Celtics Too Much For Kobe, Lakers

It feels like the NBA season officially started yesterday, with a hangover from the Patriots season still lingering over the region.

The Celtics used a strong second half to pull away from the Los Angeles Lakers and post a 109-96 victory  at the Staples Center. Get all the links at CelticsLinks.com. Check the LA view from the Los Angeles Times and ESPN Los Angeles.

Celtics set tone against Lakers – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics sending a message to the Lakers and the NBA.

Duel does what’s needed – Steve Bulpett has Paul Pierce (32 points) buckling on his holster and shooting it out with Kobe Bryant (41 points) yesterday.

Fluid Rondo found the flow – Gary Washburn has the Celtics point guard coming alive in the second half and boosting Boston to the win.

Celtics prove they’re NBA’s best – Paul Flannery says that when the Celtics play at their best, you wonder how they can ever lose.

Lakers have trouble with elite; cut fires up KG – A. Sherrod Blakely’s CSNNE notes has an elbow to the head perking up Kevin Garnett. The Globe notebook from Julian Benbow has Pierce and Ray Allen taking turns on Kobe. The Herald notebook from Mark Murphy has Ray Allen talking about defending Kobe.

Exec Hausmann retires after 19 years – Mike Reiss looks at what the retirement of  Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer Jim Hausmann means to the Patriots.

Family matters most with McCourty twins – Karen Guregian looks at the bond between Devin McCourty, and his twin brother Jason, who plays for the Titans. Guregian also has Logan Mankins and Bill Belichick having a private chat after the Pro Bowl.

Red Sox outfield should be strong defensively – Mike Fine looks at the Red Sox outfield for 2011.

Making pitches for Red Sox relief roles – Scott Lauber looks at how the bullpen might shake out.

Bruins in shaky shape – Mike Loftus says that the next two months will be crucial for the Bruins.

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Celtics Start West Coast Trip With Win

The Celtics got their first West coast swing of the season off to a good start with an 88-78 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Get full links at CelticsLinks.com.

A highlight of last night’s CSNNE broadcast was the debut of Bill Walton as a guest analyst for the West coast trip alongside the venerable Mike Gorman. Walton was his usual high-energy, entertaining, confusing, occasionally enlightening self, as he told viewers his advice that he gave to Greg Oden before the game was to “move to Hawaii lose a lot of weight and become a yoga master.”

While I enjoyed Walton and will enjoy him tonight in the Phoenix game, I think he’s best taken in smaller doses, meaning the handful of games he’s going to do for CSNNE this season is just about right.

All-Star wrinkle adds drama – Chad Finn’s media column has a look at the new format for the NHL All Star game, and has Dennis and Callahan reclaiming the top spot in the morning over Toucher and Rich – something D&C have been crowing about this week, including a “D&C #1” sign visible on the NESN telecast.

10 Observations, From Bill Walton To The Bruins To Sports Talk Radio – My SB Nation Boston media column offers up 10 items from the sports media world.

Antoine Walker’s sights set on redemption – Greg Dickerson catches up with the former Celtic, who is toiling in the D-League, trying to make a comeback.

Depth isn’t a big issue – Gary Washburn looks at how stockpiling depth at center has paid off for the Celtics.

Return of Franchise Tag Indicates NFL May Avoid Lockout in March – Jeff Howe is reading the tea leaves, and thinks the owners may cave in the NFL Labor dispute.

Brandon Meriweather won’t be bothered by naysayers – Karen Guregian has the Patriots safety not fazed by criticism.

It’s time for real bargaining, NFL – Ron Borges says that the sides need to get down to business.

MVP performance by Tim Thomas has B’s in happy place – Mick Colageo has the Bruins in good position thanks to Tim Thomas.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before – Pressure is on to improve the pass rush –  Greg A Bedard looks at the prospects that might be of interest. Nick Underhill is losing patience with the Patriots in this regard.

Nick Caserio is a Patriots mystery man – Ian Rapoport checks in with Bill Belichick’s personnel guru.

10 Questions — No. 4: Who’s on the bench? – Gordon Edes continues his series on the Sox with a look at the bench.

NESN Announces Red Sox Spring Training Plans

NESN just released plans for their 2011 Spring training coverage. Highlights are below:

NESN’s 2011 Red Sox Spring Training Game Broadcast Schedule

DATE PROGRAM TIME
Friday, March 4                 Red Sox at New York Yankees (Tampa) 7:00 PM
Saturday, March 5             Florida Marlins at Red Sox 1:00 PM
Sunday, March 6                                                           Red Sox at New York Mets (Port St. Lucie) 1:00 PM
Wednesday, March 9 Baltimore Orioles at Red Sox 7:00 PM
Saturday, March 12           Florida Marlins at Red Sox 1:00 PM
Sunday, March 13             Red Sox at Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton) 1:00 PM
Monday, March 14            New York Yankees at Red Sox 7:00 PM
Saturday, March 19           Red Sox at Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton) 1:00 PM
Sunday, March 20                                                         St. Louis Cardinals at Red Sox 1:00 PM
Friday, March 25 Toronto Blue Jays at Red Sox 7:00 PM
Saturday, March 26 Minnesota Twins at Red Sox 7:00 PM
Sunday, March 27 Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota) 1:00 PM
Wednesday, March 30 Red Sox at Houston Astros (Houston,TX) 8:00 PM

 Additional programming highlights include:

NESN’s coverage line-up also includes:

· Red Sox LIVE from Fort Myers presented by Jordan’s Furniture – 16 hours of live coverage over 13 days with Tom Caron, Peter Gammons, Heidi Watney & Don Orsillo

· The Dennis & Callahan Morning Show – 15 hours live from Fort Myers
John Dennis, Gerry Callahan and Jon Meterparel

· Red Sox Spring Training Baseball on NESN – 13 games beginning Friday, March 4
Don Orsillo, Jerry Remy & Heidi Watney

· NESN Daily – On location reports featuring the latest news from Fort Myers
Heidi Watney and Don Orsillo

· Special Edition of Red Sox GameDay LIVE from Houston – March 30 at 7:00 PM ET
Tom Caron, Don Orsillo, Jerry Remy and Heidi Watney

· NESN.com – Daily posts, live blogs of every game and fan participation
Tony Lee, Don Orsillo, Tom Caron and Heidi Watney

In addition, on January 31st, (this coming Monday) at 9:00PM,  NESN will air their Red Sox Town Hall event. The event is described as “a special town hall style meeting for fans on Monday, January 31 at 7:00 pm. The 2011 Red Sox Town Hall presented by Bigelow Tea will feature a lively and interactive conversation between fans and Red Sox executives.  It will be held at WGBH’s Calderwood Studio, and televised in its entirety on NESN at 9:00 pm.

The Red Sox executive panel is expected to include Chairman Tom Werner, President/CEO Larry Lucchino, Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein and Manager Terry Francona. NESN’s Tom Caron and Heidi Watney will serve as hosts for the one-hour event.”

Bruins Hit Break With Win Over Panthers

The Bruins have reached the All Star break following last night’s 2-1 home victory over the Florida Panthers. The Bruins hit the break in first place in the Northeast division, and third in the Eastern Conference.

Hang time – Kevin Paul Dupont has the Bruins going an impressive 11-4-3 over their last 18 games prior to the break.

Hot Brad Marchand for real – Rich Thompson says that the rookie has outgrown his limited role in the Bruins offense. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has more on the winger.

Milan Lucic finds success with linemate – Joe McDonald has the forward notching his 20th goal of the season, with some help from David Krejci.

Peter Chiarelli on all things Bruins: ‘I’m not going to stop trying to improve the team’ – DJ Bean has the Bruins GM ok with tweaking his roster going forward.

Savard should consider calling it a career – Joe Haggerty thinks the Bruins center should seriously think of retiring.

David Krejci bounces back quickly from injury scare – Steve Conroy’s notebook has the center returning to the game after a hard hit left him writhing on the ice. The Globe notebook by Kevin Paul Dupont has Marc Savard headed home to rest. The CSNNE notes from Joe Haggerty has more on Krejci.

Brown: Marriage between Ochocinco, Patriots would work – Christopher Price has Troy Brown saying that the former Chad Johnson would be a good fit for the Patriots.

Not standing Pat – Michael Felger has a Patriots-centric mailbag this week.

Logan Mankins at head of line – Karen Guregian has the free agent-to-be not closing the door on the Patriots. Tom E. Curran has a different view of things.

Herzlich out to bowl ’em over – Shalise Manza Young has the BC linebacker looking to open some eyes.

It’s Casey Matthews’ turn at bat – Ian Rapoport’s notebook has Clay’s younger brother looking to make his own mark.

It’s time the West was won – Peter May takes a game-by-game look at the Celtics West coast road trip which begins tonight in Portland. Paul Flannery and Mark Murphy have more on the trip.

Celts heading back to their house of horrors – Scott Souza has Sunday’s game in the Staples Center looking large on the trip.

Celtics/Lakers – Finals vs. Regular Season Prices

Interesting comparison here between prices in Los Angeles for the NBA Finals last June, and for this Sunday’s regular season rematch.

If you’re a Celtics fan who happens to be in Los Angeles – there are 37 tickets still available for less than $190, and the best deals can be found in the 300-level TiqZones.

Shaughnessy Column Corrected

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post – Fun With NFL Payrolls and Draft “Value”

From the Globe this morning:

Correction: Because of a reporting error, the ranking of the Patriots’ payroll among NFL teams was incorrect in a column about the Jets-Steelers game in Sunday’s Sports section. The NFL salary cap can be tabulated in different ways, but in three of the most-commonly acknowledged ones, the Patriots are ranked second, ninth, and 12th.

So did he just Google “NFL Payroll?”

Perk Returns, Celtics Whip Hapless Cavs

Kendrick Perkins made a surprise return to the active roster last night, and took part in the Celtics 112-95 beatdown of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have now lost 28 of 29 games.

A new force was at work – Bob Ryan has a look at the return of Perkins, and what he means to the Celtics. More on Perkins:  Mark Murphy | Chris Forsberg | Jessica Camerato (with 1-on-1 sitdown interview video)| Paul Flannery | Evans Clinchy

Celtics maintain focus against lesser opponent – Rich Levine has the Celtics handling a situation that has given them some problems this season.

Glad to mix it up a bit – Frank Dell’Apa looks at a strong night from the bench.

Captain exits early to treat ankle – Dan Duggan’s notebook has Paul Pierce leaving a bit early to get some treatment on his tweaked ankle. The Celtics Journal by Kevin McNamara has more on Perkins’ return. The Globe notebook by Gary Washburn has more on the Celtics not taking the Cavs lightly. The notebook from Jim Fenton has the Cavs losing their 18th straight game.

Bill Belichick Could Engineer Donte Stallworth Reunion With Patriots and 19 Other NFL Thoughts – Jeff Howe with 20 observations on the NFL.

State of the Patriots is strong, indeed – Jim Donaldson says “The State of Patriot Nation, it appears, is better than the State of the Union.”

Jerod Mayo turns to Ravens’ Ray Lewis – Karen Guregian has the Patriots All Pro looking to get some tips from the Ravens future Hall of Famer.

Super Bowl matchup worth watching – Jonathan Comey tells us that this Super Bowl is worth watching even without the Patriots.

Quick hits from the Senior Bowl – Greg A Bedard has some good observations from the Senior Bowl. There is also Part II. For the Herald, Ian R. Rapoport has also been all over the Senior Bowl practices.

Improved, but Bruins need to get better – Stephen Harris says that while the Bruins have shown improvement as of late, they still have a ways to go.

10 Questions — No. 2: Lingering injuries? – Gordon Edes wonders if the Red Sox will be healthy in 2011.