Even with Mark Blount back on the court, and playing against a team that they have dominated the last few years, the Celtics could not put together back-to-back wins, and fell to the Orlando Magic last night 87-83. Shalise Manza Young has the story in the Providence Journal from TD Banknorth Garden. Peter May and Steve Bulpett also have game stories in the Globe and Herald respectively. Lenny Megliola also has a look at the ugly loss for Boston, which dropped their record on the season to 5-8.

Tony Massarotti, floating in a columnist-style role today, says that the Celtics upcoming road schedule is one that could make this another dark, dreary winter for Boston fans. The Orlando Sentinel has coverage on the game from the Magic point of view. May’s notebook looks at the return of Mark Blount to the playing ranks last night. Bulpett’s notebook has Paul Pierce being supportive of Blount and what he is capable of bringing to the team. Young’s notebook has more on Blount getting the message that Doc Rivers sent him Friday night.

Michael Felger has his Patriots Report Card, and continues on a theme he was hammering away at on his ESPN Boston Radio show yesterday…the Patriots have dealt with injuries of this quantity each of the last two seasons. Why aren’t they dealing successfully with them this year? The grades are tough, the highest being one B, and that was for special teams, which as Felger points out, it’s never a good sign when your punter is singled out for good play. Steve Grogan also grades his former team’s performance over at Patsfans.com. Michael Parente also has a report card on the team, and is a bit easier on the club in terms of grading. He notes that this is a team in search of answers, answers which aren’t coming easy for this team this year. Tom E Curran says that there is no bandage that can cure what ails this current edition of the Patriots.

Alan Greenberg notes the Patriots struggles against good teams, a pattern that has held throughout the season, as the club is 2-5 against teams with winning records. That should also tell you the strength of their schedule, if 7 of their 11 games thus far have been against those good teams. It also tells you that they are 4-0 against losing teams. Jonathan Comey says that the Patriots could enter the postseason with the worst defense ever to make the playoffs – but could still make noise. Chris Kennedy says that opponents simply do not fear the Patriots any longer. Steve Buckley (subscription only) writes that the Patriots have experienced the full range of emotions this season. He also notes that if it happens, we can count on this team losing with dignity. Albert Breer says there is no quick fix to the Patriots issues. Jerome Solomon notes that the schedule just gets easier from here on out, and that the Patriots can hope that the worst is behind them.

Steven Krasner has Coach Belichick’s thoughts on his team’s struggles, which extend to all areas of play. Amalie Benjamin notes that the inability of the Patriots to mount a pass rush has hurt the secondary and by extension, the entire defense. John Tomase looks at one cornerback who has become available, former Boston College player Lenny Walls, who has completed his rehab from a groin injury and is now out on the market after being released by Denver. Benjamin’s notebook looks at Tedy Bruschi getting a few plays off in Kansas City. Krasner’s notebook says that the remaining schedule looks much easier from here on out for New England. Breer’s notebook has at least one Patriot finally acknowledging that the injuries are catching up with the team.

Dan Shaughnessy files a “thoughts” column today, with such deep gems as the following:

What's up with Mark Blount?

Can't wait for Gerald Green's next NBA Rookie Diary entry in Sports Illustrated.

He Who Must Not Be Named going to the Dodgers? Simply too good to be true.

If the Globe does go to an online subscription format for their columnists as is being discussed, (and the parent NY Times already does this.) I’m sure the fans will be quickly lining up to shell out their money to get such pearls of wisdom. He takes a shot at Bob Kraft – no doubt a retaliation for Jonathan Kraft mentioning a Globe columnist with issues on the WBCN pregame this weekend. In mentioning the Josh Beckett trade, Dan Shaughnessy/Larry Lucchino says:

Could the trade have been any sweeter if Theo were still on the job?

One paragraph from Shaughnessy does deserve space here:

Job well done to Billy Griffith, Ron Indrisano, Marvin Pave, Judy Van Handle, and Tito Stevens, longtime Globies settling into well-deserved retirements. Every loss is a blow to our institutional memory and simply cannot be replaced.

Jeff Jacobs also does a version of the thoughts column, and he can actually string together entire paragraphs! Again, don’t email me, Dan.

Gordon Edes says that Jim Beattie could have the inside track to the Red Sox GM position. The Projo tells us not to bet against Jeremy Kapstein being used to bridge the gap as an interim GM. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that the Red Sox GM search should wait until they deal Manny Ramirez. Any new guy who comes in and trades Manny will have have to deal with that action the rest of their tenure, better to do it now, and not burden a new guy with that. Better yet, Callahan suggests that they let Kapstein or Bill Lajoie fill the spot for a year until one of the young guys is ready to take over.

Sean McAdam says that the Red Sox have plenty of holes to fill as they head into the winter meetings next week. Michael Silverman has the Red Sox checking their to-do list in preparation for those meetings. Manny and Johnny Damon head that list. Michael Silverman looks at agent Scott Boras’ attempts to drive up the market for Johnny Damon with his 10 section manifesto on his client which compares his durability to Cal Ripken Jr and his leadoff abilities to Rickey Henderson. David Borges notes that Josh Beckett was enough to make highly touted Hanley Ramirez expendable. Frank Phillips and Raphael Lewis in the Globe look at lobbyists helping the Red Sox get public money for improvements to the Fenway area. Silverman’s notebook looks at Billy Wagner choosing the Mets.

The New York Sports News page has coverage of the Mets landing Wagner, plus their pursuit of Manny. There are also some Jets articles as they prepare to play the Patriots this Sunday. The Bay Area Sports page has more MLB hot stove and NFL coverage.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell looks at the losses and frustration continuing to mount for the Bruins. Stephen Harris looks at the Bruins trying once again to shake things up a bit, this time with the callup of veteran winger Dan LaCouture of Natick, and Shawn McEachern and Colton Orr being placed on waivers. Burrell’s notebook has more on these moves.

OLN has Bruins/Devils at 7:30. ESPN and ESPN2 run college basketball doubleheaders tonight.