The post-Antoine era began last

The post-Antoine era began last night at the Fleetcenter. As some thought, it was a rout. But the Celtics were the ones on the winning side of the scoreboard. Steve Bulpett was one of those who believed the Green might be in for a long night. Instead, he notes, the Celtics looked the best they have all preseason. Raef LaFrentz made his debut for the Celtics yesterday, and Shira Springer looks at his game and what he brings to the team. Carolyn Thornton also has a look at the Celtics’ newest big man. Christopher Price also has a look at the Celtic debut of LaFrentz. Lenny Megliola examines the new look Celtics, mostly through the eyes of Eric Williams, who himself may not be around a whole lot longer. Mark Murphy takes a look at last night’s pasting of the Timberwolves. Peter May says that Ainge likely isn’t done trading, and Tony Battie is rumored to be a guy who they’re shopping around the league. Rob Bradford takes a look at Jiri Welsch and wonders if the 6-7 guard was meant to end up here in Boston all along. Michael Muldoon also has a look at Welsch, who is only the second Czech to play in the NBA. Bulpett talks with Kevin McHale about the moves being made by his former Celtics teammate, and the TWolves executive thinks the trade makes a lot of sense for the Celtics. Thornton’s notebook says that Paul Pierce is more than capable of stepping into an even more expanded leadership role. Murphy’s notebook looks at the first game in green for LaFrentz.

Mike Reiss takes a look at the contributions of first round pick Ty Warren. He also compares Warren’s stats to those of the other defensive lineman taken in the first round and he’s right up there with any of them. Alan Greenberg looks at the Patriots huge improvement in playing against the run. One of the reasons cited is the revamped secondary. Michael Felger looks at the success the Patriots are having in throwing the long ball. Glen Farley has an interesting piece on the bond between Adam Vinatieri and handicapped kicking coach Doug Blevins. (Article is likely replaced by noon.) Michael Smith has a look at the “madman” style of play from Rodney Harrison. Tom Curran and Michael Parente each ponder who is going to be the Browns quarterback on Sunday to face the Patriots. Christopher Price says that the Patriots will be prepared for either quarterback. Erin Walsh reports on the arrest of Kenyatta Jones on Monday night. Mac Daniel & Michael S. Rosenwald have a more extensive account of the incident. Parente’s notebook also reports on Jones. Felger’s notebook says that the Jones incident might’ve resulted from “horseplay” and also that when reporters went to Jones’ condo, they were greeted by J.R. Redmond. He also reports an injury to Roman Phifer that might be worse than just day-to-day. Smith’s notebook looks at a BC reunion on Sunday at Gillette.

Sean McAdam has a source telling him that Grady Little will not be back as the Red Sox manager. Gordon Edes talks with Grady, who says he isn’t sure he wants to come back and manage this team. No shock there. This is the best for all involved. Grady knows that. He doesn’t get fired, and the Red Sox can hire someone else. Bill Reynolds says all season Grady was the fall guy, and he’ll take the fall now, especially from this ownership group that “is supersensitive to fan sentiment”. John Tomase reports on another Padres assistant being added to the Red Sox scouting staff.

Steve Conroy looks at the cautiously optimistic Bruins as they return from their West coast swing. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell gives us five reasons that the Bruins find themselves atop the Northeast division. Stephen Harris looks at the leadership of Joe Thornton.

Feel free to avert your eyes from these last two linked columns. Stan Grossfeld, who has done a bang-up job composing feature articles at the Globe, submits one today on Bill Buckner. Sure, he may be at peace, but why not let Red Sox fans be in peace as well? We don’t really want to read another story on the guy, no matter how well written. The last column is just here for sheer morbid car-wreck gawking value. Yup, Buddy Thomas strikes again. He’s got this new, original idea, this thought that maybe there is a curse surrounding the Red Sox, and that it involves Babe Ruth. It’s a little sad, but I think Buddy might’ve actually tried to put some work in on this one.