Wakeup Call: Stern's about to put the Heat on San Antonio

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Wakeup Call: Stern's about to put the Heat on San Antonio

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Friday, November 30.

AUTO RACING
For the 10th straight year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is voted NASCAR's Most Popular Driver. (AP)

BASEBALL
So the Nationals finally snag their long-sought-after center fielderleadoff hitter. (CSN Washington)

Next question: What do they do at first base? And does yesterday's trade pave the way for Adam LaRoche to find his way to Boston? (CSN Washington)

While you were sleeping, the Mets and David Wright agreed to an eight-year, 138 million contract. (AP)

Don't know exactly what happened to stop the Wilton Lopez-to-Philadephia trade, but something did. (CSN Philly)

Looking for a young, once-promising pitcher? If you can overlook the 6.89 ERA, Jair Jurrjens should be available in less than 24 hours. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

For the first time since the 1960 World Series -- or thereabouts -- the Pirates got the best of the Yankees. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Kentucky learns, yet again, that it's a new year, courtesy of Notre Dame this time. (AP)

Just a bad day all around for Connecticut. First the Huskies are snubbed once more by the ACC, then they almost lose to New Hampshire. (AP)

Suspended Missouri guard Michael Dixon leaves the team after two sexual-assualt charges against him become public. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Honey Badger's days at LSU are over. Next stop -- he hopes -- is the NFL. (NBC's College Football Talk)

Monte Kiffen decides to stay one step ahead of the posse and leave his son's coaching staff at USC. (AP)

Looks like Georgia Tech is headed to a bowl game, win or lose Saturday. (College Football Talk)

Louisville beats Rutgers, earning a berth in a BCS bowl, in a battle of lame-duck Big East programs. (AP)

HOCKEY
There are one million reasons -- exactly -- why NHL owners a) aren't saying anything about the lockout and b) emphatically deny anything attributed to them that strays from JacobsBettmanDaly-speak (CSN Bay Area)

PRO BASKETBALL
So San Antonio sends four starters -- Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Danny Green -- home to rest while the rest of the team goes to Miami for a nationally televised game against the defending NBA champions. The fact that the Spurs kept it close before falling to the Heat, 105-100, hasn't stopped waves of integrity-of-the-game criticisms from crashing down on coach Gregg Popovich. (AP)

And something else is about to fall on them, too: David Stern's disciplinary hammer. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

There was a double ceremony at the buzzer last night in Oakland. But when the dust settled, the Warriors', not the Nuggets', was the one that counted. (AP)

Now this is how replay is supposed to work! (Pro Basketball Talk)

Brook Lopez sprained his right foot in the Nets' win over the Celtics and will miss a couple of games. (AP)

Andrew Bogut, meanwhile, won't even begin to guess when he'll play again. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Who was that guy wearing No. 9 for the Saints last night against the Falcons, and what did he do with Drew Brees? (AP)

Joe Flacco admits what everyone else has been thinking from the moment the play ended: He would have looked like "a big-time idiot" for dumping off a five-yard pass to Ray Rice on fourth-and-29 had Rice -- and the Chargers' matador defense -- not bailed him out Sunday. (CSN Baltimore)

According to Jason Babin, his new team, 2-9 Jacksonville, is "about to blossom" while the team he just left, 3-8 Philadelphia, may "ultimately get worse before they get better". (CSN Philly) Lucky thing the Eagles dumped you then, eh, Jason?

Even the Eagles players are recommending replacements for Andy Reid. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Amidst all the controversy in Philadelphia, Michael Vick continues to fail concussion tests. (AP)

Alex Smith goes all Drew Bledsoe in his first public comments since it was announced Colin Kaepernick has his old job. (CSN Bay Area)

So now we know why Titus Young is a non-person in Detroit. And it sure makes sense. (Pro Football Talk)

Apparently, Ndamukong Suh could have saved 10 grand by merely kicking Matt Schaub in the head. (Pro Football Talk)

Yeah, I guess Viagra is a PED. But on the football field? (AP)

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”
 

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

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Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.