Ninkovich hopes to 'look like totally different defense'

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Ninkovich hopes to 'look like totally different defense'

LONDON - The travails of the Patriots defense through the first seven games of the 2012 season didn't escape the attention of the men playing on it.

But while the rest of us were casting about for answers to why a fairly talented group could be so consistently ineffective, the actual players were less mystified.

After Sunday's 45-7 win over the Rams, linebacker Rob Ninkovich said he believes the defense has the ability to play that way more often.

"As a defense, you want to improve every week and theres been some big plays that you dont want to give up the past few games," Ninkovich explained. "We just want to continue to, week-by-week, improve so that by the end of the season we look like a totally different defense, rather than good one week, poor the next. We want to be more consistent."

The one simple thing that has made consistency elusive has been individual breakdowns on plays. The Patriots are loathe to point the finger at which player or players screwed up, but it's not quantum physics either. When a defensive back gets beat badly on a throw where the quarterback gets rid of the ball in under three seconds, it's not on the pass rush. It's on the coverage. And that's what we've seen time and again. Downfield throws that come out in an average amount of time targeting receivers left uncovered. Sunday, there wasn't much of that against the Rams who, it seemed, didn't try too hard to go downfield either.

Ninkovich was asked if Sunday's performance could possibly become the status quo.

"Every week we prepare to put our best game out there on the field," he said. "The other team has good players, but weve got to make more. Weve got to make more plays on defense and get our offense on the field. The more times Tom and crew are out there on the field, the more chances we have to win. We just have to get em the ball."

With games against the Colts, Dolphins, Jets and Bills coming up, the Patriots should have chances against young andor struggling quarterbacks where they can build on Sunday's win.

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

BOSTON – This continues to be a historic season for Isaiah Thomas as more records fell in Wednesday’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee, and the company he’s keeping becomes even more exclusive. 

Thomas had a game-high 32 points on Wednesday which included five made 3’s on nine attempts. That gave him 223 for the season which is a new franchise single-season record for made 3-pointers. The previous record was 222 set by Antoine Walker during the 2001-2002 season.

And his 32 points scored gives him 2,012 this season. 

Only six players in franchise history (Paul Pierce was the last to do it during the 2005-2006 season) have scored 2,000 or more points in a single season. 

Oh, there’s more. 

With Wednesday being the 66th time this season he has had 20 or more points, Thomas has now tied Pierce (2005-2006) and Larry Bird (1985-1986; 1987-1988) for sixth on the Celtics’ single-season franchise list. 

“I didn’t even know that,” a visibly disappointed Thomas said following Wednesday’s loss. “It doesn’t feel that good right now. But when I look back on it, probably in the offseason, I’ll appreciate it a little more. But I’m just staying in the moment and try and play as best I can to lead this team to as many wins as possible.”

Other season milestones Thomas is in the mix for include the following:

  • The 5-foot-9 guard is one of three players this season to have 50 or more games of 25-plus points, joined by Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (57) and Houston’s James Harden (54).
  • Thomas has made at least one 3-pointer in a franchise-record 50 straight games (Dec. 3 – March 29). That’s also the longest current streak in the NBA. 
  • With 66 games of 20 or more points this season, Thomas is second in the NBA to Westbrook (67).

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

BOSTON – One of the more bizarre plays in Boston’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee came in the second quarter, requiring some explanation from the officials afterwards. 

With 3:55 to play in the second quarter, the officials had originally called a foul on Marcus Smart which he verbally protested that eventually led to him being whistled for a technical foul. 

After the officials reviewed the play, they changed the call to a personal foul against Khris Middleton but no change to the called technical foul against Smart who objected to a call that, upon review, they agreed was the wrong call to make. 

Official Sean Corbin, through pool reporter Ken Powtak of the Associated Press, acknowledged that the original call was a loose ball foul against Smart. 

“The (officiating) crew got together, we met prior to video and we decided that we needed to look at video because both players were on the floor bleeding so we went to the video for a hostile act,” Corbin told Powtak. “In the review we noticed that Khris Middleton initially made contact to Marcus Smart’s face. That’s how the original contact to the play occurred.”

Fortunately for the Celtics, Middleton missed his technical free throw while Smart split a pair of free throws which cut Milwaukee’s lead to 49-40.

Still, that’s no consolation for Smart who was whistled for a technical foul on a play that the official acknowledged was the wrong call to make. 

In the fourth quarter, Smart was at the center of yet another controversial call that was also reviewed by the officials. The verdict wasn't nearly as good for Smart who was whistled for a flagrant foul after getting his feet tangled up with Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo who was called for a non-shooting foul in the play with 4:46 to play. 

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws and on the Bucks' ensuing possession, he was called for traveling.

Smart was unavailable to talk after the game in part because the aforementioned incident left an abrasion to his mouth and, because of the technical foul, a little lighter in the wallet as well.