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Monday, December 28, 2009

If Rondo ever learns how to shoot free throws, look out world

Following up their Christmas day win over the Magic (their best win of the season thus far), the Celtics laid a Paris Hilton size dump fittingly in Los Angeles last night.

With the game tied at 90, Rajon Rondo (20 points, 6 assists) had a chance to close it out with 1.5 seconds left when he got fouled by Baron Davis (24 points, 13 assists) but Rondo bricked both shots.

And what do you know, Davis took the ensuing inbounds pass and hit a fadeaway buzzer-beater as the Clippers (13-17) stole one, 92-90 at the Staples Center.

Boston (23-6) led by as much as ten points in the second half but without Paul Pierce for the next week, they are desperately missing their most clutch player.

Tony Allen started for Pierce and he submitted 10 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals. We know Tony Allen too well to get very excited about these flashes since he'll probably get hurt tonight and miss the rest of the season but Tony has played out of his mind since he came back.

Ray Allen scored 13 and Kevin Garnett added 12 points and eight rebounds. Rasheed Wallace and Eddie House both notched eight points off the bench.

The Clippers are still as mediocre as you remember but they should be better with stars like Davis and the underrated Chris Kaman (27 points, 12 rebounds). Eric Gordon added 15 points in the win.

For some reason, the Celts looked like a tired team as they shot a pitiful 1 of 12 on 3-pointers. They'll look to bounce back tonight in Golden State against the allergic-to-defense Warriors.

All the Bruins wanted for Christmas was a goal-scorer, it didn't happen

I'm sorry to say it but it is painful to watch the Bruins this season.

They've been desperate for a goal-scorer since Phil Kessel left over the summer but they haven't made a move yet.

With two solid goaltenders, the best defenseman in hockey, a great coach and one of the NHL's best playmakers, the pieces are there for a deep Stanley Cup run but without someone that can score 30+ goals every year, they'll be in 3-2 and 2-1 games for the rest of the season.

Last night in Florida stuck right to the script as the Bruins beat the Panthers 2-1, their third consecutive win.

Florida (16-17-7) scored first with a lucky goal-a staple of every Tim Thomas start-when former Harvard great Dominic Moore flipped a shot on Thomas (25 saves) that trickled in. Radek Dvorak and Jordan Leopold assisted on the goal.

Michael Ryder tied it in the second period with his 10th goal of the season. He tipped an Andrew Ference shot from the point with Blake Wheeler also notching an assist.

Marco Sturm, Boston's top goal-scorer at the moment, won it with his 11th 4:39 into the third period. Marc Savard and Dennis Wideman assisted as Sturm went to his patented move, cutting to the middle and snapping a quick shot. It went off the crossbar, off the post, off Scott Clemensen's (26 saves) pads and in.

The Bruins will try and get their fourth win in a row tonight as they continue playing in the Sunshine State, this time against the Lightning.

Where has this team been all season? Patriots win AFC East title

For most of this season, Patriots fans (that are somewhat rational) have been resigned to the fact that yes New England would make the playoffs but they'd probably get bounced in the first round. Bottom line, they weren't going to make any noise.

Well yesterday's events threw a wrench in that depressing blueprint as the Patriots played their best game of the season with a 35-7 win over the Jaguars at Gillette Stadium.

It was the Patriots' (10-5) third straight win and it clinched the AFC East title. Tom Brady (23 for 26, 267 yards) threw four touchdowns passes, three to Randy Moss and Wes Welker had 13 catches for 138 yards.

For the first time all season, New England's running game featured a stable of four healthy backs and they produced a season-high 197 yards rushing.

Still without Vince Wilfork, the defense looked great, making an early fourth-down stop and picking off two errant throws by David Garrard.

New England received the opening kickoff and marched down the field on their best, most creative drive of the year. However, Laurence Maroney fumbled at the 1-yard line and Jacksonville (7-8) recovered.

It seemed like a big deal at the time but on the ensuing Jags drive, head coach Jack Del Rio chose to go for it on fourth and 1 at their own 35-yard line. Maurice Jones-Drew (18 rushes, 63 yards) was stuffed by James Sanders and that was basically the game.

Moss gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 2-yard touchdown catch. New England blitzed Jacksonville with 21 points in the second quarter-one of its best of the season. Forgotten man Chris Baker made a nice 26-yard touchdown catch, Sammy Morris (12 carries, 95 yards) scored on a 1-yard run and Moss caught a 6-yard TD.

Brandon Meriweather picked off Garrard in the first half and returned it 56 yards while Shawn Springs made his first play of the year, an interception in the red zone when New England was still preserving the shutout.

Moss' final score was a 17-yard catch and run where he dove near the end zone and stretched his arm and the ball over the line.

Garrard's two-yard run in the fourth quarter ended the shutout but by that time nobody cared.

Fred Taylor looked good in the fourth quarter, running for 35 yards on 11 carries. Kevin Faulk had 41 yards rushing while Maroney was on the bench for the rest of the game following his fumble.

Jerod Mayo had his best game of the season, making 15 total tackles, 11 solo.

Now the question is how much do you play Brady, Moss, Welker and other key players since next week at Houston doesn't mean much to the Patriots. They're locked in to the third or fourth seed but they will host a Wild Card game.

Bill Belichick hates to rest anybody so who knows how it'll play out. The AFC playoff scenarios are a mess which means there should be a lot of interesting games on the final day of the regular season.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Patriots find a pass rush, beat the hapless Bills

Once again, it wasn't pretty (at all) but the Patriots beat the Bills yesterday 17-10 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

It was New England's (9-5) first true road win since their only other win away from Gillette was in London.

They also received two early Christmas presents as the Jets lost to the Falcons and the Dolphins lost in overtime to the Titans. The Patriots are two games up in the AFC East with two games to play.

The two things to take away from yesterday (besides how pathetic Buffalo is) were the reappearance of Randy Moss off milk cartons and post office walls. Plus, the Pats non-existent pass rush stopped by and sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards a combined six times.

Tully Banta-Cain led the Patriots' defense with three sacks, while Derrick Burgess, Gary Guyton and Mike Wright also recorded sacks. Finally, Jonathan Wilhite had an interception.

Buffalo (5-9) looked like world-beaters on their opening drive as they held the ball for 14 plays and 9:24 but they stalled in the red zone and were forced to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Rian Lindell.

Without Vince Wilfork (one of the NFL's best) and Ty Warren (a very solid defensive end), the Patriots defensive line was completely pushed around on that first drive.

Rookie Ron Brace (4 tackles) started in the middle for New England and Wright (6 tackles, sack, 2 tackles for loss) subbed for Warren. Brace proved why he's been inactive much of the season while Wright continued to get everything out of his limited ability.

Moss (5 catches, 70 yards) put the Pats up 7-3 in the second quarter on one of Tom Brady's (11 for 23, 115 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) only good throws: a perfect 13-yard strike to the back of the end zone that Moss controlled and tapped his feet down before going out of bounds.

Laurence Maroney (23 carries, 81 yards) gave New England a 14-3 lead with 24 seconds left in the first half. Nobody will ever credit him until he has an injury-free, solid season, but Maroney is slowly becoming the weapon he's shown glimpses of in the past.

Buffalo couldn't get out of its own way as they had 10 penalties in the first half-an NFL record this season-and finished with 11 overall for 124 yards.

Stephen Gostkowski's 30-yard kick put the Pats up 17-3 but the Bills made it close when Lee Evans caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick.

The Bills recovered the ensuing onside kick but rookie Aaron Maybin was offsides so they chose to kick it deep and they never saw it again.

Jacksonville comes to Gillette next Sunday and then the Patriots wrap up the regular season at Houston in two weeks. If New England wins on Sunday, they'll clinch the division and would have to think hard about resting Brady since he's clearly banged up and not himself. He has an interception in four straight games.

If the playoffs started today, the Broncos would be coming to Gillette in the Wild Card round. Not a bad matchup.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ho hum, Celts win 11th straight and have best record in the NBA

It's funny how fast things can change in the NBA. A few weeks ago, the Celtics looked old and very vulnerable. Well they're still old but after winning their 11th straight last night, 110-105 over the Grizzlies, Boston (20-4) has the best record in the NBA.

Sure, the Celts have thrived against mostly weak teams but still they are 12-1 on the road. Since last night was the final game of a brief three-game road trip and because it was against a team that plays the style that gives Boston the most trouble (young, athletic), a seasoned fan had to know it wouldn't be easy.

It was basically a carbon copy of countless games from the last three seasons; the Celtics made just enough winning plays at the end to come away with the win. The biggest shot was Ray Allen's (18 points) three-pointer off a busted play with 17.5 seconds left.

Paul Pierce led the C's with 19 points and six assists. Rajon Rondo had 18 points and nine assists, Kevin Garnett had 13 points and eight boards while Kendrick Perkins added 13 points and six rebounds before fouling out.

The bench gave Boston a big left as Rasheed Wallace scored 15 and Eddie House had nine points.

Memphis (10-14) has one of the best starting fives in the league, really. Rudy Gay was coming off a career-high 41 point game and he followed that up with a team-high 23 points and seven rebounds. O.J. Mayo had 21 points and Zach Randolph added 20. Marc Gasol, who's much tougher than his older brother Pau, notched 15 points and eight boards while Mike Conley Jr. tossed in 11. Rookie Sam Young had 11 points off the bench.

Memphis led 31-28 after the first quarter and 55-54 at the half. Boston turned it on in the third quarter (31-26) and held on in the fourth (25-24).

The C's come home for three games, starting with Allen Iverson and the Sixers on Friday night.

It's Tuukka time Claude, just go with it

Tim Thomas is a good NHL goaltender. He had a career year last season and was rewarded with a new contract and the Vezina trophy. All of that is irrelevant in the here and now because he is struggling and backup goalie Tuukka Rask is really starting to come into his own at the NHL level.

Thomas (7-8-4, 2.48 GAA) lost his third straight start last night as the Flyers won a Winter Classic preview 3-1 at the TD Garden.

It seems like every game Thomas is good for at least one soft goal. Last night didn't have any complete stinkers but Kimmo Timonen's game-winner is probably one that Thomas would like back.

Boston (16-10-6) led 1-0 on Vladimir Sobotka's tip in on Shawn Thornton's shot in the second period. Steve Begin also assisted on what turned out to be the Bruins' only goal of the game.

The Flyers (15-15-1) have been playing terrible so they desperately needed this game to gain some momentum. Rookie James van Riemsdyk (a UNH product) tied it early in the third with a redirection. Arron Asham and Timonen assisted.

Timonen's goal which put Philadelphia up 2-1 was a long shot from the point that was deflected off Blake Wheeler's glove and past a screened Thomas (35 saves). Jon Kalinski and Matt Carle assisted.

The B's had a chance as they received a power-play with 1:03 left. They pulled Thomas to make it a 6-on-4 advantage but they couldn't put one past Flyers goalie Brian Boucher (26 saves).

Timonen clinched it with an empty-netter that went the length of the ice.

Boston has today off and then practices the next few days before going to Chicago to play the high-flying Blackhawks (maybe the best team in the Western Conference) Friday night.

Rask (9-2-2, 1.97 GAA) deserves the next start.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wes Welker is no Randy Moss, which is a good thing

For the last month as the Patriots have been in their worst tailspin in years (losing three out of four), it's become clear that for whatever reason Randy Moss is bailing on this team.

Things reached a boiling point on Wednesday when he showed up late for a meeting, along with Derrick Burgess, Gary Guyton and Adalius Thomas. Bill Belichik sent all four home for the day and Thomas wasn't active yesterday.

Burgess (3 tackles, sack) and Guyton (1 tackle) actually played decent in yesterday's 20-10 win over the Panthers at Gillette Stadium but Moss (1 catch, 16 yards, fumble) had his worst game in a Patriots uniform.

It doesn't help Moss that Wes Welker is a teammate; Welker represents everything Moss is not known for: hard work, toughness, going over the middle, a good attitude. On a day when Tom Brady struggled again (19 for 32, 192 yards, TD, INT), Welker was the passing game. He finished with 10 catches for 105 yards.

New England (8-5) had to win this game and while they played rather poorly and were fortunate to be facing a team going nowhere (with a backup quarterback), it's still a win. The Jets and Dolphins both won to remain one game behind New England in the AFC East.

The Patriots survived two fumbles and the interception by Brady. The good news was the defense looked good (save for a few breakdowns) and the running game was very productive on a rainy, messy afternoon.

Laurence Maroney had one of the best games in his career with 94 yards on 22 carries. Kevin Faulk added 58 yards rushing and a touchdown while Sammy Morris had 35 yards rushing (although he was stuffed on a predictable fourth down call and also fumbled).

Steve Smith gave Carolina (5-8) a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 41-yard touchdown catch from Matt Moore. Shawn Springs was left alone in coverage after Brandon Meriweather went to cover another Panthers receiver and Springs will never stop Smith by himself.

Faulk tied it up in the second quarter with a 3-yard run 1:08 before halftime.

Ben Watson (3 catches, 37 yards) capped off New England's longest drive of the season (13 plays, 96 yards) with a 5-yard touchdown catch from Brady. Watson is known for his Braylon Edwards-esque stone hands but give him credit as he held on after being drilled by a Carolina defender.

John Kasay's 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter made it 14-10 New England but Stephen Gostkowski sealed it with two long kicks of his own (48 yards and 47 yards).

For reasons unknown, DeAngelo Williams (13 carries, 82 yards) didn't get the ball much even though it was obvious that Moore (15 for 30, 197 yards, TD) couldn't make the easiest of throws.

Burgess and Jarvis Green both recorded sacks on the final Carolina drive as New England showed some semblance of a pass rush for once. Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork both left the game with injuries so hopefully they'll be back next weekend. The Pats can't afford to have their two outstanding defensive lineman out for any time.

There are three games left in the regular season and the Patriots look for their first true road win next Sunday in Buffalo. Odds are there will be three feet of snow on the ground.

Friday, December 11, 2009

See you next summer Obama

The Celtics let the good times roll last night in our nation's capital, surviving 104-102 against the Wizards for their ninth straight win.

Ray Allen scored 18 points, which helped him go over 20,000 for his career. Rajon Rondo led the C's (18-4) with 21 points (including a sick dunk late in the fourth quarter) and 11 assists. Kevin Garnett had 17 points, Kendrick Perkins added 16 points and 11 rebounds while Paul Pierce notched 12 points.

The Wizards (7-13) can still talk with the best of them but at the end of the day, they're just not very good. And I don't think having uberbozo Flip Saunders on the bench will do anything to change that losing atmosphere.

Gilbert Arenas led Washington with a game-high 25 points and eight assists. Brendan Haywood and Andray Blatche both scored 17, Antawn Jamison had 16 points and Caron Butler was held to 10 points.

The Wizards led 28-27 after the first quarter but Boston looked to blow it open with a 37-22 second quarter. Washington outplayed the Celts in the third (24-19) and the fourth (28-21) but they had nothing to show for it.

Winning was a direct result of good work at the free throw line (26-14) and on the glass (40-34). It wasn't pretty but it was a road victory and those are always tough to come by in the NBA.

The C's visit another underachieving team tomorrow night when they take on the Bulls.

Phil Kessel, now there's a haircut you can set a watch to

In a scheduling quirk by the NHL, the Bruins and Maple Leafs played twice in six days in Boston. Boston embarrassed Toronto 7-2 on Saturday and last night, they let them hang around a little more but still dispatched them 5-2 at the TD Garden.

You almost feel bad for Phil Kessel, who was held scoreless in his first two games back in Boston. Then you remember how much money he's making to do nothing but score a few goals and you reassess things.

After stumbling around for much of the early season, the B's (16-9-5) have found their game to the tune of 8-1-1 in their last ten and first place in the Northeast Division.

Boston jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second period as three completely random players found the back of the net: Mark Stuart (from Johnny Boychuk, Daniel Paille), Derek Morris PPG (Zdeno Chara, Michael Ryder) and David Krejci.

Toronto (10-14-7) scored two quick goals in the third period to make it somewhat interesting. Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin were the two Eastern Europeans out of central casting to score for the Maple Leafs. Mark Recchi put it away with a pair of late goals for the Bruins.

With 2:37 left in the game, Recchi scored a power-play goal from Blake Wheeler and Krejci then he had an empty-netter from Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm.

Tuukka Rask continued to prove why it's Tuukka time as he improved to 9-2-2 with 32 saves. Injury or not, Tim Thomas has earned his seat on the bench and Rask deserves to be the starter for the time being. Kudos to Bruins coach Claude Julien for realizing this early.

The B's will travel to Long Island tomorrow night to take on No. 1 pick John Tavares and the Islanders.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's time like this when you have to say, boy do the Patriots suck

If you could tell a few weeks ago that the Patriots were about to blow up, you're a more perceptive person than me.

The loss to Indy was obviously devastating and getting embarrassed by the Saints didn't help anything but losing 22-21 to a pretty average Dolphins team (without Ronnie Brown) yesterday afternoon was downright depressing.

Now the Patriots (7-5) sit just one game ahead of Miami (6-6) and the Jets (6-6), two shitbum teams that have no business even thinking about the playoffs but here we are.

Yesterday's loss had all the similar ingredients to every one of New England's other road losses this season. Did you know they haven't won a true road game yet this year? The new rule is they go for it on fourth down regardless of score or situation. The offense completely disappears in the second half and the defense can't make one noteworthy stop against scrubs like Chad Henne (335 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) since they have absolutely no pass rush. Also, our red zone attack is pathetic.

Oh and Tom Brady (352 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) makes a couple uncharacteristic mistakes based on the fact that our offense is completely predictable, without a running game and basically revolves around Wes Welker (10 catches, 167 yards).

Other than his 58-yard TD catch to start the game, Randy Moss was invisible (2 catches, 66 yards).

Kevin Faulk's 6-yard run gave New England a 14-0 lead in the second quarter before Miami slowly started to chip away at our lead which you knew the Pats wouldn't hold.

First Davone Bess scored a 13-yard touchdown, the first of his career which is surprising because we made him look like a hall of famer yesterday (10 catches, 117 yards).

Dan Carpenter's 29-yard field goal with a second left in the first half cut the Patriots' lead to 14-10.

After a Dolphins three and out, New England had its final highlight of the day: a ridiculous 81-yard catch and run by Sam Aiken. Brady just threw it up in a crowd on the sideline and somehow Aiken came down with it, kept his balance then sprinted for the score.

Carpenter's 24-yard field goal made it 21-13 in the third quarter before Brian Hartline caught a 7-yard pass in the corner of the end zone from Henne. The Dolphins missed the two-point conversion but two things were clear: 1) they'd score again and 2) New England probably would not.

Therefore Carpenter's 41-yard kick with 1:02 left was no surprise. New England got the ball back but Brady promptly threw a bad pick to Channing Crowder when he was being taken down and that was that.

The Patriots have four more games: vs. Panthers, at Bills, vs. Jaguars, at Texans. It's a very winnable final four games but after yesterday's mess, who knows if this team can do anything anymore. They look lost and broken.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gregg Popovich's face will haunt your dreams

I'm not saying Popp isn't an incredible coach, a connoisseur of fine wine or a sly, intelligent man but damn son, does your mug have to be on HD?

The Celts went into San Antonio last night and knocked off the Spurs 90-83 for their sixth straight win. It wasn't a game that would have been called pretty (even with Eva Longoria in the Tex-Mex crowd) but Kevin Garnett led the C's (15-4) with a game-high 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Ray Allen had 15 points, Rasheed Wallace scored 13 off the bench and Rajon Rondo added 12 points, 12 assists and three steals.

For the second straight game, Paul Pierce scored less than 10 points (8 this time) but Boston still found a way to win. The Captain gets off the hook too since he carried the team earlier in the season when Ray and KG were finding their games.

As it has since the stone age, San Antonio's (9-7) fortunes still rest on the shoulders of Tim Duncan (16 points, 15 assists). The Spurs big three of Duncan, Tony Parker (17 points, 7 assists, 1 smokeshow wife) and Manu Ginobli (11 points) are still formidable although Ginobli is looking more and more like Bailke (sp?) from Perfect Strangers both in resemblance and basketball skill.

I will give the Spurs credit though as they picked up DeJuan Blair in the second round of last summer's draft. Anybody who likes the Big East could have told you this kid was a baller.

With that said, he killed the Celtics last night with a career-high 18 points and 11 rebounds. Boston is the second worst rebounding team in the NBA (I have no idea why) and they won last night despite being just pummelled on the glass (55-32). How you can win a game like that? Not sure.

It did help that the Spurs shot a Rondo-like 7-for-17 from the line.

With one more win tonight in Oklahoma City (don't sleep on Kevin Durant and the Thunder), the Celtics will come home with a perfect road trip.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Kids gather 'round while Grandpa Recchi tells you about when real men played hockey

On the day that the Bruins officially signed Marc Savard to a seven-year extension, it was only fitting that he scored his 200th career goal as a nightcap in a 4-1 win over the Lightning at the TD Garden.

Boston (14-8-5) have won six out of their last seven and they regained control of the Northeast Division. Marco Sturm led the way with two goals while Patrice Bergeron scored once and had two assists while Mark Recchi had three assists.

Tim Thomas (7-6-3) had one of his better games of the season, making 39 saves against the talented Lightning (10-8-8).

Savard opened the scoring with a power-play goal 8:05 into the first period. He banked a shot off Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith's (35 saves) skates from the side of the net. Derek Morris and Zdeno Chara assisted on the goal.

Almost six minutes later, Bergeron scored off assists from Chara and Recchi.

Sturm is the most mercurial player on the Bruins. He's talented for sure but he goes through long stretches of ineffectiveness not to mention he's about as fragile as J.D. Drew.

Therefore it was nice to see him score two in a row during the second period. Recchi and Bergeron assisted on both of Sturm's goals.

Boston travels to Montreal tomorrow night for a game with some historical significance. It will be the 100th anniversary for the Canadiens so those jokers will be going nuts. Is there anything else to do in Canada? Didn't think so.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ray Allen ain't dead yet

Sure he maybe robotic and any day now he might be getting the senior discount but Ray Allen (at times) can still stroke it with the best of them.

Allen had his best game of the season last night (27 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) as the Celtics (14-4) rolled over the Bobcats (7-10), 108-90 for their fifth straight win.

It's amazing that Allen has been able to focus lately and play so well given his son's serious health issues but on a lighter note, damn his wife is fine.

Kendrick Perkins (21 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks) continues to blossom into one of the best centers-an endangered species in the NBA-that absolutely nobody outside of New England talks about.

Kevin Garnett added 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Rajon Rondo (8 points, 9 assists) and Eddie House (12 points) also contributed to the win.

For probably the first and last time of his life, Nazr Mohammed led his team in scoring with 16 points off the bench. Raymond Felton had 14 points, Boris Diaw scored 13, Stephen Graham added 12 and Stephen Jackson mustered 11 for his new squad.

Things will get harder as the Celts end the road trip with a back-to-back: at the Spurs tomorrow night then at the Thunder on Friday night.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Saints are for real, Patriots are not

With one game, the New Orleans Saints proved to the NFL that they are the best team (forget Indy) at this moment. Similarly, with one pathetic performance, the New England Patriots raised many questions about their abilities when they play good teams.

In the Bill Belichick era, it's hard to remember a more thorough beating than the one the Saints (11-0) threw the Patriots (7-4) last night at the Superdome, 38-17.

Drew Brees (18 of 23, 371 yards passing, 5 TDs, perfect QB rating) completely tore apart New England's secondary. Marques Colston led New Orleans with 121 yards receiving and a touchdown while Devery Henderson had 116 yards and a touchdown and Robert Meachem added 69 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Tom Brady (21 of 36, 237 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) never looked comfortable and his main weapons, Randy Moss (3 catches, 67 yards) and Wes Welker (6 catches, 32 yards) were neutralized. The offensive stars for the Patriots were Laurence Maroney (64 yards rushing, 2 TDs) and Sam Aiken (7 catches, 90 yards) which is never a good sign.

After Jon Carney's 30-yard field goal gave the Saints a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, New England took its only lead of the game on Maroney's 4-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1.

New Orleans went up 10-7 after Pierre Thomas' 18-yard catch and run. At least four Patriot defenders whiffed at tackling him. Even more depressing than that was the blown coverage on the next Saints drive that allowed Henderson to be wide open for a 75-yard touchdown.

Stephen Gostkowski's 36-yard kick cut it to 17-10 but you can't settle for field goals against the Saints. Brees closed out the first half with a perfectly threaded 38-yard touchdown pass to Meachem.

Maroney gave New England some life with a 2-yard touchdown to start the second half but the Saints came right back with a touchdown 1:22 later. Brees hit third tight end Darnell Dinkins for a 2-yard score. All that was left was a 20-yard touchdown pass to Colston in the fourth quarter and the Saints' quest for a perfect season look very good.

More relevant to me is where do the Patriots go from here? They'll be favored in and should win their last five games (no guarantees) but where is their signature win? They'll win the AFC East and make the playoffs. But how can anyone take this team seriously when they completely crumble against the best teams?

They go to Miami on Sunday to try and sweep the Dolphins this season.

Monday, November 30, 2009

KG ain't dead yet

Much like reports of Tom Brady's demise earlier in this season were laughable, the same could be said for Kevin Garnett. He was coming off the first major surgery of his career and he's 33-years-old. How some people didn't get that there'd be some recovery time in season is beyond me but the good news is that KG has looked great lately.

He shot 11-for-12 last night and had a team-high 24 points and eight rebounds in the Celtics' (13-4) 92-85 win in Miami. It was Boston's fourth straight win and a perfect way to get their four-game road trip started.

The incomparable Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 27 points for the Heat (9-7) with help from Michael Beasley (18 points, 7 rebounds) and the ghost of Jermaine O'Neal (14 points, 10 rebounds).

It seems like a given these days that all five Boston starters score in double figures and last night was no different. Paul Pierce (15 points), Kendrick Perkins (14 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks), Rajon Rondo (13 points, 11 assists) and Ray Allen (11 points) all did what they had to do in the win.

Miami led 31-29 after one quarter but Boston came back to grab a 55-48 halftime lead. For whatever reason (old legs?) the C's started particularly slow in the third quarter and let Miami back in it with a gross quarter (17-12). When it came time to make the winning plays as they say, Boston stepped up with Allen drilling a 3-pointer and KG swishing his final jumper in the fourth.

For the game Boston shot 52.2% to Miami's 41.8%. The Celts had way more assists (21-12) while the Heat doubled them up on steals (10-5) and the C's had five more blocks (7-2).

The Celts are a work in progress but at 13-4, it's hard to argue with their success so far. They travel to Charlotte on Wednesday night to play the Bobcats.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The boys are back in town/on Causeway Street

After treading water with Milan Lucic and Marc Savard out for awhile, the Boston Bruins are slowly starting to become the team everyone thought they could be.

The B's (11-8-4) won their third straight, 4-2 last night in St. Louis. Savard made his return and while he didn't record a point, his presence was felt as the team had more jump in their skates with two power-play goals and a shorthanded tally.

Patrice Bergeron, who's been the Bruins' best player thus far, had four assists and Tuukka Rask (6-2-1; 29 saves) made his fourth straight start as he continued to get better every game.

Even with Tim Thomas out with a hand injury, Boston has one of the best goaltending duos in the NHL.

Mark Recchi (4th of the season) gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the first period with a standard Recchi goal. It was on the power play, Bergeron and David Krejci assisted as Recchi followed a rebound and batted it out of the air past Blue goaltender Chris Mason (19 saves).

Another ageless American winger, Keith Tkachuk, tied it for St. Louis (8-9-4) 1:31 after Recchi's goal.

Blake Wheeler (6th of the year) made it 2-1 Boston in the second period with another power-play goal from Bergeron and Dennis Wideman.

Carlo Colaiacovo tied it for the Blues later in the second period but Lucic responded with his second goal in two games since returning. Zdeno Chara and Bergeron assisted on Lucic's second goal of the season.

Marco Sturm wrapped it up with his sixth goal of the year, a shorthanded goal in the third period from Bergeron.

The Bruins close out their four game road trip tomorrow night in Minnesota against the Wild.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thank God for the Jets

After a week of seemingly every person in the world weighing in on Bill Belichick's absurd fourth down call in the loss to the Colts, it was refreshing to see the Patriots stomp the Jets 31-14 at Gillette Stadium yesterday.

No team in the NFL has as much false confidence as New York (4-6) and their fat clown of a head coach, Rex Ryan. The fact that the Jets had beaten the Patriots (7-3) 16-9 back in Week 2 was more fuel to the proverbial fire.

This game was not nearly as close as the score would indicate since Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. It was 24-7 at halftime and New York cut it to 10 points (24-14) in the third quarter but the outcome wasn't in question after the first half.

Wes Welker, who didn't play in the Week 2 meeting, was his usual unstoppable self. He set a career-high with 15 catches for 192 yards and he added an 11-yard end around for 203 total yards. There is no discussion, he is the best slot receiver in the NFL.

Darrelle Revis is undoubtedly one of if not the best cornerback in the league and for the second time this season, he neutralized Randy Moss. Straight Cash Homie was limited to five catches for 34 yards. He did manage a 4-yard touchdown catch on a quick slant in the first quarter but his biggest contribution yesterday was as a decoy. For instance on one play, three Jets defenders went to Moss leaving Welker wide open for a 43-yard catch.

Tom Brady had his fifth straight 300-yard game, passing for 310 yards and a touchdown. Laurence Maroney continued his fraudulent streak of five straight games with a touchdown as he scored twice and ran for 77 yards. Just in case you were getting a little confidence in Maroney, he fumbled again to remind you of his goal-line fumble against Indianapolis.

The Patriots defense got consistent pressure on Sanchez and as a result, he threw three terrible picks. New England cornerback Leigh Bodden had three interceptions including one he took back 53 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Tully Banta-Cain was the other standout defensively for the Pats as he had two sacks and forced a fumble.

The Jets caught a huge break late in the first half as they blocked a punt and returned it four yards for a touchdown. Sanchez and the offense finally moved in the ball on the first drive of the second half as he found Jerricho Cotchery with a 29-yard strike.

New England's offense scuffled in the second half and couldn't really move the ball (outside of Welker) but Maroney put it away with a 1-yard run with five minutes left in the game.

The Saints (10-0) blew out the Bucs yesterday which sets up a juicy Monday night game next week at the Superdome against the Patriots. It will be a good measuring stick for both teams and also an indicator if the NFC should be taken seriously or not.

With the Bengals and Steelers both losing yesterday and the Chargers winning, four teams in the AFC find themselves 7-3 as they try to get the No. 2 spot (and the all-important bye) in the playoffs.

What has happened to the Celtics?

Did I enjoy seeing KC swish a buzzer-beating game-winner yesterday afternoon at MSG vs. the Knicks? Of course. Am I worried about the Celtics since it took overtime to defeat the hapless Knicks, 107-105, and Boston seems to be rapidly aging? Without question.

Boston (10-4) has not looked good since the beginning of the season. They take way too many threes, they are 29th in the NBA in rebounding (explain that one) and they extremely vulnerable to young, athletic teams.

New York (3-10) is a complete joke. All they do is take threes and try to make Sportscenter with their wannabe And-1 moves (I'm talking to you Nate Robinson).

Yesterday's game meant nothing and the NBA treated it as such, putting it at 1pm on an NFL sunday. I'm sure many people in New England didn't even know it was happening. I couldn't completely focus on it with more exciting and important football games on but the C's seemed to be in control up 30-22 after one quarter but it was down to 56-53 at the half.

Paul Pierce scored a season-high 33 points, Rajon Rondo nearly had a triple-double with 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds while Kendrick Perkins added 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. However, Garnett (10 points on 4 of 15 shooting) and Ray Allen (13 points on 3 of 13 shooting) looked more fit for a coffin.

Boston got the lead up to 14 points early in the second half (67-53) but New York responded with a 20-6 run to tie it and then they went ahead by five points.

Al Harrington had 30 points and nine boards off the bench for the Knicks while David Lee (22 points, 15 rebounds) and Robinson (19 points) provided the supporting cast.

I believe Tim Donaghy is out of jail and he could have been working the game yesterday because there were some mighty shady calls. An offensive foul call on Ray Allen was one of the worst I can ever remember but most importantly, the refs' ineptitude didn't cost either team the game.

Can somebody please work with Rondo on his free throw shooting? The guy is 8 for 24 from the line this season. It is beyond painful to watch him up there. It's a glaring hole in his game that will be exploited forever until he can at least become decent.

The Celts will look to get back to playing their style of basketball Wednesday night as they host the Sixers at the Garden.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oh Hey

Welcome to the party Michael Ryder, don't know where you've been for the past month and a half but that doesn't matter, you're here now and that's all that counts.

Ryder scored two goals last night for the Bruins as they coughed up a 2-0 lead and late 3-2 lead but won in the shootout 4-3, a forum where the B's are usually allergic to goals and victories.

Another Boston (9-8-4) player who had been invisible this season was Marco Sturm and he emerged last night with a tip-in goal (his 5th) after a Mark Recchi shot in the first period. Andrew Ference also assisted on the goal.

Ryder also scored on a tip-in with 1:49 left in the first period. It was also his fifth of the season, from Blake Wheeler and Dennis Wideman (remember him), other members of Boston's ghost squad.

Nobody is at the games but the Thrashers (10-6-2) can score some goals and they tied it up quickly with two in the second. Nik Antropov scored his first of the season (to go along with 16 assists) before superstud Ilya Kovalchuk tied it up with a power play goal with 5:37 left in the second.

Ryder put his team back ahead with a power play goal, something nearly unheard of for the Bruins, just a few minutes after Kovalchuk's goal. David Krejci and Wideman assisted on that tally.

Boston looked about to seize the two points in regulation when Maxim Afinogenov sent it to overtime with a strike with 42 seconds remaining.

Tukka Rask (32 saves), a last-minute sub for Tim Thomas, played well the entire game and stoned all three Atlanta shooters in the shootout. Patrice Bergeron was Boston's first shooter and fittingly he had the only goal.

It wasn't pretty but it was two points in a manner that this team hasn't excelled at by any means. Milan Lucic returned to the lineup and Marc Savard is due back most likely next week.

They'll look to keep the momentum going as they travel to Buffalo tonight to face red-hot Ryan Miller and the Sabres.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This probably won't help Don Nelson's liver

After a few days to digest a surprising two-game losing streak, the Boston Celtics came out last night and took care of a far inferior opponent, the Golden State Warriors, 109-95 at the TD Garden.

Whispers about the Celtics (9-3) being old and relying too much on 3-pointers are most likely true but as any NBA fan knows, there are a lot of terrible teams in the league so you can bounce back quickly.

Due to injuries, swine flu and indifference, the Warriors (3-8) dressed just eight healthy players. Haha and Mikki Moore started, I think that's all you have to know about this forgettable matchup.

As per usual, all five Celtics starters scored in double figures along with Eddie House (11 points). Paul Pierce led Boston with 19 points while Rajon Rondo played his unique game with 18 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds. Kendrick Perkins and Ray Allen scored 15 points while Kevin Garnett added 12.

Corey Maggette led Golden State with a game-high 23 points while Monta Ellis (who could be traded any day now) scored 18 points. Rookie Stephen Curry looked good with 13 points, seven assists and four steals but sadly his MILF-tastic mom was nowhere to be seen. Recently acquired Raja Bell had 11 points off the bench while rail-thin but talented Anthony Randolph scored 11 points.

Things get much more serious tomorrow night as the Orlando Magic come to the Garden for a rematch of last spring's Eastern Conference second round series. The Magic have improved themselves by picking up Vince Carter, Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes, etc. We'll see how much of a different KG, Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels make since none of them played in that memorable seven game series.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Who to blame: the refs, Belichick, Laurence Maroney? Answer: all of the above.

What the fuck happened last night in Indy?

The Patriots choked away two 17-point leads and lost 35-34 at Lucas Oil Stadium after two dubious calls went to the Colts (9-0) and oh by the way New England genius head coach Bill Belichick went for it on fourth-and-two from their own 28.

It is a shame that a great performance by the Patriots (6-3) for 58 minutes will mostly be remembered by the slobbering masses for the weak pass interference call on Darius Butler, the terrible spot on Kevin Faulk's fourth down catch and Belichick's ridiculous roll of the dice.

A win would have put the Patriots in the mix for the possible top seed in the AFC but now, they're relegated to fighting for the second or third spot in the AFC. We can all agree that the division is wrapped up now (I'll print the worthless AFC East champions shirts) after the Jets lost yesterday to the Jaguars, Buffalo got blown out by the Titans and the Dolphins squeaked by the Bucs.

The Patriots did whatever they want on offense as Tom Brady (375 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception), Randy Moss (9 catches, 179 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Wes Welker (9 catches, 94 yards) abused Indy's injury-depleted defense.

Joseph Addai gave the Colts an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 15-yard touchdown catch on a screen pass. From there, the Pats rolled off 24 straight points.

Laurence Maroney tied it with a one-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter. A Stephen Gostkowski 31-yard field goal, a 63-yard bomb to Moss and a 9-yard catch by Julian Edelman put New England up 24-7 with 7:19 left in the second quarter.

Predictably, Peyton Manning (327 yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) and Reggie Wayne (10 catches, 126 yards, 2 touchdowns) took just over three minutes to make it 24-14 as Manning found Wayne for a 20-yard touchdown catch.

Neither team scored in the third quarter and Randy Moss extended to lead to 31-14 early in the fourth quarter after a quick 5-yard out.

The Patriots defense which played well in spurts, seemed to struggle most when they had a lead of more than one score.

Playing passively against Manning never works. Pierre Garcon caught a 29-yard pass as the Colts cut it to 31-21.

Maroney did his best to give it away as he fumbled a sure touchdown into the end zone which the Colts recovered.

When Gostkowski hit a 36-yard field goal with 4:12 left, the game looked all but over at 34-21 Patriots.

Once again, the prevent defense collapsed in a heartbeat for the Patriots as Indianapolis marched down the field and got a gift pass interference call. Addai ran it in from 4 yards out with 2:23 left.

Belichick wasted not one but two timeouts on their last real drive which of course came back to haunt them. When their third down play didn't work (an out to Welker, really?), nobody could believe it as the offense stayed on the field and went for it on fourth down.

Faulk (79 yards rushing) caught it at the 30-yard line (which should have been a first down) but two Colts defenders tackled him backwards. Apparently forward progress is a forgotten concept as the closest ref signalled Faulk was juggling (he did at first but then it was secure). They had no challenges left so they couldn't review the play.

One last time, Manning and Indy put the ball in the end zone as he threw a 1-yard touchdown to Wayne.

Yikes. After listening to pregame hype of this game all week, now I have to listen to all the second-guessing of everything in the game this week.

The Jets come to Gillette on Sunday and hopefully the Patriots can put this horrorshow behind them as fast as possible.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Celtics get back to shitting on the rest of the NBA

With three days off between games after a brutal eight games in twelve days stretch to open the season, the Celts predictably threw a beating on the Utah Jazz 105-86 last night at the TD Garden.

Seven Celtics scored in double-figures as Boston (8-1) continued to look like the team to beat in not only the Eastern Conference but the NBA as a whole.

Kevin Garnett led the C's with 18 points while Ray Allen (15 points), Rajon Rondo (14 points, 11 assists), Paul Pierce (13 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists), Rasheed Wallace (12 points), Kendrick Perkins (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Marquis Daniels (10 points) all provided great support.

This might be the deepest team in the NBA or at least one of the deepest and it showed as Utah (3-5) could not keep up with all the talent Celtics coach Doc Rivers kept putting on the court.

Deron Williams and Ronnie Brewer paced the Jazz with 13 points apiece while Andrei Kirilenko (12 points) and Carlos Boozer (10 points) were the only other Jazz players to score over 10.

Boston led 28-23 after one quarter and 54-44 at the half. A fine third quarter (30-18) allowed Rivers to sit the starters.

The shooting was on point all night for the Celts as they shot 53.2% and 16-of-18 from the line. They also had 30 assists to go with 15 turnovers. Utah's assist/turnover ratio was under one since they had 18 assists and 21 turnovers.

The Atlanta Hawks come to the Garden tomorrow night to renew the intense rivalry that started in the playoffs two seasons ago.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rick Tocchet probably lost a lot of money on this game

It only took 17 games but the Boston Bruins finally won back-to-back games in the 2009-2010 season. The B's (8-7-2) knocked off the road weary and banged up Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins (12-6-0), 3-0 last night at the TD Garden.

Tim Thomas stopped 27 saves for his second shutout of the season and three different Bruins scored goals.

With 1:36 gone by in the second period, Bruins forward/defenseman Matt Hunwick scored his fourth of the year off assists from Dennis Wideman and Steve Begin. The goal was reviewed since the puck quickly bounced out of the net but it stood.

Daniel Paille scored his first goal for Boston in the third period after he was sent in alone on Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fleury (26 saves). Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi assisted with Recchi providing the pass that sprung Paille who had just hopped over the boards for a line change.

Bergeron wrapped up the scoring with an empty-net, short-handed goal with four seconds left in the game. Begin and Wideman assisted on the Bruins' first short-handed tally of the season.

Even given all the Penguins' injuries, this was a great win since they're tied for the Capitals for most points in the Eastern Conference.

The Florida Panthers come to the Garden tomorrow night as the Bruins look to make it three in a row.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC East, FACT

Last year, the Miami Dolphins came into Gillette Stadium and shocked the Patriots and the NFL by unveiling their old-time offense, the wildcat. It spurred an AFC East title for Miami along with a nation-wide infatuation with this simple offensive system.

Yesterday back at Gillette and with a healthy Tom Brady, the Patriots held off the Dolphins 27-17 in an early season divisional showdown.

It was no surprise that Brady (332 yards passing, 1 touchdown, 1 interception) and Randy Moss (6 catches, 147 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 two-point conversion) were the best players on the field.

Miami (3-5) tried to control the clock with its powerful running game led by Ronnie Brown and a cleaned up Ricky Williams, as evidenced by their ten minute drive to start the second half.

The difference was that New England's (6-2) offense had the quick-strike ability while Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne is still trying to find his way as a starter.

After rookie cornerback Vonte Davis (remember that name) picked off Brady on the game's opening drive, Miami kicker Dan Carpenter hit a career-long 52-yard kick to give the Dolphins an early 3-0 lead.

The Patriots responded with a one-yard touchdown run by Laurence Maroney. Having to carry the load, Maroney did a decent job with 82 yards on 20 carries. Moss set up the easy six with a one-handed grab that was good for 36 yards. Davis couldn't do anything to stop that absurd catch.

Stephen Gostkowski continues to prove why he's one of the NFL's best as he had three field goals in the second quarter alone. In between, Williams ran for a 15-yard score out of the wildcat.

New England led 16-10 at the half as Gostkowski hit a 34-yarder as time ran out. Once again, the Patriots' struggles in the red zone continued against good teams.

Brown capped off Miami's long drive to start the second half as he threw a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joey Haynos. Using backup quarterback Pat White, the Dolphins started to find a rhythm against a confused Pats defense.

Three plays later, Moss and Brady connected for a play which you'll see for the rest of the season. On third and 1, Brady hit Moss on a crossing pattern. Moss juked Davis then stiff-armed him and outran him 71 yards for the touchdown. It was the 140th career touchdown catch for Moss, tying him second all-time with Terrell Owens and behind the incomparable Jerry Rice.

The Patriots defense didn't get any turnovers but Adalius Thomas returned from the dead with a key sack as New England held Miami scoreless the rest of the way.

Jerod Mayo led the Patriots with 12 tackles while Brandon McGowan (11 tackles), Tully Banta-Cain (9 tackles) and rookie Darius Butler added seven tackles.

Backup center Dan Connolly also did a nice job for New England after Dan Koppen went down with a knee injury.

The win sets up a huge matchup which I'm already peeing my pants (PG-rated version) over: Patriots at Colts (8-0) on Sunday night.

Friday, November 6, 2009

This is getting silly

Well the good news is that your Boston Bruins just barely avoided getting shut out for the third consecutive game. The bad news is that they still lost in a shootout last night to the Canadiens 2-1 at the TD Garden and center David Krejci has been diagnosed with swine flu. Haha, really.

Proving that Canada has their priorities straight since the Calgary Flames and their families got shots before the rest of Calgary, the Bruins' luck continues to border on ridiculous. What else can happen to this team?

Former Bruin forward Glen Metropolit scored in the first period and a one-goal lead against Boston (6-7-2) right now is the equivalent of a five-goal lead against any other team.

The Bruins took 43 shots but only Bergeron could solve the highly overrated and underperforming Carey Price. Bergeron had another possible goal whistled off late in the second period when the puck slid under Price's pads but the net came off its moorings.

With goaltender Tim Thomas (25 saves) pulled, the B's finally tied it up with 52 seconds remaining. Bergeron was right on top of Price and he was able to knock home a rebound following Zdeno Chara's blast.

That was the only magic in the Bruins' sticks though as all three shooters in the shootout: Blake Wheeler, Bergeron and Mark Recchi fittingly couldn't score.

Montreal's (8-8-0) Mike Cammalleri beat Thomas for the only goal of the shootout.

Boston will try to score more than one goal tomorrow night against Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres, not an easy task since he's the NHL's hottest goalie.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

On top of the world Ma!

As a slave to fantasy sports, it hit me last night that none of the Boston Celtics this season will probably have a great year statistically. Sure Paul Pierce or Ray Allen can get the hot hand any night and put up 25+ points and Rajon Rondo is a triple-double waiting to happen but nobody is a straight gunner which for the most part is what fantasy basketball is all about.

Fortunately, the product the Celtics are currently putting on the court more than makes up for this useless quibble. They didn't play well at all last night in Minnesota but still survived with a 92-90 victory at the Target Center.

Boston (6-0) was down five points after the first quarter and eight at the half (49-41) but they slowly chipped away and let the young Timberwolves (1-4) make enough dumb plays and launch enough bricks to pull it out.

It might be my noted affection for Al Jefferson (18 points) and fellow PC alum Ryan Gomes (11 points, 7 rebounds) but I've said for the last few seasons that Minnesota has a lot of talent, if they could plug in a few decent veterans they might get somewhere. So far with new coach Kurt Rambis patrolling the sidelines (sans goggles) and Kevin Love out with an injury, it's hard to tell if the T-Wolves are making much progress.

Oleksiy Pecherov had the game of his life last night with a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds but it wasn't enough. Corey Brewer added 13 points and promising rookie point guard Jonny Flynn had 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Balance was the order of the day for the C's as out of the ten guys that saw the floor, nine scored at least six points.

Rajon Rondo led the way with 18 points, six assists and three steals. Kevin Garnett (in his second game back in Minnesota) had a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. He also had the play of the game late in the fourth quarter as he tied up Brewer when it looked like the former Florida star had an open lane to the basket.

Ray Allen scored 14 points, Kendrick Perkins had 12 points, eight boards and three blocks while Paul Pierce notched 10 points.

The Suns come to Boston tomorrow night.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Gino says: free lines of Coke for everybody!

This is going to sound ridiculous but the NBA playoffs can't come soon enough.

Sure I will devote much of my life over the next six months watching mostly meaningless regular season games but believe me when I tell you that the Boston Celtics are ready to play the games that matter right now.

None of the players, coaches or people that work for the team will ever speak the truth like that but they're about as flawless a team as you'll find in the Association.

The Celts improved to 4-0 with last night's 97-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets at the TD Garden.

After going to the Bobcats and Bulls games against the C's last week, all I can say is that it's hard to believe how cohesive this group seems to be. Granted, this can all change at any time if KG, Rajon Rondo or Paul Pierce go down with a serious injury. Still, this team is deeper than the one that won a championship two seasons ago. Yup I said it.

Pierce, who is still one of the NBA's most underrated superstars, scored a game-high 27 points as Boston was challenged for the first time in three games.

Ray Allen added 17 points, Garnett had 14 points, seven boards and five assists while Rondo notched 10 assists and three steals. Rasheed Wallace continued to deliver the goods off the bench as he had 12 points.

Chris Paul is one of the NBA's best point guards and most exciting players to watch period. Unfortunately, with the Hornets (1-3) he does not have too much talent around him, forcing him to play out of his mind virtually every night to give them a chance to be decent.

Paul had 22 points and eight assists last night but he was clearly frustrated at his scrub teammates and it boiled over after the game as he had a bizarre confrontation with Rondo. 95-year-old Peja Stojakovic had his stroke going as he scored 26 points but David West (10 points) was the only other Hornet in double figures.

Boston has a day off before an absurd four game in five nights stretch, really David Stern? They'll play in Philly tomorrow night against the Sixers, probably their biggest Atlantic Division competition (try not to laugh, HAHA).

Cam Neely is rolling over in his grave

Oh man the Boston Bruins are hard to watch right now. Without Milan Lucic and Marc Savard, not to mention Phil Kessel (who's catching up on The Hills in Toronto), the B's simply cannot score goals. Their defense and goaltending is fine but the power play is anemic and the lack of any potent sniper is alarming.

Yesterday afternoon's cut and paste 1-0 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden was about as dull as they come. It marked the fourth time in the last 20 days that the B's have lost 1-0.

Once Marian Gaborik scored with 4:09 left in the second period (from Vaclav Prospal and Marc Staal) you had a feeling that New York (9-5-1) was going to pull this one out.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves for the shutout while Tim Thomas had 22 in the loss for the Bruins (6-6-1).

David Krejci, Michael Ryder, Marco Sturm and Zdeno Chara are just a few names of Bruins that need to start finding the net with their shots.

Boston travels to Detroit tomorrow night to face the Red Wings, who are off to a similarly blah start to the season.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Really Bobcats?

The 2009 home opener for the Boston Celtics couldn't have gone much better. The C's blew out the Charlotte Bobcats 92-59 last night to improve to 2-0. The night got even better as the Raptors beat the Cavs and the Phillies knocked off the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series.

Yes you read that correctly, Charlotte (0-1) was held to a franchise-low 59 points. It was a pathetic performance but my best friend and I (who were there to witness it first hand) ate it up. There are plenty of bad girls high school basketball teams that can put up more than 59 points (in a shorter game).

It probably sounds absurd but the Celts didn't even play that well, making you wonder how much they could have won by if they shot the ball better (43.4%)?

In the second night of a back-to-back stretch to open the season and with the Bulls coming to Boston tomorrow night, the Celtics starters did what they had to do and were rewarded with plenty of rest in the fourth quarter.

Ray Allen led Boston with 18 points, Paul Pierce scored 15, Rajon Rondo had a double-double with 10 points, 11 assists and three steals while Kevin Garnett added 10 points, seven boards and three blocks. Kendrick Perkins had nine points, seven rebounds and four blocks and Rasheed Wallace scored nine off the bench.

Perhaps the only memorable part of the game (besides Charlotte's no-show) was the play of Shelden Williams. The former lottery pick from Duke continued to look good as he takes up a lot of the minutes that would have gone to Glen Davis.

Williams had 12 points and nine rebounds but he'll still only be the second best basketball player in his house since he's married to Candice Parker (who's probably better than half the scrubs in the NBA).

It didn't look like the Bobcats would get a player in double figures but Gerald Wallace checked in with 10 points and 12 rebounds. It was hard to figure out many things about Charlotte: A) who is their go-to guy; B) what is their offense; C) how long before Larry Brown bounces?

Things should get much harder tomorrow night as the Celtics and Bulls renew the rivalry that started this past spring with their intense seven game playoff series.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This is going to be an enjoyable season

It is hard to believe but the NBA season is off and running and what a way to start it as the Celtics went into Cleveland and beat the Cavs 95-89 at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Big Three are back together with a healthy KG and Boston's (1-0) newest additions of Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels and Shelden Williams all played roles in the impressive comeback win.

Predictably Cleveland (0-1) came out on fire with a 21-7 run to open the game. LeBron James (38 points, 8 assists, 4 blocks) looked every bit like the MVP he was last season. However, despite what every "expert" believes, Shaq (10 points, 10 rebounds) at this late stage of his NBA career does not make the Cavaliers better. Nope, his plodding offense and foul-prone defense doesn't help the Cavs develop into anything other than the one-man team they were exposed as in the Eastern Conference Finals last spring vs. the Magic. Three Cavs other than LeBron had double-digit points but they were 12, 10 and 10.

The Celts cut the lead to 28-21 after one quarter and they really made their move in the second quarter, outscoring the Cavs 30-17.

Paul Pierce led the C's with 23 points and 11 rebounds, Ray Allen scored 16 points, Kevin Garnett had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks while Rajon Rondo added eight points, 10 assists and six rebounds.

With Glen Davis out indefinitely following surgery on his broken thumb, the acquisitions of Wallace, Daniels and even Williams look even better since more will be expected of them. Wallace led the bench with 12 points, Daniels had seven and Williams scored four points.

Boston continued their hot stretch into the third quarter but the Cavs made it interesting at the end with LeBron hitting a couple ridiculous shots.

Kendrick Perkins (9 points) had a big three-point play off a nice feed from Pierce late in the fourth quarter and Pierce sealed it with eight points down the stretch, on his patented mid range jumpers.

You couldn't ask for much more on Opening Night as the Celts won in Cleveland for the first time in five seasons. The Cavs only lost twice on their home floor in the regular season last year.

The Charlotte Bobcats come to the TD Garden tonight for the Celtics home-opener.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Well that was a waste of pounds

In my semester in London during college, I never recall a single day that was totally boring. I'm just glad between all the pub and booze-filled nights that I didn't have the chance to waste my money on a shitty NFL game like the one yesterday at Wembley Stadium. The Patriots beat the Bucs 35-7 in a game that wasn't half as close as the blowout score indicates.

It was the second straight week that New England (5-2) faced one of the sisters of the poor in the NFL, of which there are many this season, and they made quick work of wretched Tampa Bay (0-7).

On the first drive of the game, Bucs quarterback Josh Johnson threw a pick-six to Brandon Meriweather (his first of two interceptions), who returned it 39 yards.

Later in the quarter, the Pats went up 14-0 on a typical Wes Welker (10 catches, 107 yards) 14-yard catch and run. When Sam Aiken went the distance on a 54-yard catch early in the second quarter, this game lost all competitiveness.

Sure Tom Brady was picked off twice, but he still had 308 yards and three touchdowns.

Antonio Bryant had the Bucs' only offensive highlight on the day with a 33-yard touchdown catch from Johnson with 1:14 left in the half.

The second half had the feel of a preseason game as the crowd was completely disinterested (besides cheering for the Bucs smokeshow cheerleaders) and backups littered the field.

Brady hooked up with Ben Watson (who's always good for one nice catch) on a 35-yard touchdown in the third quarter. In his first start as the feature back, Laurence Maroney (13 carries, 43 yards) was up to his old dancing with the stars ways. He had a completely meaningless 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that nobody but him will ever remember.

Both teams get now get a bye week since they had to deal with the travel and time change with going to the UK. The hapless Bucs surrendered a home game just to go to London and get embarassed. Good times.

Things figure to get much harder for New England in November with a brutal five game stretch: vs. Dolphins, at Colts, vs. Jets, at Saints and at Dolphins. After a couple of those games we might be able to start to figure out what this team is all about. Right now, it's like a top college team in the beginning of the year after they play a couple of joke schools.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A circle jerk in Foxboro

One of the main reasons that ESPN and most mainstream sports media these days is a joke is that they make snap decisions after one game or a very small sample size.

No doubt, after yesterday's 59-0 win over the Titans at snowy Gillette Stadium, most Patriots fans as well as pundits will be quick to say Tom Brady and the Pats are back.

To quote the esteemed Lee Corso, head college football bozo on Gameday, "not so fast my friend." So while yes, the events of yesterday's contest were quite pleasing, let's keep in mind what a perfect storm of shit the Titans faced: coming in 0-5 (their season was already over), there was an unexpected snowstorm, on the road against an offense and team looking to breakout and playing without three of its top guys in the secondary.

Only later in the season will we be able to say if this game was a blip (like last season's thrashing of Arizona in somewhat similar circumstances) or a positive sign of things to come from Brady (380 yards, 6 TDs), Wes Welker (10 catches, 150 yards, 2 TDs) and Randy Moss (8 catches, 129 yards, 3 touchdowns).

Recapping the play by play of this one would be pointless. I'll just talk about the New England scores and some other random thoughts.

After Sammy Morris got hurt in the first quarter (with what looked like a knee injury), Laurence Maroney subbed in and had a big game with 16 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown. Second year back BenJarvus Green-Ellis had his first playing time of the year and he looked good, rushing for 67 yards and making two catches for 11 yards.

After Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39-yard kick, Maroney opened the scoring with a 45-yard run. Gostkowski hit a 33-yard kick as the Pats (4-2) led 10-0 after the first quarter.

The second quarter was something we'll never see again in our lifetimes. Brady set an NFL record with five touchdown passes in those 15 minutes.

He started it with his two best passes of the season: a 40-yard flea flicker to Moss then a 28-yard pass to Moss in the back of the end zone when Brady was about to be drilled.

Kevin Faulk turned a screen pass into a 38-yard touchdown then Wes Welker got his two touchdowns: from 30 and five yards.

The only real intrigue after the half (the biggest deficit in NFL history) was how much longer Brady would play (one series) and if the Pats would get the shutout (since I was facing them in fantasy football).

Brady's day was done after a 9-yard touchdown pass to Moss. Rookie backup quarterback Brian Hoyer got his first NFL action and made it memorable by scoring on a 1-yard QB sneak for the final mark.

Poor Chris Johnson had 128 yards rushing for the Titans (0-6) but Kerry Collins (2 for 12, -7 yards, fumble, interception) and Vince Young (0 for 2, interception) looked like they'd never played football before or seen snow. Collins must have fallen off the wagon yesterday because no sober NFL quarterback could play that bad. As for VY, he continues to rapidly regress as he only worries about partying shirtless in clubs.

Patriots rookie cornerback Darius Bulter had his first NFL interception and so did rookie safety Patrick Chung. In addition, New England's defense recovered three fumbles.

I thought Arizona's turd salad was the worst performance I'd ever see in the NFL but in less than a year, that was topped. It's hard to imagine any loss being worse than yesterday.

Next on the schedule, New England and Tampa Bay (0-6) meet in London on Sunday for another stupid NFL in the UK matchup. Earth to Roger Goddell: nobody in the UK gives a shit about American football. Never have, never will. Time to move on from this stupid experiment.

The Pats shouldn't have any trouble with the hapless Bucs and they'll cruise into their bye week at 5-2. Some other good news coming from yesterday was that the Jets continue to fall apart as they lost to Buffalo in overtime. It was a pathetic loss that dropped the Jets to 3-3, losers of three straight. Your New England Patriots now rest atop the AFC East.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Do the Bruins know the season has started?

For the fourth time in five games to start the '09-'10 season, the Boston Bruins did not play well. They lost 4-3 to the Colorado Avalanche yesterday in a Columbus Day matinee at the Garden.

The Avs (3-1-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to some juicy rebounds by Bruins goalie Tukka Rask (18 saves).

At 6:15 Milan Hejduk scored a power-play goal from Matt Duchene and Kyle Quincey. Rask blocked the initial shot but the rebound went right to Hejduk who backhanded it in the net.

37 seconds later, Colorado made it 2-0 when Scott Hannon scored from David Jones and Ryan O'Reilly.

The B's (2-3) regrouped during the first intermission and started playing up to their capabilities with two goals in the second period. Mark Recchi one-timed one home after a nice pass from behind the net by Patrice Bergeron. Chuck Kobasew also assisted on that goal.

Then Blake Wheeler tied it after a beautiful pass by Michael Ryder (and David Krejci) that Wheeler deflected out of mid-air and past Avs goalie Craig Anderson (29 saves).

Special teams killed Boston as Colorado scored another power-play goal. Marek Svatos did the honors from Wojtek Wolski and Brett Clark.

Easily the pivotal play of the game was late in the second period with the Bruins on a power-play. Some miscommunication led to three Boston players going after one Avalanche player near the benches. Somehow T.J. Galiardi came out of the scrum with the puck and sent it up ahead to Jones on a breakaway. He scored and that proved to be the game-winner.

Ryder cut it to 4-3 in the third with a backhander (from Milan Lucic and Krejci) but the B's couldn't find the tying goal.

After a few needed days of practice, the Bruins head out on their first road trip of the season: Dallas on Friday and Phoenix on Saturday. Both are very winnable games so hopefully Boston starts to find its identity before it comes back to the Garden next week.

Monday, October 12, 2009

So yesterday sucked

The whining, irrational Boston fan is beyond played out so I'll try hard not to fall into that familiar archetype. Still, yesterday was not the best day if you like sports and are a Boston fan.

The Sox were swept by the Angels (at Fenway no less) in the ALDS and the Patriots went into Denver and choked away a 10-point lead in a 20-17 overtime loss.

New England (3-2) led 17-7 at the half as they efficiently held off the Broncos (5-0).

Wes Welker (8 catches, 86 yards) caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady and Stephen Gostkowski added a 53-yard kick to give the Pats a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.

Denver woke up in the second quarter as Brandon Marshall (8 catches, 64 yards) caught an 11-yard TD from my favorite party animal/starting quarterback Kyle Orton.

Ben Watson sent the Pats into the locker room on a high note as he caught a 5-yard touchdown with five seconds left in the first half.

Former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is the best young coach in the game and he showed why as his team outscored the Patriots 13-0 in the second half and overtime.

Deadspin has made a living off of Orton but give the guy props: he'll never be an All-Pro but he is a solid NFL QB. He was 35 of 48 for a season-high 330 yards and two touchdowns.

Marshall and Eddie Royal (10 catches, 90 yards) did their best Randy Moss and Welker impression. In fact, Denver's duo was much better than New England's since Moss (1 catch, 36 yards) was a complete non-factor.

Broncos rookie running back Knowshon Moreno had 88 yards rushing and 36 yards receiving in his first NFL start.

The Pats defense did a good job once again of limiting touchdowns. Matt Prater hit a 24-yard field goal in the third quarter and Marshall tied it up with an 11-yard touchdown catch.

For whatever reason, Tom Brady (19 for 35, 215 yards, 2 touchdowns) had his worst game of the season. In the second half, the offense had a bunch of chances but they couldn't move the ball.

When Denver won the toss in overtime, it was clear they were going to march down the field and score. Prater hit a 41-yard field goal to win it.

Jerod Mayo played and Vince Wilfork seemed back to full strength. Fred Taylor had ankle surgery last week so he's out for a while. Sammy Morris continued to play well with 68 yards rushing and 39 yards receiving.

The winless Tennessee Titans (0-5) come to Gillette next Sunday for what could be a trap game but more likely will be a comfortable Patriots win.

Farewell Red Sox, see ya in the spring

Well that didn't take long. The Red Sox' 2009 season ended abruptly yesterday afternoon at Fenway Park as they suffered their most bitter loss of the season, 7-6 to the legit. Los Angeles Angels.

The Angels proved (like I said after game 1 of the ALDS) that the one-sided past history didn't mean anything as they rallied from a 5-1 deficit and scored three runs in the ninth against Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon (who had never allowed a run before in 27 postseason innings).

As surprising as the loss was, it looked like game 4 was a certainty, it didn't take long to move on after the loss since you knew this team wasn't winning three in a row against the Angels and also, the Patriots played just minutes later at the Broncos.

There is no sport like baseball. With 162 regular season games, not to mention spring training and the playoffs, you spend way more time with your team than in any other sport. Like family, friends and co-workers, you get to know the players since you are right there for their ups, downs and everything in between.

Dustin Pedroia gave the Sox a 2-0 lead in the third with a two-run double. Victor Martinez knocked in Pedroia with an RBI single. Angels starter Scott Kazmir was on the ropes but he held on to go six innings. He allowed five runs on five hits with three walks and a strikeout.

In his postseason debut, Red Sox youngster Clay Buchholz pitched well given the circumstances. He went five innings, giving up two runs on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

Kendry Morales cranked a solo homer to right in the fourth to get the Angels on the board but J.D. Drew more than answered in the home half of the inning with a two-run bomb to dead center.

The Angels scored in the sixth on a double-play ball since they had the bases loaded.

Los Angeles' real damage started in the eighth as Papelbon was touched up for a two-run single by Juan Rivera which cut it to 5-4. Papelbon inherited the runners from Billy Wagner.

Pap got out of the eighth by picking off Reggie Willits and it really looked the Sox would survive as Mike Lowell's opposite field RBI single in the eighth made 6-4.

The Angels' rally in the ninth started with the bases empty, two outs and No. 9 hitter Erick Aybar at the plate. He singled, Chone Figgins walked, Bobby Abreu hit an RBI double, Torii Hunter was intentionally walked and Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-run single, making up for a terrible series by him.

Papelbon was yanked in favor of Hideki Okajima and the Fenway Park crowd was stunned, the season was over. Boston went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth as Angels closer Brian Fuentes recorded his second save of the series.

The Yankees also advanced last night with a sweep of the Twins and they'll host the Angels in the ALCS beginning on Friday in what should be a great series.

The biggest question facing the Red Sox in the off-season is whether to re-sign Jason Bay. He's been a very durable, productive player and he deserves a big contract. Hopefully, another team (ie. the Mets) doesn't throw a ridiculous offer at him.

David Ortiz and Mike Lowell continue to rapidly age while Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek might not be back next season. The pieces are there for another great season and a better run in the playoffs. Josh Beckett wasn't himself for the second half of the season. Jon Lester was a rock and Buchholz finally showed his ability on a consistent basis in Boston.

Once the starting pitching fell apart in the middle of this season, this team's margin for error got smaller and smaller. Other than Bay and Kevin Youkilis, no other offensive player exceeded their expectations at the plate. Jacoby Ellsbury had 70 steals, Pedroia was very solid and Victor Martinez was a revelation after coming over from the Indians.

Papelbon is still good but there were plenty of signs during the season that something like yesterday was inevitable in a big moment. He's not Mariano Rivera, a robot that is impervious to age and still as unhittable as ever.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

a statement win in October

After pointing out in my last Bruins post how irrelevant the NHL is right now, I am going to do a 180 and tell you what a big win it was last night over the Islanders.

Boston (2-2-0) was completely lifeless at the Garden and faced a 3-0 deficit in the third period before they tied it up with three goals in a little over five minutes. The B's kept the good vibes going as they outscored the Islanders (0-0-3) 2-1 in the shootout.

Looking for a spark, Bruins head coach Claude Julien started talented backup goalie Tukka Rask. It wasn't really his fault as New York scored three goals in the second period.

Jon Sim scored on a power-play goal, Radek Martinek tallied a goal and No. 1 draft pick John Tavares rounded out the scoring for what is expected to be one of the NHL's worst teams.

At 11:59 in the third period, Marc Savard finally got the B's on the board with a goal from Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic. Byron Bitz cut it to 3-2 with a pretty spin and shot that deflected off an Islanders defenseman's skate, past goalie Dwayne Roloson. Steve Begin and Matt Hunwick assisted on the goal.

Through four games, Boston's best line by far has been the fourth which consistently brings energy and pressure.

Less than two minutes later Hunwick tied it with his wrist shot that went top shelf through a ton of traffic in front of Roloson (27 saves). The Garden crowd went nuts as the Bruins had improbably come back from a seemingly insurmountable hole.

Blake Wheeler scored first in the shootout and Rob Schremp answered for New York. Savard was the last shooter to score as the Islanders last two shooters missed the net.

Rask finished with 35 saves in his first win of the '09-'10 season. It should be the first of many this season as along with Tim Thomas, the Bruins possess one of the best goalie tandems in the league.

Boston hosts Colorado tomorrow afternoon in a Columbus Day matinee at the Garden.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Oh Dreamweaver

Yikes. In a carbon copy game of the night before, the Boston Red Sox got another decent start by its starting pitcher but couldn't get anything going offensively against the Angels' starter and as a result lost 4-1 in game 2 of the ALDS.

Through two games, Boston has combined for eight total hits and one run. It's baffling. Most expected this to be a tough series since the Angels had to beat the Sox in the playoffs at some point but this is just pathetic.

Victor Martinez actually gave Boston a 1-0 lead in the fourth as he singled home Jacoby Ellsbury (2 hits), who had led off the inning with a triple.

Other than that, Jered Weaver was lights out. The lanky, stereotypical Southern Californian went 7.2 innings, allowing one run on two hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Josh Beckett was cruising until the seventh inning. The Angels tied it in the fourth when Kendry Morales knocked in Bobby Abreu with a sacrifice fly.

Maicer Izturis gave his team a 2-1 lead in the seventh with an RBI single but Erick Aybar (2 hits) had the big play of the night. He hit a two-run triple to center over Ellsbury's head and the Angels grabbed a three-run lead (4-1). Just like in game 1, once Los Angeles went up by more than a run, you had a feeling that was goodnight.

Boston's bats can't get anything going. They're seeing a lot of pitches but they're not working walks or starting rallies.

Jonathan Papelbon threw a scoreless ninth (hopefully its not the last time he's used in the series) but the Angels bullpen was better. Darren Oliver got a strikeout, Kevin Jepsen recorded two outs and Brian Fuentes notched the last two outs in the ninth for the save.

The 2009 Red Sox season could end tomorrow afternoon at Fenway. It's crazy to think that a team that many considered a dark-horse to get to the World Series has been so lifeless. Still, it's only a 2-0 deficit which is doable (four teams have come back from it; including the Sox in '99 vs. the Indians and '03 vs. the A's) if Clay Buchholz pitches well tomorrow and they start making a couple big plays.

Former Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir gets the start for the Angels tomorrow as they try to move on to the ALCS.