Wakeup Call: Fourth-and-29? Really?

949523.jpg

Wakeup Call: Fourth-and-29? Really?

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, November 26:

BASEBALL
The Phillies have made B.J. Upton their top offseason target, and he may decide who he'll sign with this week. (CSN Philly)

My question: What in the world are the other 13 percent thinking about? (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Too late now, Mayor Henderson. Too late now. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
It's bad enough to lose to unranked Cal Poly. But to blow an 18-point lead -- at home -- in the process? Tough night there, UCLA. (AP)

Louisville will be without senior center Gorgul Dieng for a while. (AP)

Colgate continued playing Wile E. Coyote to Syracuse's Roadrunner with its 47th straight loss to the Orange. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
It's been a long time since Notre Dame was on top of the world, and the Irish are enjoying the view. (AP)

Now it's just a matter of seeing if they'll play Alabama or Georgia for the national championship. (AP)

Frank Spaziani's wasn't the only head on the chopping block yesterday. Also out are Gene Chizik at Auburn, Tom O'Brien at North Carolina State and Danny Hope at Purdue. (AP)

But the most embarrassing firing may have come at Colorado, where, just two days ago, Jon Embree -- fresh off a 1-11 season, and a 4-17 mark in the last two years -- told one and all that athletic director Mike Bohn assured him he'd be returning in 2013. (NBC's College Football Talk)

HOCKEY
These are dark days indeed on the NHL labor front if the best hope for a breakthrough is for someone on the Board of Governors to stand up to Jeremy Jacobs and Gary Bettman. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

Fans and media aren't the only people astounded by the JacobsBettman suicide pact. (Pro Hockey Talk)

Um, players? That decertification idea? Don't. (CSN Philly)

PRO BASKETBALL
Some of the Rockets tweet their support for Kevin McHale after the tragic death of his daughter. (CSN Houston)

Even the broadcasters are into "Not in my house!" blustering. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Now, the Knicks; they now how to protect this house! (AP)

Rashard Lewis has become a missing person in Miami, but it's not like he didn't know it might happen. (Pro Basketball Talk)

Remember how excited the Sixers were to get Andrew Bynum? Seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it? (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Fourth-and-29? Fourth-and-29? (CSN Baltimore)

Alex Smith = Wally Pipp. (CSN Bay Area)

Remember all that talk out of Green Bay last year? About how the Giants didn't win their NFC semifinal matchup against the Packers as much as the Pack lost it? Looks kind of foolish now, don't you think? (AP)

Jay Cutler looked none the worse for wear in leading the Bears over Minnesota. (CSN Chicago)

Not for nothing, but it's easier to be urgent against the Vikings than it is against the 49ers and Texans. (CSN Chicago)

Matty Ice does it again, and now the Falcons are 10-1. (AP)

Peyton Manning does it again, and now the Broncos are 8-3. (AP)

Karma's a you-know-what, Carson. (CSN Bay Area)

You can't beat anyone when you turn the ball over eight times. Not even the Browns. (AP)

And now, with five weeks left, the playoff picture is beginning to take shape. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

It's not bad enough that the Seahawks lost to Miami; it looks like they're also going to lose their two starting cornerbacks for violation of the league's PED policy. (AP)

Oh, Reuben. You haven't been watching the Patriots much, have you? (CSN Philly)

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

BOSTON – There was a point in the fourth quarter when Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins was fouled trying to score which brought about an automatic, intense and angry scowl from the all-star center. 

He raised his hand as he were going to strike back at the potential assailant. 

And then he saw the man was Jae Crowder. 

Cousins, who had a game-high 28 points, then went to the free throw line, incident-free. 

“I’m not one those other cats he be punking,” said Crowder with a grin.

That moment was one of many throughout Friday night’s game when Crowder made his presence felt when the game mattered most, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with whoever stood between him and helping the Celtics win – even Cousins. 

But as Crowder explained following Boston’s 97-92 win, that moment was about two physical players who have developed an on-the-floor rapport that speaks to their intensity and desire to win at all costs. 

“He’s going to bring the game to you; his physicality,” said Crowder who had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. “He’s a very physical type of guy. If he senses you’re not physical at all, he’ll let you know. He’s a dog down there; he’s a bull. I love to go against a player like that. He’s going to give you his best shot each and every night. You either step up to the test or you get run over.” 

As soon as the two made eye contact, Crowder knew it was one of the many intimidation methods used by Cousins against opposing players. 

Crowder wasn’t having it. 

“That’s my guy; he’s my guy,” Crowder said of Cousins. “He plays a lot of tactics against a lot of other players. I’ve earned that respect with him. He knows I’m going to fight him just as hard as anybody else. We leave it on the court. He’s a good friend of mine. We’ve become friends, just playing ball, playing basketball the right way.”

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics make big plays down the stretch

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics make big plays down the stretch

BOSTON – When the fourth quarter rolled around on Friday night, the Boston Celtics found themselves in a down-to-the-wire fight with the Sacramento Kings. 

It was the kind of game that in the past has brought out the scrappy, get-it-done-somehow brand of basketball that has in many ways come to define the Celtics under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens. 

And it was on full display Friday night as the Celtics made all the big plays at both ends of the floor down the stretch to beat the Sacramento Kings, 97-92. 

After Sacramento cut Boston’s lead to 90-87, Al Horford drained a 3-pointer to make it a two-possession game again. 

Isaiah Thomas came up with a pair of free throws that turned out to be huge, because shortly after he made them the Kings got a 3-pointer from DeMarcus Cousins that made it a 95-92 game.

The Kings had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth when Horford was credited with his sixth block of the game, this time on DeMarcus Cousins.

Horford was immediately fouled and went to the free throw line where he sealed the victory by making a pair.

Those were the kind of plays we saw often last season being made by the Celtics who finished in a tie for the third-best record in the East. 

This year, not so much. 

“For the most part we got what we wanted (in the fourth quarter) and we got the stops we needed even,” Thomas said. 

Which is the kind of game Jae Crowder and the rest of the guys who have been here awhile, have grown accustomed to.

“We got back to being the aggressive team,” Crowder said. “We came out and imposed our will early; that helped. But if the game comes down to what it was tonight, we have to be the team that comes out on top. It was like a playoff game, real physical. We have to grit it out, grind it out.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night’s game.

 

STARS

Al Horford

So this is what an ultra-aggressive Al Horford looks like? The four-time All-Star had a season-high 26 points which included knocking down four three-pointers to go with eight rebounds and six blocked shots – yes, six blocked shots.

DeMarcus Cousins

While his fiery temper hasn’t died down completely, his incredible offensive skills and brute strength is what folks are talking more about, finally. He led the Kings with a game-high 28 points to go with nine rebounds, three assists, a steal and four blocked shots.  

 

STUDS

Isaiah Thomas

His streak of being Boston’s outright scoring leader ended at 14 games, but he’s more than happy to take a back seat for one night if it means getting a victory. Horford led the charge on Friday night, but Thomas still chipped in with 20 points, seven assists and two steals. 

Matt Barnes

Although he missed eight of his 11 shots from the field, the 36-year-old Barnes was rewarded for his hustle and effort as he finished with a double-double of 12 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

Jae Crowder

Boston needed tough plays to be made on Friday and Crowder was up the challenge all night. He finished with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting to go with three rebounds, three assists and a steal. Good things happened when he was on the floor, evident by his game-high plus/minus of +15.

 

DUDS

Rudy Gay

He finished with 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting but the Kings needed more from their second-leading scorer who finished almost seven points below his 19.6 points per game average. That stands out on a night when the Kings lost by just five points.