Cunningham, teammates will play catch-up this week

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Cunningham, teammates will play catch-up this week

FOXBORO -- The Patriots got a roster-related present Christmas day when Jermaine Cunningham's suspension was lifted. 
The defensive end received a four-game ban November 26 after violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. 
Wednesday morning, Bill Belichick talked about Cunningham's reinstatement. The team will do its best to make the transition seamless, which means they will all have to play catch-up this week. 
"I think anytime a player comes back after an absence for a while -- for whatever the reasons are, doesn't matter -- there's a combination of catching up mentally to what's going on, but also from a technique standpoint, communication, and reaction," the coach explained.
"No matter how much a player runs around a track or does sit-ups, or whatever, it's not the same as when the other 21 guys are out there. Hearing plays called, reading to what happens on the other side of the ball, communicating, making adjustments with your teammates there's just no way to do that other than to do it. It needs to be something the teammates need to have happen as well as the individual player who wasn't there himself."
Adjustments will be made by those who took Cunningham's place, too. For players like Trevor Scott and rookie Justin Francis, that could mean the increased snaps they've gotten in recent weeks could be cut back. 
But all is not lost.  
"It certainly is a positive for some of the players who get those opportunities," Belichick noted. "If they can take advantage of them and use the opportunity to enhance their role or show through their performance that they're able to handle more responsibility, it's a good thing for them. 
"And ultimately, it can be a good thing for the team to be able to actually see those guys improve, watch them get more reps in practice and in the games. Have more confidence in them to know that their execution level is higher." 

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights from the TD Garden as Devin Booker had a historic performance where he scored 70 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win over the Celtics.

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

BOSTON – Stacking wins on top of wins is the mindset of the Boston Celtics right now, so the players who did speak to the media following Friday’s 130-120 win over Phoenix drove that point home emphatically.

But inside the locker room, it was unusually quiet, the kind of silence you expect following a loss.

Considering how the Celtics’ defense was absolutely thrashed by Devin Booker’s franchise record 70 points, there’s no question at a minimum the Celtics’ pride overall was stung.

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And when Suns coach Earl Watson began calling time-outs and having his team commit fouls at the end of the game, there’s no question it rubbed a few Celtics the wrong way.

“I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15. But I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him (Booker) the most points possible. Hat off to to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

Following the game, Watson defended his late-game decision making.

“Calling time-outs at the end kept the game close,” he said. “It’s basketball; I’m not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don’t like us while we build … so what? Do something about it.”

The Suns (22-51) never came any closer than 10 points, which was the final score margin.

Al Horford acknowledged that there was some aggravation following the game.

“You can be frustrated when somebody is doing that to you,” he said. “It’s not to one guy, it’s to the team so I think we’re probably more aggravated at ourselves, at least personally I feel that way. I probably could have done a little better, maybe done some different things to prevent it. We got to give him credit, 70 points, I don’t care it’s 70, he got 70. It’s impressive.”

But there will be some inside the Celtics locker room and among their fan base, who were bothered by the Suns’ late-game actions which seemed more focused on Booker getting numbers than anything else.

When asked about being disrespected by the Suns’ late-game strategy, Thomas wanted no part of that conversation.

“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery.”

 Boom!