Pierce's leadership gets Celtics on track

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Pierce's leadership gets Celtics on track

ATLANTA It figures that it took the words from 'The Truth' to get the Boston Celtics to play the Atlanta Hawks honestly.

Trailing by 15 points at the half, the Celtics found themselves arguing with one another with some players frustrated with some of the words spoken by head coach Doc Rivers about what they needed to do.

"We're kind of bickering with each other at halftime about what to do defensively, and I just reminded the guys that the fight isn't against us, it's against the other team," Pierce said. "Once we remembered that, we stepped up and played the kind of basketball that we're capable of playing."

Pierce challenging his teammates seemed to do the trick as Boston took control in the second half before pulling away for an 89-81 win.

Pierce's team-high 26 points - 17 of which came in the third quarter - was huge, obviously.

But his words at the half had an even bigger impact.

"He was saying, 'this ain't us. Where we at? Where's our grit at?'" C's guard Jason Terry recalled. "'We come out of this locker room, let's show 'em."'

Did they ever.

The Celtics overwhelmed the Hawks with a gritty, physical defense, clutch shots and within minutes, Atlanta was playing catch-up on a night when they had led by as many as 19 points.

Boston played with the kind of defensive fire and intensity that during some tense moments inside the locker room, seemed to be directed at Rivers.

"I told our guys we have to accept coaching," Pierce recalled saying. "Doc was telling us what to do , and guys were getting angry with him, and I told them the ones we need to be getting angry with is the other team."

And Pierce to some degree was angry as well; not at his teammates but at the fact that the Celtics have dug themselves (again) a hole that they will continue to have to fight out of between now and the playoffs.

But the fight becomes a lot easier when they play how they did against Indiana on Friday and in the second half of Saturday's win at Atlanta.

"It's time now," Pierce said. "I'm tired of seeing flashes of it for six minutes here or there, and then take six minutes off. I'm tired of that now. I don't have too much left in the tank as far as my career, so this is it. I feel like the East is wide open, so there is a tremendous opportunity out there for us."

Turner jokes that Celtics will retire his number

Turner jokes that Celtics will retire his number

It’s not the craziest thing someone has said on Twitter, but Evan Turner tweeted Monday that the Celtics should retire his number. 

It was a joke, of course, as the former Celtic was reacting to news that Isaiah Thomas had said he liked the No. 11 and would change his jersey number if so many people in Boston hadn’t already purchased his No. 4 jersey. 

After Turner joked that No. 11 was going to be retired, Thomas joked back that he would wear No. 11 as a tribute to the current Trail Blazer. 

Prior to being traded to Boston, Thomas wore No. 22 for Sacramento and No. 3 for Phoenix. 

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

For weeks the speculation regarding Josh McDaniels wasn't a matter of "if" but "when."

But while national media had McDaniels signed, sealed and delivered to multiple landing spots, the proposition that he'd leave at all was never a likelihood. 

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The Rams weren't attractive to him from the outset. Jacksonville didn't excite him, either. And on Monday, he passed on the 49ers opportunity. 

The lure of a blank slate in San Fran at quarterback and GM didn't outpace the uncertainty of going cross-country to work for a seemingly dysfunctional franchise that's cycled rapidly through coaches and has an unrealistic sense that it's a long, long way removed from its glory days, the only remnant remaining from that being perhaps the logo on the helmet. 

With four kids and a job McDaniels considers one of the 10 best on coaching -- head man or no -- he will stay on as the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

"I was really impressed with (Niners owner) Jed York and (team executive) Paraag Marathe . . . and the people that came from the 49ers organization," McDaniels said on a conference call this morning. "They did a great job with their presentation. Humbled to be included in that process. At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

The same faulty speculative reasoning that had McDaniels as good as gone from the Patriots will move on undeterred today and surmise that McDaniels is staying with the Patriots because he knows, or has been promised, that he'll receive the head coaching job when Bill Belichick steps aside. 

While the Kraft family certainly thinks highly of McDaniels and that could come to pass, anyone tapping their foot and checking their watch waiting for Belichick to step down is in for a long wait. He's showing no signs of wrapping it up and, while I haven't been told directly McDaniels isn't the automatic successor, he wouldn't be taking interviews at all if he were assured that. 

What will be interesting to see is whether interest remains high in him for other jobs or the perception that he's never going to leave means teams don't bother to ask. San Fran obviously had its heart set on McDaniels. Even though Nick Caserio passed on the chance to interview with the Niners for their open GM job, the team did talk to Louis Riddick about the spot. He and McDaniels have high regard for each other. 

Between McDaniels, Caserio and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, the people closest to Belichick on the coaching flow chart all had chances to go somewhere else and all passed on the chance. It's another example of not why the Patriots are good but why they remain good. Stability.