Celtics overcome Mavericks in double OT, 117-115

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Celtics overcome Mavericks in double OT, 117-115

BOSTON The Boston Celtics have a tendency to make things much harder on themselves than they should be. 
If ever there was a game that was indicative of that, it was Wednesday night's 117-115 double overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Paul Pierce led all scorers with 34 points, which included him making five of his last six free throws in the final seconds of Boston's second overtime. 
Dallas had one last shot at tying up the game, but Darren Collison threw the ball away with 5.3 seconds to play in the second overtime, a fitting end to the night for a Dallas team that turned the ball over 28 times that resulted in 34 points for the Celtics. 
Collison then fouled Courtney Lee with 4.1 seconds to play. Lee went to the line and made both to secure the Celtics victory. 
O.J. Mayo led the Mavericks with 24 points which included an end-of-the-game buzzer beater that meant nothing other than another 3-pointer to pad his individual stats line.
Rajon Rondo, who came about as close as you can to a triple-double, finished with 16 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds.
So much of the chatter leading up to Wednesday's game against Dallas was centered around Celtics guard Jason Terry seeing his former team for the first time since leaving. 
But that wasn't the reunion of sorts that had the Celtics feeling good afterward.
It was them re-introducing themselves to an old friend called winning streak, a friend they haven't seen much of this season. 
Bringing the two together was not easy as the Celtics made a slew of miscues in the fourth that led to the first of two overtime sessions.
Boston led most of the night, but the Mavericks chipped away at Boston's lead and eventually tied the game at 92 on a driving lay-up by Collison with 2:20 to play and then took their first lead of the night on a 3-pointer from Derek Fisher, 95-94, with 1:47 to play in the fourth quarter. 
Boston regained the lead just 17 seconds later on a jumper by Pierce. 
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle came into Wednesday's game well aware that the Celtics were a better team than their slightly-above .500 record.
"I like their team," Carlisle, a former Celtic, said prior to the game. "I like their veteran savvy. They have a real good mixture of different kinds of players. They're tough and physical and they're obviously well coached. They're a team that's going to get better as the year goes on."
Boston (12-9) is three games over .500 for the first time this season after winning their second straight game -- something they had not done since wins on Nov. 23 and 25 against Oklahoma City and Orlando, respectively. 
The Celtics also snapped a four-game losing skid to the Mavericks.
Getting off to a great start for the Celtics was Kevin Garnett, who made his first three field goals before finishing the night with 16 points and five rebounds.
Boston pushed its lead back to double digits in the third quarter after a Brandon Bass put-back basket gave the Celtics a 63-52 lead.
The first half belonged to Boston which led by as many as 10 points, only to see its lead cut down to 48-43 at the half.

Valentine will be plunked down in heart of D-line

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Valentine will be plunked down in heart of D-line

FOXBORO – The Patriots used the 96th overall pick – a compensatory pick that came to the Patriots after losing Darrelle Revis – on a very large man. Vincent Valentine, a 6-3, 329-pound defensive tackle from Nebraska who is more space-eater than penetrator.

Though Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio said Valentine has played all over the defensive line including 5-technique (outside shoulder of the tackle), he’ll likely be an early-down, middle of the defensive line player for the Patriots at the outset. How does the team go about getting him on the field?

Currently, they are pretty well-stocked with big bodies. Last year’s first rounder, Malcom Brown, is going to play a lot for a long time. Terrance Knighton, added as a free agent, figures to be a major component of the defensive line. And aging Alan Branch showed in 2015 that he’s still got plenty of plays left in him.

The other 300-plus pound linemen in the mix are Marcus Kuhn, a free agent brought over from the Giants, and Joe Vellano, who’s been with the team for four seasons as an end of the roster player.

Valentine had an injury-plagued final season with the Cornhuskers and will need to tune up his body and conditioning for the NFL. He’s not a project but neither is he a plug-and-play type who can be expected to walk in and make immediate contributions. With the 31-year-old Branch nearing the end, it’s reasonable to expect Valentine to be the successor to him in the Patriots interior rotation when they go heavy on early downs and in short-yardage and goal-line.

Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

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Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

The Patriots have eight picks remaining on the final day of the draft. While they may not use all of those selections -- they currently have 80 players on the roster, leaving them with only two slots for undrafted free agents if they use all of their picks -- they still have plenty of opportunities to take chances on talented athletes Saturday. 

Here's a quick look at some of the best players available after they spent their first four selections on a corner (Cyrus Jones, Alabama, pick No. 60), an offensive lineman (Joe Thuney, North Carolina State, No. 78), a quarterback (Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State, No. 91) and a defensive tackle (Vincent Valentine, Nebraska, No. 96). 

The Patriots have one fourth-round pick, five sixth-round picks and two seventh-rounders remaining.

RUNNING BACK: KENNETH DIXON, LOUISIANA TECH

Listed as one of our top players available after Day 1, Dixon is still hanging around after nearly 100 picks have gone off the board. Perhaps his level of competition at Louisiana Tech has worked against him. Perhaps his fumbling issues have come back to bite him. Perhaps this is simply an indication of how the rest of the league considers this position. Only four backs have been drafted through the first three rounds. 

Other top running backs available: Jordan Howard, Indiana; Devontae Booker, Utah; Paul Perkins, UCLA; Jonathan Williams, Arkansas; Alex Collins, Arkansas. 

RECEIVER: DANIEL BRAVERMAN, WESTERN MICHIGAN

If ever there was a player who stood out as a potential Patriots pick, it would be Braverman. At 5-foot-10, 177 pounds, he is a prototypical slot receiver whose skill set resembles that of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola or Troy Brown. He's very shifty in and out of his breaks, he does a great deal of his work while risking big hits over the middle of the field, he catches just about everything thrown his way, and he churns out yards after the catch with speed and good vision. 

Other top receivers available: Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia; Rashard Higgins, Colorado State; Devon Cajuste, Stanford; Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa; Keenan Reynolds, Navy.

LINEBACKER: JOSH PERRY, OHIO STATE

This Buckeye seems to fit the size profile the Patriots typically like in their receivers at 6-foot-4, 254 pounds. He runs well enough to be able to track ball-carriers from sideline-to-sideline, and he has a ton of experience coming downhill to make big hits in the running game. Perry will need some work before he's a reliable defender in coverage, but on first and second downs he could be a force. 

Other top linebackers available: Scooby Wright III, Arizona; Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; Stephen Weatherly, Vanderbilt; Blake Martinez, Stanford; De'Vondre Campbell, Minnesota. 

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: HASSAN RIDGEWAY, TEXAS

A college teammate of Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown, Ridgeway is considered by many to be more physically talented than Brown was when he declared for the draft. Injuries hurt Ridgeway's productivity last season, and there are some who question his conditioning, but he understands how to be a disruptive force on the interior, both in the running game and in the passing game. If he's in shape and can maintain the level of fitness that will be expected of him as a pro, he could turn into an immediate contributor.

Other top defensive tackles available: Andrew Billings, Baylor; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame; DJ Reader, Clemson; Dean Lowry, Northwestern; Justin Zimmer, Ferris State.