Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 41 vs. the Knicks

Celtics (30-10) vs. Knicks (22-22)
January 9, 1980
Boston Garden

The Celtics returned home to the Garden after a grueling two week road trip to face New York.  Winners of five of their last six, the Knicks strode into Boston in search of their second win of the season against the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics.  After issues in the visiting team parking lot in San Antonio (the more things change, the more they stay the same…), the big worry for the C’s was the injured Larry Bird, who entered the game with a sprained ankle but left with an injury to his right hand.  The Knicks cut a 16-point halftime deficit down to one in the third quarter, but the Celtics recovered to put away Red Holzman’s Knickerbockers, 112-95.

Up until the New Year, the Celtics were one of the healthiest teams in the NBA.  The only injury of significance was M.L. Carr hurting his wrist, and though his productivity and shot were affected, he was able to play through the injury.  Losing Bird, however, would be a monumental blow to a team with championship aspirations.  Bob Ryan discussed the injury in the following day’s Globe:

Bird somehow managed to jam the knuckle at the base of his right index finger during the second-half warmups, and it rendered him quite ineffective (by his standards, since “ineffective” is hardly a synonym for “useless”) during the second half. Bird was taken to University Hospital for X-rays, which means that Bill Fitch, Red Auerbach and the rest of the Celtic family can stage a breath-holding contest.

“I don’t think I’ll sleep much tonight,” said Fitch. “I’ll want to know what those pictures show. I might be looking through the want ads by 2 a.m.” However, team physician Dr. Thomas Silva, though concerned, was not alarmed. “I really don’t think it’s that serious,” he said. Surely, there are hundreds of thousands in New England (and elsewhere) who hope he’s right.

Bill Cartwright

 

Bill Cartwright had another monster night against the C’s, delivering 22 points and 11 rebounds.  As Ryan noted, Cartwright had been living up to his reputation as a shooter, hitting 50 percent from the floor in five of his last 30 games. Even more amazing is his foul shooting. Entering last night, he had shot 54 for 58 (.931) from the line in his last eight games. His season’s free-throw percentage was .824 (280-for-340), which means he almost surely will break a record last season’s Jazz publicity people hyped quite a bit. They proudly proclaimed that Rich Kelley’s mark of .814 (375-458) was the highest mark ever by a man 7 feet or taller.  He finished 4-for 5 from the line against the Celtics.

Cartwright’s counterpart, Dave Cowens, finished with 14 points and 12 boards (seven of which were off the offensive glass), but his problems from the field continued as he shot just 6-for-19.  Even with Cowens’ shooting woes, he continued to provide the inside presence the Celtics desperately needed on both sides of the floor.

Chris Ford, who hit another three-pointer, and Gerald Henderson both added a dozen for the C’s.  Ford had made at least one three in his last nine games, giving him one in 21 of the past 22 games since November 24 in Atlanta.  Bird had also made 12 of his last 20 three-point attempts, placing himself in fourth place with a .392 percentage (20-for- 51).

Limited to 27 minutes, Bird still managed 8 points, 8 boards, and 4 assists.  Cedric Maxwell dealt with foul trouble and also only contributed 8 points, so the bulk of the offense came from Tiny Archibald (20 points, 7 assists) and 18 points (with 7 boards) off the bench from Carr.

In the Globe, Carr showed and he understood the significance of playing and, more importantly, beating New York:

“I don’t care if they come in here with five guys,” said M.L. Carr. “You know they are going to be sky high. This is a big game. It’s not like San Antonio or Cleveland. I mean, tomorrow, you can go into any bar in New York and Boston and they will be talking about this game.

“I can think of three reasons why I want to beat them. First, because it is New York and they are a team with talent. Second, because I’m playing for Boston and I almost signed with the Knicks. Third, because this is a game within the division. And you want to win all the games you play in the division,” said Carr.

“We have talent. They have talent. They can blow you out if you’re not careful, and we weren’t in the third quarter. But we regrouped and pulled away in the fourth quarter (thanks to a 28-7 run).

Looking ahead, Larry Whiteside in the Globe reported the Celtics announced that Sunday’s game with Los Angeles is a virtual sellout and would be televised locally by Ch. 38. Only about 300 seats, all obstructed view, were left as of yesterday afternoon. Ch. 38 will televise the game, which will be carried nationally over the CBS network because Ch. 7 has scheduled a telethon in that time period. Times dictate a certain flexibility in scheduling. Even though the Celtics are playing the defending NBA champion Seattle Supersonics on Jan. 20, the game will start at noon to avoid conflict with the Super Bowl (Terry Bradshaw’s Steelers vs. Jack Youingblood’s Rams) that Sunday.

Before the arrival of the Lakers, however, was a rematch with the Hawks.  Atlanta, who crushed the Celtics to the tune of 120-92 for the C’s only home blemish of the season, was set to play at the Garden on Friday night.

 

1_9_80

Shaughnessy – “I don’t know a ton about football.”

The brave columnist from the Boston Globe went onto Houston sports radio to talk about his Sunday column…and turtled completely, telling the hosts he’s not a football guy, he doesn’t know a ton about football and saying “you got me” when confronted with specific parts of his column.

Not really a surprise.

Shank Goes Into a Full-on Backpedal About His Texans Column – Barstool Sports Boston.

Dan Shaughnessy, Don’t Know Football? – Houston Media Watch

This whole thing is another of those incidents where I’m torn as to whether I even bother mentioning at all, because it only gives Shaughnessy and his ilk exactly what he is seeking – more attention.

It’s happening more and more. Columns are written, statements are made simply to generate buzz. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. By bringing them up and even attempting to denounce them, I’m simply feeding the monster and adding to the buzz.

Another example would be Felger yesterday. He’s moved on from Rajon Rondo is a “punk.” Now he is a “dick” and a “loser.” What do you even do with that? That’s not just criticism of him as player, it’s an indictment of him a human being. It’s personal, and it’s on the most popular sports radio show in the city right now.

People clearly enjoy this type of media coverage, whether it is Shaughnessy or Felger. I must be old and out of touch, because I don’t get the appeal. It’s not entertaining to me.

I actually like to watch the games, and have them broken down an analyzed. I guess that’s old school these days.

There are plenty of people doing good work in this town, but they are overshadowed by the blowhards.

Instead you have people who openly admit they don’t know much about the game, making incendiary comments and being propped up as the voice of a region and representing Boston sports.

It’s depressing, to be honest.

Rondo suspended, Celtics defeat Knicks

Things didn’t look so good for the Celtics when Monday afternoon they learned point guard Rajon Rondo would miss their game with the Knicks after being suspended one game by the NBA for making contact with a game official and failure to cooperate with a league investigation. The incident occurred in Saturday’s win over Atlanta, but the Celtics managed to overcome the loss of Rondo and defeat the Knicks 102-96 Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

Boston was led by Paul Pierce who had 23 points and six assists, while Kevin Garnett added 19 points and 10 boards. The game got chippy in the fourth quarter when Garnett and Carmelo Anthony got into it, jawing at each other on the court. It spewed over to after the game where Anthony reportedly was outside the locker room shouting for Garnett and then Comcast Sportsnet video had Anthony waiting outside the Celtics team bus for Garnett. If there wasn’t already, there is a rivalry developing between the two teams and sure would make for a great playoff series.

Don’t look now but the Celtics have won three in a row and have dramatically turned things around the past three games. All that trade talk can finally be put to bed.

Celtics without Rajon Rondo against Knicks due to suspension- Gary Washburn in his notebook looks at the two storylines off the court — Rondo’s suspension and Anthony looking for Garnett after the game.

Final buzzer ends game, not Garnett-Anthony feud- Dan Duggan looks at the situation which occurred following the game.

Paul Pierce enjoys big stage- Chris Forsberg has another monster night from Pierce, in a game his team really needed him.

Lee, Bradley make dynamic duo on defense in Rondo’s absence- A. Sherrod Blakely looks at how the Celtics made up for being without Rondo.

Potential trade fits for Celtics- Gary Dzen says the proposed trade rumor swirling around the internet would be good for the Celtics.

Get full coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

Alabama and Nick Saban continued to build their college football dynasty Monday night in their 42-14 beat down of Notre Dame. It ‘s their third title in four years and second straight.

Alabama dominates in BCS title game- Christopher Gasper gives his take on the game.

 

Shaughnessy’s Column Used As Bulletin Board Material by @ArianFoster

Arian Foster of the Texans has a new Twitter avatar.

From Shaughnessy’s column yesterday.

It’s 2010 All Over Again for Patriots. Or Not.

The Patriots will play the Houston Texans this coming Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Because of the outcome of the previous meeting between the two clubs, there appear to be two camps on this one. Either the game will be a repeat of the first one, though perhaps not quite as decisive for the Patriots, or we will see a repeat of the 2010 season when the Patriots walloped the Jets late in the season, only to then face them again in the divisional round and lose.

There will be no shortage of the latter storyline being brought up this week. Since the end of the Houston/Cincinnati game on Saturday, the ESPN Boston Patriots coverage has mentioned the 2010 Jets scenario no fewer than six times.

Rapid reaction: Patriots vs. Texans – Mike Reiss

All one has to do is revisit the 2010 season and how the Patriots pummeled the Jets 45-3 on Dec. 6 before losing to the Jets at home 28-21 in the divisional round on Jan. 16.

23 players still with Pats from Jets loss – Mike Reiss

One of the natural storylines resulting from a Patriots-Texans rematch is how the Patriots had a similar scenario in the 2010 season.

In 2010, the Patriots crunched the Jets 45-3 on Dec. 6, only to lose to them 28-21 in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Belichick: Wrinkles ahead for both teams – Mike Reiss

Asked if the 2010 season in which the Patriots blew out the Jets in the regular season (45-3), then lost to them in the divisional round of the playoffs (28-21) was applicable to this year, Belichick said it was another example of how an earlier-season meeting between teams means little in the playoffs.

Brady: First Texans game has no bearing – Field Yates

It was just two years ago that the Patriots easily took care of an opponent during a Monday Night Football matchup in December and then later faced them in the playoffs. After thrashing the Jets 45-3, the Patriots later lost to their division foe at home in the divisional round by a score of 28-21.

Stats glance: First look at Pats-Texans – ESPN Stats and Information

The Patriots beat the Texans 42-14 in Week 14 but, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, teams that lost to a team by at least 28 points in the regular season are 11-11 when playing that team in the playoffs. That list of losers includes the Patriots, who beat the Jets 45-3 in a regular season meeting but lost to them a few weeks later in the playoffs.

Teeing up Texans-Patriots, Round 2 – Mike Reiss

The Patriots throttled the Texans on Dec. 10, but that result will have no effect on what unfolds next Sunday. Patriots coach Bill Belichick can simply cite the 2010 season and how the Patriots blew out the Jets at home, 45-3 on Dec. 6, before losing to them 28-21 in the divisional round of the playoffs.

I think you get the idea of how this week is going to go. The ESPN crew is certainly not the only ones touting this storyline, but it seemed most jarring and persistent in their content.

Of course, you can go the complete opposite way as Dan Shaughnessy did yesterday and write about how this is another example of how “lucky” the Patriots are, and this will be another bye week, and the tomato cans have lined up again.

Many don’t seem to grasp that Shaughnessy writes these columns as a setup, hoping for the exact opposite to happen so that he can hammer the team for losing such an “easy” game, or even for not winning by enough.

For a dose of sanity, let’s turn here:

Curran’s Mailbag: These aren’t the 2010 Patriots

What is it with us and the ability to look at a cloudless sky and automatically assume we are just in the eye of a hurricane?

I swear, 90 percent of New Englanders could hit the lottery and immediately start grousing about the taxes they’ll have to pay.

We’d dumb into inheriting an oceanfront home and — instead of breaking out the umbrella and beach chair — spend the day inside trying to determine the likelihood of tsunami.

So it is with the Patriots getting the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Playoffs next weekend.

He goes on to talk about how the 2010 Patriots were a rebuilding team. They were ahead of where many thought they would be, and perhaps not experienced and mature enough to handle that rematch.

Any guesses on who is being referred to here:

Q: CSN reporters? Some of the funniest sports follows on twitter. @tomecurran @RattoCSN & @RoobCSN, all worth your time. – RumfordJohnny ‏@RumfordJohnny

A: Ray Ratto is the funniest sportswriter in America. The prevailing tendency of columnists to get a little older and reach a point where they hate sports and only write for their equally jaded media peers hasn’t visited Ray. For instance, Ray could name most of the players on not only the local teams but upcoming opponents on whom he columnizes. Don’t always get that around here, especially since Bob Ryan semi-retired. Shame. (And I’m aware that wasn’t a question per se. Good jumping off point for a rant, though.)

It’s pretty easy, actually.

You know, with all the “contrarians” in town, someone could carve a pretty good niche for themselves by simply becoming the guy who rebuts the contrarians, instead of agreeing with them.

The NHL lockout will be over this week, and the Bruins could be playing games within two weeks.

Bruins look like contender – Steve Conroy thinks that that Boston should be in good shape.

Bruins eager to get back to work – Joe McDonald agrees that the familiarity of the team should put them in a good position to contend.

And finally….

NBC Sports Radio Adds Bobby Valentine To Lineup

So does Bobby V threaten to punch, or be punched in this role?

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 40 vs. the Spurs

Celtics (30-9) vs. Spurs (20-21)
January 5, 1980
The HemisFair Arena

The Celtics fell to 0-2 in the HemisFair Arena with a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, falling 119-111.  In front of the largest Spurs home crowd in the team’s history, the C’s squandered an 11-point fourth quarter lead, finishing 3-3 on their six game road trip.  The Spurs scored 18 consecutive fourth quarter points to surge past a tired Celtics squad clearly ready to return home.  Even worse, the Celtics were involved in a post-game scuffle that was resolved with Larry Bird and his gym bag.

Bob Ryan’s coverage in the January 6, 1980 edition of the Globe helped put the loss — and ensuing mayhem — in perspective:

It was like sitting in Honolulu and hearing that a tidal wave had just started gathering in Okinawa and was heading your way. You could only hope it would do its crash bit before it hit your front door. But this time it did not.

Here were the Celtics, having four times led by 15 points, and now in possession of a 107-99 lead with 4:47 left. A team could certainly be in a worse position some 1500 miles from home. But at this point the wave began to swell, and it didn’t stop until it had creasted with a spectacular 18-point San Antonio run. By that time, the game had been torn apart and, with it, the dreams of a 4-1 holiday trip. The suddenly-aroused San Antonio Spurs had somehow managed a crowd-pleasing 119-111 victory over the Celtics.

During the awful 4:05 in which Boston was unable to score, its offense, which had forced the action during the first 43 minutes of this wild game, just plain died. Expired. Croaked. “We had no action whatsoever,” lamented M. L. Carr, whose first-half heroics included sinking his first six shots. “There was nothing,” sighed Chris Ford. “Absolutely nothing.”

About all there was in this stretch were passes hung out, the better for opportunistic Spurs such as Larry Kenon to pick off. There were also bad shots. What there were none of, and they definitely would have been nice to have hand, were offensive rebounds. Only on one possession in the key run from 107-99, Boston, to 108-107, San Antonio, did the home team fail to score.

Along with a sprained ankle in the fourth quarter, Larry Bird dealt with problems all evening.  The officiating duo of Ed Middleton and Hue Hollins whistled five fouls on the rookie, and though he delivered 18 points off 8-of-12 shooting, he did not make an appearance at the free throw line and only finished with three rebounds and two assists.  After the game, however, Bird finally delivered the knockout blow.  Bob Ryan delivered the coverage of a news story that would run on an endless loop if it were to happen in today’s National Basketball Association:

The Boston Celtics literally fought their way out of the parking lot at the HemisFair last night, and, by the time the bus had departed this downtown arena, a Spur fan named John Merla was lying on the ground, courtesy of Larry Bird and his gym bag.

Bird, whose problems began when he sprained his right ankle in the fourth quarter, reportedly struck Merla with his gym bag after the latter spat in Bird’s face. Merla was one of approximately 100 fans who were pouring verbal abuse at the losing Celtics following the game. Their primary target was Dave Cowens, whom Merla claimed had spat in his face during the halftime intermission.

Mike Boudreaux of San Antonio described the scene this way: “The dude (Merla) was hollering stuff right in Cowens’ face when Bird came over and cold-cocked him with that bag. Larry hit him all right, and it was just what the guy deserved.”

Said Dave Benoy, also of San Antonio: “This guy spat in Bird’s face.”

Added Boudreaux, “Boston didn’t start it.”

San Antonio police officer Walter Sharf was another witness. “I was right in the middle of it. People were directing all kinds of obscenities toward Cowens. Bird, if that’s who it was, reached right over me and hit the guy with his bag.”

Long after the bus had departed, Merla was lying in the parking lot, covered by a jacket. “They’re going to check him out,” said Sharf, “but I think he’s just play-acting.”

[Bird and Cowens were cleared of all charges when Merla sought damages]

George Gervin led the Spurs with 24 points, and he and the Spurs’ starting five combined for 93 points.  Tiny Archibald remained a highlight for the Celtics, collecting 13 assists and adding 15 points.  While Bird’s assist numbers were down this particular game, Bill Fitch still admired his ability — like Archibald — to move the ball, and the differences in how they approached passing.

“Tiny will create off a freelance move,” Fitch told Sports Illustrated, “but at this level a lot of players can do that. Larry can create off a set play, and in the context of that play he can invent something that’s never been done.”

 

Tiny Archibald

 

Houston’s Rick Barry told the Globe, “Archibald is finally playing the way he should have four or five years ago, when he’d score 30 points and they’d lose. He’s probably having a lot more fun, too. I’m happy about it, and I hope kids out there are taking notice.”

M.L. Carr had another strong game off the bench, contributing 15 points and four steals.  SI’s Newman explained that Carr’s success helped allow Fitch to build more trust for his bench:

When Fitch arrived in Boston, he decided it was important to make Carr happy about becoming the Celtics’ sixth man. If he mentioned the names of other great Celtics sixth men of the past—names like Frank Ramsey, Havlicek, and Paul Silas—it didn’t have much of an effect on Carr. “I don’t want to get caught up in that sixth-man syndrome,” Carr says. “I have a role to play, and it doesn’t matter if I’m the sixth or the seventh or the eighth man, I’ll still play just as hard. This is the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m one of the most fortunate people in the world. I think I have the best job in the country, a better job than President Carter, and I’ll probably keep mine longer.”

For those keeping track, Carr did keep his job with the Celtics longer than President Carter remained in office.

In other NBA news, Ryan kept basketball fans informed in his Sunday NBA Notes:

We may live in Taxachusetts, but at least we have some dignity. A San Antonio newspaper is actually running a contest to name the mechanical Armadillo – Hell, yes, I’m sober – which runs all over the HemisFair court during time outs. First prize will be “two season tickets to all 1980-81 Spurs’ home games, a deep-sea fishing trip (is the Armadillo invited?) and an overnight stay following the trip in a plush Corpus Cristi hotel” … 

Jeff Judkins has been answering to the name “Hollywood” ever since Julius Erving picked up a relatively innocuous Judkins quote following the Dec. 19 Celtic triumph over Philly to use as a means of rousing himself for the game on Dec. 22. Judkins, of course, is a much of a rabble rouser as Miss Ellie…

Fitch says he wouldn’t mind going to war with a starting team of Bill Cartwright, Larry Bird, Calvin Natt, Sidney Moncrief and Magic Johnson, even if they are all rookies. “And that group would really play well together,” Fitch points out…

It has been a marvelously satisfying experience to observe the quiet professionalism of Don Chaney at work. The Duck has become a big contributor to the cause …

Jo Jo White on Bird and the Celtics: “Bird’s a player. You can just tell a player. And the Celtics are again playing together. That’s all it takes”…

Bird, incidently, is talking about going to see Indiana State play during the All- Star break. The only problem is that he will be in the game. “Naw, not this year,” he says. “I don’t belong, but I will next year.” Wrong, kid. You do belong, and the coaches aren’t silly enough to leave you off the East squad…

The Celtics would very much like to make Fitch the All-Star coach, and a look at the schedule indicates that it won’t be a piece of cake to do so. While ’tis true that the Celtics should benefit from the six home games they play between now and the cut-off date to determine the coach (the man at the helm of the best conference team after games of Jan. 20), so, too, should Philadelphia milk a schedule which includes five home games and two winnable road games (New York and New Jersey). And who’s to say that Boston couldn’t lose to such upcoming Garden foes as New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles or Seattle?

The Celtics returned to Boston for some home cooking, as the next seven games were to be played at the Garden.  The next tip-off was Wednesday night against the Knicks, with the Lakers making their only trip to Causeway Street the following Sunday.

 

1_5_80

Wild Card Weekend, Will The Celtics Ever Turn It Around?

Once again, Patriots fans have the luxury of sitting back on Wild Card weekend and watching the games stress-free.

The Patriots will play one of three teams next Sunday afternoon: Houston, Baltimore or Indianapolis. Each has a ready-built week of storylines for talk radio next week. If it is Houston, expect to hear plenty of references to the 2010 45-3 December win over the Jets, and the ensuing Divisional round loss at home to those same Jets. You can do the same with the Colts, plus throw in the “Chuckstrong” angle, and how Bill Belichick ran up the score on a team whose coach had cancer. With both of those teams the “It’s hard to beat the same team twice in one season” line to fall back as well.

With the Ravens, you’ve got the “They’ve already beaten you once this year” which totally ignores that previous sentence. Then you go back to how the Ravens “basically” beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship last year, and then the wild card blowout after the 2009 season, and pile on the Ray Lewis retirement announcement and you’ve got the makings of a whole lot of fear-mongering.

This week, you had speculation on the end of the Belichick era, once Josh McDaniels declined to interview for head-coaching opportunities. It’s the worst part of having the bye week, the forced storylines.

*************

Another topic this week in lieu of the Patriots was the struggles of the Boston Celtics. Many seem ready to throw in the towel on this team, and in particular Jeff Green. I’m still not ready for either. Doc Rivers expressed this week that he’s seeing signs that the new guys (and most of the roster is new, remember. Only KG, Pierce, Rondo, Bass and Bradley were on the roster at the end of last season.) are starting to get it, which takes time.If they’re like this in March, I’ll worry.

While some are warning not to anoint Avery Bradley as the savior – and he wasn’t Wednesday night – he is a huge piece. His defense will completely change this team. No more will guys like Jamal Crawford, Monta Ellis and the like be able to impose their will unchallenged on the Celtics any longer. It allows Rondo to freelance more on defense, where he is the best, and it allows Jason Terry to come off the bench and provide the offense that unit needs. Rivers said this week he will be calling plays for the second unit when Rondo isn’t in the game, with the idea of making sure Terry gets the shots. Green needs consistent minutes and he also needs plays called for him. Too often, he’s not involved and you see him just drift to the corner. He needs to be involved. I still think they’ll figure out the rotation and chemistry before the playoffs.

It seems a trade will need to be made at some point, but nothing can really be done until at January 15th. Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee would seem to be pieces that might be moved. I don’t see Ainge trading Bradley or Green, as Chris Mannix suggested yesterday on 98.5. We know Danny Ainge isn’t afraid to change things up when they’re not working, so if the team continues to struggle, look out.

************

Perhaps the dumbest thing I heard all week came from Gerry Callahan, who stated that if you want to be a big star in this town, all you have to do is suck up to the local teams, especially the Red Sox. OK. Let’s name the big star media members on radio and TV who are local team suckups. It’s the complete opposite. If you want to make a name for yourself in Boston sports media, the quickest path is by saying outlandish things and trashing the local teams.

************

Coordinating producer Russ Kenn leaving NESN – Chad Finn’s media column has the long-time Red Sox producer the latest in the departures from NESN.

These are rough times at NESN, which has been hit hard by the NHL lockout. Between layoffs and people leaving on their own, one source says they’ve lost a couple dozen people in the last two months.

Gil Santos ready to hand off Patriots gig – Bill Doyle has the longtime Patriots radio voice set to say good-bye sometime in the next few weeks.

************

SBNation, which had made a big splash in 2010 with their regionalized sites, such as SB Nation Boston, is moving away from that format, and thus eliminating many local writing and editing positions around the country. Mine is among them. I filed my last column for them yesterday, though it has yet to appear.

In explaining their reasoning, on this move, Matt Watson of SB Nation wrote in an email to impacted personnel:

The Web is constantly changing, and one of the lessons we’ve learned is that regional sites aren’t nearly as effective as they once were because of globalization of fandom. Fans aren’t merely regional fans any more. We feel like we’re stronger when we stick to the narrower focus of team blogs to make it more personal to our end users, which strengthens our communities and deepens their engagement and commitment to our brands.

So while sites like SB Nation Boston will continue to exist, they will be solely hubs for the local blogs, with the dedicated editor and other contributors being let go.

So, I’ll be looking for a new outlet for a weekly outside-BSMW  paid media column. Anyone interested?

*************

The Patriots concluded another strong season ratings-wise, setting a franchise-record average household rating of 36.36 per game. The Patriots received household ratings of plus-30 in every game of the season for the first time in franchise history and saw ratings of plus-40 on three separate occasions, with a season high of 43.08 in the win over Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.

Here’s a look at the ratings, game-by-game:

Celtics fall to Memphis for their fourth straight loss

The Celtics are in trouble.

The team continued their trend of looking out of sync on offense and not playing with the energy needed to win Wednesday night in their 93-83 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at TD Garden. Boston got Avery Bradley back from his off-season shoulder surgery, but he played only 20 minutes and scored four points. Rajon Rondo still dealing with a hip pointer, played 40 minutes scoring 11 points and dishing out 10 assists.

Boston is now 14-17 on the season and losers of eight of their last ten. The team is searching for an identity and trying to find players who can play with the same emotion as Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The next few games are very crucial for the team as they try and right the ship and get back on track.

Celtics are headed for a fall- Dan Shaughnessy, who was all about the Celtics prior to the year, now says Danny Ainge needs to make a big move.

Celtics Rajon Rondo still dealing with hip pointer, not quite up to speed in Celtics loss to Grizzlies- Gary Washburn, in his notebook takes a look at Rondo’s performance, which saw him struggling from the floor.

Rivers: Celtics need Rondo to be an ‘aggressive scorer’- A. Sherrod Blakely says Rondo needs to look to take over games more with his scoring, with Doc Rivers backing that up.

Doc Rivers proves prophetic- Steve Bulpett looks at the Celtics defense saying Avery Bradley can only help so much as the rest of the team needs to step up and play a full 48 minutes.

Celtics’ offense keeps disappearing- Chris Forsberg has a look at the struggling Celtics offense, which only scored 83 points Wednesday night.

Tony Allen: ‘I don’t see the same team from 2008′- Jessica Camerato has Tony Allen’s assessment of the Celtics as he is now with the Grizzlies. He added, “they are missing a lot of pieces.”

A lone Patriots article as they prepare for whoever they may face in next weekend’s divisional round: (Get full coverage at Patriotslinks.com)

‘D’ needs Brandon Spikes to make noise- Karen Guregian says Brandon Spikes needs to get his game back to where it was during the middle of the season.

 

It’s Time For WEEI to Say Goodbye To Dennis and Callahan

Disclaimer: I fully realize the difficulties of contracts and moving people around, especially in this economy for bottom-line companies. I realize the actions below are highly unlikely to happen. But if talk show hosts can proclaim that it’s time to get player X out of town, why can’t we have the same exercise with media folks?

It’s time.

If WEEI wants to ever have a chance to climb out of the hole they’ve dug themselves into against The SportsHub, they need to make some major changes. It starts in the morning.

For years, John Dennis and Gerry Callahan has represented the very worst in institutional arrogance. They trumpeted their numbers when they were doing well, mocked the competition, said and did what they wanted, and were generally untouchable no matter what they did.

Because there was no real competition against them, they won easily. They faced the ultimate lineup of tomato cans over the years.

Even as recently as last spring, they were stubbornly and arrogantly clinging to the notion that they were number one, even if the facts said otherwise.

But now, they are eons behind Toucher and Rich in the latest ratings book,  (T&R finished first at 9.1, D&C sixth at 5.7) and I cannot foresee a scenario in which they ever overtake T&R again.

They remain a solid show with dedicated, loyal listeners, but winning their timeslot, or even being competitive, doesn’t appear to be in their future. If that’s OK with WEEI, then fine, but I don’t think it is.

The problem WEEI faces, and they face it in both of their drivetime shows, is big contracts. Dennis and Callahan received contract extensions when the simulcast deal with NESN came through. According to Chad Finn’s chat on Friday, these contracts are fairly airtight, at least compared to Glenn Ordway, who reportedly had to take a paycut when his own ratings were impacted by the wildly popular Felger and Mazz.

WEEI has tried a few things to mix things up, such as limiting the political talk on the show, using Jon Meterparel’s departure as an opportunity to give auditions to fill the spot, but they continue to fall.

The hosts are openly resentful at the management edict to not talk politics. While they are polarizing when they do venture into that area, they are passionate, stir debate and have intensely loyal followers.

In the absence of political talk, it seems much of their discussions in the past year have centered around day after day of the Sandusky case, or telling us just how evil the latest criminal is or was. They don’t have passion for sports, they don’t appear to even enjoy them all that much. If they do talk sports, they’re attempting to be contrarians and anger anyone who is a “homer.” Talking sports is something they simply do not enjoy.

If WEEI wants to ever have a chance to compete with T&R, they need to get rid of Dennis and Callahan. As noted several times already, this is easier said than done.

So what can they do? A creative solution, one that makes way too much sense to actually happen, is for Entercom to move The Dennis and Callahan Morning Show over to WRKO.

Yes, it’s a step down. The AM signal is not what they have now, and that station has been floundering even worse than WEEI in recent years. But they would have free rein to discuss the topics they want to talk about, and will have a built-in audience that will transition over with them, and give WRKO an instant shot in the arm.

WEEI can then start from scratch and build a morning show in an attempt to compete with Toucher and Rich.

It’s an incredibly risky move, and they’d probably get worse before they got better, which is not the way you do things in the radio world. But they’re not going to get back on top with how things are right now. The question is, how important is being on top? There’s a difference between its importance business-wise as opposed to ego-wise. Is there that much of a difference to the bottom line?

It won’t happen, but I’d love to see WEEI really shake things up and start over in the mornings. As Finn notes, a shakeup is more likely to happen in the afternoon with Ordway, even though I now listen to that show more than Felger and Mazz.

Based on last week however, one thing is clear. Dan Sileo is not the answer. Hopefully they’re not even thinking that.

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 39 vs. the Rockets

Celtics (29-9) vs. Rockets (17-20)
January 2, 1980
The Summit

The Celtics finally put together two wins in a row during their six-game road trip, defeating the Rockets, 111-103, at the Summit in Houston.  Cedric Maxwell led the C’s with 29 points and 10 boards (5 offensive), and his defense was an essential factor in limiting the effectiveness of Houston’s brute forward, Moses Malone.  Malone still managed to collect 17 rebounds — 11 off the offensive glass — but was limited by Maxwell and Dave Cowens in the post to only 13 points and shot just 31 percent from the field. [Read more...]