Chris Wilcox and JaJuan Johnson may not be Kareem Abdul-Jabar but they were pretty good Sunday
|02.12.12 at 9:29 pm ET|
The Celtics were without Jermaine O’Neal and Brandon Bass Sunday. They were going up against a front-court of Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer that destroyed them on Jan. 13 in Boston in Chicago’s win over the Celtics.
You figured the Celtics were in for a long afternoon-into-night. You figured wrong.
Chris Wilcox got the start and scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 26 minutes while rookie JaJuan Johnson had 12 points in 33 remarkable minutes off the bench as the Celtics stunned the Bulls, 95-91. The Bulls only outscored the Celtics, 40-38, in the paint. Wilcox ran the floor, finishing four Rajon Rondo fast breaks with dunks, while Johnson had the biggest game of his rookie year out of Purdue. Those were two big reasons why.
“I think anybody can run. I mean, [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] was running at 37, 38, and 40,” Doc Rivers joked. “So it’s not that ‘ whatever your speed is, you’ve just got to do it every time. And I think it’s the consistency of doing it every single time. Chris was phenomenal, though, with his speed, and so was JaJuan. I mean, both of them. The one things we did know when those two were in ‘ you know, our post defense was what it was, and I thought JuJuan overall, except for the very beginning when he first got in, they he kind of ‘ then he kind of caught on, and got into it. After that, I thought his speed and Chris’ athleticism, both of them, had a major impact.’
As for Johnson, Rivers wants to see more.
‘Yeah, but he’s got to keep doing it. You know, one game doesn’t make a star. One season doesn’t make a star. So you’ve just got to keep doing it, and he’s got to do it consistently. He will, like I keep saying, he’s a great kid and he wants to do it. He’s young and he’s still learning focus and all that. But he’s a good player.
“And be able to catch. I mean, they both have pretty good hands, okay hands, but, yeah it helps. It really helps. And you know what people miss is I thought Paul and Ray ran ‘ and because they run, and we showed them on the film, we showed old games today on the film ‘ that when the two guards run, Ray and Paul, and it puts them in the dilemma: do they stay out, wide, in the break and take away their threes? If they do that, if one of our bigs run, then we’re going to get it. I don’t believe two bigs on the other team is going to run every single time, is the point I keep making. Someone eventually is going to say, ‘I’m not running back.’ One of those bigs. And we’re going to get a lay-up.’
‘It was great,” Johnson said of the team’s energy. “I think one of the things that caused it was just Doc telling everyone to run. I think we got easy buckets in transition. When you get those transition buckets, dunks, layups, I think it gets the crowd into it too. So I think that was a big key to this game.”
As for his own game, Johnson was proud.
‘I played good,” Johnson said. “I think, next to Rondo, I didn’t play good at all. I played not that many minutes, but when I was out there I definitely didn’t play the best I could.’
‘Yeah, that’s what I’ve got to do, night in, night out, just got to keep on running, keep getting aggressive,” Wilcox said. “And I think that’s one of the advantages I do have with a lot of guys ‘ I do run the floor well and that’s what I’ve got to keep doing, you know, to help this team win. And that’s what I’m willing to do.’