox Justin Masterson (who is on the Indians). Neither one is thrilling but they would both have value (assuming Haren is healthy): their best asset is that they are durable and routinely pitch over 200 innings. A feat which has been extremely rare the last few seasons for Boston with its underachieving, overpaid and mostly lazy pitchers.

The next step for Farrell is to hire a new hitting coach. However, anytime GM Ben Cherington wants to add more MLB-level players, that would be lovely. The Red Sox can use all the help that they can get heading into next season.

UPDATE 11/9: Today, Dr. Larry Ronan was named medical director while Gary Tuck remains as the bullpen coach for his seventh season with the club.

UPDATE 11/20: Arnie Beyeler was named first-base coach, he was manager of the PawSox the last two seasons.





Monday, November 5, 2012

Thank Tom Brady, The 2012 Patriots Bye Week Is Finally Over!

I don't know about you but as a serious creature of habit, I found myself basically lost yesterday afternoon. With no Patriots game to look forward to, watch and write about, I spaced out while watching other NFL games. Don't get me wrong, the NFL is by far the best professional sports league in the U.S. but it's a big difference when your team is not playing. All I cared about yesterday was fantasy points and that's no way to live.

Thankfully, we can quickly put that all behind us. On Sunday (1 p.m., CBS), the Bills (3-5)-who lost 21-9 in Houston yesterday afternoon-visit Gillette Stadium to take on the Patriots (5-3). When we last saw them in Week 4, New England went to Buffalo and embarrassed the Bills 52-28. The Pats opened up as an 11-point favorite and despite playing down to competition for most of this season, they pretty much always beat the Bills (usually in blowout fashion) and leave them in the cellar of the AFC East.

My two nuggets of Patriots related information for today: 1) former legendary running back Kevin Faulk will be honored at halftime of Sunday's game. Hopefully the bozos at CBS give us a taste of it. Look for a similar ceremony for former offensive tackle Matt Light later in this season. 2) The Patriots-Colts (5-3) game in Week 11 (the following week) on Sunday, November 18 was flexed by the NFL from a 1 p.m. kickoff to 4:25 p.m. That move was made since rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and Indianapolis are already way better than anyone could have expected. Who knew Colts-Patriots games could be relevant again so soon?

UPDATE 11/6: Former Alabama linebacker Jerrell Harris was added to New England's practice squad.





Sunday, November 4, 2012

Celtics Survive 89-86 Against The Wizards In DC

Rest assured that tonight's utterly forgettable game in DC won't be on Boston's highlight reel at the end of the season. Still, it served its purpose as the Celtics (1-2, 1-1 road) were able to pick up their first win of the 2012-13 campaign (get it?), 89-86 against the Wizards (0-2, 0-1 home) at the Verizon Center.

After looking like garbage in the first two games, Paul Pierce (27 points, 7 rebounds) and his teammates got off to a great start as they led 17-2 to begin the contest. The C's got the first quarter lead up to 16 (24-8) but surprisingly they would need all that cushion since the Wizards outscored them in the other three quarters.

Kevin Garnett had 15 points and seven rebounds, Rajon Rondo added 12 points and 12 assists (27th straight game with 10+ assists) and Jeff Green scored 11 off the bench. Jared Sullinger had seven rebounds in his first career start and Jason Terry had eight points off the bench.

It was a bizarre game as Washington's starters only scored 24 points, meaning their bench outscored Boston's 62-27. Jordan Crawford led the Wizards with 21 points, Kevin Seraphin had 19 points and seven rebounds while Trevor Booker was the only starter in double-figures with 11 points.

Without its two best players-John Wall and Nene-a loss to Washington, even on the second night of a back-to-back would have been awful for the Celtics. After leading 26-12 after one quarter, it was 49-42 Boston at halftime. Washington cut it to 71-67 heading into the fourth quarter.

For a brief second, Seraphin put them ahead 86-84 with 2:56 left but Pierce answered with a 3-pointer and the Celtics held on. For some reason, Martell Webster took a fadeaway 3 on Washington's last shot when they only trailed by one point. Terry hit a pair of free throws with one second left to clinch it.

When you look at the numbers, it's hard to figure out how the C's won. The Wizards had 11 more rebounds (46-35), six more fastbreak points (17-11) and six more points in the paint (32-26). As if this game wasn't thrilling enough for you, both teams have no games for the next three days and then they meet again in Boston on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., CSN). If you know what's good for you, don't accept tickets to that stinker.





Friday, November 2, 2012

I Guess Nobody Told The Celtics They Had A Game Tonight

Well I was all pumped up for the Celtics' (0-2) 2012-13 home opener tonight but that excitement quickly disappeared as they got trampled 99-88 by the Bucks (1-0) at TD Garden. Milwaukee led from start to finish and they easily should have won by 20+ if not for some garbage-time heroics.

After getting humbled by the Heat on Tuesday in Miami, I think we all assumed that with a couple days between games, the Celts would regroup and beat the Bucks. Unfortunately, Boston saw its five-game win streak in home openers get flushed down the toilet. It's also the first time since 2005-06 and 2006-07 aka before the new Big 3 era that the C's have started 0-2 in consecutive seasons. If it makes you feel any better, they began last season 0-3.

Brandon Jennings burned the Celtics for 21 points, 13 assists (a career-high) and six steals. His new backcourt mate Monta Ellis (14 points) was relatively quiet but Tobias Harris (18 points) and Ersan Ilyasova (7 points, 11 rebounds) not to mention the bench trio of Beno Udrih (10 points), Larry Sanders (10 points, 7 rebounds) and Ekpe Udoh (10 points) were all there to give Milwaukee the victory in its season opener.

Kevin Garnett led the C's with a very quiet 15 points. Rajon Rondo had 14 points, 11 assists (26th straight game with 10+ assists) and three steals and he was the only other Celtic starter that really did anything. Anybody seen Paul Pierce (11 points, 6 rebounds on 3 of 11 shooting) or Brandon Bass (10 points, 6 rebounds)?

The only positives to take out of this no-show for the home team were the glimpses of hope provided by Jeff Green (11 points), Jason Terry (10 points) and rookie Jared Sullinger (6 points, 7 rebounds). Don't ask me why Leandro Barbosa played seven minutes (2 points) after he took over in the 4th quarter against Miami?

It's easy to be sarcastic but however, there is no reason to panic with this team. Hey it could be worse-the Lakers are 0-3 after losing tonight to the Clippers. Still, with their first back-to-back tomorrow night in DC at the Verizon Center against the Wizards (7 p.m., CSN), Boston needs to find a way to beat Washington (0-1) and come home with a win. In a scheduling quirk, the two teams are off until Wednesday when the Wizards are in Boston. All the Celtics need is a win to build up their confidence and chemistry on the court that so far in two games, has been severely lacking.