Mental lapse proves costly for Pierce at free throw line


Mental lapse proves costly for Pierce at free throw line

BROOKLYN, N.Y. Looking up and down the final box score in Boston's 102-97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, it's clear that the Celtics' demise was a team-wide calamity.

But few took the defeat any harder than Paul Pierce.

Trailing 95-92 with 43 seconds to play, a defensive switch by the Nets gave Pierce a lane to the basket so he attacked. There was enough contact on the play to warrant the foul called, but not enough to have thrown Pierce's shot off too much.

And there he watched the ball tickle every part of the rim before rolling out.

But here's the other problem besides him missing the shot.

The play was over, time to move on.

Unfortunately for the C's, Pierce did not; mentally at least.

A career 80.8 percent shooter from the line, Pierce missed both free throw attempts.

"I was thinking about the lay-up too much," Pierce acknowledged after the game. "I was real disappointed. It was very unlike me to miss two free throws. I take a lot of blame for down the stretch. I'm the guy they call upon to make the plays. I didn't make the plays tonight."

But Pierce isn't going to make the same mistake with the season that he made with the missed lay-up and dwell on it too long.

As important as it was for him to take ownership of his contributions to the Celtics' loss, it was just as vital for him to embrace the reality that Thursday's defeat was a team loss and not an individual one.

"You can point to a number of little things we talk about all year long," Pierce said. "Execution, defensively we weren't very good."

Especially in the fourth quarter which has typically been one of their best quarters of the season.

The C's gave up 28 points in the quarter which is very unlike the Celtics. And it came on a night when the C's could only muster up 18 fourth-quarter points which is also unusually-low for the C's.

"It's a lot of little things we have to correct," Pierce said.

Kraft on possible Patriots reunion with Revis: 'I would love it'

Kraft on possible Patriots reunion with Revis: 'I would love it'

It was reported last week that multiple NFL executives are convinced that Darrelle Revis will return to the New England Patriots next season.

Talking with the New York Daily News, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he’d be open to a reunion with the 31-year-old cornerback.

“I would love it,” Kraft said. “Speaking for myself, if he wanted to come back, he’s a great competitor, I’d welcome him if he wanted to come.”

Asked if the team has had discussions with Revis, Kraft said “ask my boy,” in reference to coach Bill Belichick.

Revis spent the 2014 season with the Patriots, helping them win Super Bowl XLIX. He bolted back to the New York Jets the next season, signing a five-year, $70 million contract ($39 million guaranteed).

The Jets released Revis earlier this month after the incident in Pittsburgh. A judge dismissed the charges.

Kraft says intention is not to trade Butler: 'We hope he's with us'

Kraft says intention is not to trade Butler: 'We hope he's with us'

PHOENIX -- The idea that Malcolm Butler could be traded by the Patriots before the start of the 2017 season has been floated for weeks. But if Robert Kraft had his way, he'd like for the hero of Super Bowl XLIX to stick around. 

At the Biltmore hotel on Day 2 of the league's annual meetings, Kraft was asked if he anticipated having Butler back in New England for next season.

"I sure hope so," he said. "We have [a first-round tender] out to him, and I know he has the ability to go out in the market and get someone to sign him, and then we either match it or get the first-round draft pick.

"I'm rooting, I hope, he's with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us. I have a great affection for him. He was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team, but there are a lot of people involved in that."

The Patriots can't trade any player who isn't under contract, and they can't talk about a trade for a player not on their roster. Therefore, even if the Patriots hoped to deal Butler and get something in return for the Pro Bowl-caliber corner before he hits unrestricted free agency in 2018, it's not something that the owner of the team would be at liberty to discuss with dozens of microphones in front of his face. 

The tender offer of $3.91 million for one season is still out there for Butler. He could sign it and play in New England. He could sign it and be traded. For now, Kraft says he's hoping for the former -- and insists that the Patriots didn't have designs on the latter all along.

"I don't want to, in any way, take away from his rights [as a restricted free agent]," he said, adding, "I want to be clear. I hope he's with us."