Getting our Phil of sports topics

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Getting our Phil of sports topics

By Michael Felger

It won't be anywhere near as twisted as a Tanguay's 10, but here's a Felger five-pack just the same.

1. I'm torn regarding the embarrassing Phil Kessel episode the other night at the NHL All-Star draft. In case you missed it, the former Bruin was picked last.

After watching that clip, and if you have an ounce of humanity, you had to feel badly for Kessel sitting there alone. Then came the uncomfortable post-draft interview ("Phil. Phil? Come on down here") and the awarding of a free car. All for being the schmuck. I didn't think that being the last pick of this draft would be a big deal, but I was wrong. That was sort of hard to watch. Awkward. Again, it's hard not to have some sympathy for him.

On the other hand, Kessel's lack of popularity among his peers is no fluke. He's earned it. That's what you get when you don't play hard, don't go into the corners and don't help your teammates in your own end. Kessel is being paid 5 million a year and is a minus-19. Sort of worthy of being picked last, don't you think? It's obvious the other players up on stage weren't shedding any tears -- that's for sure.

2. Given how it transpired with Kessel, the NHL may never do an All-Star draft again, which is too bad. It was great theatre for hockey junkies, certainly better than the game that took place yesterday.

In fact, if I were the NFL I'd be looking into something similar. Given the fantasy football mania that has griped this country, having a similar draw at the Pro Bowl would be an instant hit. Can't you just imagine Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher pickings sides? Would it be Brady or Manning? or Brees or Rodgers? Polamalu or Reed? Revis or Asomugha?

Again, just like in hockey, it would be far more entertaining than the game itself.

Speaking of which, Bill Belichick has certainly lost his touch in January, hasn't he?

3. As has been the case in the past, the Patriots' greatest misstep in the Logan Mankins situation wasn't necessarily how they approached his contract at the end. It's how they approached it a few years prior.

It never had to come to this. The Pats signed him to a five-year rookie deal in 2005, and even though it was obvious Mankins would be a top interior lineman in the league early on in his career, the Pats let the months and years tick off the contract. If they had come to him a year early, or two years early, they certainly could have gotten him at a discounted rate. Yes, they would have had to come up with some new bonus money, but not as much as they do now. Remember, the price always goes up.

Instead, the Pats stubbornly held onto the leverage they owned on his rookie contract. Just like they did with Deion Branch (the first time). Just like they did with Asante Samuel. Just like they did with Vince Wilfork.

And now if they want Mankins back they'll have to be the high bidder, something they avoid like the plague. Or they'll have to franchise him, which is just asking for more trouble. Or they'll simply lose him, which would be frustrating. There's no reason why Logan Mankins shouldn't have been a Patriot for life.

Whatever the outcome, this isn't about the Pats being cheap. It's about them being stubborn. It's about asset management. They're generally pretty good with it, with a few notable exceptions. Unfortunately, Mankins is one.

4. How was Kevin Garnett NOT suspended for blatantly hitting Channing Frye in the nuggets in Phoenix on Friday? I mean, what do you have to do to earn a seat?

But hey, I'm just glad KG got to wear his special sneakers against the Lakers.

What a league.

5. While Kessel licks his wounds from the weekend, keep an eye on his Maple Leafs in the second half of the season. Remember, the Bruins' still have Toronto's first-rounder this summer, and the Leafs currently reside in 26th place. That means if the season ended today, the B's would be back in the lottery. A nice implosion by Toronto over the final two-plus months could very well give the B's another top two pick.

Meanwhile, eyes in Boston will be focused on what the other Toronto first-rounder from the Kessel trade netted: Tyler Seguin. He has seven goals heading into February, which is basically the same pace at which his dream comparison for B's fans, Stephen Stamkos, was at for the Lightning in 2008. Stamkos turned it on after that All-Star break, scoring 17 goals in the second half, and he's been one of the league's best offensive players since.

The Bruins can only hope Seguin comes close to that production.

E-mail Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursday. Listen to Felger on the radio, live this week from the Super Bowl in Dallas from 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

The bumps and bruises continue to pile up for Isaiah Thomas, adding a new one to the group during Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston. 
 
The 5-foot-9 guard said he strained his right groin in the second quarter, but added that the injury won’t force him to miss any games. 
 
“I’ll be alright,” Thomas told reporters after the loss. “I’ll get treatment. I’ll be fine for Wednesday (against Orlando).”
 
The injury appeared to have happened shortly after Houston’s Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer that put the Rockets ahead 55-45.
 
At the time it didn’t seem all that serious as Thomas, who had 20 points on the night, came down and drained a 3-pointer. 
 
But after the game, Thomas acknowledged his groin did bother him during the game in which he played 33-plus minutes. 
 
“A few drives I didn’t have the lift,” said Thomas, who finished with 20 points. “It is what it is. I’ll figure it out.”
 
Thomas, who played in all 82 regular season games last season in addition to each of Boston’s 21 games this season, has dealt with an assortment of injuries including but not limited to, a swollen middle finger injury on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
Thomas, an All-Star last season for the first time, has played at an elite level that should once again position him to be represent the Eastern Conference. 
 
Following Monday’s game, Thomas is averaging a career-high 26.0 points per game which ranks ninth in the NBA along with 6.1 assists. 

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

The fact that the James Harden of the Houston Rockets went to the free throw line 18 times which was more than the entire Celtics roster (12 free throw attempts total) certainly fired up conspiracy theorists among Celtics Nation. 
 
But what seemed to draw the most ire was what appeared to be a 3-pointer by Avery Bradley late in the fourth quarter that was initially called a long two-pointer. 
 
And after it was reviewed by the good folks in Secaucus, N.J., they allowed the ruling to stand because there wasn’t enough proof in the many replay angles for them to overturn the original call. 
 
The missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the closing seconds stand out, obviously. 
 
But the 3-pointer that wasn’t a 3-pointer was one of the more talked-about topics in the Celtics locker room afterwards. 
 
“From the angle we saw, it was a three,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told reporters after the game. “We definitely thought it was.”
 
Said Jae Crowder: “I thought it was a three. Nothing we can do about it now.”
 
It was that kind of game for the Celtics, one in which plays that could go either way more often than not, went against them. 
 
And while Bradley’s questionable two-pointer certainly was a factor in the game’s outcome, as was the free throw discrepancy and the late-game misses, ultimately the blame for Monday’s loss falls upon the Celtics players who were still in position to win despite all those setbacks.

They simply didn't get it done, when it mattered.
 
Smart, who had 13 points off the Celtics bench, understands that fans like to blame the officials when a game ends like Monday’s loss to Houston. 
 
“Officials, they did their job,” Smart said. “You can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game. We made some costly plays down the stretch. Give credit to the Rockets. They made plays and executed down the stretch.”