Rough night for the locals.

Rough night for the locals. An ugly 81-73 loss for the Celtics and a 5-4 OT loss for the Bruins.

You can read about the Celtics loss over at Fox Sports Net New England.

The Bruins had three leads and couldn’t hold any of them, continuing their struggles against the mighty Atlanta Thrashers. The Thrashers are to the Bruins what the Bulls are to the Celtics. Nancy Marrapesse-Burrell and Steve Conroy have a look at the breakdown in Atlanta. Kevin Paul Dupont has a one-on-two interview with goalies Felix Potvin and Andrew Raycroft for tonight’s edition of SportsPlus on NESN. Conroy’s notebook looks at Byron Dafoe, not happy with his backup role in Atlanta. Marrapesse-Burrell’s notebook looks at a critical hooking call against Nick Boynton last night, and Patrice Bergeron’s impressions of his first Patriots game.

Even though they will be interviewing more candidates, it appears more and more like Terry Francona is the clear frontrunner to be the next Red Sox manager. Jeff Horrigan & Tony Massarotti team up to look at the process. Bob Hohler also tabs Francona as the front runner and throws the name of Larry Dierker into the mix as well. Dierker is a guy I thought they would interview all along. Hohler concludes by saying the chances of ARod coming to Boston are very slim. Though he may never be a Red Sox, Dan Shaughnessy lays the groundwork for the build-em-up-and-then-tear-em-down campaign that would be sure to be waged in Boston should the Sox ever land Rodriguez. The article recalls a visit to Harvard by the Rangers shortstop, a visit that shows the intellectual, inquisitive nature of ARod. No, nothing bad or negative in there, but then again, he doesn’t play for the Red Sox yet, either. David Heuschkel investigates these ARod-to-Boston rumors. He concludes that where there is smoke, there’s fire. Shaughnessy has a brief sidebar with Larry Lucchino commenting quickly on Nomar’s contract status. Jeff Horrigan reports that Andy Pettitte may be making a visit to Boston soon. I would not count on the Sox being able to sign Pettitte. I don’t think he has any interest in coming here. Besides, as revealed on Dennis & Callahan yesterday by the Texas writer, Pettitte’s wife wants to go home to Houston and she apparently has a big say in the matter.

J.J. Stokes got on the practice field yesterday and naturally all eyes (and pens) where on him. Ron Borges looks at Stokes and how he knew he was done early in Jacksonville. Alan Greenberg says this is a good position for the 6-4 receiver. Hector Longo also looks at the addition of Stokes. Michael Felger has a look at Matt Light. You haven’t heard his name too often this season, and that’s a good thing. What are the odds of Keyshawn Johnson ending up with the Patriots? According to Tom Curran, pretty good. He looks back at comments made by Belichick about Johnson in the past and you can see that the coach thinks very highly of the skills and ability of the erstwhile Tampa Bay receiver. Buddy Thomas though, thinks Johnson is just a loudmouthed schnook. (Apologies to Henery Hawk) Mike Reiss looks at Bobby Grier, settled in with the Texans. Steve Buckley looks at a repentant Deion Branch, who acknowledges that he screwed up by getting the taunting penalty Sunday night, and likely cost his team points. He says he’s learned his lesson and that it will not happen again. Says Buckley:

But it does send out a powerful message about what's happening behind the scenes with these 2003 New England Patriots. When a player is willing to point fingers at himself three days after a victory, it says a lot about the team's mission statement.

Eric McHugh looks ahead to the Texans. He notes that since Tom Brady took over as QB, the Patriots are 9-0 against teams who entered the game with a losing record. Glen Farley looks at the collection of throwback jerseys in the Patriots locker room. Rob Bradford says that the Patriots have taken the heat off the Red Sox. Borges’ notebook looks at a $7500 fine from the league for Eugene Wilson. Felger’s notebook says the Patriots still have interest in Dedric Ward. Curran’s notebook has more on Stokes.

NESN has Bruins/Capitals at 7:00. TNT has Spurs/Mavs at 7:30 and Magic/Suns at 10:00. ESPN has TCU/Southern Miss. College football at 7:30. ESPN2 has Red Wings/Blue Jackets at 7:30 and Rangers/Avalanche at 10:00.

So does this ARod to

So does this ARod to the Red Sox hype have any legs to it? Some people feel that it does. Peter Gammons was speaking at Harvard Law School last night and it was one of the topics he addressed. He feels that ARod wants to come here, and that Manny’s agent is pushing the Rangers to make the deal. He also feels he can be the “out front” type of star that the Sox don’t currently have. This morning, Steve Buckley also tackles the topic, noting that this Red Sox ownership group is obsessed with winning, and adding:

And, again, Alex Rodriguez wants to be here. That's key. Fact: Cooperative players help teams make money off the field. And Manny Ramirez does not want to be here. That, too, is key. If you accept the premise that being ``comfortable'' is more important to Ramirez than being ``competitive,'' and if you believe just the opposite is now true with Rodriguez, it's easy to understand why the Red Sox would be eager for some kind of arrangement that would land A-Rod in Boston and Manny . . . anywhere else.

Buckley advises us to stay tuned, as something very interesting could be happening this offseason around here. Bob Hohler reports in the Globe today that Terry Francona appears to the be clear favorite in the managerial race, as he met privately with principal owner John W. Henry in Florida yesterday. Bob Ryan weighs in on the steroid issue in baseball. Howard Bryant’s Boston Uncommon article today is also on the subject of steroid use in baseball and he calls for Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa to address the issue.

Michael Felger, in his Patriots Insider looks at the post-playing career plans of Rodney Harrison and Fred McCrary, both of whom plan to don stripes. He also looks ahead to the Texans. Jim Donaldson declares this a trap game.

Still, I am worried about the Texans. I am worried that the Patriots are due to slip up, that they're due to stumble, that they're due to lose concentration, that they're due to lose a game.

Michael Holley says we should all know better than to predict anything in this league. Jonathan Comey has his Wednesday morning QB article, and he discusses the possibility of Keyshawn playing for the Patriots. He also puts the Pats at # 2 in his power rankings. Alan Greenberg and Michael Parente look at the signing of J.J. Stokes. Nick Cafardo looks at Troy Brown, and what he still has to offer the Patriots. Cafardo fears that Brown will soon be out the door courtesy of that heartless brute, Bill Belichick.

Maybe sometime down the road, Brown will go the way of other Patriot veterans who wanted to spend their entire career here only to be cut as part of the more businesslike approach the Patriots have taken in recent years.

God forbid the Patriots handle their business with a businesslike approach. That would just be wrong. That’s so unlike Ralph Wilson and the Bills, who have allowed franchise players like Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, etc to end their careers playing for the same team, right? Karen Guregian says that the Patriots as a team have a closer mentality. Christopher Young says that it is time to take this Patriots team seriously. Hector Longo says it isn’t time to be making SuperBowl plans just yet. Glen Farley looks at the weakness in the punting game. Eric McHugh looks at the receiving depth. (Before signing Stokes) Felger’s notebook looks at the signing of Stokes. Cafardo’s notebook does likewise. McHugh’s notebook looks at the call on Eugene Wilson at the end of the game Sunday.

Gregg Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning QB is available at Football Outsiders. Oh yeah, Thoughts by Kent Thaler is available too.

Stephen Harris looks at the Bruins getting ready to face a team that has given them all sorts of trouble, the Atlanta Thrashers. Win Bates looks at a new book by Phil Esposito. Ron Indrisano looks at the difference in the Bruins when Sergei Samsonov is in the lineup. Harris’ notebook looks at how the Thrashers are coping with tragedy.

Get your Celtics links at Fox Sports Net New England.

Barry Scanlon looks at the role of hype in American sports.

FSNE has Celtics/Hornets at 7:00. NESN has Bruins/Thrashers at 7:30. ESPN has Pistons/Grizzlies at 9:00.

Here are the winners from

Here are the winners from the BSMW Fall Fund Drive

Grand Prize – (TiVo) David Hayes, Springfield, VA.
2nd Prize – ($50 Gift Certificate) Daniel Murphy, Canton, MA
3rd Prize – (Sports book & DVD) Rodger von Kries, Mission Hill, MA

Congratulations to the winners and thanks again to everyone who donated to the drive.