Hoyer says he'll learn from Eagles game

Hoyer says he'll learn from Eagles game

By Tom E. Curran

FOXBORO - Brian Hoyer's numbers were not good against the Eagles - 5 for 17 for 55 yards with two sacks.

But like many things on Monday night, extenuating circumstances have to be weighed when making evaluations. Hoyer certainly owns some of those incompletions, but he wasn't throwing to the team's top-tier receivers. Nor was he getting anything resembling consistent protection.

To these eyes, Hoyer did nothing to hurt his status of the go-to backup to Tom Brady on Monday night even though his numbers stunk.

Hoyer said the Eagles scheme led to lower percentage decisions.

"I woulda liked a few more completions but we also tried to take a few more shots and you're not gonna be 100 percent on those," Hoyer explained. "They present us the opportunity to throw the ball outside and throw it deep so I just try to give our guys a chance and try to make a few more than we did tonight.

"They played a little more man than we saw them do last week," said Hoyer. "It's the preseason so I'm sure they're working on different things. But you try to give our guys a shot and hopefully we can make better plays. I gotta make better throws. I need to keep working. We haven't seen a lot of man coverage during camp."

Hoyer is going to likely have a quiet first half this week against the Buccaneers. It's looking like Tom Brady's game. But he understands the import of taking Monday, learning from it then moving forward to Tampa.

"Its gonna be good for our team to have a quick turnaround and see how tough we are," he noted. "We gotta get ready for Wednesday morning practice. You learn what you learn from this game and move on and improve."

As for Hoyer's competition, Ryan Mallett, the second-year player was a little better than Week 1 but not a whole lot despite going 10 for 20 for 105 with a touchdown. Hoyer did take notice.

"(Mallett) did a pretty good job tonight and that makes me step my level up too," he stated. "I think looking at it tomorrow I might take fewer shots and try to get a few more completions and give my guy a better ball."

It would have been easier for Hoyer if he'd been given better support.

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Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 25, the Boston Celtics had the perennial title contenders on the ropes with the lead in the fourth quarter only to lose it and the game, 109-103.

On the road at Houston, one of the Western Conference’s top teams, the Celtics led in the fourth quarter and wound up losing their Dec. 5 matchup 107-106 as Al Horford missed what would have been a game-winning lay-up as time expired.

Boston played well in both games, but not well enough to win which unfortunately for the Green Team has been how things have gone when they’ve faced some of the better teams in the NBA this season.

They are hoping to break that trend tonight when they hit the road and face the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder (14-9) come in with a slightly better record than the Celtics (13-10).

Boston’s issue isn’t that they can’t play with the better teams.

It’s their finish that needs work.

Boston has lost five of its six games this season against teams that are currently among the top-4 in their respective conferences. 

Losses to San Antonio and Houston only highlight Boston not being able to make the late-game runs needed to win.

Even in their 101-94 loss to Toronto on Friday, it was the Raptors’ ability to make one clutch play after another when it mattered most, that proved to be what was needed to propel them to victory.

“That’s what good teams do; they execute at the end of the game,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “We just have to execute better and get stops at the end of the game. That’s what it comes down to.”

And while the Celtics have a number of returners from last season, every season brings about a different team and with that, a need to learn how to collectively be successful especially down the stretch in close games.

“We’re learning,” Bradley said following the Raptors loss. “We’re moving on to the next game.”

And that would be the Thunder who come in having won six of their last seven games.

Of course when it comes to the Thunder, everything starts with Russell Westbrook who is on everyone’s short list for league MVP.

He is averaging a triple-double this season with 30.9 points, 11.3 assists and 10.8 rebounds per game.

“He’s amazing,” said Boston’s Terry Rozier who will likely spend some time defending Westbrook tonight. “He’s going to be aggressive. We have to try and find a way to stop that. He’s putting up video game stats. It’s tough but we gotta do something.”

The Celtics will likely lean heavily on Marcus Smart and Bradley, a first-team all-NBA defensive selection last season, when it comes to trying to slow down Westbrook.

“Russell’s a good player,” Bradley said. “I look forward to every matchup. If it’s him, whoever it is, I look forward to it. That’s what this league is about.”

It’s also about growth and development of franchises into title contenders, something the Celtics are eager to continue pushing towards tonight.

Horford spent the previous nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, advancing to the playoffs every season.

He saw first-hand how they went from a team that could barely get into the playoffs, into one that produced four all-stars in one season and had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Horford saw the loss to Toronto as an example of a really good team doing what great teams do and that’s finding a way to win regardless of how things are going most of the night.

“We made a run early (against Toronto), they stayed with it, didn’t rattle and eventually got over us,” Horford said. “We’re growing as a group.”