Tebow beaten but advances his reputation


Tebow beaten but advances his reputation

DENVER -- Tim Tebow generated 287 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. The threat of Tebow's legs and his ability in running Denver's unique offense probably led to even more of the yards the Broncos gained. Early on, Tebow looked good. Denver led their game against the Patriots 16-7 early in the second before the turnovers started. And even though the Broncos lost and had their six-game winning streak snapped, Tebow only advanced his reputation. The Broncos were a victim of circumstance. The circumstance being three second-quarter fumbles -- one of which was offered by Tebow -- that led to 13 Patriots points. When teams give the ball away, things happen. Points are scored, game plans are scrapped, offensive diversity is lost. The young Broncos did that and paid the price. But turnovers are correctable physical mistakes. In other words, Denver didn't lose because of a lack of talent or Tim Tebow's limitations. They lost because they made mistakes that were -- in large part -- their own doing. "I think all in all we hung with them physically, but mentally I thought there were certain areas as far as dropping the ball on the ground and the turnovers were really the big difference," said Broncos coach John Fox. "You're not going to be minus three against the New England Patriots and win very many ballgames. Having played them very many times, I know that to be true. ... But the reality is, we're not at the stage where we can overcome minus three (turnovers)."

The somewhat tepid support Tebow has gotten from Fox and John Elway should continue to get stronger after a game like Sunday's. And it seemed to, at least from Fox' perspective. "It's usually a lot more fun when you win, but I thought he improved," Fox said of Tebow. "He'll continue to improve. This was a setback no doubt about that, but sometimes setbacks are setups for bigger things to come. That's the way we'll approach it."Can Tebow compete when the opposition is capable of scoring 30 very easily?"I can't predict that," said Fox. "He's gotten better every week. Six or seven weeks ago people said that he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, but I think he does that. I think he can do that. I don't think that's why we lost the game tonight."He absolutely wasn't. But because the pregame made this all about Tebow, the postscript must as well. And the surface investigators will say Tebow lost to Tom Brady. Fine. That's what we're living with and we all know that. But if you enjoy football for football, you saw an intriguing player with unique skills forcing an experienced team to sweat and adjust. And you saw a young team get overwhelmed by the best player of his generation in Brady.

"I said it before the game, he is still the best out there in my opinion," said Broncos corner Champ Bailey. "When you make mistakes against a guy like that, he is going to make you pay. That is pretty much what happened all day.He knows his guys; he knows where everyone is going to be. He is the best all-around quarterback that I know. That is what you expect out of him; he has been doing it for years."Despite the Tebow onslaught in the runup to the game that seemed to get the Patriots as a whole sideways, there was little doubt Brady respected Tebow the player if not the hypemongers. He shared a moment and some words with Tebow after. "He was very complimentary. He was very nice," said Tebow, who is redefining nice. "What a great quarterback, and what a class act he is, and for a lot of young quarterbacks, he does a lot of great things to look up to and try to emulate."And Bill Belichick's words?

"He was very nice. He said very nice things, as well, and he's always been very supportive," related Tebow. "He just said that he believes in me, and to keep fighting, and he's proud of how I played and stuff like that. It's very nice coming from a coach like that."

The Book of Tebow is still being written. And Tim, 12:18 will be all about lessons learned and not being too generous with thine enemies.

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow


Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.

But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.

Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.

And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.

Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.

The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6). 

And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.

“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”

Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.

Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.

“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”

And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.

Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.

“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance


Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

The pressure that comes with a tight game in the fourth quarter can be a weighty proposition for some NBA players.

Then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who continues to save his best work for the fourth quarter.

Saturday’s 107-106 win at Philadelphia had yet another Thomas-like finish for the Celtics as the 5-foot-9 guard was at his most dominant state in the game’s final minutes.

Thomas finished with a season high-tying 37 points which included a stretch in the fourth in which he scored 12 straight.

“I just love the fourth quarter,” Thomas told reporters following the win. “I just want to win. Whether it’s making plays for myself or making plays for my teammates, it’s about making the right play. I get ultra- aggressive in that fourth quarter. That’s what I’ve always done.”

And his teammates appreciate how Thomas elevates his play in the game’s most pivotal moments.

“A lot of the credit is to Isaiah, how he was able to finish the game tonight,” said Avery Bradley. “He was able to make shots when we needed him to.”

And while Thomas knows his shots won’t fall all the time down the stretch, his fourth quarter mentality does provide him with a level of confidence that no matter what the defense does to him or what the score may be, he can swing the game’s momentum in his team’s favor.

“Some guys get a little tight, they get a little timid (in the fourth quarter),” Thomas said. “I embrace it. I want to be great. I want to be somebody my teammates can call on when the game is close.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday night’s game.


Isaiah Thomas: There was no more dominant player on Saturday night than Thomas. He finished with a game-high 37 points along with seven assists.

Dario Saric: It was a breakout game for the 22-year-old rookie who led the Sixers with 21 points as well as 12 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Both his points and rebound totals tied his career highs in those categories.


Avery Bradley: Boston’s surge towards victory did not kick in until the third quarter which is when Bradley elevated his play offensively. In the third he scored 10 of his 20 points on the night, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.

Ersan Illyasova: He finished with 18 points which included a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds of the game. He also grabbed six rebounds and two assists.


Celtics first half defense: There wasn’t much to like about Boston defensively in the first half. The Celtics struggled to take away or limit Philadelphia’s only strength Saturday night which was three-point shooting. The Sixers nailed nine of their 18 three-point attempts in the first half in addition to hurting the Celtics’ transition defense which gave up seven fast-break points to Philly compared to Boston scoring just one point in transition.