Mental lapse proves costly for Pierce at free throw line

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Mental lapse proves costly for Pierce at free throw line

BROOKLYN, N.Y. Looking up and down the final box score in Boston's 102-97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, it's clear that the Celtics' demise was a team-wide calamity.

But few took the defeat any harder than Paul Pierce.

Trailing 95-92 with 43 seconds to play, a defensive switch by the Nets gave Pierce a lane to the basket so he attacked. There was enough contact on the play to warrant the foul called, but not enough to have thrown Pierce's shot off too much.

And there he watched the ball tickle every part of the rim before rolling out.

But here's the other problem besides him missing the shot.

The play was over, time to move on.

Unfortunately for the C's, Pierce did not; mentally at least.

A career 80.8 percent shooter from the line, Pierce missed both free throw attempts.

"I was thinking about the lay-up too much," Pierce acknowledged after the game. "I was real disappointed. It was very unlike me to miss two free throws. I take a lot of blame for down the stretch. I'm the guy they call upon to make the plays. I didn't make the plays tonight."

But Pierce isn't going to make the same mistake with the season that he made with the missed lay-up and dwell on it too long.

As important as it was for him to take ownership of his contributions to the Celtics' loss, it was just as vital for him to embrace the reality that Thursday's defeat was a team loss and not an individual one.

"You can point to a number of little things we talk about all year long," Pierce said. "Execution, defensively we weren't very good."

Especially in the fourth quarter which has typically been one of their best quarters of the season.

The C's gave up 28 points in the quarter which is very unlike the Celtics. And it came on a night when the C's could only muster up 18 fourth-quarter points which is also unusually-low for the C's.

"It's a lot of little things we have to correct," Pierce said.

OFFSEASON

Celtics second in Larry Sanders’ Twitter poll for his next team

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Celtics second in Larry Sanders’ Twitter poll for his next team

Veteran forward Larry Sanders, who hasn’t played since December of 2014, has taken to Twitter to get feedback on “Which team do you believe will utilize my skills the best?”

So far, it’s his last team, the Milwaukee Bucks leading, with the Celtics edging the Cavaliers for second place.  

Sanders, 27, has been away from basketball after two drug-related suspensions and issues with anxiety and depression led him to accept a buyout from the Bucks.  The 6-11 Sanders was a solid rim protector. He averaged 1.8 blocks a game in his career. Could the Celtics, with an already crowded roster, take a flyer on him as a low-cost option? 
 

Hanley Ramirez named A.L. player of the week

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Hanley Ramirez named A.L. player of the week

After a power binge in which five of his seven hits were home runs, Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez has been named American League player of the week.

In six games, Ramirez batted .333 (7-for-21) with five homers, 12 RBI, six runs scored, a slugging percentage of 1.048 and OPS of 1.488. Three of the home runs came in one game, an 11-7 victory Wednesday night over the San Francisco Giants. 

For the season, Ramirez is hitting .282 with 13 homers, 60 RBI and an OPS of .821. 

Monday’s Red Sox-Tigers lineups: Betts back in right

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Monday’s Red Sox-Tigers lineups: Betts back in right

Mookie Betts returns to the Red Sox lineup tonight as they open a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park.

Betts is in his customary lead-off spot and playing right field. He missed the past two games after leaving in the fifth inning on Friday night with soreness and swelling in his right knee. 

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz makes his second Red Sox start since being acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres on July 14. Pomeranz lasted only three-plus innings in his first start for Boston, allowing five runs in a game the Red Sox held on to win 11-7 over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.

Justin Verlander (9-6, 3.74 ERA) starts for the Tigers.

The lineups:

TIGERS
Ian Kinsler 2B
Jose Iglesias SS
Miguel Cabrera 2B
Victor Martinez DH
Nick Castellanos 3B
Justin Upton LF
Mike Aviles RF
James McCann C
Andrew Romine CF

Justin Verlander RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt LF

Drew Pomeranz LHP