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Friday, January 30, 2009

Two Jagerbombs chief: Devils beat Bruins, 4-3 in OT

As if the world needed further proof that nobody outside of it likes New Jersey, the Devils are one of the most underrated franchises in recent sports history. They won a few Stanley Cups and they're almost always tough to beat since they play an aggressive forechecking and defensive game.

After taking care of the Southeast-leading Capitals on Tuesday night, the Bruins tangled with the Atlantic-leading Devils at the Garden last night. New Jersey skated away with a hard-earned 4-3 overtime win thanks to Jamie Langenbrunner's second goal of the game.

The Devils (31-15-3) jumped on the Bruins (35-8-6) with a goal in the first and second before Boston finally woke up.

Langenbrunner (11th) started it with a shorthanded tally from Travis Zajac in the first.

Zach Parise scored his 29th goal of the season, this one on the power play, in the second with assists to Langenbrunner and Paul Martin.

The B's shook off the cobwebs and scored three straight goals in 13:30 of the third. First, Chuck Kobasew (9th) found the net with help from Patrice Bergeron and Andrew Ferance.

Next, Marc Savard (18th) poked home a shot after Phil Kessel (returning after missing six games due to mono) and Milan Lucic worked it around.

Finally, Dennis Wideman potted his 10th, which looked like it would be the game-winner for the Bruins, who made a nice comeback after a pretty lifeless first two periods. Kessel and Savard had the helpers.

It was not to be though as Langenbrunner beat Tim Thomas once more in overtime. It was a classic Devils goal: not a beauty but very effective. Langenbrunner was right in front of the crease and slid the rebound past a sprawled out Thomas.

Boston will look to regroup (and get out to a faster start) in tomorrow's matinee against the New York Rangers.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Eddie House will tell you when he's had enough

I don't think I've ever seen a shooter in the NBA as hot as Eddie House is right now.

He had a season-high 28 points last night, including a blistering 8-of-9 on 3-pointers as the Boston Celtics put away the Sacramento Kings, 119-100 at the Garden for its ninth straight win.

In three of his last four games, he's combined to shoot 22-of-31 on threes. He's making a late case to be included in the 3-point shootout at the All-Star Weekend in Phoenix.

The Celts (38-9) actually started out slowly as the Kings (10-37) hit 10 of its first 11 shots from the field. No problem though as Sacramento led 30-28 after the first and Boston came back with a 40-19 second quarter sparked by House's in the zone shooting.

The third quarter (29-24 Kings) and fourth, 27-22 Celtics were just semantics as the second quarter was enough to put away the NBA's second-worst team (I'm looking at you Wizards).

Besides House, the other revelation during the win streak has been the much-improved play of the Boston bench. Tony Allen returned last night and had 10 points, eight rebounds, three steals and three assists. Glen Davis also added 14 points.

Rajon Rondo also stated his case for a spot in Phoenix, in the All-Star game, by scoring 24 points and dishing out nine assists. Kevin Garnett had 14 points, eight boards and five assists while Ray Allen notched 12 points. Paul Pierce was held to eight points and eight assists.

John Salmons led the Kings with 22 points while impressive rookie Jason Thompson had a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Martin scored 18 points, Bobby Brown (the other one) had 13 points off the bench and Brad Miller posted 11 points in the loss.

For the game, the C's shot 55.0% to Sacramento's 44.0%. They also had seven more rebounds (40-33) and 12 more assists (30-18). Finally, the Celts had nine steals to the Kings' two.

Boston hits the road tomorrow night to face the struggling Detroit Pistons.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Bruins laugh at your injury problems

In the first game of the unofficial second half of the season (after the All-Star break), the Boston Bruins were able to do something which they couldn't do earlier in the season: beat the Washington Capitals.

It wasn't exactly a piece of art but the B's (35-8-5) avenged two previous losses to the Caps (30-15-4) with a 3-2 overtime win last night at the Garden.

And the best news of the night for Boston was that three of its key injured players returned to action: Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference were all back on the ice.

David Krejci (from Dennis Wideman and Zdeno Chara) won it with his 18th goal of the year, on a 4-on-3 power play. Krejci tried to pass across the crease to Marc Savard but the puck deflected off Washington defenseman Shaone Morrison's skate and past Capitals goalie Jose Theodore.

Washington took a 1-0 lead 2:08 into the game as defenseman Mike Green (his 13th; from Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin) beat B's goalie Tim Thomas with a slap shot.

Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton had a rare moment of goal-scoring prowess as he potted an unassisted goal (his fourth) at 9:26 of the first.

The Capitals came right back with a late goal (21 seconds left) in the first by Michael Nylander (5th), from Tomas Fleischmann and Chris Clark.

Savard (17th) tied it in the second with a power-play goal from Bergeron. Playing right wing, instead of his normal center, Bergeron kept the puck in the Capitals zone with a dive and then he found Savard, who put the wrister in the net.

Neither team scored in the third but Bruins rookie Byron Bitz tangled with Capitals goon Donald Brashear. Many feel that Brashear is the best fighter in the NHL so it was no surprise that he won the battle but Bitz still gave his team some life.

Fresh off the All-Star game appearance, Thomas improved to 21-5-4 with 34 saves, including two showstoppers on Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin in overtime. He'll have to carry the load for an undetermined amount of time since Manny Fernandez is out with an undisclosed injury.

Another division leader, the New Jersey Devils come to the Garden tomorrow night as the Bruins' schedule the next few weeks is loaded with quality opponents.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mark Cuban must be loving life

The Dallas Mavericks are frauds. Since losing in the NBA finals in 2006, they've continually gotten worse. Good regular seasons have been followed by quick playoff exits. Avery Johnson was fired and Rick Carlisle is now the head coach but things don't appear to be changing in Big D.

Yesterday, the Boston Celtics took the Mavs behind the woodshed-in this case the Garden-for a 124-100 win that wasn't that close.

The Celts' (37-9) eighth straight win gave them the exact same record that they had last season thru 46 games.

Boston was led by its threesome of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen (7 assists) and Eddie House, who all scored 23 points. Rajon Rondo added 13 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds and four steals.

For Dallas (25-19), Jason Terry had 27 points off the bench while Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki each had 18 quiet, useless points.

The early afternoon (1 p.m.) start for ABC was no problem for the C's as they jumped on Dallas early: 38-23 after the first quarter. Not to be outdone, Boston scored a season-high 74 points in the first half, while the Mavs had 47. Game over.

The starters didn't have to play in the fourth as the bench held its own for the Green.

Boston shot 53.8% in the game, to Dallas' 42.1%. Led by House (7) and Allen (4), the Celts made 16 3-pointers. Dallas had a 30-8 free throws made advantage and they still got smoked.

The assist margin was 34-12 for the C's, who also only committed six turnovers. There were silly numbers all over the place in this laugher.

Expect more of the same as the Sacramento Kings come to the Garden tomorrow night. The Kings haven't beaten an Eastern Conference team this whole season. Really.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Celtics take back mantle of NBA's best

With last night's thrilling 90-80 win over the Orlando Magic at the Amway Arena, the Boston Celtics proved once again that they are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference and the NBA as a whole.

The Cavs lost Delonte West to a broken wrist last week so they're just a notch below and while the Magic (33-9) had been playing great-they came in winners of seven straight-they're not the defending champions.

The C's (36-9) have gotten back to their defensive roots that led them to the title and the 27-2 start this season. The win was their seventh in a row.

On a night when the NBA All-Star starters were announced, Paul Pierce proved why he's NBA elite, even if he'll have to make the East squad as a reserve.

The Truth had a game-high 27 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Kevin Garnett had 16 points and five rebounds. The key to the win, other than the air-tight D was the play of Glen Davis. Big Baby had a season-high 16 points and actually outplayed Magic center Dwight Howard (11 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks), who he covered most of the time he was in.

Ray Allen added 12 points, Rajon Rondo had nine points and eight rebounds and Kendrick Perkins managed seven points, seven boards and two blocks in 25 minutes as Doc Rivers tries to ease him back into the lineup.

Orlando has one of the best starting fives in the league but where they might run into trouble in the playoffs is their pathetic bench. It combined for a measly ten points last night.

Hedo Turkoglu led the Magic with 22 points and Rashard Lewis had a double-double himself with 20 points and 10 rebounds but it wasn't enough. Jameer Nelson notched 17 points.

The C's led 24-19 after the first quarter and 44-36 at the half. That lead was extended to 65-54 and Boston was able to hold off Orlando in the fourth (26-25 Magic).

For the game, the Celts shot 46.7% to the Magic's 38.2%. That offset the fact that Boston didn't make a 3-pointer (0-6) and Orlando had seven.

The Green and White came home and will face the up and down Dallas Mavericks on Sunday afternoon at the Garden.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I think this All-Star break was well-earned

In your wildest, alcohol and peyote-induced dreams, did you ever think the Boston Bruins would have an NHL-best (tied with San Jose) 73 points heading into the 2009 All-Star break? Of course not, no matter how much you abused your body, you still wouldn't have been crazy enough to expect this most unexpected of seasons thus far.

The B's (34-8-5) fittingly went into the break with a come-from-behind 4-3 shootout win in Toronto over the Maple Leafs (17-22-8) last night.

Michael Ryder clinched it with a goal as the fourth shooter in the shootout after Tim Thomas had stoned Nikolai Kulemin.

Toronto outplayed Boston for the first two periods. Jason Blake (Lee Stempniak, Dominic Moore) put the Leafs up 1-0 in the first. Blake Wheeler (14th) from Aaron Ward and David Krejci tied it up a little over a minute later.

Stempniak's power-play goal (Blake, Moore) and Brad May's (John Mitchell, Jamal Mayers) gave Toronto the 3-1 advantage in the second.

The Bruins used two power-play goals from defensemen in the third to send it to overtime.

First, Dennis Wideman (9th) scored off assists from Krejci and Ryder. Next, captain Zdeno Chara (11th goal) tipped in a perfect feed down low from Marc Savard (and P.J. Axelsson).

Thomas made 31 saves, inching his record to 20-5-4.

Thomas, Savard, Chara and head coach Claude Julien will go to Montreal for the All-Star Game festivities this weekend while the rest of the team gets a welcome rest.

Boston next meets the Capitals on Tuesday back at the Garden.

So the Celtics are good again

The Boston Celtics' meltdown of a few weeks ago seems like years back as the team continued on its most recent torrid stretch.

The C's went to Miami last night to play the improving Heat and came out with a 98-83 win.

Boston (35-9) won its sixth in a row behind Eddie House's season-high 25 points. House had 20 in the second quarter alone and for the game, he was a ridiculous 7-of-11 on 3-pointers.

Fellow sharpshooter Ray Allen (5 of 6 on 3-pointers) continued his great season with a game-high 27 points, five rebounds and five assists. Kevin Garnett added 16 points, 13 boards and three steals while Paul Pierce had 14 points and eight rebounds.

Rajon Rondo posted seven points and 10 assists and Kendrick Perkins played his first game in two weeks, finishing with two points and seven rebounds.

Dwyane Wade (the NBA's third best player-behind LeBron and Kobe) led the Heat (22-19) with 25 points. Daequan Cook scored 20 off the bench. Rookie big man Michael Beasley had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

This was never much of a contest as the Celts blitzed Miami with a 29-10 first quarter. Boston opened it up to 57-34 at the half. Miami outscored Boston, 30-21 in the third quarter but the C's took the fourth (20-19) going away.

Boston shot 51.4% to Miami's 40.0%. Led by House and Allen, the Green made a season-high 15 3-pointers. Finally, Boston had 18 more rebounds (48-30).

Tonight is a big Eastern Conference Showdown as the Celtics travel to Orlando to face the NBA's current best team (at least record wise). The Magic have won seven straight games but Boston won the first matchup in December at the Garden.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Everything is coming up black and gold for this team

Last night in Long Island was a classic trap game for the Boston Bruins.

They were coming off an emotional win over the Canadiens on Tuesday and probably looking a bit ahead to Saturday night's showdown in our nation's capital with the second best team in the Eastern Conference-the Washington Capitals.

The B's (33-7-4) played like a team with other things on its mind but it still managed to sneak out of Nassau Coliseum with a 2-1 win over the Islanders (12-28-4).

Boston goaltender Tim Thomas was the number one star as he stopped 40 shots, en route to his 19th win (4 losses, 3 overtime defeats) of the season.

The Islanders outshot the Bruins, 41-27 but they scored their only goal in the last minute of play as Bill Guerin's (14th goal) attempt kicked off of a Bruin skate in front of Thomas.

Marc Savard opened the scoring in the second period with his 15th goal of the year, from Chuck Kobasew and Marc Stuart.

Martin St. Pierre made it 2-0 B's in the third (his 2nd of the year) from Vladimir Sobotka and Shawn Thornton.

Boston traveled to DC after the game and they'll meet the Caps tomorrow night in a game that I just so happen to be attending with a college friend.

Should be great, I'm excited to see Alexander Oveckin in person. Washington has been playing great hockey lately.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back to your regularly scheduled domination

After the recent four-game losing streak, the Boston Celtics (32-9) seemed to have gotten their collective shit together as they beat the New Jersey Nets (19-20), 118-86 last night at the TD Banknorth Garden.

It was the Green's third straight win after the sky was falling/apocalypse happened.

The game was reminiscent of an early-season blowout as the starters (still minus Perk) got the job done in three quarters then yucked it up on the bench in the fourth when Loch Ness Monsters like Bill Walker (6 points) strutted their stuff.

Paul Pierce led the C's with 22 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. The Truth tied the franchise record (also recently reached by Ray Allen last weekend in Toronto) of a perfect 5-for-5 quarter on 3-pointers. This occurred in the third quarter.

Kevin Garnett added 20 points and nine boards, Ray Allen notched 12 points while Rajon Rondo was back to his schizophrenic best with 11 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and three steals.

Off the bench, Glen Davis had 12 points, Eddie House added 10 and the ever-improving Gabe Pruitt tossed in nine.

Devin Harris led the Nets with 17 points. Ryan Anderson, Brook Lopez (8 rebounds, 5 blocks) and Keyon Dooling all had 13 points.

Boston led 30-23 after one and 51-41 at the half. Pierce's on-fire stretch helped the Celts carry the third (37-19). The C's bench even took the fourth (30-26).

New Jersey shot a woeful 38.8% to Boston's Megan Fox hot 56.4%. The Celts made seven more 3-pointers (12-5), had 13 more rebounds (45-32), twice as many assists (28-14) and six more steals (13-7). The Nets made 11 more free throws (29-18) but who cares?

The teams will do it all again on Saturday as the Celtics go to the Garden State.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Zdeno Chara cares not for French-Canadien scumbags

Common sense holds that eventually all the injuries that are piling up for the Boston Bruins will catch up with them at some point.

Phil Kessel has mono and he will be out for possibly a month and it was announced yesterday that Marco Sturm is done for the season after having knee surgery.

Once again, as has been the case all season, the Bruins took care of business on the ice despite questions debating whether they could withstand the latest injury/illness.

The hated Montreal Canadiens (25-11-6) came to the Garden last night and Boston (32-7-4) won 3-1 behind two great performances by some of its all-stars: two Zdeno Chara goals and 34 saves by Tim Thomas.

After a scoreless first period, Andrei Kostitsyn opened the scoring with a power-play goal 3:24 into the second period. His brother Sergei and Andrei Markov assisted on the tally.

Five minutes later, Chara scored the first of his two power-play goals. The first was from Chuck Kobasew and Aaron Ward. The second (his 9th of the year) was from Dennis Wideman and David Krejci.

With a 1:11 left in the third, Krejci (17th) scored an even-strength goal, assisted by Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler, that firmly clinched the win for Boston.

The B's travel to Long Island tomorrow night to face the NHL's worst team, the hapless Islanders.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If only every team was like the Raptors

The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors faced each other again last night at the TD Banknorth Garden and for the second time in two days, the C's (31-9) came out on top.

Paul Pierce pumped in 39 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a 115-109 Celtics win in overtime.

Who knows how much these past two strange games meant other than solidifying the fact that Boston currently owns Toronto (16-23).

Tony Allen and Kendrick Perkins sat out once again so that meant Brian Scalabrine (11 points) played 28 minutes and Leon Powe added 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Kevin Garnett had 20 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks while Rajon Rondo notched nine points, eight assists, five rebounds and only one turnover.

Andrea Bargnani continued his solid work with a team-high 23 points and eight boards. Chris Bosh added 18 points and 11 rebounds while the immortal Roko Ukic scored 16 points off the bench.

Boston had nine more rebounds (46-37) and six more assists (26-20), two categories that are great indicators if a team won the game or not.

The New Jersey Nets come to the Garden tomorrow night for the start of a home and home set with Boston. The Nets aren't as bad as everyone expected; Devin Harris has been great, Vince Carter has been playing well and rookie center Brook Lopez has improved every game.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thank you Canada: for your crappy basketball team and your 18+ drinking age

Ray Allen almost single-handily ended the Celtics' four game losing streak and tailspin (seven losses in their last nine) as he delivered a season-high 36 points yesterday afternoon in a 94-88 win over the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre.

As shooters (and pretty girls) are known to do, Ray has been rather erratic lately. He came out on fire though (hitting five 3-pointers in the first quarter) and shot 11 for 14 in the game, 8 of 10 on threes.

The Celts (30-9) needed all those points as a game that they led by 20 in the third quarter got close in the fourth. One of Boston's biggest issues during this rough patch has been their lack of closing power in fourth quarters. Toronto (16-22) cut it to five with 1:30 left in the fourth but they ran out of gas.

Rajon Rondo had 14 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in the win. Paul Pierce added 11 points, six rebounds and six assists while Kevin Garnett notched 10 points (3 of 16 shooting) and 11 rebounds.

Glen Davis played 30 minutes since Kendrick Perkins was out with a shoulder injury. Big Baby was a brutal 1 of 12 from the floor but he did grab 11 boards.

If you're facing the Raptors and Andrea Bargnani is their leading scorer, you're probably in good shape. The former top pick, had a team-high 17 points and nine rebounds. Jamario Moon (15 points, 7 rebounds) and Chris Bosh (15 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks) were the other bright spots for Toronto.

Jason Kapono and Joey Graham both scored 12 off the bench.

In a strange scheduling quirk, Toronto comes to the Garden tonight as the Celtics try to build off yesterday's uneven but ultimately decent performance.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Celtics' free-fall continues, did the Lakers steal their souls?

If last night had happened during the Celtics' 19-game win streak it still would have been a tall task to come away with a win at Quicken Loans Arena.

Under the current circumstances, it was nearly impossible and it should be no surprise that the Cavs dominated, 98-83 as the Celtics still can't get out of their own way.

Cleveland (29-6) improved its home record to a modest 19-0 start which is been orchestrated by the best player in the NBA, LeBron James.

He had 38 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks in one of those performances that only James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe can pull off.

Boston (29-9) got a double-double, 18 points and 15 rebounds from Kevin Garnett but like most of the games during this seven losses in nine game slide, nobody else stepped up as the second banana.

Kendrick Perkins had 13 points, Ray Allen had 12 and Paul Pierce had 11.

Sideshow Bob had 14 points and nine boards for the Cavs, Mo Williams (the key to their championship?) scored 13 and Daniel Gibson added 10.

The loss pushes Boston to third in the Eastern Conference as the Magic destroyed the Hawks in a similar early-season conference showdown.

For the game, Cleveland shot 50.8% to Boston's 41.3%. The Cavaliers made half of its 3-pointers (8-of-16) while the C's were 5-of-19. The Cavs led by LeBron's perfect 9-for-9, doubled up the Celtics in made free-throws (24-12).

The good signs in the loss were that Boston outrebounded Cleveland (one of the top rebounding team in the league) by 12 (42-30) and had ten more assists (25-15).

That might be grasping for straws a little bit and it's understandable since Boston's recent play has been downright depressing. Since that Christmas day loss to the Lakers, the Celts have lost their collective mojo.

They have home-and-home sets with the Raptors starting tomorrow in Toronto and then later in the week with the Nets. Both teams are not very good so the C's have to get back on track with at least a split.

Friday, January 9, 2009

We'll always have the Bruins

After what seemed like months (ok it was five days), a Boston team won a game last night, joy! The Bruins (30-7-4) held off the bottom-feeding Ottawa Senators (13-20-6), 6-4 at the Garden.

The B's got off to a hot start, scoring their first two goals in 4:15 seconds and later led 3-1 before Ottawa tied it at three. Boston sealed it with a trio of goals in the third before the Senators added a meaningless garbage-time tally.

Oft-injured but solid veteran defenseman Aaron Ward started things with his first goal of the season, from David Krejci and Michael Ryder.

Chuck Kobasew (7th) scored less than two minutes later, assisted by Dennis Wideman and Phil Kessel.

Chris Phillips cut it to 2-1 for the Senators, with help from teammates Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.

Ryder's 15th of the year (that's looking like a nice signing, huh?) made it 3-1 B's in the second. Blake Wheeler and Marc Savard had the assists.

Ottawa scored twice in the second. First Chris Kelly found the back of the net (from Antoine Vermette and Jesse Winchester) and later Brandon Bell beat Bruins goalie Manny Fernandez (26 saves) with assists from Dean McAmmond and Chris Neil.

Krejci's (15th) great individual work was rewarded with a goal in the third. That kicked off the three-goal burst. Savard (14th) scored from Kobasew and then empty-net specialist P.J. Axelsson (3rd) put it out of reach at 6-3 after a pass from the omnipresent Savard.

Vermette (Chris Kelly, Winchester) had the final goal for Ottawa with 28 seconds left.

Fernandez improved to 14-3-1 with the win.

The Carolina Hurricanes come to town tomorrow afternoon as the Bruins try to erase the memory of their dud from last Saturday against the Sabres.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Well this is getting old

Nothing seems to be going right for the Boston Celtics as they lost again, 89-85 to the Houston Rockets at the TD Banknorth Garden last night.

It was the Celtics' (29-8) sixth loss in their last eight games and it was particularly costly as they lost the top spot in the Eastern Conference to the Cavs (who won). The Orlando Magic are also only a game back now from the suddenly vulnerable C's.

Playing without Tracy McGrady (captain of the NBA's all-overrated team), the Rockets (22-15) were just a little bit better than Boston.

Yao Ming led the way with a game-high 26 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Aaron Brooks had 19 points off the bench to spark Houston and Ron Artest managed 17 before fouling out. Journeyman Von Wafer had 12 points, including a huge 3-pointer in the fourth.

Paul Pierce had 26 points, five boards and four assists in the loss. Kevin Garnett added 18 points and eight boards while Ray Allen (13 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds) and Glen Davis (12 points off the bench) were the other bright spots.

Kendrick Perkins (0 points, 5 fouls) and Rajon Rondo (5 points, 5 assists) were beyond useless and not surprisingly, they're the barometers to the Celtics' success.

Houston shot better from the floor (48.6%-42.9%) which made up for nine more Celtics free throws (19-10).

The next game is going to be as hard as they come in the regular season as Boston travels to Cleveland to take on the Cavs, who are the NBA's only remaining unbeaten team at home.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Is it time to panic yet?

After such a ridiculous start, no game seems to be a given for the Boston Celtics at this moment in time.

A 114-106 overtime loss last night to the Charlotte Bobcats-one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference-proved that point.

The offense wasn't the problem for the C's (29-7) as Paul Pierce led Boston with 28 points and six rebounds. Ray Allen had 20 points and Kevin Garnett posted a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Rajon Rondo had 16 points, six boards, four assists, three steals but nine turnovers. Kendrick Perkins had nine points and 10 boards in the loss.

Once again, Boston's bench was the issue as they were outscored 34-19.

The Bobcats (13-22) combination of young, athletic players seemed to uncover the Celts' biggest matchup problem (just like the Hawks). Raymond Felton (25 points, 8 assists, 7 turnovers) and Gerald Wallace (23 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals) led Charlotte.

They also got solid contributions from Boris Diaw (15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) and Emeka Okafor (13 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks).

Adam Morrison (with short hair) had 13 points off the bench but the key of the game was rookie D.J. Augustin, who had 20 points and five assists off the bench, including 12-of-12 from the line.

As a team, the Bobcats had nine more steals (25-16) than the Celtics.

The Houston Rockets come to the Garden tonight in an early season must-win for a Celtics squad looking to reestablish its identity.

Oh Jacques Lemaire, you old sailor you

For the first time in the 2008-2009 season, the Boston Bruins have lost two games in a row.

The Minnesota Wild (20-16-3) came to the Garden last night and executed their boring, defensive brand of hockey to perfection in a 1-0 shutout of the B's (29-7-4).

Minnesota got all the offense it would need in the second period as Marek Zidlicky scored a power-play goal from Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Krys Kolanos.

Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom made 28 saves in his fifth shutout of the season. His record improved to 19-12-2 and I feel like an idiot for sitting him on my fantasy team but I figured the Bruins would play well after the Sabres loss over the weekend. Not so much.

More than anything, I feel bad for my buddy that had to sit through this awful game. Sure coach Jacques Lemaire has proven that his trapping system can win in the NHL (just ask the Devils) but that's not to say it hasn't set the game back 20 years in the process.

Boston outshot Minnesota 28-24 but it was no matter. Bruins goalie Manny Fernandez had 23 saves in the loss.

The B's will look to get back to the win column as they host the struggling Ottawa Senators tomorrow night.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Would noted moron Stephon Marbury help the C's?

Yesterday was not a good time to be one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference.

The Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic all lost-something which won't happen often on the same day for the rest of this season.

The Celts (29-6) lost for the fourth time in their last six games, this time submitting a flat 100-88 loss at Madison Square Garden to the improved but still mostly shitty New York Knicks (13-19).

Paul Pierce (31 points, 7 rebounds) did his best to keep his team in the game but he wasn't getting much help. Ray Allen (16 points) was the only other Celtic in double-figures. Kevin Garnett (6 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks) was shaken up late in the third when Knicks forward David Lee (14 points, 14 rebounds) inadvertently kicked KG in the calf.

Wilson Chandler led the Knicks with 31 points and eight rebounds while Al Harrington added 30 points and seven boards. Chris Duhon notched 12 points and five assists.

With reports swirling the last few days that the Celtics are interested in acquiring malcontent Stephon Marbury, I have to say that my opinion is quickly changing. At first, I thought it was an awful idea but now that I think about it, maybe it could work. The C's would have nothing to lose and they could ditch Marbury as soon as he started banging interns in his car outside a Boston club. Haha, but seriously he could add some scoring punch to our bench which right now is a real weak point of an otherwise championship-caliber team.

The Charlotte Bobcats host the Celtics tomorrow night as the Green look to get back to playing the outstanding basketball of the season's first 29 games.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What will it take to beat the Bruins? Uh, some guy named Matt Ellis apparently

It was bound to happen sooner or later, the Boston Bruins (just like the Celtics proved a couple weeks back) can't win every single game. It's just not possible as much as local bandwagon fans would like to dream while they sleep in their crisp new Milan Lucic jerseys.

Still, it was surprising that as the Bruins (29-6-4) fell 4-2 to the Sabres (19-15-5) yesterday afternoon at the Garden that the No. 1 star would be some bum named Matt Ellis (2 goals, 1 assist).

At 5:08 into the first, Buffalo had a 2-0 advantage as Ellis (Henrik Tallinder, Jason Pominville) and Thomas Vanek (power-play goal from Derek Roy and Pominville) both put pucks past B's goalie Tim Thomas (21 saves).

Phil Kessel cut it to 2-1 with his 24th of the season, on a power-play from Marc Savard and Milan Lucic later in the first.

The Sabres put it out of reach when Ellis scored again, this time in the second from Ales Kotalik and Daniel Paille.

Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton scored on a wicked snap-shot (from Martin St. Pierre and Shane Hnidy) but Buffalo made it a two-goal lead again when Paul Gaustad (Andrej Sekera, Ellis) banked the puck off Hnidy's skate in front of Thomas.

The Bruins outshot the Sabres 11-2 in the third but they never seemed to have the normal jump in their skates that has become the norm this season. Plus, no shots were getting through to Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller (29 saves) or Boston simply had bad luck (like when Savard put a puck wide when half the net was empty).

It wasn't Boston's day clearly and as a result, the 14-game home win-streak is over and ditto for the 10-game overall win-streak.

The offensively inept Minnesota Wild come to the Garden on Tuesday night as the B's will look to start a new winning-streak.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I for one salute our new hockey playing overlords

Do you remember when the Boston Bruins defined mediocrity? When they played boring, defensive hockey and still didn't win many games? Those days get harder and harder to remember now as the B's continue to steam roll through the 2008-2009 season.

Boston (29-5-4) opened up 2009 with a 4-2 home win over the Pittsburgh Penguins (19-15-4) last night at the Garden. The Bruins have won 10 games in a row and 14 straight at home.

After losing to the Bruins two nights earlier in Pittsburgh, the Penguins were even more desperate to get two points. They apparently called the dreaded "players-only" meeting after Tuesday night's game but it didn't seem to have much effect against the cyborgs from Boston.

Only 2:59 into the game, the Pens got an early 1-0 lead as Dustin Jeffrey scored his first NHL goal, from Alex Goligoski and Tim Wallace.

The B's responded with three unanswered goals (two in the first and one in the second). 1:06 after the Jeffrey strike, David Krejci (14th) finished off a great rush up ice and passing sequence from Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder.

P.J. Axelsson, who was recently moved to power play duty, made Bruins coach Claude Julien look like a fortune teller as he scored his second goal of the season at 9:24 of the first. Dennis Wideman and Marc Savard got the assists but Axelsson deserved most of the credit as he hit the puck out of mid-air and into the net.

Milan Lucic (11th) scored in the second period from his new linemates Chuck Kobasew and Stephane Yelle.

Pittsburgh had the territorial and shooting advantage for the game (32-26 shots) and they made it interesting when Ruslan Fedotenko scored in the third from Miroslav Satan and Evgeni Malkin.

Manny Fernandez (13-2-1) stood tall though in net for the Bruins (30 saves) and Savard put in an empty-net goal with two seconds left from Axelsson and Yelle.

Buffalo comes to the Garden tomorrow afternoon.