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Fast Break: Kevin Garnett’s heroics slay Warriors

03.15.12 at 1:04 am ET
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Unable to get a defensive stop down the stretch, tied 93-93 with the Warriors after old friend Nate Robinson tied the game on yet another drive to an open basket, the Celtics turned to Kevin Garnett, who sunk a 20-footer with 5.1 seconds remaining to help the C’s survive 105-103 and improve to 2-1 on the West Coast road trip.

Garnett finished with 24 points (12 in the fourth quarter), seven rebounds and five assists, as the Celtics (23-19) moved within 1.5 games of the 76ers in the Atlantic Division. Brandon Bass added 22 points and nine rebounds, Mickael Pietrus scored 15 points off the bench and Rajon Rondo dished out 14 assists.

Robinson totaled 20 points and 11 assists, Klay Thompson scored a career-high 26 points and David Lee had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Warriors in the losing effort.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Hanging tough: Playing their third game in four nights, 3,000 miles from home, the Celtics started slow (shooting just 8-of-21 from the floor in the first quarter), and watching Robinson get to the rim with regularity didn’t help matters. Still, the Celtics managed to stay within 25-21 after the first quarter — setting the tone for a tight game the remainder of the night.

The French quota: Just 3-of-18 from long distance in the month of March, Pietrus connected on his first four 3-pointers of the night and finished 5-of-6 from downtown, giving the Celtics some much needed offense (and minutes) off the bench. Whispers suggested his knee may be the reason for the recent struggles, but it didn’t seem to bother him in Oakland.

Full Stiem ahead: Without a trade deadline deal, the Celtics will rely more and more on Greg Stiemsma, and the former D-League Defensive Player of the Year responded with eight points and eight rebounds. He’s still got plenty of work to do, especially on the defensive end, but he’s already given the C’s more than they could’ve expected when they invited him to training camp in December.

Sharing is caring: Facing the younger, more athletic Warriors, the Celtics had to rely on ball movement and execution to keep up with them. Check and check. The C’s assisted on 32 of their 40 field goals, making the extra pass time and time again to get buckets down the stretch — with the exception of a possession that resulted in the classic Paul Pierce fadeaway elbow jumper with 36.7 seconds left.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Paint pain: The news that Chris Wilcox will undergo season-ending heart surgery left a huge void in the C’s frontcourt depth. With Stiemsma the first and lone big man off the bench, expect even more nights when opposing teams have their way in the paint, and Wednesday was another one of them. Lee basically ran the Miken drill against a pair of Celtics “defenders” at one point.

No defense: With little lift in their legs, the aging Celtics allowed 60 points in the first half. Even worse, they let a team that started Nate Robinson to shoot 56.1 percent from the floor in the opening 24 minutes. Naturally, they trailed 60-55 at the break.

Winged Warriors: Along the same lines, youthful Golden State wings Dorell Wright (26 years old) and Klay Thompson (22) combined for 32 first-half points while Pierce and Ray Allen totaled 13 between them in the first two quarters. If the Celtics want to win games with any regularity, those two Hall of Famers can’t be outplayed by a couple upstarts like that.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Golden State Warriors, Kevin Garnett
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