After leading throughout the game, the Celtics sputtered down the stretch and coughed up a 101-97 home loss to the Chicago Bulls. Ben Gordon took over down the stretch for Chicago, who put another dent in the Celtics rapidly closing playoff opportunities. Steve Bulpett takes a look at the Celtics taking another step down the road towards the draft lottery. Shira Springer calls the game a “spectacular failure in a sold-out arena with so much at stake”. Shalise Manza Young looks at Paul Pierce getting shots swallowed up by Tyson Chandler down the stretch as a big reason for the Celtics inability to score in the closing moments. Scott Souza says that this loss may have been the one that finally locks the Celtics out of the playoffs. John Jackson and Bob Foltman report on the game for the Chicago papers.

Rich Thompson looks at Kendrick Perkins responding on the boards (14) and defense (5 blocks) after a talking-to from coach Doc Rivers. Tim Weisberg says that a trip to the lottery could yield good things for the Celtics. Thompson also looks at Ben Gordon scoring 8 points in the stretch run to help the Bulls to victory. Springer’s notebook has more on Perkins. Young’s notebook and Souza’s notebook also each look at Perkins getting a pep talk from Rivers and responding. Bulpett’s notebook looks at Pierce’s fourth quarter struggles against the Bulls.

Things got a little testy yesterday in Clearwater as the Josh Beckett of the Red Sox and Ryan Howard had a staredown after exchanges words in the Red Sox/Phillies spring training game. Chris Snow has a report from the game. Jeff Horrigan says that Beckett showed himself to be something of a younger version of Curt Schilling. Sean McAdam looks at Red Sox short-timers Tony Graffanino and Dustan Mohr, who are trying to make the best of an awkward situation. Horrigan also looks at Graffanino, trying to concentrate on impressing potential employers. The Globe notebook has the Red Sox checking out a 16-year-old catching prospect from Venezuela. Horrigan’s notebook has more on Dustan Mohr.

Stephen Harris looks at the Bruins management situation and wonders if Bobby Orr, among others could be approached for the General Manager position. Kevin Paul Dupont has Jeremy Jacobs disputing Mike O’Connell’s account of events. Steve Conroy looks at interim GM Jeff Gorton, who has a great interest in getting the job full-time. Conroy also has Harry Sinden pondering his own fate. Conroy’s notebook has the players voicing their support of coach Mike Sullivan. Dupont’s notebook has an injury update on P.J. Axelsson.

NESN has Bruins/Panthers at 7:00.