Five Nights, Four Cities, Four Wins

(This morning’s links are provided by guest blogger Bob Ekstrom. He can be reached at bob02878@yahoo.com.)

The Celtics’ front office could not have been smiling much last summer when the schedulemakers slotted them for a grueling four-game road trip out west during Christmas week. Yet, their impressive 110-91 victory over a hot Lakers squad last night capped a 4-0 road trip that has become the crowning validation of Danny Ainge’s rebuilding program. Yes, folks. If you didn’t believe it before, the C’s are back.

Coverage so far this morning is thin, with most outlets on AP AutoPilot. However, the Herald and Globe each had their beat writers out west. Mark Murphy starts us off with his account of a nice effort last night, capped by Paul Pierce getting it done on both sides of the court during the third quarter, and the Lakers’ mercifully changing out of their ridiculous shorts at halftime. Marc J. Spears has Phil Jackson needing to wait until the C’s leave town before passing Red Auerbach on the career coaching victories list.

Both Spears’ Celtics Notebook and Murphy’s Celtics Notebook get us updated on Rajon Rondo’s injury Saturday night that caused him to sit out against the Lakers. Over on Full Court Press, Kevin Henkin suggests some New Year’s resolutions for The Green.

Your 16-0 Patriots

It’s a day of reflection around the Boston media in the aftermath of the Patriots’ historic regular season.

Over on Patriots Daily, there is a sampling of reaction from network analysts on the Patriots finishing off a perfect 16-0 regular season with the Saturday night win over the Giants.

In the papers, we’ll start things off with Micheal Felger’s weekly report card. ‘Unflappable’ is Christopher L. Gaspar’s take on the perfect season. Karen Guregian uses the same description in one of her pieces this morning, while John Tomase says it’s all about talent. In Guregian’s Patriots Notebook, Karen scolds the Pats for some breakdowns in composure Saturday evening.

Mike Reiss found delight in the unpredictable courses of the Pats’ regular season. Now that they’ve fulfilled an early season prophesy, Douglas Flynn says there’s no relaxation in Foxborough after the Patriots posted the first undefeated regular season since the 16-game schedule. Jackie MacMullan has more on the Patriots’ unfinished act. Yet, Tony Massarotti has Coach Belichick still taking time to smell the roses. Rich Garvin offers up a little credit to Giants’ head coach, Tom Coughlin. Lenny Megliola reflects on how the planets aligned to make Saturday evening’s victory an ending to remember.

Jim Rome calls it self-glossing. Michael Holley blows that little bicycle horn, while The Big O blares that 18-wheeler horn. Nevertheless, Chris Price and the Boston Metro ran my three-part series on the Giants’ influences in New England last week. Catch the final act, where I give you Zak DeOssie’s account of his first year in the NFL.

Sorry to be so brief this morning, but I’ve been on my sickbed all week. I won’t have any updates for you this afternoon, either, but I do have a sincere wish for the very best New Year for our beloved Boston sports teams and each of you who’ve made this past year so incredible at BSMW.

Celtics Survive Old Friends

The Celtics made it two in a row on the West coast as they slipped by the SuperSonics in Seattle last night, scoring a 104-96 win despite the best efforts of former friends Delonte West (19 points, 8 assists) and Wally Szczerbiak (14 points). Paul Pierce had 37 for Boston, and Kevin Garnett added 23 with 14 rebounds.

Marc J. Spears reports on Ray Allen’s somewhat lackluster (10 points) return to Seattle to face his former team. Mark Murphy has players from both sides out for blood last night.

Spears has a look at Seattle GM Sam Presti, who grew up a big Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins fan here in New England. Murphy has Doc Rivers learning something about Kevin Garnett in Wednesday night’s win over the Kings.

As part of the Herald’s sports year in review, Murphy has a look at Danny Ainge getting the Celtics back to good old days and also has Five Key Celtics Moments In 2007.

Spears’ notebook has West with no hard feelings towards the Celtics for trading him. Murphy’s notebook has more from West on the trade from Boston to Seattle.

Patriots

Over on Patriots Daily, Christopher Price checks in with a special Friday edition of Inside Gillette, looking at the the blocking challenge the Patriots running backs will face tomorrow night.

With the Patriots playing Saturday night rather than Sunday this week, be sure to check Patriots Daily tomorrow morning for the full assortment of game-day links and commentary.

Michael Felger says that the Patriots beat up on a weakened NFL this season, one that suffers from a lack of quality coaches and quarterbacks. He also feels that the Belichick SI cover is in poor taste and inappropriate. Christopher L. Gasper has the Patriots praising their coach and his leadership. Bob Ryan has the coach relaxed and unflappable heading into a potentially historic regular season finale. Jeff Jacobs has more on the coach that much of the nation has already stereotyped.

Karen Guregian has the Patriots defense evolving into one that can be counted on. Shalise Manza Young says that the Giants could end up resting their starters quite a bit tomorrow night. David Heuschkel observes that the Patriots have a number of records besides 16-0 in their sights tomorrow night. Jennifer Toland has the Patriots making strides in their Red Zone defense over the last few games. Mark Farinella has the Patriots enduring “Amateur Day at Gillette Stadium, at least where the media was concerned.” Eric McHugh has the Patriots getting ready to face the bruising Brandon Jacobs.

Gasper’s notebook has Nick Kaczur as one of three Patriots to sit out practice yesterday. Guregian’s notebook has Tedy Bruschi with more praise for his coach. Young’s notebook has more on tomorrow night’s game being available to all. Toland’s notebook has the Patriots hoping to extend an amazing 2007 sports year for Boston fans.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has more on the league’s decision to simulcast tomorrow night’s game.

Celtics Stay Tough Out West

After an amazing second quarter in which the Celtics roared out to a 24 point lead, the Sacramento Kings made a run of their own in the second half, to cut the Boston lead to five at one point. However, the Celtics rightened the ship and eventually built the lead back up to 20 again in an 89-69 win out in Sacramento.

Marc J. Spears has th Kings getting physical with the Celtics in the second, leading to some hard fouls. Mark Murphy has the Celtics taking the hard road to a 20-point win over the Kings. Check the West coast coverage on the Bay Area Sports Pages.

Murphy has a feature on Celtics rookie Glen Davis, and how the Celtics rookie has been bouncing back from tough situations since childhood. Spears reports that the SuperSonics will thank Ray Allen in a ceremony prior to the game tonight in Seattle. Murphy says this will be a happy return for Allen to Seattle. Mike Brilliant offers up a Celtics report card for last week on the BSMW Full Court Press.

Spear’s notebook explores something I didn’t know…Eddie House is Mike Bibby’s brother-in-law, and House got into Sacramento the day before Christmas to be with the family. Murphy’s notebook has Leon Powe also heading West early to spend some time with his family.

Patriots

On Patriots Daily, Bill Barnwell has his second part of a two-part look in the impact of injuries.

Mike Reiss has more on the NFLN, CBS and NBC simulcast of Saturday’s Patriots/Giants game. Shira Springer says that it was pressure from fans and legislators that got the NFL to take this action. Jay Fitzgerald and Jessica Heslam report on the deal in the Herald, and have WCVB in Boston and WWOR in New York upset at losing their exclusive broadcast. Paul Edward Parker in the ProJo has a report as well. David Heuschkel has the NFL giving in to the fans on this one.

Karen Guregian has the Patriots wanting to reach their goals, but also remain healthy. Shalise Manza Young has Laurence Maroney stepping up his game just in time for the cold weather. Rich Garven has the running game starting to click for the Patriots. Heuschkel has Rodney Harrison not wanting to talking about the accomplishments of the Patriots just yet. Mark Farinella has Harrison and his teammates getting ready for the Giants. Christopher Price has Harrison keeping distractions to a minimum. Guregian has Harrison hanging up on anyone who brings up the topic of records on the phone. Jeff Jacobs has all of New York and Boston wondering how things are going to play out.

John Tomase says that the loss to the Colts in the AFC Title Game was the motivation behind all that has happened this season. He also points out Five key moments in 2007 that bring us to where we are now. Tomase has Zak DeOssie facing some familiar faces this week, including former throwing partner Tom Brady. Young has more on former Patriots ball boy DeOssie. Chris Kennedy has the Patriots closing in on more records this week. Ian M. Clark has the Giants trying to figure out how to approach this game. David Brown has a look at the Giants pass rush, which could be in Brady’s face Saturday night.

With the Patriots trying to go 16-0 this week, Reiss’s notebook has Tom Brady finally willing to talk about it. Farinella’s notebook has Kelley Washington and Heath Evans talking about how Bill Belichick keeps his team focused. Guregian’s notebook has Belichick taking it easy on his team yesterday with a no-pads walkthrough practice. Young’s notebook has Brady finally speaking about a possible perfect season. Garven’s notebook has Brady weighing in on his recent slump.

Misc

Dan Shaughnessy says this should be the time for Jim Rice to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Over in the Metro, I’ve got a look at 2007 as An amazing year in Boston Sports.

Check in on the Bruins at BruinsLinks.com