From Comcast SportsNetFOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- The New England Patriots moved to shore up their shaky secondary on Thursday by obtaining cornerback Aqib Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.The Patriots traded their fourth-round pick in next year's draft for the former first-round choice, who is coming off his second NFL suspension, and a seventh-rounder in 2012.Talib, who has 18 interceptions since being taken by Tampa Bay with the 20th pick in 2008 out of Kansas, will be eligible to play in the Patriots' next game on Nov. 11 after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.He said at the time of the suspension that he took an Adderall pill without a prescription "around the beginning of training camp." He also was suspended without pay for the regular-season opener in 2010 and fined one additional game check for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy. That penalty resulted from an altercation with a St. Petersburg cab driver during training camp in August 2009.He also had charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Texas dropped a week before he was due to be tried for allegedly firing a gun at his sister's boyfriend.New England (5-3) enters its bye week having allowed the fifth most yards passing in the NFL. It has been especially vulnerable to the big play, most recently on a 50-yard touchdown pass by Sam Bradford on the St. Louis Rams opening drive last Sunday in London. The Patriots went on to win 45-7.Cornerback Devin McCourty gave up several long completions, then was moved to safety the past two games where starters Steve Gregory and Patrick Chung were sidelined. Another starting quarterback, Kyle Arrington, left the Rams game with a head injury."The thing we talk about is to stay the course, try to improve," Patriots cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer said Thursday. "We need to get better. Things that we've done well, let's keep doing well and just stay the course and try to get better today."In 58 games, 45 of them starts, Talib has returned three interceptions for touchdowns. Two of them came on his only interceptions last year.In another move Thursday, the Patriots signed wide receiver Jarred Fayson to the practice squad. He was released by Indianapolis on Aug. 28 after having been on the practice squad from last Nov. 22 to the end of the season.The practice squad spot opened on Wednesday when the Patriots released tight end Alex Silvestro. In other moves Wednesday, they re-signed linebacker Mike Rivera and Derrick Martin and released defensive back Sterling Moore.
BOSTON – Having already clinched a playoff spot prior to Wednesday’s game, no one would have been shocked to see them come out and play fat-and-happy basketball.
Especially against an Indiana Pacers team that’s hungry for a win to bolster their playoff position.
But the Celtics continue to show us that they are a different team than the one that far too often failed to stack strong performances on top of one another.
That was not the case on Wednesday as they pulled away in the second half for an impressive 109-100 win over the Pacers.
Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 25 points and five assists. His backcourt mate Avery Bradley was solid as well, scoring 18 points to go with eight rebounds. Jae Crowder and Al Horford each had 15 points while Kelly Olynyk had another strong showing off the bench with 11 points and eight rebounds along with four assists.
With the win, Boston (46-26) swept the regular season series 3-0. While it’s unlikely they will finish in a tie record-wise with the Pacers, there is the possibility that they could meet in the first round of the playoffs next month.
Knowing they haven’t lost to the Pacers all season could be a huge mental plus for Boston if in fact their first-round foe was Indiana.
Wednesday’s game was the first between these two with most of their respective rosters at full strength.
And the Celtics at full strength, regardless of the opponent, have been pretty tough to beat.
But the Pacers (36-35) weren’t going to make this easy for Boston, even as they fell behind by as many as 17 points to the Celtics.
Paul George, who led all scorers with 37 points, began to lead the Pacers back into the game with a strong fourth quarter showing.
And when Boston’s defense tried to adjust to George’s jacuzzi-hot scoring, he got others like Jeff Teague involved.
Teague, who had 25 points, made a 3-pointer that cut Boston’s lead to 93-86 with 6:31.
That was enough for Celtics head coach Brad Stevens who called a time-out.
After a pair of Isaiah Thomas misses, the Celtics got a little more cushion following a mid-range jumper by Olynyk.
While Indiana continued to get timely offensive rebounds, the Celtics went into bend-but-don’t-break mode defensively down the stretch.
And while the Pacers certainly were in the game, there was never a moment down the stretch when Boston’s impending victory was in doubt.
Both teams set the tone defensively in the first half which was a relatively low-scoring affair.
That should not come as a surprise considering how well each team has played of late at that end of the floor.
Since the All-Star break, Boston has the third-best defense in the NBA while the Pacers aren’t far behind, coming in at No. 6.
A 3-pointer by Bradley to close out the second quarter gave Boston a 49-42 lead at the half.
Boston’s control of the game remained solid through most of the third, but an 8-3 spurt by the Celtics to close out the third put ahead 88-74 going into the fourth.
BOSTON – Boston and Indiana know there’s a chance they could face off next month in the playoffs, with both teams delivering the kind of defensive performance on Wednesday that highlighted two teams playing with a heightened sense of urgency fueled by tough, physical defense.
It was indeed a “Both Teams Played Hard” kind of first half which ended with Boston ahead 49-42.
Avery Bradley drained a 3-pointer that just beat the halftime horn which gave Boston its biggest lead of the half.
The tone was set by both teams with a low-scoring first quarter in which the defenses for both teams stood out.
It really should not have been that big a surprise considering how well both teams have defended since the all-star break.
Boston has the third-best defense in the NBA since the break, while the Pacers have proven to be no slouch coming in at No. 6.
After falling behind 37-36 in the second, Boston ran off eight straight to lead 44-37 which was their largest lead of the game at this point.
But the Pacers stayed within striking distance in large part because the Celtics’ unusually high number of turnovers.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Wednesday’s game between the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.
A four-time All-Star, George was scoring but the Celtics made him work a lot harder than he would like. He leads all scorers with 14 points, but has done so on 4-for-11 shooting.
Like George, the opposing team’s defense made for a rough first half. Thomas still managed to lead the Celtics with 10 points.
He really went at Isaiah Thomas to start the game, and for the most part it was working for him. He had 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the first half.
Solid defense and timely shot-making made for a solid first half for Crowder. He had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting.
He did more than deliver a timely shot to end the half for Boston. He had nine points on 4-for-6 shooting in addition to grabbing four rebounds while being one of the main contributors defensively to Paul George not having an efficient night shooting the ball.
By far the biggest concern Boston has heading into the second half. The Celtics average 13.2 turnovers per game. They had 14 in the first half, which led to 17 points for the Pacers. Boston’s season-high for turnovers is 24 which they racked up against Philadelphia on Feb. 15.