Pierce dealing with recent foul trouble


Pierce dealing with recent foul trouble

ATLANTA If the Celtics are going to make the kind of end-of-the-season push they want to, chances are Paul Pierce will be a major cog in that effort.

But the captain can't do much if he's on the bench, a place that he has become far too familiar with lately.

Pierce fouled out of Boston's 98-91 loss at Denver on Saturday, and was in foul trouble before finishing with five fouls in Boston's 79-76 win at Atlanta on Monday.

Pierce had not fouled out all season before the Denver game, andhe only had one game (Jan. 22 at Washington) in which he was whistled for five personal fouls.

"I'm just getting caught with some tough calls that could go either way," Pierce said. "That's about it. I'm not worried about it."

Worrying about it won't do him or the Celtics any good.

But it is something he needs to be mindful of during this critical stretch of play for the short-handed Celtics.

While Pierce may not be worried, the same can not be said for his head coach, Doc Rivers.

It's one thing to pick up fouls that prevent easy scores, but Rivers sees many of Pierce's recent fouls, as being "silly."

"You just can't pick up silly fouls," Rivers said. "Three of his five (against Atlanta) were bad. I'm trying to get our team to understand, we don't have a margin for error."

Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) and Chris Wilcox (heart condition) are both out for the season, while a number of other Celtic players are battling an assortment of bumps and bruises.

And it's not just Pierce who has picked up bad fouls lately.

Against the Hawks, Rivers recalled a conversation he had with Kevin Garnett shortly after Garnett picked up an early foul in which he wrapped up an Atlanta player.

"I said, 'Kevin, we don't have fouls to give," Rivers recalled. "We're not 12-deep right now."

Rivers added, "We keep talking about it, but then you don't want to get in their way. You want them to play. Paul sets those open court picks for Rajon Rondo. He gets a (personal foul) call on that, and then he charges two, maybe three times."

Patriots reportedly deal Derby to Broncos for fifth-round pick


Patriots reportedly deal Derby to Broncos for fifth-round pick

The Patriots pulled off a rare deal with a rival on Tuesday. 

According to ESPN, they've sent tight end AJ Derby to the Broncos in exchange for a fifth-round pick. 

Derby played in 33 offensive snaps over four games this season for the Patriots. A sixth-round draft choice in 2015 out of Arkansas, Derby spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve. 

One of the stars of the preseason for the Patriots, Derby caught 15 passes for 189 yards in four exhibition games. A former college quarterback for Iowa and Arkansas, Derby was named a practice player of the week by the Patriots when they were hurting for healthy signal-callers early in the season during Tom Brady's suspension.

The deal leaves the Patriots somewhat thin at the tight end position. They now have now true tight ends behind Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. They do, however, have fullback James Develin, who meets with tight ends on a daily basis. On the practice squad, the Patriots have another fullback in Glenn Gronkowski. 

In Denver, Derby will compete with tight ends Virgil Green, Jeff Heuerman and John Phillips for time.

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf


Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”