Lovullo interviews with Sox

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Lovullo interviews with Sox

BOSTON -- The Red Sox continued the search to fill their managerial vacancy, meeting with Torey Lovullo Friday. Lovullo managed Triple-A Pawtucket in 2010, leading the PawSox to 66-78 record, before leaving to join John Farrells major league staff in Toronto last season. He is the fourth candidate to interview.

Lovullos time in Pawtucket gave him some insight into what the Sox top job would be like.

Farm director Mike Hazen said to me when I was hired in that position, he said, Youre now the 31st manager of a major-league team, Lovullo said. And it made a lot of sense because I was exposed to many of the media, exposed to the Red Sox Nation, and its real. You dont know exactly what its like until youre a part of it. Its a pretty spectacular place.

"Does that give me a leg up on the competition? Im not certain. I feel very comfortable with the surroundings, the people and their concepts, and Im fortunate for that.

Lovullo, 46, was a fifth-round pick of the Tigers in 1987. He played parts of eight seasons with the Tigers, Yankees, Angels, Mariners, As, Indians, and Phillies. His playing career done, he began managing in the low minors of the Indians organization, saying he wanted to earn my stripes, working his way up through the organization, as he did as a player. In 2011, he had his first season on a big league staff.

My qualifications are such that Ive been groomed by a couple of organizations, he said. Ive seen a lot. I feel like Im very diverse in many areas. As a player I played in Latin America, I played in Japan. I worked for the Cleveland Indians for nine years and then shifted quickly over here to Boston and managed in Pawtucket.

Last year I was the first-base coach in Toronto, had a chance to see what that level of baseball was like. I was very excited to get to that level as a staff member. I was able to work once again with Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who Ive learned a great deal from over the years in the Cleveland and Boston organizations.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was pleased with the meeting.

He did a great job, Cherington said. We knew him pretty well before but first time we had a chance to talk to him about this particular role. Good opportunity to kind of get his insight on being a manager in Boston and sort of how you transfer the skills that we know he has to this particular job and hes a compassionate guy. He cares about players . . . creative, smart, hard-working. And hes a guy that certainly we already know that we can work with effectively and so today was mostly about transferring that, trying to put that in a major league context and enjoyed the chance to do that with him.

Cherington said, despite their familiarity with Lovullo, that does not necessarily translate into an advantage.

I would say thats one of the factors that led us to want to talk to him more about this job, Cherington said. But each of the candidates has their own particular strengths and he has his particular strengths and right now were not giving anyone a leg up. Were going to get through Saturday and use next week to try to figure out who has a leg up.

The Sox will interview Tigers bench coach Gene Lamont Saturday. Lamont, who turns 65 on Christmas Day, also spent a season with the Sox, serving as third-base coach in 2001.

Cherington said he has no plans to expand the pool of candidates beyond the current five, but wouldnt completely rule it out. But, asked if he had requested permission to talk with other candidates, he replied: We havent had any formal permission requests right now.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

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Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

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Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

Talk about your basketball extremes.

After losing a 107-106 heartbreaker to Houston and their high-powered offense on Monday, the Boston Celtics will be in for a very different -- and less successful -- foe tonight in the Orlando Magic.

The Magic beat Washington 124-116 on Tuesday night despite John Wall’s 52-point effort, but have been one of the NBA’s most offensively challenged teams this season.

Orlando ranks near the bottom in scoring (29th, 94.6 points per game), field goal percentage (28th, .426) and Pace (24th, 96.71) this season.

But Frank Vogel’s crew has been a defensive force thus far in the East even if their record might suggest otherwise.

They rank among the league’s best in several defensive categories such as scoring defense (4th, 98.0 points per game allowed); opponent 3-point percentage (3rd, 33.0 percent), opponent 3-point attempts (4th, 23.6) in addition to allowing a league-low 8.0 made 3's per game.

That will be a stark contrast from the let-it-fly-all-night style Boston had to contend with against the high-scoring Rockets on Monday.

But this set of games is exactly why Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made of point of trying to put together a roster that was heavy on athleticism and versatility both in the frontcourt as well as on the perimeter.

Against Houston, Tyler Zeller recorded his first DNP-CD (Did not play -- coaches decision) of the season which made sense considering Houston basically plays void of a traditional center.

Orlando, that’s a different story.

Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic now coming off the bench form a physical triumvirate of big men that can cause lots of problems for a Celtics team that will look to attack the paint often.

When it comes to scoring in the restricted area, the Magic allow opponents to shoot 57.6 percent which ranks seventh in the league. They rank highly when it comes to defending mid-range shots (5-10th, 38.3 percent), corner 3's (6th, 34.5 percent) and above-the-break 3's (8th, 33.8 percent) as well.

And while they have had their issues offensively this season, their recent run of success has been in part aided by a much-improved offensive showing. In their last five games, they are shooting 48.5 percent from the field which ranks fifth in the NBA in that span. For the season, the Magic rank 28th while connecting on 42.6 percent of their shots.

Orlando’s improved shooting with a defense that’s stingy as ever, will make this a tough game for Boston to come away with a victory.

Just as the Magic seek to continue their successful ways, the Celtics come into this game with something to prove as well.

While the missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the final minute of Monday’s 107-106 loss certainly were factors in the game’s outcome, there were a series of miscommunications earlier in the quarter that fueled Houston’s late surge.

Following the game, Isaiah Thomas pointed out how he called out a play that Jonas Jerebko interpreted as another play the Celtics called.

The miscommunication led to a turnover and subsequent lay-up which in hindsight looms huge considering the margin of victory was just one point.

“The two play calls sound alike,” Thomas told reporters afterwards. “In the heat of battle, I have to do a better job of making sure everybody knows what play we’re running. He (Jerebko) handed the ball back to me when the play wasn’t to hand the ball back to me. That was one of the turnovers that was the key.

Thomas added, “It’s not his fault. As a group, as a point guard, I have to do a better job of letting my guys know what play we’re running. Those little things, especially on the road, those make you lose games. But that wasn’t the play that made us lose. I’m not putting this on Jonas at all.”

Indeed, this team’s success as well as their struggles are the collective efforts of all their core players, Thomas included.

And for them to get back on track, it won’t be one or two players that will make it happen.

It’ll be a team effort, the kind that will allow Boston to find success against different teams no matter how extremely different their styles of play may be.