Belichick not celebrating past late-season success

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Belichick not celebrating past late-season success

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick can sound dispassionate about a lot of things. 
Want a taste? Ask the Patriots coach to reflect on his late-season success, especially that of the past. 
"I don't really concern myself too much with what happened in the past or what didn't happen in the past. Right now we're just worried about Miamiabout doing a good job in going down there and playing well Sunday."
It is for everyone else to be impressed, then. 
New England has gone 8-0 in the second halves of the last two years. 
"I don't think what our record was two years ago has anything to do with this week's game," Belichick said again. "We're just trying to focus on what we can do to play well this week."
The team has had perfect second half year records four times (2003, 2007, 2010, 2011) during Belichick's tenure, and gone 7-1 two other times (2001 and 2004). As of now, it looks like the Patriots are poised to do it again. 
"We can look back at other years and talk about them," the coach dared, sounding annoyed. "I don't know whether that's true this year or not. We'll see."
New England is currently on a five-game winning streak, going back to its 29-26 win over the Jets in Week 7.  While the road ahead isn't exactly bump-free -- the Texans and 49ers visit Gillette on back-to-back weekends in December -- it is a recent trend of this team to navigate adversity well as the season wears on. 
But that's another thing that bores Belichick. 
As the 38-year NFL veteran tells it, momentum doesn't really carry week to week. That New England has scored special teams touchdowns in the last two weeks, that Tom Brady has thrown six touchdowns and zero interceptions, that the defense has allowed just 21.5 average points -- it's all well and good. 
It just has nothing to do with the Miami Dolphins. 
"I think we've done some things well in the last couple of games. I don't think that really has any bearing on this game. Different team, different match ups, different schemes. It's all different. Whether we did or didn't last week, or some other week, or some other year, I don't think, any of it really matters."
Sunday's game against the 5-6 Dolphins isn't significant because New England can win the AFC East and clinch a playoff spot. 
It's significant because of basic math. 
"We all know the fewer games there are, the more important they become," the coach explained. "With each game, we play one less and each one becomes bigger. That's obvious. Sixteen games is sixteen games, but now there's five left so it's a five game season.
"We know it's a big game, Miami knows it's a big game. There's not many left. We've got two games left against a division rival. This is the first one down there and we know we've got to go there and play our best football this year. That's what we're looking to do." 

First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Angels

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First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Angels

First Impressions from the Boston Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels

* John Farrell faced a tough call with Steven Wright in the sixth.

Wright doesn't fare well in wet weather, as the Red Sox learned earlier this season when he tried to pitch in a steady rain against Houston. With a downpour, Wright wasn't able to grip his signature knuckler, and the results showed.

In the fifth and into the sixth, the rain was picking up. By the start of the sixth, the rain intensified, and Wright began to struggle. He allowed a leadoff double to Albert Pujols, hit Jefry Marte and walked Daniel Nava to load the bases.

Farrell had Matt Barnes warming, but the manager was clearly trying to get his starter through the sixth and limit the bullpen workload, having gone to the pen in the third inning Monday and the seventh inning Wednesday.

The move backfired when C.J. Cron hit a grand slam. Wright has been terrific this season, but his inability to pitch when there's any rain at all creates a unique challenge for his manager.

* Brock Holt made his presence felt right away.

Holt missed more than a month with a concussion, and admitted before Friday's game that he still wasn't 100 percent recovered.

But that hardly seemed the case Friday night. In the field, Holt fielded a line drive in the corer by C.J. Cron and fired a strike to second, cutting down Cron attempting to stretch a single into a double.

At the plate, meanwhile, Holt clubbed two doubles to left.

Holt used that same inside-out swing both times to take pitches the other way, expertly using the Wall and Fenway to his advantage.

For the past week, the Red Sox were shuffling a few outfielders, none of whom had had much experience -- or success -- at the big league level. Even if he's not 100 percent and can't be counted on every day yet, Holt could provide a nice jolt to the bottom third of the order.

* Ortiz continues to pile up records.

His solo homer in the fifth - a line shot that curled past the right field foul pole, into the box seats -- was No. 522 of his career. That enabled Ortiz to move past three Hall of Famers: Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams -- with one swing.

Ortiz had been tied with the trio in 19th place for most career homers.

The homer also marked his 2,000th hit with the Red Sox. He became the seventh player to amass 2,000 hits in a Red Sox uniform. The others: Williams,  Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Bobby Doerr and Wade Boggs.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

OFFSEASON

Danny Ainge wears pair of Kevin Durant's Nike shoes to son's engagement party

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Danny Ainge wears pair of Kevin Durant's Nike shoes to son's engagement party

Danny Ainge had Kevin Durant on his mind -- and on his feet -- while attending his son's engagement party this week.

Ainge's son, Cooper Ainge, tweeted a series of images showing that his father was wearing a pair of Kevin Durant's Nike KD 8 shoes:

We can only assume Ainge will walk into Saturday's meeting with Durant wearing a pair of these.