- Green Street - http://greenstreet.weei.com -

Chris Wilcox and JaJuan Johnson may not be Kareem Abdul-Jabar but they were pretty good Sunday


The Celtics [1] were without Jermaine O’Neal [2] and Brandon Bass [3] Sunday. They were going up against a front-court of Joakim Noah [4], 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 [5] got the start and scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 26 minutes while rookie JaJuan Johnson [6] 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 [7] 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 [8]] was running at 37, 38, and 40,” Doc Rivers [9] 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.

‘€œYeah, 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.’€

‘€œIt 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.

‘€œI 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.’€

‘€œYeah, 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.’€