Pierce unhappy with playing time in fourth quarter


Pierce unhappy with playing time in fourth quarter

BOSTON Paul Pierce was not a happy man, and it wasn't just because the Boston Celtics squandered a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter that paved the way for Cleveland's 88-87 come-from-behind win.

Part of Pierce's anger had to do with C's coach Doc Rivers keeping him on the bench for all but the final 3:42 of the loss.

"I would have liked to have been in there to finish off the game," Pierce said. "But the coaches make their decisions."

At the start of the fourth quarter, Boston led 70-62. With a unit that included E'Twaun Moore, Mickael Pietrus, Sasha Pavlovic, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett, the C's pushed their lead to as many as 11 points.

But after a Bass free throw with 4:25 gave the C's an 11-point lead, Cleveland cut the lead down to seven by the time Pierce returned at the 3:42 mark.

By then, the game's momentum had clearly shifted away from the C's.

Pierce had one last shot to win it, but his shot in the game's closing moments was off the mark. Had it gone it, it still would not have counted because he didn't get the shot off in time.

Following the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledged that the C's "got cute" and let up some in the fourth, which opened the door for Cleveland's comeback.

"We were trying to do too much with the ball instead of making simple plays and holding on to it, instead the ball - touch, pass to the next guy. I thought that hurt us."

And when asked about Pierce's turnover-prone night, Rivers said, "I thought he did too much tonight with the ball. It's just that simple. He's been playing great for us. And I thought he just pre-determined some passes instead of just making the simple play."

When asked about Rivers' comments about the guys relaxing some in the fourth and getting "cute" with the ball (i.e. fancy, no-look passes or passes into traffic that either got deflected or led to a turnover), Pierce declined to comment.

To Pierce's defense, he has been the Celtics' best player during their four-game winning streak coming into Sunday's game. And with Rajon Rondo (right wrist) still out, Pierce has had to become a ball-distributor as well as a scorer.

Holding both of those jobs has a tendency to increase the likelihood of turning the ball over and making mistakes.

And while Pierce made no secret about being angry and disappointed, he said he understood why Rivers decided to stick with the backups longer than usual.

"At the time, we had a pretty good lead," Pierce said. "So I can understand it."

Still, that doesn't change his belief that the game's outcome would have been different had he been put into the game earlier.

"I wish I was a fortune teller," when asked about how different the game would have been had he re-entered it sooner. "I don't think this would have been the outcome."

Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17


Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17

ARLINGTON, Texas - Maybe the Cowboys will be OK without quarterback Tony Romo this time. The future of the Dallas running game with Ezekiel Elliott looks pretty good, too.

Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass in fellow rookie Elliott's first 100-yard game, and the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.

With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without the injured Romo over three seasons before the fourth-round pick showed up.

Prescott's first TD pass was a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he's up to 99 throws without an interception to start his career. Philadelphia's Carson Wentz has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals for a rookie in NFL history.

"Dak's handled every opportunity he's had right from the start really, really well," coach Jason Garrett said. "No different tonight."

Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox.

Making his 27th career start for his fourth different team, Hoyer was 30 of 49 for 317 yards - a good portion of that with the game out of each late in the fourth quarter - and threw for two scores to Zach Miller.

"We haven't played a complete game," Fox said. "This week was the reverse of what we've had. We played very poorly in the first half."

Elliott finished with 140 yards on 30 carries, including a 14-yard run when he hurdled safety Chris Prosinski. The Cowboys kept giving him the ball while trying to work the clock with a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter a week after he was benched because of two fumbles in a win over Washington.

"Made a lot of good runs tonight, a lot tough runs, a lot of NFL runs," Garrett said. "He's physically tough. He's mentally tough."

It didn't even bother Prescott that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith missed just the second game of his six-year career after his back tightened up during the week.

Prescott was 19 of 24 for 248 yards in Dallas' first home win since last year's opener, which was a week before the first of two broken left collarbones that kept Romo out of 12 games last season.

Romo is expected to miss about another month after breaking a bone in his back in the preseason.

Prescott had one of three rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys, who have seven this season after getting eight all of last year, when they finished 4-12.

Because the Bears fell behind again, they couldn't do much with the running game. They had just 15 carries for 73 yards and lost leading rusher Jeremy Langford to an ankle injury in the second half.