The Celtics racked up their ninth consecutive loss last night, this time to the Atlanta Hawks at the Garden, 82-76. The Celtics managed this loss despite holding an 18 point lead early in the third quarter. Al Jefferson appeared to get injured twice last night, and the second time he did not return to the game after rolling his ankle. He finished the night with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Kendrick Perkins played perhaps his best statistical game of the season, with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Delonte West led the Celtics with 18 points.
Shira Springer reports on a tough one to swallow, or explain at the Garden. Steve Bulpett notes that this was a franchise record eighth straight loss at home for the Celtics, who played like the clearly wanted that high draft pick more than the Hawks did. Bill Doyle says that the Celtics hit rock bottom last night as they now stand at the bottom of the Eastern conference.
Jackie MacMullan says that in the end, losing all these games might end up to be a winning formula. Mark Murphy says that the injury to Jefferson really slowed the Celtics offense down last night. Mike Fine has a look at Ryan Gomes, who has been a steady force on this young team.
Springer’s notebook updates the lengthy injury situation for the Celtics, made worse by the ankle sprain of Jefferson. Bulpett’s notebook has Paul Pierce shedding the protective boot, though a timetable for his return to the court is still unknown. Doyle’s notebook has Sebastian Telfair puzzled at his demotion to third point guard.
Mike Reiss reports on the NFL toughening up its drug policy, specifically regarding steroids.
Bill Burt takes stock of things following the loss to the Colts, and one of his items is his assertion that the Asante Samuel will be back with the club next season, as his source indicates that the club will not let him walk for nothing and will franchise him if necessary.
John Tomase takes a position-by-position look at who might stay and who might go on the Patriots roster. Alan Greenberg says that the Patriots biggest need is going to be at linebacker. Eric McHugh examines the beating that Bill Belichick’s non-football good name has taken this season.
Christopher Price looks back on his own predictions for the 2006 season. Karen Guregian has the agent for Rodney Harrison saying that his client is determined to come back big next season. She also has a short piece on Troy Brown, who has made no decisions on next season yet.
Steve Buckley talks to a local African-American high school football coach about the importance of have Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith coaching the two teams in the Super Bowl. Buddy Thomas is gloating. It’s not pretty. Greenberg also writes that the league has gone too far in protecting the quarterbacks.
Jeff Horrigan reports on the Red Sox signing catcher Kevin Cash to a AAA contract. David Borges has Cleveland manager Eric Wedge glad that his Indians went out and signed Trot Nixon. Jay Miller says that the outfield will be a strength for the PawSox this summer with prospects David Murphy and Brandon Moss likely to spend much of the season there. Edes’s notebook looks at the Red Sox stockpile of bullpen candidates.
Stephen Harris has a Bruins mid-season report card. Fluto Shinzawa and Steve Conroy have the East falling to the West 12-9 in the NHL All Star game. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara had two goals in the loss.