Patriots know Texans WR Johnson still a threat

958087.jpg

Patriots know Texans WR Johnson still a threat

FOXBORO -- Safe to say, Andre Johnson is back.

After missing more than half of last season with a torn ACL, the Texans wide receiver is once again one of the most productive in the league. He ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,114 yards and he's seventh with 87 catches.

Johnson's former college teammate at the University of Miami, Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, sang the receiver's praises on Thursday.

"Talk about a team player," Wilfork said. "He has a heart of a champion. He's very quiet. He doesn't say much. I just remember playing with him in college. He was always quiet but he was a fireball on the field. He gives it his all. He plays hurt. He's a tough, tough football player."

Johnson could make life tough for Patriots defensive backs on Monday night. He doesn't have the breakaway speed he possessed when he was named a First-Team All-Pro in 2008 and 2009, but he still finds ways to get open.

The Texans running game is so potent with running back Arian Foster that Johnson is oftentimes the beneficiary of play action. When teams begin to overplay the run, that's when quarterback Matt Schaub and Johnson are able to connect for big plays.

Wilfork said that Houston's offensive line -- which utilizes a zone blocking scheme, a staple of former offensive line coach Alex Gibbs -- does a good job of disguising both the run and the pass.

"They cut. They don't cut. They man block. They double. They keep it moving," Wilfork said of the Texans offensive line. "They definitely keep it moving. You really can't get a beat on them when they running a zone, or when they running the ball, or when they passing the ball because they do a real good job up front of showing you the same look on run and pass.

"We're just going to have to rely on technique, good fundamentals. Play what we see. Games like this, it always comes back to playing good technique."

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.