Wakeup Call: They're our boys . . . when they play the Lakers, anyway

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Wakeup Call: They're our boys . . . when they play the Lakers, anyway

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, February 11:

BASEBALL
Not so fast on that King Felix extension . . . and for the worst possible reason. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

As the PED scandal laps at his feet, Ryan Braun has one strong defender: His manager, Ron Roenicke. (AP)

First Dice-K, and now Jason Giambi. If this was 2007, Terry Francona would have quite the team there in Cleveland. (AP)

Armando Galarraga's not too proud to accept a minor-league deal as he tries to work his way back to the majors. (AP)

Looks like old friend Derek Lowe is, though. (Hardball Talk)

The Cubs are confident Carlos Marmol will be cleared of the assault allegations he's facing in the Dominican Republic. (CSN Chicago)

Problems? What problems? Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey don't have any problems. Right, boys? (CSN Bay Area)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Indiana rebounds from its upset loss with an impressive 13-point victory at No. 10 Ohio State. (AP)

Still, it may not be enough to prevent the Hoosiers from losing the No. 1 ranking to Duke . . . despite the Blue Devils' skin-of-their-teeth escape at, of all places, Boston College. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

Speaking of Duke, Seth Curry's 18-point performance at BC put him and his brother, Stephen, at the top of the Division I siblings scoring list. And I'll bet you didn't even know there was such a thing, did you? (CSN Bay Area)

Any outside chance Arizona might have had to leap seven spots to the top went up in smoke at the hands of Cal. And at Tucson, no less. (AP)

All this poll talk is well and good, but the landscape for tournament time may have changed with the return of Syracuse's James Southerland. (College Basketball talk)

Pretty good week for Illinois, wouldn't you say? (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
The Paterno family goes public with a detailed critique to the Freeh report on the Jerry Sandusky scandal, calling it a "rush to injustice". (AP)

But Dan Wetzel calls it a "a masterful testament to unnecessary declarative statements, the creation of straw men and everything else one gets when lawyers are hired by wealthy clients to prepare a 'thorough' report" that does "little to nothing to suggest that Paterno didn't know" Sandusky was sexually molesting young boys. (Yahoo! Sports)

For his part, Louis Freeh isn't impressed with the Paternos' "self-serving report." (NBC's College Football Talk)

In the end, this bickering over the Paterno legacy is ugly. And sad. (CSN Philly)

If you remember Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, then you probably remember Doug Kenna, the quarterback of those great Army teams of the '40s. He died Jan. 28 at the age of 88. (AP)

Cam Cameron, whose firing as Ravens' offensive coordinator -- coincidentally or not -- seemed to spark Baltimore's run to the Super Bowl, apparently is resurfacing at LSU. (CSN Baltimore)

GOLF
Your weekend winners: Brandt Snedeker at Pebble Beach . . . (AP)

. . . Rocco Mediate in his Champions Tour debut . . . (AP)

. . . Richard Sterne in the Joburg Open . . . (AP)

. . . and 15-year-old Lydia Ko in the New Zealand Women's Open. (AP)

Ko, an amateur who now has won three professional titles in 53 weeks, should create quite the stir when she makes her arrival at next week's LPGA season opener. (golfchannel.com)

HOCKEY
If anyone still doesn't believe in the Blackhawks, consider: They remain undefeated, at 10-0-2, after completing a two-week, 4-0-2 road trip with a 3-0 win over the Predators. (CSN Chicago)

Not at that level, but still hot, are the Devils, who beat the Penguins, 3-1, for their fifth victory in a row. (AP)

I don't know why Mike Babcock thinks getting the game-winning goal with five seconds to play is "ugly," but beauty's in the eye of the beholder, I guess. (AP)

Now that the labor problems are settled, the NHL and NHLPA are talking realignment again. (NHL's Pro Hockey Talk)

The Maple Leafs' Mikhail Grabovski is being called in on the carpet for allegedly biting Max Pacioretty. Have the good citizens of Montreal called 9-1-1 yet? (AP)

ESPN Boston did what? Oh, wait . . . wrong Joey McDonald. (AP)

OLYMPICS
Lindsey Vonn is "resting comfortably" after undergoing surgery to repair torn ACL and MCL and a fractured lateral tibial plateau, all of which she injured in a horrific fall in Austria last week. (NBC's Olympic Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Not often we root for LeBron and the Heat around here, but old habits die hard. (AP)

When the Clippers are healthy -- which, to be fair, they weren't when they were here last week -- they're quite the handful. Just ask the Knicks. (AP)

As are the Spurs, even without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Just ask the Nets. (AP)

Hey, the Magic finally won one! (AP)

Trade winds: The Nets are going hard after the Hawks' Josh Smith . . . (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

. . . and the Suns want the Knicks' Iman Shumpert. (Pro Basketball Talk)

Not without deer antler spray -- or something -- he couldn't. (Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
The Super Bowl champion traditionally hosts the next season's opener on the Thursday after Labor Day, but the Ravens are going to need some cooperation from the Orioles for that to happen this year. (CSN Baltimore)

Ray Lewis' departure means the Ravens need a new leader. Terrell Suggs graciously says he'll share the job with Joe Flacco. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Even though University of Kansas coach Mark Mangino doesn't usually defend his former cornerback, Aqib Talib, he takes issue with the notion that Talib doesn't work hard. (Pro Football Talk)

Hey, Dolphins. Reggie Bush wants to know: Where's the love? (Pro Football Talk)

Rob Ryan and the Saints make official the worst-kept secret in the NFL. (AP)

The growing national sentiment for gun-law reforms got five big-name supporters in Emmett Smith, Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, LaDainian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk. (AP)

TENNIS
Normally you wouldn't call losing in both the singles and doubles finals "very positive," but just being back on the court was the big victory for Rafael Nadal. (AP)

And now that he's back in the spotlight, he took the opportunity to rail against those, in any sport, who use performance-enhancing drugs. (AP)

U.S. coach Mary Joe Fernandez says she's "really proud" of her team despite its first-round ouster from the Fed Cup. (AP)

At the half: Sixers applying pressure early and often against the Celtics

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At the half: Sixers applying pressure early and often against the Celtics

The Celtics are getting more than they bargained for against the Philadelphia 76ers who are once again, record-wise, among the worst teams in the NBA.

They didn’t look like it in the first half which ended with the Celtics trailing the Sixers 53-45.

Boston came into the game having won its last four road games. And they did so by playing solid defense, something that has been noticeably absent in the first half.

Philadelphia came into the game as one of the NBA’s better 3-point shooting teams and has lived up to the lofty ranking.

In the first half Philadelphia made nine of its 18 three-point attempts while the Celtics are way, way, way at the other end of the 3-point shooting spectrum while missing eight of their 11 3s with Isaiah Thomas making a pair with the lone other made 3-pointer coming from Marcus Smart.

The defense struggled, the offense never had any kind of flow and not surprisingly, the Celtics found themselves playing from behind most of the first half.

Here are the first half stars from Saturday’s game.

STARS

Sergio Rodriguez: His playmaking was solid as usual, but it was Rodriguez getting it going with his jumper that really produced surprisingly strong results for the Sixers. He had 11 points, four assists and a steal in the first half.

Isaiah Thomas: Playing his game which is shooting and attacking the rim, Thomas was Boston’s lone double-digit scorer in the first half with 15 points which is tops among all players.

STUDS

Dario Saric: It was a solid first half as Saric contributed both on the boards and the scoreboard. He had 10 points in the first half along with five rebounds.

Gerald Henderson: Henderson had one of those high efficiency-type games with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting.

DUDS

Celtics 3-point shooting: It was a miserable first half for a team that has been among the NBA’s leaders in 3-pointers made and taken this season. At the half, Boston has shot 2-for-10 on 3's.

Celtics defense: Boston has shown little to no signs of providing the kind of push-back they’ll need in order to leave Philly with a win. In addition to allowing Philadelphia to shoot 47.4 percent from the field, Boston also allowed the Sixers to knock down nine 3's.

Thomas becoming one of the NBA's best in the fourth quarter

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Thomas becoming one of the NBA's best in the fourth quarter

Isaiah Thomas has established himself as one of the NBA’s top players in the fourth quarter of games this season.

“I’d rather play that than any other quarter,” Thomas said.

But there will be times when the game’s flow or head coach Brad Stevens’ gut will tell him to go in a different direction with Thomas’ minutes which is something the two have had conversations about which has helped eliminate any confusion or misunderstandings.

“We’ve had player-coach talks, how he feels and how I feel,” Thomas said. “That’s the relationship we have. We changed it up a little bit (in the win over Sacramento) and I’m just happy we got the win.”

In that game, Thomas was replaced by Terry Rozier with 3:20 to play in the quarter and Boston trailing 66-63. He returned to the floor at the 8:31 mark and the Celtics were down 76-74.

“The key is, there are some times where you feel like those last few minutes of the third quarter will be real important moving forward,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “Especially based on how your team is playing. And you just have to make that decision. You have to make that decision, you take him out early in the third like we did (against Sacramento) and put him back in earlier; or play him through until the two or one-minute mark in the third, and then give him his rest up until the seven or six. Either way, we’ve talked about it like I do with all our guys, especially the guys that are playing and big in the rotation.

Stevens would love to come up with a game plan and stick to it with little to no changes being made.

But the NBA game is unpredictable and his job as the head coach is to make the necessary on-the-fly changes that best position the Celtics for victory.

“Ultimately there will be days that it will be very consistent and there might be a time or two where I’m gonna go with my gut,” Stevens said. “They know that and we’ve talked about it.”

And while Stevens’ decision may not sit well with some, players understand it’s all done to achieve one goal – win. 

“There’s a number of reasons why you make a decision to leave someone in or take someone out,” Stevens said. “Ultimately, we have to figure out game to game, moment to moment, what’s best for our team. That’s what I’m charged with. That doesn’t mean I’m always right. I’m not gonna act like that. Ultimately, those guys know I’m thinking about it all the time.”