Celtics Close Down Shop

The Celtics closed out their regular season last night with a 91-89 loss to the Detroit Pistons at the Garden. Rajon Rondo (19 points, 9 assists) had tied the game with two free throws with 3.9 seconds left, but Detroit’s Flip Murray won the game with an off-balance shot from about 10 feet away as time expired.

Bob Ryan says that the Celtics aren’t really as bad as they seemed this season. He notes the numerous injuries and that the team was right to recognize the situation and focus on the lottery. Lenny Megliola looks at a merciful end to a rough NBA season here in Boston. Bill Reynolds says that the losing and injuries this year could turn out to be one of the greatest things ever to happen to this franchise.

Shira Springer talks to Danny Ainge about the season and an upcoming offseason that will likely make or break his tenure here with the Celtics. Mark Murphy talks to Doc Rivers about the difficult season the criticism he has taken, and looking to the future. Steve Bulpett says that results will be needed next season, regardless of whether they get a top two pick or not. He says they can’t play the youth card any longer.

Bill Doyle looks at the Celtics closing out the year with a loss, and already looking ahead to next year. Kevin McNamara has the Celtics vowing to come back strong next season after finishing the year with another loss.Jessica Camerato has the Celtics closing out the year with promises for the future.

Scott Souza has the Celtics naming Rich Gotham team President yesterday, taking the place of Red Auerbach. Bill Doyle says that Gotham will mainly concentrate on the business end of things in his new role. Murphy also has the Celtics fans and players already looking forward to the 2008 playoffs as a given. Bulpett has Paul Pierce also vowing that this team will be in the playoffs next season.

Murphy’s notebook has some more on the actual game last night. Springer’s notebook has the Grizzlies receiving permission to talk to Chris Wallace about their open president of basketball operations position vacated by Jerry West.

Red Sox

Tim Wakefield just keeps trucking along. The knuckleballer went seven innings last night, giving up just one run, and the Red Sox were able to hit three home runs off former Sox starter Tomo Ohka and beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1. Jonathan Papelbon picked up his third save of the season.

Jeff Horrigan notes that Ohka pitched well, carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning before giving up three solo home runs. Gordon Edes looks at Wakefield continuing the streak of great starting pitching for the Red Sox. Steven Krasner has Wakefield’s knuckleball in top form last night as it clanged off Doug Mirabelli’s glove several times. Jeff Goldberg notes that Wakefield on the mound means quicker baseball games. Bill Ballou has Wakefield pitching well with a roof over his head.

John Tomase has David Ortiz insisting that he doesn’t get frustrated at the shift anymore when he comes to the plate – even when he gets thrown out at first from right field as he was last night. Amalie Benjamin has more on Wakefield’s strong performance early this season. Alex Speier says that if Julian Tavarez struggles as a starter, the Red Sox might be quick to bring up Devern Hansack, who has been terrific for the PawSox thus far this season.

Tomase also has Dustin Pedroia using Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill as an example for himself as he struggles to begin his first full season in the majors. Horrigan notes that Daisuke Matsuzaka has jumped to the lead in items sold on eBay this season, even more than Barry Bonds.

Horrigan’s notebook has Julian Tavarez rest and ready for his start against the Jays this afternoon. Edes’s notebook has Jon Lester likely to hit Pawtucket for a little while rather than coming directly to the Red Sox from Single A. Krasner’s notebook has Papelbon showing that he is not unhittable, while still picking up the save. Ballou’s notebook has more on Ortiz and the shift, and Manny getting off to his worst start as a member of the Red Sox.

Patriots

Christopher L. Gasper submits a feature story on new Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas, looking not only at his versatility on the football field, but also at scars from his childhood and how the defensive star has been overlooked on every level despite being the most prepared player on the field. The guy really seems too good to be true, and if you’re not excited as a Patriots fan at the prospect of this guy on their defense, then I don’t know what will do it for you.

Karen Guregian looks at the ruling that leaves Todd Sauerbrun free to go sign with the Broncos. Mike Reiss also reports on the decision.

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