It didn’t take too long for me to get back that old feeling of how much I despise the Nets. Pierce was brilliant for stretches, but once again Antoine was pretty much swallowed up by Kenyon Martin, who with Kidd are the Nets I can’t stand the most. Probably chief among my reasons for disliking them is the ease with which they seem to carve up the Celtics. It wasn’t all bad, however. Bob Ryan tells us that last night the Celtics showed they can play with New Jersey and aren’t scared of them. Steve Bulpett says the Celtics were able to make a statement last night. Shira Springer looks at the Celtics lamenting missing out on a win by just a few little things here and there. Lenny Megliola says the Nets catch all the breaks…fast breaks that is. Carolyn Thornton focuses on what the Celtics didn’t do last night in her game story. Jerry Trecker points to a switch to a zone as the reason for the Nets being able to stifle Pierce in the fourth quarter. Jackie MacMullan points at Antoine as the reason for this loss. Once again, he was taken out of the game by Martin. A lot of Antoine’s game is being able to get into the opponents’ head Martin might be the only guy in the league who can get into Walker’s head and mess with him. Defiant as always, Antoine denies that the Nets are poison to him in a Mark Murphy article. Howard Bryant notes that while Kidd’s numbers last night don’t blow you away, he was the one who stuck the dagger into the Celtics in the second half. Peter May focuses on the missed Tony Delk three, pointing to it as a microcosm for the entire game. Rich Thompson and Mark Blaudschun look at how the Nets were able to clamp down on Paul Pierce when it mattered by switching to a zone. Megliola chips in again, also about the zone, and how Pierce and Walker had no answer for it. Michael Gee says the Nets will always be second to the Knicks in the hearts of New York fans. Gee also has a pay column in which he says the Celtics accomplishing all the things they had on their “to do” checklist and with the effort they expended, to still come up short makes the loss all that much tougher. Peter May examines how the Nets are better this year, despite logging fewer wins during the season. Howard Bryant looks at Dikembe Mutombo gathering rust on the Nets bench. In his second article of the day, Bob Ryan is enjoying the NBA playoffs. Bill Reynolds catches up with former Celtics and current world traveler, Chris Herren. Chad Finn wonders if Paul Pierce’s #34 is symbolic in some way. Springer’s notebook looks at the Celtics being unable to contain the Nets on the boards. Bulpett’s notebook looks at Eric Williams hoping for to throw a few roadblocks at Kidd and the Nets. Thornton’s notebook has more on Williams and also looks at faces in the crowd.

For more on the Nets/Celtics series from the other perspective, go to the National Links page and go through the New York and New Jersey papers linked along the left side on that page.

A roller coaster night for Nomar last night, which ended on a decidedly down note. Early on, he continued his struggles at the plate, then hit a two run homer to tie the game at five, then lets a roller to him get by and costs the Sox the game, the Royals are now 11-0 at home this year. Bob Hohler recaps the game, noting Lowe’s early struggles, the rousing Sox comeback and the bullpen and Nomar giving it back. Lowe’s struggles are of concern in Jeff Horrigan’s story. An NL scout says he’s not the same pitcher he was last year, and Lowe admits to putting pressure on himself, something that has been his undoing in the past. Sean McAdam says last night’s blown save deserves a special place in this year’s collection. David Heuschkel says that Nomar’s error was a Royal mistake, but he took responsibility for it. George Kimball notes that Nomar is on pace to have more errors than homers for the second straight year. Kimball also has a premium column in which he notes that Bill James is one of the few who agree with Bud Selig’s decision to award World Series home field advantage to the league that wins the All Star game. Horrigan looks at a well-rested Casey Fossum getting ready to go tonight. Jon Wallach is feeling penned in by the Sox relievers, and looks for assistance in the minors. The notebooks all pretty much deal with Trot Nixon’s eye injury. Hohler, McAdam and Heuschkel. Horrigan’s notebook leads with the news that Person will be missing for a while longer.

Michael Felger reports on the Patriots signing up troubled running back Derek Watson yesterday. Felger notes that the Patriots feel players deserve a second chance. While that is the gist of what Belichick said on Friday, there is a lot more to it. This allows me to introduce some quotes from over the weekend, which show how sometimes getting a quote wrong can change the whole meaning of what a person is trying to say. For this example, we’ll use our old standby, Nick Cafardo. On Saturday, Nick quotes Bill Belichick thusly on the subject of Watson:

Belichick likes running back Derek Watson, who was kicked off Lou Holtz's South Carolina team. ''We all believe in second chances. Our philosophy is we believe that pro athletes are no different than the rest of us. We've all made mistakes. It's the proper thing to give them a second chance,'' said Belichick ...

From the wording of that quote, it looks likes Belichick would bring in OJ Simpson if he thought he could win the starting running back spot. Everyone deserves a second chance. But is that what Belichick actually said? The next day, on Sunday, Cafardo changes the coach’s words:

Watson, who has a troubled past, did not meet with reporters. ''Our philosophy organizationally is that we believe in a professional athlete carrying himself and acting like a professional athlete,'' said Belichick. ''We've all made mistakes, made a lot of them. Sometimes we feel like it's proper to give a guy a second chance, so to speak, or not close the door on somebody just because they made a mistake, depending on what the circumstances and their situation was.''

That sounds a little different, doesn’t it? It’s not so cut and dry, that everyone gets a second chance, no matter what. Each situation is different, and sometimes a second chance is warranted. But if you had only read the Saturday quote, you’d have a much different impression of Belichick and the Patriots philosophy on troubled players. If you want to see (and hear) that the Sunday version is the correct one, you can listen that Friday press conference and read the transcript at

It makes you think, doesn’t it? We often take for granted that when we see items in “quotes” that it is really what the person said. In this instance, the entire meaning of what Belichick actually said could be taken a totally different way, simply because the reporter did not get the quote correct. How many other times has this happened? All the time, I’m sure. It’s difficult to write down exactly what is being said as it is being said. However, the Patriots provide transcripts and audio versions of these conferences so there are no misunderstandings, and apparently, it still isn’t enough.

Bill Griffith reports that the agent for Sean McDonough is in negotiations to get him out of his WWZN contract early. He simply enjoys doing TV better. Jim Baker also has that news, but leads his column by discussing Bob Ryan’s comments Sunday night about wanting to “smack” Joumana Kidd for her “exhibitionism”. (Yes, that is an actual word.) Ryan is still not backing down, and word has gotten to Joumana about what Ryan said. Baker writes that she “told the New York Post, “I feel sorry for (Ryan) but I have nothing to say bad about him or Boston. I’m not mad at him. I’m sorry I offend him.” Griffith steers clear of the Ryan mess in his second column today, instead looking at FSNE winning the New England Emmy for outstanding play-by-play.