Soaring to the front of the class

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Soaring to the front of the class

MINNEAPOLIS It can be lonely at the top, not that the Boston Celtics (29-22) mind of course.

The C's 100-79 win over Minnesota combined with Philadelphia's loss at Washington, has catapulted the Celtics into first place - all by themselves - in the Atlantic Division.

And with that comes a more favorable seeding; that is, assuming they can hold the position which will not be easy with a series of playoff contenders on the docket.

But it is games like Friday's win over the Timberwolves that reminds us of just how far this team has come since the all-star break.

Rajon Rondo was carving up the entire Minnesota defense - if you can even call it that - to the tune of 17 assists.

For much of the game, Boston's fourth scoring option - Avery Bradley - had more points than Minnesota's Do-it-all big man, Kevin Love.

And then there was Kevin Garnett's return to where he spent more than a decade as the face of the Timberwolves franchise.

He struggled early on with his shot.

But by halftime, the rims seemed to remember that once upon a time, they were on good teams with Garnett who finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

The Celtics spent most of the game leading by double figures.

Minnesota had a chance to make it a single digit game with just under seven minutes to play.

But Kevin Love missed a short jumper, and Paul Pierce came down and scored at the other end to make it an 88-75 game with 6:26 to play.

A 3-point play by Love made it an 88-78 game with 5:27 to play.

The Timberwolves could not inch any closer, as the Celtics closed the game out with a 12-1 run.

Scott's taste of big-league life with Red Sox has him hungering for more

Scott's taste of big-league life with Red Sox has him hungering for more

CHESNUT HILL -- The Red Sox Rookie Development Program is designed to help young players prepare for what playing at the major-league level is like,. That can be valuable for a prospect like Rafael Devers, who hasn’t even made it to Double-A.

But of the eight-man cast at the workout this year, there’s one guy who actually has major-league experience.

Robby Scott joined the Red Sox as a September call-up last season and turned some heads, holding opponents scoreless over six innings of work.

Now the lefty is back working with younger guys to prepare himself for spring training -- something he’s itching to get started.

“It’s one thing that we always talk about,” the left-handed reliever told CSNNE.com “It’s a tough road to get there, but it’s an even tougher and harder road to stay there. And having that taste in September last year was incredible to be a part of it.”

That taste Scott had last fall has only made the desire to rejoin Boston greater.

“Yeah, because now you know what it’s like,” Scott said CSNNE.com. “You see it and you’re there and you’re a part of it. And it’s like, ‘Man, I wanna be there.’ You’re a little bit more hungry.”

And his hunger to pitch with the Red Sox only becomes greater at an event like this where he’s the only one with MLB time.

“They ask on a consistent basis,” Scott started, “ ‘What’s it like?’ ‘What was it like getting there the first day?’ ‘How did the guys react?’ ‘What was it like dealing with the media?’

“That’s what this program is here for, just to kind of gives these guys a little taste of what it is like and get familiar with the circumstances.

While the experience and constant discussion invites players to try to do more in the offseason or change their routine, the 27-year-old has stayed the course, trusting what’s gotten him there.

“The offseason training stays the same, nothing really changes on that side of things,” Scott said. “Nothing changes. Go about my business the way I have the last six, seven years.”

Thursday, Jan. 19: Torts doesn't think LeBron could play hockey

Thursday, Jan. 19: Torts doesn't think LeBron could play hockey

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering if the Bruins are ever going to poop, or get off the pot.
 
*John Tortorella wants everybody to know that he thinks there isn’t a chance that Lebron James could play hockey.
 
*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my radio hit with Toucher and Rich this morning about whether or not Claude Julien should be fired after back-to-back bad losses against the Islanders and Red Wings.
 
*How did Shane Doan arrive at an unhappy place with the Arizona Coyotes where he now is open to moving elsewhere ahead of the trade deadline?
 
*Henrik Lundqvist’s season is entering a crisis level based on what he’s done, and the diminished performance level he’s showing as a more mature goaltender.
 
*A nice piece with a Canadian hockey hero, Hayley Wickenheiser, who recounts some of the legendary moments of her career through a series of pictures.
 
*I totally respect the work that Travis Yost does, but stating the Bruins should stick with Claude Julien because their shooting percentage is bound to turn around isn’t good enough grounds to keep a floundering situation intact, in my opinion. You need to check where the shots are coming from and how many of those shot attempts are completely missing the net to get a better grasp on some of the reasons behind Boston’s dreadful 10-year low shooting percentage. That would also explain some of the reason why Julien needs to be replaced coaching a team that’s largely content on perimeter shots to do it for them while also only sporadically showing the effort required from a middle class talent type of team.

*The Lightning are struggling at Joe Namath levels right now without Steve Stamkos in their lineup, and they need that to change.
 
*For something completely different: congrats to the Boston boys in New Edition for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.