Michael Vick gets hurt ... again

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Michael Vick gets hurt ... again

From Comcast SportsNet
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Michael Vick walked slowly off the field, shaken up for the second straight game. And he was eager to get back in the action. Philadelphia's star quarterback was leveled on just his sixth play of the Eagles' 27-17 preseason win over the New England Patriots on Monday night. X-rays on his ribs were negative, but he was held out as a precaution. "He's sore," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He was trying to talk me into going back in, so how sore is sore?" Vick was knocked down by linebacker Jermaine Cunningham after heaving a long pass in the first quarter. Eleven days earlier, in a 24-23 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, he had X-rays on his left thumb -- also negative -- after hitting it on the helmet of center Jason Kelce. Vick took part in only six plays in that game, too. "Mike's tough," Eagles running back LeSean McCoy said. "I kind of figured it would be all right, even though he took kind of a big blow." On Monday night, Nick Foles replaced Vick and threw two touchdown passes for the second straight game for the Eagles (No. 8 in the AP Pro32). "I didn't give any speech or anything" when he joined his teammates in the huddle, Foles said. "I was ready to play and they were, too. I could look in their eyes and see the confidence." Tom Brady sat out the game for the Patriots (No. 2). The New England quarterback figures to play Friday night in the team's third preseason game, at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Other healthy starters, including wide receivers Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo, were held out of the game. The Eagles (2-0) also have a quick turnaround between games. Vick had been expected to play at least a half on Monday night and possibly rest on Friday night when Philadelphia faces the Cleveland Browns, also the Eagles' opponent in the regular-season opener. But his night was cut short, and he left after going 1 for 3 for 5 yards with one run for another 5 yards. After Cunningham drove his helmet into Vick's left side, the quarterback went down, got up slowly then knelt on one knee. He was checked by medical personnel before going to the sideline under his own power. "That is just football," Cunningham said, "going out there and getting the person with the ball." Foles, a rookie third-round draft pick from Arizona, came in and finished 18 for 28 for 217 yards and touchdown passes to Clay Harbor of 1 and 3 yards. "He did a great job," McCoy said. "In the huddle he demanded respect. He put everybody in the right places at the right times." McCoy scored on a 1-yard run, and Alex Henery kicked a 42-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 24-17 lead with 33 seconds left in the third quarter. He added a 21-yarder that capped the scoring with 2:00 remaining. For the Patriots (1-1), third-stringer Ryan Mallett completed 10 of 20 passes for 105 yards, including a 7-yard scoring pass to Alex Silvestro. Brian Hoyer was just 5 for 17 for 55 yards. "Ryan's a very confident player, both him and Brian," wide receiver Deion Branch said, "but it's hard for them because they have to play behind Tom Brady." Stephen Gostkowski kicked field goals of 51, 35 and 55 yards for the Patriots, who have scored only two preseason touchdowns. Vick's departure didn't change much for the Patriots despite his scrambling ability, defensive end Chandler Jones said. "It's the same offensive scheme they're running," he said. Vick wasn't the only first-stringer knocked out of the game. Philadelphia cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and New England safety Patrick Chung went out in the first half with shoulder injuries. Mike Kafka, Vick's backup last year, missed the game with a hand injury. The Patriots led 11-0 after Silvestro's touchdown 1:16 into the second quarter and a two-point conversion run by Shane Vereen. Then two lost fumbles within a span of six plays led to two Eagles touchdowns. Rookie Brandon Bolden muffed a punt, and McCoy scored three plays later. On the Patriots' second play after that, Hoyer fumbled when he was sacked by Phillip Hunt, and Darryl Tapp recovered at the New England 12. Foles hit DeSean Jackson for an 11-yard completion on the next play before connecting with Harbor. The Eagles took the lead for good, 21-14, with 3:58 gone in the third quarter on Harbor's second touchdown. ------ Notes: A moment of silence was held before the game for Garrett Reid. The son of Philadelphia coach Andy Reid was found dead Aug. 5 in his dorm room at Lehigh University where he was helping the team's strength and conditioning coach during training camp. ... Four Olympic medalists with New England connections were introduced before the game -- gymnast Aly Raisman of Needham, Mass., swimmer Elizabeth Beisel of Saunderstown, R.I., judo player Kayla Harrison of Marblehead, Mass., and basketball player Maya Moore, who played at the University of Connecticut. ... Andy Reid and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins had a brief confrontation on the sideline in the first half. "He comes at you. He wants to get the best out of you," Jenkins said. "Obviously, that's not the way I should have handled it, but you just get emotional."

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

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Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.

But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.

Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.

And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.

Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.

The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6). 

And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.

“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”

Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.

Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.

“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”

And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.

Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.

“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

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Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

The pressure that comes with a tight game in the fourth quarter can be a weighty proposition for some NBA players.

Then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who continues to save his best work for the fourth quarter.

Saturday’s 107-106 win at Philadelphia had yet another Thomas-like finish for the Celtics as the 5-foot-9 guard was at his most dominant state in the game’s final minutes.

Thomas finished with a season high-tying 37 points which included a stretch in the fourth in which he scored 12 straight.

“I just love the fourth quarter,” Thomas told reporters following the win. “I just want to win. Whether it’s making plays for myself or making plays for my teammates, it’s about making the right play. I get ultra- aggressive in that fourth quarter. That’s what I’ve always done.”

And his teammates appreciate how Thomas elevates his play in the game’s most pivotal moments.

“A lot of the credit is to Isaiah, how he was able to finish the game tonight,” said Avery Bradley. “He was able to make shots when we needed him to.”

And while Thomas knows his shots won’t fall all the time down the stretch, his fourth quarter mentality does provide him with a level of confidence that no matter what the defense does to him or what the score may be, he can swing the game’s momentum in his team’s favor.

“Some guys get a little tight, they get a little timid (in the fourth quarter),” Thomas said. “I embrace it. I want to be great. I want to be somebody my teammates can call on when the game is close.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday night’s game.

STARS

Isaiah Thomas: There was no more dominant player on Saturday night than Thomas. He finished with a game-high 37 points along with seven assists.

Dario Saric: It was a breakout game for the 22-year-old rookie who led the Sixers with 21 points as well as 12 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Both his points and rebound totals tied his career highs in those categories.

STUDS

Avery Bradley: Boston’s surge towards victory did not kick in until the third quarter which is when Bradley elevated his play offensively. In the third he scored 10 of his 20 points on the night, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.

Ersan Illyasova: He finished with 18 points which included a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds of the game. He also grabbed six rebounds and two assists.

DUDS

Celtics first half defense: There wasn’t much to like about Boston defensively in the first half. The Celtics struggled to take away or limit Philadelphia’s only strength Saturday night which was three-point shooting. The Sixers nailed nine of their 18 three-point attempts in the first half in addition to hurting the Celtics’ transition defense which gave up seven fast-break points to Philly compared to Boston scoring just one point in transition.