Ngata: 'We wanted to play the Patriots again'


Ngata: 'We wanted to play the Patriots again'

FOXBORO -- It doesn't sound like the Ravens feel badly for Houston's loss. 
"I think we, personally, kind of wanted to play the Patriots again," Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata said Monday. "If we were to go to the Super Bowl, it would be great to go through Foxboro and win there. So, its another matchup that I think that were excited about, and hopefully, we can get it done this time."
Things did not go according to plan last time. 
New England escaped with a 23-20 conference championship victory in 2011. The Ravens hung tough for four quarters, but a dropped game-winning touchdown by Lee Evans and a missed field goal by former kicker Billy Cundiff (who was cut the following August) sealed the deal for the Patriots. 
"The feeling that we had in that locker room, I think we all wanted to get back to the AFC Championship," Ngata said. "And then to actually have it be back in Foxboro, its a good I dont know story."Tight end Dennis Pitta shared Ngata's sentiment. 
"Were excited about this game," he said. "Its been a long road getting back to this point, and the way we left it last year didnt sit well with us. So, were excited to be in this position again and give it another shot. The Patriots are a good football team. We know that, and theyve played well all season. So, I think everyone in the building is excited about this game."
Baltimore was one of four teams to beat the Patriots this year. 
The September 23 game was yet another classic between these two teams, a 31-30 brawl that literally came down to the final seconds. New England's two-point lead was on shaky ground when Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco got the ball back with two minutes to play. Flacco completed two big passes, 24 and 17 yards, respectively, out of three to get the Ravens to midfield. He followed up with two incompletions. Just 52 seconds remained and Baltimore was hung up on the New England's 34. A 27-yard defensive pass interference call on Patriots then-cornerback Devin McCourty improved the situation mightily. 
The Ravens won on a 27-yard Justin Tucker field goal.
But just like New England vowed its regular season win over Houston dried up and blew away before the playoffs, Baltimore claims its regular season win is long-forgotten. That game was way back in the Replacement Ref days, after all.  
"I think I look at it completely different," Ravens receiver Torrey Smith insisted. "Its the playoffs, and they are playing well dominating guys out there offensively and defensively. Its a completely different team. And, the refs were just coming back as well. That was an adjustment for some guys, too. 
"But New England is New England. We have a lot of respect for those guys, and they have been in this position so many times over the past few years. They have the history. They have been there, and we want to get to where they have been. They were there last year. They knocked us out, and for us, we want to get to that point, get this win and get to the Super Bowl."

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

BOSTON – No one is proclaiming DeMarcus Cousins’ demeanor is all that radically different than past seasons. 

But the volatile nature that has often overshadowed his on-the-court-brilliance, doesn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to. 

Maybe he’s growing up. 

Maybe he’s finally comfortable with his team. 

And then there’s the almighty dollar which was the incentive for one of his teammates, Matt Barnes, to clean up his act as far as racking up technical fouls and being fined by the league. 

I asked Barnes whether there was a light bulb moment or a teammate or player that helped him get on track and not draw so much attention from officials and the league office. 

“It was all the money I was being fined,” he said. “I think I lost like $600,000 over my career for fines. It was time to kind of wake and say ‘hey, they don’t like you so you have to stick to the book.’”

With Barnes returning to Sacramento (he played for the Kings during the 2004-2005 season), he finds an intense, kindred spirit of sorts in Cousins who like Barnes has had his share of technical and fines handed down by the league office. 

This season, Cousins is the NBA’s leader in technical fouls with six. 

“I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I’m just a passionate player. I play with my emotion on my sleeve. I think DeMarcus does the same thing. What I’m trying to show him now, we have to keep our emotions and energy focused towards the right things. That could be detrimental to the team if it gets out of hand.”

First-year coach Dave Joerger has been pleased to see how different Cousins is to be around on a daily basis as opposed to how he’s perceived. 

“He gets credit for his talent. He gets credit that he’s improved in the league,” Joerger said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for the way that his approach to the game and the way that he’s carrying himself and conducting himself has greatly improved. He’s a good person. Now being with him, I see improvement over the last three years, the way that he goes about his business. I think that’s very positive.”

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

BOSTON – Here are a few odds and ends to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings: 
· The Celtics have won eight in a row over the Kings in Boston, with the last loss to Sacramento at the TD Garden coming on Jan. 19, 2007. Current Celtic Gerald Green was in the starting lineup that night. 

· Only six times in franchise history have the Celtics launched 38 or more 3-pointers in a game, four of which came in the month of November this season. 

· Speaking of 3-pointers, 36.2 percent of Boston’s shots are 3s. That ranks fifth in the league behind Houston, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Golden State.

· Don’t be surprised if Avery Bradley gets off to a good start tonight, especially from 3-point range. He’s shooting 59.1 percent on 3s in the first quarter which ranks second in the league. 

· Isaiah Thomas tallied 395 points scored in November, the most by a Celtic since John Havlicek had 406 points in November during the 1971-1972 season. 

· Boston leads the NBA in points scored (46.3 per game) by second-round picks. The Celtics’ second-round picks include Isaiah Thomas; Jae Crowder; Amir Johnson; Jonas Jerebko; Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey.

· The Celtics are 5-0 this season when they outrebound an opponent. 

· Tonight’s game will be Boston’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. In the first game, they are 3-1 this season. On the second night, they are 2-2.