The Celtics continued their strides toward respectability last night, beating the Knicks 114-109 to pull to within a 1/2 game of division leading New York. This game belonged to Celtics future, as Al Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins and Marcus Banks all had key roles in this win. Shira Springer mostly focuses on Banks in her game story as the second year point guard was on the floor during the closing minutes, over Gary Payton, who gave his blessing to the arrangement. Steve Bulpett has more on Payton giving the nod to Banks down the stretch. Carolyn Thornton also reports on the efforts of the Celtics youngster, while Lenny Megliola looks at what he calls perhaps the Celtics best team effort of the season. Gus Martins has a further look at the night for Kendrick Perkins, who pulled down 13 rebounds in 25 minutes.

Vin Baker was back in Boston last night, the former Celtics forward has had a hard time finding the floor for the Knicks, only playing a total of about 30 minutes in the month of December. Peter May has a look at Baker, who looks back at his time in Boston, and wishes that he could be able to play a meaningful role with the Knicks. Gus Martins also looks at Baker, who doesn’t take shots at the Celtics and says Danny Ainge and the Celtics owners are “good guys”. Thornton’s notebook has a look at the reception Baker got when he entered the game last night. Springer’s notebook has a look at the progress of Al Jefferson, who got his first NBA start last night, and has developed much faster than coach Doc Rivers thought he would. Bulpett’s notebook puts to bed the Antoine-back-to-the-Celtics trade rumors that were started by Peter Vecsey.

The play of Tom Brady on Monday night is still a hot topic of conversation, mostly because many of the mistakes were so unlike anything that we’ve seen from the Patriots QB. Alan Greenberg looks at Brady stepping up, taking the heat for his performance and preparing to move on. Nick Cafardo has Brady going to the film to try to figure out how to make sure he corrects his mistakes. Tom E Curran says we haven’t seen such hand-wringing over a decision by a Patriots QB since Drew Bledsoe dived into the mosh pit. Chris Kennedy looks at Brady being tough on his performance and hoping to learn from the experience. Michael Parente notes that unlike Chad Pennington, Brady handled the media criticism of his performance with grace. Buddy Thomas says that it was proved on Monday night that Brady is overrated. It should be noted that Thomas is an unabashed Peyton Manning fanboy, who spends most of his day engaging in email battles with readers about the merits of Brady vs Manning. Many of the arguments and terms he uses in emails are in this column, including comparing his value to Joe Andruzzi, and a reference to “Marsha” Brady. It’s fairly disturbing all around. Christopher Price also has a look at Brady.

Jim Donaldson looks at the sudden panic in Patriots fans, and says that the team might even actually lose two in a row with the game this weekend in NY against the Jets. He says though that even if that happens, this team is still capable of winning a second straight Super Bowl. Michael Felger says that the Patriots certainly aren’t panicking after the loss in Miami. Bill Reynolds notes the irony in the fact that it took a Patriots loss to get them front and center. That’s only on sports radio, Bill. For many fans the Patriots have been front and center since the end of the World Series. It took a loss for the WEEI hosts to start talking about them. Felger also looks at the Pro Bowl snubs of Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi. Parente’s notebook also covers the Pro Bowl selections and clarifies that Randall Gay’s injury which was originally termed “got the wind knocked out of him” is actually an arm injury. Cafardo’s notebook also looks at who made and who didn’t make the Pro Bowl, as does Greenberg’s notebook. Curran’s notebook has a look at David Givens, and how he seems to be unhappy with his role as of late. He doesn’t understand why the ball isn’t thrown to him as much, and it’s hinted that this could be a way in which the Patriots are trying to save money on him:

Since his production has dropped, it's not as likely that some team will throw a blockbuster offer at him. That figures to help the Patriots who -- because Givens is restricted -- would have the right to match any offer made by another team. So every quiet game that Givens has helps the Patriots in the long-term.

I’d term the idea that Givens’ lack of catches is a ploy by the Patriots to drive down his price patently ridiculous.

The Red Sox continued to rebuild their rotation, officially signing Matt Clement, and also agreeing to a one year deal with former Astro Wade Miller. David Heuschkel notes that Theo Epstein has now taken the 14 million dollars Pedro Martinez would’ve gotten, and turned it into David Wells, Clement and Miller. He notes you could also look at it as that the Red Sox signed Clement and Miller for the same amount that the Yankees got Carl Pavano for, and you can make the case that the Red Sox pair is each as good as Pavano. Gordon Edes and Michael Silverman also each look at the signings and what they mean for the Red Sox. Sean McAdam also has a look at the signing of Miller, and Joe Haggerty has a good piece on Matt Clement. David Borges has a further look at the Red Sox signings and adds the note that the Sox might be interested in reliever Scott Schoeneweis, if for no other reason that he is the cousin of Sox senior advisor Jeremy Kapstein. Dom Amore looks at Pavano officially signing with the Yankees.

Jackie MacMullan looks at Bruins coach Mike Sullivan, who is biding his time during the lockout by coaching his son’s team.

In another BSMW experiment, Jack Travers begins what we hope to be a regular report on the happenings of local sports radio. A sports radio “beat reporter” if you will. His initial installment looks at the Dennis and Callahan show.

As noted last night, postings may be sporadic here over the next few days. There will likely be more “BSMW Classic” items from the past that did not migrate over when the site changed hosts. It’s a mixed bag from columns, to Sports Final transcripts at the height of the Mike Felger vs. Nick Cafardo/Ron Borges feuds.

TNT has Timberwolves/Spurs at 8:00 and Kings/Spurs at 10:30. ESPN has a pair of minor Bowl games tonight with the Plainscapital Fort Worth Bowl of Marshall vs. Cincinnati at 6:30 followed by the Pioneer Purevision Las Vegas Bowl, Wyoming vs. UCLA at 9:45. ESPN2 has college hoops with Richmond/Pitt at 7:00 and Providence/Memphis at 9:00.