The Knicks are a familiar foe, but Sunday will be different


The Knicks are a familiar foe, but Sunday will be different

BOSTON Whenever the New York Knicks come to town, it's always a big deal.

But when the Boston Celtics face the Knicks on Sunday, well, let's say it'll be a bigger deal than usual.

Both teams are in a relatively tight race for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, and then there's . . . Jeremy Lin.

Much has changed for the Knicks' fortunes since the Harvard graduate burst onto the scene just a few weeks ago.

He has taken a Knicks team that was seemingly headed nowhere in a hurry on a run of success that now has them thinking beyond simply getting to the playoffs.

"They're playing with spirit," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "When you watch them, the ball is moving and all that stuff. But they're playing now, like they have a chance. They believe."

And Lin, more than any other Knicks player, is the reason for that.

Since he was inserted in the starting lineup against Utah on Feb. 6, the Knicks are 9-3.

"Lin has obviously taken over the world; that's dope," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "You always like to see someone succeed at what they love. He plays with a lot of passion. But he's given not just that team, but that city, life. I haven't really followed him much or jumped on the bandwagon. That's not my style. But I keep an eye on it."

Garnett added, "He's definitely put a spark in the city, and there's no better city to spark up than New York."

Rivers hasn't seen too much of the Knicks this season, but when it comes to Lin . . .

"I have watched him," Rivers said. "Because you have no choice. He's fantastic. He's scoring the ball at a high rate; double-digit assists every night."

But if he were all the Celtics had to worry about, they'd be in pretty good shape.

In addition to Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks also have Baron Davis, who is healthy enough to play now, and they picked up J.R. Smith, who rejoins the NBA after spending most of this past season in the Chinese Basketball Association.

"That's an impressive amount of talent on one team," Rivers said.

And the team that the C's have faced twice this season will be much tougher to put away on Sunday.

"They're definitely a lot different based on what they're doing with Jeremy Lin, getting some healthy bodies back . . . they've been playing really well of late," said Celtics Captain Paul Pierce.

The same can be said for the Celtics, who remain undefeated following the break after Friday night's 10794 win. The 107 points equaled the Celtics' season-high for points scored (at Miami, Dec. 27, 2011) this season.

And with both coming in separated by just a half game, you can expect this game will be like most Boston-New York games and won't be decided until the final minute or two of play.

Pierce expects the game to be challenging, primarily because both teams have so much at stake.

"We're both aiming for the same thing; we're aiming for position right here," Pierce said. "We're both seventh and eighth seeds now. We're playing for the Atlantic Division. We got a lot to play for. They'll come with it, but we'll be ready."

Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'


Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'

Malcolm Butler didn't mean any disrespect. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 


When the Patriots corner picked off a Landry Jones pass in the first quarter -- one that was intended for receiver Antonio Brown -- Butler stood up in the end zone, faced the Heinz Field crowd, stuck one arm in the air a and gyrated like someone had attached jumper cables to his facemask. 

He was doing his best to mimick one of Brown's well-known touchdown dances.

"Me and Brown had conversation before," Butler said, "and it was a joke to him once I showed him how I do it. Much love for that guy. Nothing personal."

For Butler, it was the highlight of what was a productive afternoon. The third-year corner was asked to shadow Brown for much of the day, and he allowed Brown to catch five of nine targets for 94 yards. He also broke up a pair of passes intended for Brown's teammates.

“Stopping Antonio Brown, that’s impossible," Butler said. "You can’t stop him. You can only slow him down. I just went out there and tried to compete today . . . Great players are going to make plays but you have to match their intensity.”
Even on the longest throw from backup quarterback Landry Jones to Brown, a 51-yarder, it appeared as though Butler played the coverage called correctly. 

Butler lined up across from Brown and trailed him underneath as Brown worked his jway from the left side of the field to the right. Butler was looking for some help over the top in that scenario, seemingly, but because Brown ran across the formation, it was hard for the back end of the defense to figure out who would be helping Butler. 

Belichick admitted as much after the game. 

"He was on [Brown] a lot the way we set it up," Belichick said. "Look, they've got great players. They're tough to cover. They hit us on a couple over routes, in cut where they kind of ran away from the coverage that we had. 

"The plays were well designed. Good scheme, good thorws and obviously good routes by Brown. They got us on a couple, but I thought we competed hard. We battled all the way. We battled on third down. We battled in the red area. They made some. We made some, but they're good. They have a lot of good players."

And Brown, in particular, is about as close as it gets to unstoppable in the NFL. Butler found that out in Week 1 of last year when he matched up with Brown in his first game as a starter, giving up nine catches for 133 yards to the All-Pro wideout. 

Though Sunday might not have been perfect for Butler, it was better than that day about 14 months ago. And at times, it was worth dancing about. 

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

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