Patriots notes: Belichick has 'balls in the air'

Patriots notes: Belichick has 'balls in the air'

By Tom E. CurranFOXBORO - Brandon Spikes, Stevan Ridley and Patrick Chung were among not taking part in early practice Monday as the Patriots worked out in shells prior to Wednesday's preseason finale against the Giants. Ridley and Chung watched from the sidelines while Spikes and running back Shane Vereen were not seen on the field during the small window afforded to media observation. Others not seen include tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, linebacker Tracy White, safety Will Allen, linebacker Tracy White, offensive lineman Matt Kopa and offensive lineman Nick McDonald. Jabar Gaffney, Markus Zusevics and Myron Pryor were also on the sidelines. Bill Belichick said there were "a lot ofballs in the air" on Monday with the looming cut to 75, the Patriots Kickoff Gala on Monday night, preparations for the preseason finale and the first regular season game. Asked for an update on erstwhile offensive lineman Brian Waters, Belichick said, "I don't have one. I'm happy to discuss the players that are here." Speaking for a few minutes with Tom Brady in the locker room, the quarterback assured that, "We'll be fine" when asked about the offensive line. "We'll be good." Meanwhile, at the other end of the locker room, I caught up with Rob Ninkovich who sighed when asked about the defense and said there's a "ways to go" in terms of mastering fits and timing. On Aaron Hernandez, Belichick said, "Aaron has improved a lot. Hes worked hard, hes improved a lot in all phases of the game: passing game, running game, protection and his overall versatility. Hes done a good job for us."As for his feelings on getting an extension done with Hernandez, "Any contract that we agree to is one that were in support of. If we agree to a contract on a player, then were in support of that player, the length of the contract, the amount that were paying him, all the other things that go with the contract. We wouldnt do it if we werent in support of it, as an organization, me personally, all of the above." Belichick seems to be enjoying the competition at running back, saying, "Each guy kind of brings a little bit of a different dimension to the position, although they all have the basic same requirements of the position, but they all do it a little differently because of their style or makeup or physical abilities or what have you. Its been interesting to watch that group work and theyve all been productive. Well continue to evaluate that and Im sure that in some way theyll all be able to contribute for us depending on what were doing."

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

WALTHAM -- You won’t find the Boston Celtics blaming anyone but themselves for Saturday’s 127-123 overtime loss to Portland. 
 
But they certainly didn’t get any breaks down the stretch from the referees, who made a huge officiating mistake in the final seconds of regulation. 

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Following a Celtics miss in the game’s closing seconds, Blazers guard Damian Lillard wound up with the ball but was stripped almost immediately by Marcus Smart, who put the steal back in for a lay-up that would have given Boston a one-point lead with 10.8 seconds to play. 
 
The ruling on the floor at the time was a foul against Smart. But officials later determined as part of their report on the final two minutes of the game, that the foul against Smart was an incorrect call.
 
“It just pisses you off, doesn’t it?” Crowder said. “It just pisses you off. I don’t like it.”
 
Crowder, like a number of players I have spoken to about this particular subject, is not a fan of the league releasing the information. 
 
And his reasoning, like his NBA brethren, is simple. 
 
There’s no recourse relative to that particular game if the officials in fact got a call wrong. 
 
So for their purposes, the transparency that the league is seeking, while just, doesn’t do them a damn bit of good when it comes to what matters most to them. Which is wins and losses. 
 
“It’s over now. It’s too late to confirm it now,” said Smart who told media following the loss that the steal was clean. “The game is over with. It is what it is; on to the next game now.”
 
Smart added that having the league confirm the call was wrong is frustrating. 
 
“They come back and tell you they miss the call, but it’s over now,” Smart said. “We’re on to the next game. It’s like they shouldn’t even said it. But I understand it; they’re trying to take responsibility and show they made a bad call. We appreciate it but at that time as a player it’s frustrating. That possibly could have won us the game.”
 
But as Smart, coach Brad Stevens and other players asked about it mentioned, Boston made so many mistakes against the Blazers and played so uncharacteristically for long stretches that it would be unfair and just not right to pin the game’s outcome on one bad call late in the game. 
 
“It happens,” said Stevens who added that he’s never read a two-minute report other than what he has seen published by the media. “There were plenty of things we could have done better.”
 
He’s right.
 
That blown call didn’t cost the Boston Celtics the game. 
 
Their play did. 
 
The Celtics turned the ball over 21 times that led to 34 points, both season highs. 
 
They couldn’t contain C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, two of the league’s most explosive guards who combined for 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting.
 
Boston allowed Myers Leonard to score a season-high 17 points. 
 
Certainly the bad call against Smart was a factor. 
 
But it would not have been an issue if the Celtics had done a better job of controlling the things they could have controlled, like defending shooters better, making smarter decisions when it came to passing the ball and maybe most significant, play with a higher, more consistent level of aggression around the rim. 

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

WALTHAM -- The team flight to Washington for tomorrow night's game against the Wizards will be a little lighter than the Celtics would like. 
 
Boston continues to be cautious with Avery Bradley and his right Achilles strain injury. Coach Brad Stevens confirmed that the 6-foot-2 guard won't travel and will sit out for the seventh time in the last eight games. 

Stevens added he didn't anticipate Bradley returning to the court anytime this week, which means he's likely not to return until next week's game against Detroit on Jan. 30. 
 
Bradley won’t be the only Celtic not making the trip for health-related reasons. Gerald Green and Demetrius Jackson are both not traveling due to sickness. 
 
However, the Celtics did get a bit of good news on the health front. Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller, both having missed games with sickness, will take the trip to D.C. with the rest of their teammates.