Lee finally finds his stroke from beyond the arc

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Lee finally finds his stroke from beyond the arc

BOSTON -- Courtney Lee counted the shots.

41 42 43

Keep shooting.

44 45 46

For the first time this season, Lee passed 40 three-pointers made in warmups during shootaround on Friday. He finished with 46 out of 50, the most since joining the Boston Celtics and the number he hit consistently last season with the Houston Rockets.

"I just found my rhythm," Lee told CSNNE.com. "It took forever to find this season."

Hours later, Lee stepped on to the court against his former team, the Houston Rockets, and scored 14 points off 5-for-7 shooting, including 2-for-3 from long range. His performance passed his season average of 6.9 points and he said it had nothing to do with playing against his old club (those emotions are reserved for the Brooklyn Nets). Rather, after months of work, he was getting into the swing of things.

"You can say I struggled because I was new in the beginning but that excuse gets old after a while. I just didn't have it," he said. "I think it was just getting comfortable, getting extra shots up in practice."

Lee's production has increased during the season. In November, he averaged 5.1 points, shooting 42.1 percent from the field (18.2 percent 3PG). The next month, his scoring average increased to 8.0 points, going 46.9 percent from the floor (38.5 percent 3PG). On Friday, he entered the game posting 6.8 points per game but shooting more consistently, 56.0 percent FG and 50.0 percent beyond the arc.

The combination of more time within the Celtics system, establishing his role off the bench, playing alongside Avery Bradley (who returned to action last week), and a culmination of thousands of shots in practice have all contributed to his rhythm on the court.

"Everything feels good," Lee said. "You're not second guessing your shot. You have your rhythm, you're in the flow of the game."

Lee will continue to put up extra shots after practice and shootarounds. He doesn't want to lose the feeling he's worked to attain the entire season.

"It just feels like a natural movement," he said. "The ball feels light. It's going in. Swishes."

Bruins' skid continues in 6-3 loss to Lightning

Bruins' skid continues in 6-3 loss to Lightning

BOSTON – The Bruins are doing it again. 

With a team that was badly in need of a win, the Bruins couldn’t get any separation from the Tampa Bay Lightning before ultimately sagging in the third period on the way to a deflating 6-3 loss at TD Garden on Thursday night. 

It marks four losses in a row for the Black and Gold with Thursday night as the worst among them, and doesn’t extinguish any of the concerns that Boston is in another late-season tailspin. 

Jonathan Drouin beat Tuukka Rask with a shot from the face-off circle that dipped underneath his glove hand for the game-winner, and Nikita Kucherov added the final two goals to give him a hat trick for a Bolts team that snapped their own three-game losing streak. 

This game had all the warning signs after a nondescript first period with the Bruins giving up goals immediately after they scored three times in the second period. The first was a David Pastrnak power play strike for his 32ndof the season, and the Lightning struck 44 seconds later with a Brayden Point rebound score after a big breakdown by Boston’s best players on the ice. 

Zdeno Chara again gave the Bruins a short-lived lead on a shorthanded goal in the second period, but Tampa Bay responded with a blistering Nikita Kucherov one-timer just 24 seconds later with the Bolts still on the power play. Boston scored again on a Riley Nash wraparound bid that he threw off the diving Victor Hedman in the crease, and Boston had a brief one-goal lead once again. 

It was 1:35 later that Anton Stralman beat Rask high to the glove side on an odd-man rush and that set up a third period where Tampa Bay scored three unanswered goals and sent the Bruins to their fourth straight loss. 

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Dont'a Hightower left money on the table in New York and in Pittsburgh, and instead took a smaller deal to return the New England Patriots, according to CBSSports' Jason La Canfora.

The Jets' offer was previously reported to be $12 million per year, including incentives. La Canfora reiterated that report. But he also detailed Pittsburgh's offer, as the Steelers also outbid the Patriots with over $9 million per year.

Instead, Hightower settled for $8.7 million per season with New England, and will play under Bill Belichick in a Patriots jersey for the sixth season in 2017.

Hightower traveled a great deal during free agency, and ended up garnering interest from the Steelers, Jets, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins.

The 27-year-old linebacker finished the 2016 season with 65 tackles tackles, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble. He also had a game-changing strip sack on Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI that shifted the momentum of game.