Wakeup Call: A starry day for Spoelstra

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Wakeup Call: A starry day for Spoelstra

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, February 4.

BASEBALL
Spring training's just around the corner and Dice-K is still job-hunting. But, apparently, the Astros and Mets are interested . .. kind of. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Hanley Ramirez not doing what the team wants. Go figure. (Hardball Talk)

Evan Longoria's "leg is ready," and so is he. (Hardball Talk)

Torii Hunter certainly landed on his feet -- there are worse places to play than with the defending A.L. champions -- but he still sounds a bit chapped about his departure from the Angels. (Hardball Talk)

After 16 years, Kevin Millwood calls it quits. (Hardball Talk)

Not Brandon Lyon, though. (Hardball Talk)

The Orioles come to their senses. (Hardball Talk)

BOXING
Reports of Muhammad Ali's death are greatly exaggerated. (AP via nbcsports.com)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
As are reports of Louisville's. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
If it's the offseason, it must be police log time. First up: A freshman backup quarterback at Texas. (AP)

Next: Texas A&M defensive lineman Kirby Ennis. (AP)

Not in trouble with the cops, but with the school: Purdue wide receiver O.J. Ross. (AP)

GOLF
Lefty goes wire-to-wire at the Phoenix Open. (AP)

Your other weekend winners: Karrie Webb at the Australian Ladies Masters . . . (AP)

. . . and Stephen Gallacher at the Dubai Desert Classic. (AP)

HOCKEY
The Penguins continue their early season surge, and the Capitals their early season stumble, in Pittsburgh's 6-3 win over Washington. (AP)

But don't worry, Caps: Has Mike Gillis got a deal for you! (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The miracles of modern medicine: Eight days after his appendectomy, Max Pacioretty leads the Canadiens to their fifth straight home victory. (AP)

Turns out that emotional win in Boston Thursday night was just a mirage for the Sabres. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Erik Spoelstra gets to coach the East in the All-Star Game since the Heat -- thanks to Sunday's victory in Toronto -- compiled the best record in the conference as of the Feb. 3 deadline. (AP)

The Lakers make it five wins in six games -- barely -- by hanging on to beat Detroit. (AP)

Brandon Roy sure sounds like a guy who's calling it a day after this frustrating, injury-plagued season is over. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Good news for those who saw Michael Kidd-Gilchrist being carried off the court Saturday night in Houston: He was cleared to fly and traveled to Miami with the rest of the Bobcats. (CSN Houston)

PRO FOOTBALL
When all is said is done, what we'll really remember about Super Bowl XLVII is the lights going out . . . and, apparently, Beyonce's halftime show had something to do with it. (AP)

They sure had a good time with the whole thing on Twitter. (NBC's Off The Bench)

By the time the power failed, the 49ers had pretty much sealed their fate . . . (CSN Bay Area)

. . . though they came back and made a game of it once the lights returned. (CSN Bay Area)

And two of the biggest reasons why? Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. (Our very own Tom E. Curran via CSN Bay Area)

Not so much Randy Gene, a.k.a. The Self-Proclaimed Greatest Receiver Of All Time, as the final memory San Franciscans may have of him is an alligator-arm effort that drew some -- okay, a lot of -- scorn from Bill Romanowski. (CSN Bay Area)

Colin Kaepernick, though, blames himself. (CSN Bay Area)

Others, however, blame the referees . . . (CSN Bay Area)

. . . and Jim Harbaugh is one of them . . . (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

. . . though he seems to have forgotten that the 'Niners benefitted from some non-calls on the road to New Orleans. (Pro Football Talk)

Jim Harbaugh's sorrow took away -- a little -- from John Harbaugh's joy. (AP)

Who had the under on how long the postgame handshake would take? (Yahoo! Sports)

Still think he's not elite? (CSN Baltimore)

Hey, did you know this was Ray Lewis' last game? Yeah, I figured you might have missed it; he was kind of downplaying the whole thing. (CSN Baltimore)

Quite the homecoming for Jacoby Jones, wouldn't you say? (AP)

The whole thing was a throwback to the '70s. (Pro Football Talk)

Though some of the commercials -- particularly that one for godaddy.com -- were strictly new-millenium stuff. (the700level.com via CSN Philly)

If you're in Baltimore this week, clear your calendar for Tuesday. (CSN Baltimore)

So what did you expect him to say? (AP)

Now that it's over and the offseason has begun, look for the 49ers to try and trade Alex Smith. (Pro Football Talk)

Wait. Did anybody actually think Bill Parcells doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame? (CSN Philly)

TENNIS
Sam Querrey comes through in the deciding fifth match to lift the U.S. over Brazil and into the Davis Cup quarterfinals. (AP)

Canada's there, too, thanks to an upset of shorthanded Spain. (AP)

Poor Sloane Stephens: A week after being named to the U.S. Fed Cup, she has to pull out because of a strained abdominal muscle. (AP)

Maria Kirilenko wins the Pattaya Open for her first WTA victory since 2008. (AP)

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Just about every part of Isaiah Thomas’ game offensively has seen tremendous growth this season.

But what has really separated him from earlier versions of himself, has been his 3-point shooting.

He comes into tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards shooting a career best 38.4 percent from 3-point range.

When asked about how he has elevated his game this season, the answer isn’t that simple.

“I don’t know” he told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “The game is slowing down for me. My teammates put me in position, my coach does … and I’m just knocking down shots.”

Because of his shot-making, Thomas has made it difficult for defenses to give him a steady diet of any style of play in trying to limit him.

And because they have to change things up with regularity, that has created more scoring opportunities.

“Sometimes they forget what they want to do (defensively) and leave me open for a three,” Thomas said. “Those are the the types of shots I need to knock down and I’m being aggressive.

He added, “I need to get to the free throw line, trying to make plays for my teammates. It’s one of those things where I’m in a really good zone now; a really good rhythm.”

A good rhythm?

According to NBA statistics guru Dick Lipe, Thomas is the first Celtic ever to make at least four 3-pointers in five straight games. Taking it a step further, he has made at least three 3-pointers in seven straight games which equaled Antoine Walker’s streak in 2001.

Thomas has also attempted 11 three-pointers in five straight games which is a franchise record. There have only been three longer streaks in NBA history - Golden State’s Stephen Curry (7 straight games, 2016); Washington’s Gilbert Arenas (7 straight games, 2005) and Dallas’ George McCloud (6 straight games, 2006).

He’s also averaging 3.1 made 3’s per game which would be a franchise record that’s currently held by Antoine Walker who averaged 2.7 during the 2001-2002 season.

And all those 3’s have added up to Thomas scoring at least 27 points in seven straight games, something that hasn’t been done by a Celtic since Larry Bird had eight such games in March 1988 as well as the 1987-1988 season.

Crowder on Wizards' all-black 'funeral' plans for Celtics: 'That's cute!'

Crowder on Wizards' all-black 'funeral' plans for Celtics: 'That's cute!'

The Washington Wizards plan to roll into tonight’s game against the Celtics donning all-black clothes, as in a funeral procession, a sign of solidarity and an omen of sorts for a game that they hope ends with them burying the Celtics.
 
When Jae Crowder was asked about the Wizards all-black gear, his initial response...“That’s cute!”
 
More than anything, the Wizards (24-20) are putting a significant amount of value into tonight’s game. A victory would extend their home winning streak to 14.

Meanwhile, the Celtics (26-17) come in looking to snap a two-game losing streak.
 
“This is definitely not Game 7 or the playoffs,” said Isaiah Thomas. “But if they want to take it that serious, they can.”
 
The idea to arrive at the Verizon Center donning all-black was hatched by Bradley Beal, who has some contentious moments, to say the least, with the Celtics recently.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows all about the funeral talk which to him is just that, talk. He’s more concerned with his team doing what they need to do in order to win.
 
Nothing more.
 
Nothing less.
 
“At the end of the day, good basketball teams are physical,” he said. “There’s a line you don’t want to cross. Ultimately, you have to be appropriately physical at a high level. It’s about playing well, focus on your next task at hand. This is a great opportunity to see where we’re at.”

In the Celtics' 117-108 win over the Wizards on Jan. 11, Beal was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after getting into it with Marcus Smart.
 
Last season, Beal was on the receiving end of a left forearm to the face from Smart, who was driving to the basket at the time. The blow resulted in a broken nose for Beal in addition to spending time in the league’s concussion protocol program.
 
And then there’s his backcourt mate John Wall.
 
He was fined $15,000 for his role in a postgame incident with Jae Crowder (who was fined $25,000). Crowder pushed Wall’s nose with his finger, which led to Wall retaliating with a slap towards Crowder’s face.
 
And when the two met back on Nov. 9, Wall was hit with a flagrant-2 foul (an automatic ejection) when he threw Smart down hard to floor in the final moments of a Wizards win.
 
The Celtics have a few games that have become more physical than others recently, but there’s something about this Celtics-Wizards matchup that brings out an elevated level of feistiness.
 
“It’s just all talk; that’s all it is,” Thomas said. “I guess they taking it and running with it. I don’t know what it is. I [saw] the funeral and the all-black thing last night and I just laughed about it. We’ll be there tonight for a game, not a funeral.”