Pierce still struggling with foot injury


Pierce still struggling with foot injury

BOSTON -- Paul Pierce admits he is still feeling the effects of a foot injury. He isnt sugarcoating the fact that he isnt one hundred percent.

On Friday night, Pierce scored 13 points off 12 field goal attempts (3-12 FG, 2-3 3PG, 5-5 FT) in the Boston Celtics' 88-79 loss to the Chicago Bulls. His season average stands at 13.7 points per game, down from a team-leading 18.9 last season.

But while he is struggling to find consistency at the start of this season (he missed the first three games), those on the opposing side are still respecting the Celtics' captain.

I really have a lot of respect for Paul, Bulls forward Luol Deng (21 points, 16 rebounds) said following game. Ive watched him a lot and when Im working on my game, I really watch a lot of stuff he does. Whenever I play Paul, I just try to make it hard for him. The thing that always gets me is his pump fake and we were talking about it -- I think every game I played him in my career, I think he got me with a pump fake and he still gets me every time. Hes just a great player."

Bulls head coach (and former Celtics assistant coach) Tom Thibodeau noted the impact Pierce can make on defense. The Celtics have been, on average, outrebounded by their opponents and did not score any second chance points on Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks. Even though he isnt the biggest player on the team, Thibodeau says Pierce is a big contributor.

The thing that probably gets overlooked quite a bit is Pierces rebounding, he said before the game, adding, Pauls real tough, so when their bigs go to help, he sinks in there, hes not afraid to mix it up. Hes a complete player and he adds so much to their team.

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers knows what Pierce is capable of and wants him on the court as much as possible. At the same time, he is being cautious of the veterans minutes and health in this shortened season.

Hes working through it, Rivers said. Listen, Pauls playing hard. Like I told you, Im using the minutes for him to try to get him in better shape and better rhythm. Is it the best situation for all of us? No, but weve just got to endure through this until he gets right. You can see it. Even early at the game, he had some explosive moves, couldnt finish, and I cant imagine how frustrating it is for him. But hes doing everything right. And hes doing everything that he possibly can do to get right.

With praise and support coming from both sides of the court, what does Pierce have to say about this himself?

I'm not going to say I'm 100 percent, he said. I didn't come back 100 percent. I'm getting back in basketball shape, obviously. The heel isn't all the way where I'd like it to be. At some point in the season it will be. It's nothing that I'm worried about right now. I know I have to play better basketball for us, bottom line."

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 But 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 held Brown to five catches on 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 way 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. 

Coach Bill 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 9 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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