Wakeup Call: LeBron set what record??

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Wakeup Call: LeBron set what record??

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, February 13:

BASEBALL
Let's go for another ride down Denial River: Gio Gonzalez says he's never taken PEDs and has no connection with the Miami clinic suspected of dealing them . . . (CSN Washington)

. . . and that goes double for Jesus Montero. (AP)

Joe Girardi insists that stashing A-Rod -- another guy who, I'm sure, never heard of PEDs and the Bosch Clinic -- in New York during his rehab from hip surgery has nothing to do "with trying to get rid of a distraction". In the classic words of Jim Gosger from the brilliant book Ball Four: Yeah, suuurrre. (AP)

Old friend Hideki Okajima thinks that, "with enough preparation and training," he'll be able to beat out some of these young guys for a spot in the A's bullpen. (CSN Bay Area)

And another old friend, Carl Crawford, is just about to face live pitching and says he's "confident" he'll be ready for Opening Day. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Crawford's new team was dissed by the Giants' Brandon Belt -- who, when asked about the Dodgers' profligate spending, replied, "All I can say is, you can't buy team chemistry" -- and Belt says he's "getting killed" for his remarks. (CSN Bay Area)

At last, it's a done deal for King Felix and the Mariners. (AP)

And now Hernandez has a new teammate: Joe Saunders. (Hardball Talk)

It's also a done deal for Mat Latos and the Reds. (AP)

And Brandon Inge and the Pirates. (Hardball Talk)

Rolen-to-English translation: Scott Rolen probably wants to play in 2013. Just not in Cincinnati. (AP)

Not a real good sign for the Mets when closer Frank Francisco -- shut down last September 16 because of elbow inflammation -- rests all winter, and then says the elbow still hurts on the first day of spring training. (AP)

Ryan Madson's going for an MRI to examine the elbow pain Mike Scioscia wasn't worried about yesterday. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
No. 25 Kentucky gets schooled by No. 7 Florida . . . (AP)

. . . but the far bigger concern is the knee injury suffered by the Wildcats' freshman center, Nerlens Noel, which, as you'll see in the video attached to the story, doesn't look good. At all. And without Noel, the defending national champs are going nowhere. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

What the injury does to Noel's career is even more worrisome, especially since Florida's Patric Young called it "gruesome" and Kentucky coach John Calipari said, "I'm physically sick for Noel right now." (Yahoo! Sports)

Another high-profile smackdown: No. 8 Michigan State wallops No. 4 Michigan by 23. (AP)

Makes you think we should reevaluate how we view the Wolverines, doesn't it? (College Basketball Talk)

Rutgers women's coach C. Vivian Stringer is denied her 900th career victory in a last-second loss at DePaul, and says she hopes she reaches the milestone soon because "it's a heck of a lot of burden and stress." (AP)

The center on Penn's 1979 Final Four team is stabbed to death in his sleep by his wife, who said she did it because she caught him looking at what she called child pornography on the Internet and "I had to do it." (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Nice program ya got there, Nick. (AP)

Sources say the reshuffled Big East is about to sign a footballbasketball deal with the NBC Sports Network. (AP)

GOLF
Last weekend's win at Pebble Beach was another sign that Brandt Snedeker is emerging as the next American star. (AP)

The new star, however, won't participate in the Match Play Championship because of sore ribs. (AP)

Michelle Wie was once the rising star of women's golf. But after the worst year of her career in 2012, she's revamping her game and will try to get back on track this weekend in the Women's Australian Open, which kicks off the 2013 LPGA season. (AP)

Wie and Snedeker both made names for themselves as youngsters in the U.S. Amateur Public Links. Now, however, the U.S. Golf Association -- saying it's following a trend that's being set at the local and regional levels -- is getting rid of the Publinx in favor of a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. (AP)

HOCKEY
The Canadiens blow another third-period lead, but Carey Price saves them in the shootout. (AP)

Not sure I would have put much money down last night on the Hurricanes, since they were ending a six-game road trip playing their second game in two nights, and against the scorching Devils to boot. But that's why I don't bet. (AP)

Think Bobby Loo is still available? (AP)

New Blue Jackets head honcho John Davidson said he had "a gut feeling" that he had to fire general manager Scott Howson . . . so he did. (AP)

And it looks like his gut is telling him to hire Jarmo Kekalainen as Howson's replacement. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

OLYMPICS
The IOC tells wrestling "It's not you, it's me" as the reason why it's dropping the sport, which has been contested in every Olympics except one since 1896. (NBC's Olympic Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
So LeBron James has the new record for consecutive games with 30 points and 60 percent shooting? Who figures out this stuff? (AP)

Plain old 100 percent isn't good enough for Derrick Rose. No, no, he's not coming back until he's "110 percent" recovered from his knee injury. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Delonte West was picked up by the Texas Legends of the D-League on Jan. 25, but he still hasn't reported. (AP)

Who would've thought the Lakers could win a game when Kobe Bryant scored only four points? (AP)

James Harden plays through the pain of an injured right ankle and leads the Rockets past the Warriors . . . (AP)

. . . but it doesn't look like he'll be playing through it tonight. (CSN Houston)

Speaking of the Rockets, there may be a happy ending to the Royce White story, after all. (AP)

Temper, temper, Kevin! (AP)

And because we all miss Bob Lobel: Why can't we get players like that?!? (AP)

Lou Amundson is drawing lots of interest on the trade market. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Surprised that the Sixers are still in the playoff race? So are they. (CSN Philly)

PRO FOOTBALL
Well, as long as he needed the money for something important. (AP)

Chip Kelly's first move as Eagles coach: Shift to a two-back system. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

SOCCER
The prestige of the English Premier League may be at stake today when Manchester United goes against Real Madrid. (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

TENNIS
Rafael Nadal to the ATP: You don't care about us. (AP)

Andy Roddick's coming out of retirement . . . sort of. (AP)

WATCH: Celtics vs. Suns

WATCH: Celtics vs. Suns

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics host the Wizards in a game with huge playoff-seeding implications. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game Preview: C's focused on Suns, not playoff seeding

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

- Live Extra FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Celtics: All of the most recent news and notes

- Talk about the game via social media on CSN's Pulse, presented by Ford

 

Celtics-Suns preview: Boston focused on Phoenix, not playoff standings

Celtics-Suns preview: Boston focused on Phoenix, not playoff standings

BOSTON – Brad Stevens spent time talking to his team on Thursday about what everyone around them will be talking about between now and the playoffs – catching Cleveland. 

After Boston’s 109-100 win over Indiana and Cleveland’s 126-113 loss at Denver on Wednesday, the Celtics (46-26) are now just one game behind the Cavs (46-24) for the best record in the East. The Celtics hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against Phoenix which is coming off a 126-98 loss at Brooklyn on Thursday night.

As cool as landing that top seed overall in the East would be for the Celtics, Stevens is well aware that it can be a huge distraction that impacts their chances negatively in continuing to play good basketball and rack up wins if there's too much attention paid to it. 

“What we need to focus on is preparing for our next opponent,” Stevens said. “Our focus needs to be on Phoenix, not on anything else.”

The Celtics have already experienced the downside of what can happen if you pay too close attention to playoff positioning. 

Earlier this month, Boston began losing ground as the second-best team in the East to Washington, which eventually moved ahead of Boston briefly during a stretch in which the Celtics lost three of four games. 

“All we did was look at the standings, everyone looking at the standings,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “But we were losing games; we weren’t focused. We came together as a group, and said we can’t worry about where we are. Let’s worry about that when the time is right. Right now, we need to focus on every game and focus on getting better as a team.”

While that may be the Celtics’ collective purpose right now, it's hard to imagine that Boston can completely look past the fact that they can wind up with the best record in the East despite all the injuries, illnesses and stretches of inconsistent play they have had this season.

At least one player – Isaiah Thomas – has no plans of trying to ignore what’s happening around the NBA in regards to other team’s playoff position and how that relates to the Celtics who are focused on finishing with at least one of the top-two seeds in the East. 

“That’s the ultimate goal; get the best seed you possibly can whatever that is,” Thomas said. “We have a chance at number one, we’re a game behind them (Cavaliers). But at the same time, we just have to control what we can and worry about the things we can control and not worry about if Cleveland wins or loses.”

For Boston, the blueprint for success has already been laid out in these final 10 games, most (seven) of which are against teams that are .500 or worst record-wise.

“Just playing the same kind of basketball we played (against Indiana on Wednesday),” said Boston’s Kelly Olynyk. “Just hard on both ends of the floor, play together on both ends of the floor; just Celtics basketball.”

The Celtics might also have some added motivation against the Suns who beat them 109-106 as time expired earlier this season.

With the score tied at 106 with a few ticks left on the game clock, Thomas mishandled the in-bounds pass from Jae Crowder, resulting in the loose ball winding up in the hands of rookie Tyler Ulis who drained a game-winning 3-pointer. 

“It was a tough loss,” Thomas acknowledged. “But I’m the type of guy whether it’s good or bad, I forget about it the next day; I try to if I possibly can. That was a crazy ending, but things happen in the NBA. You just have to move on.”