After the Celtics  improved to 14-4 since the season-ending injury to his friend and Celtics teammate Rajon Rondo , Kevin Garnett  faced questions about whether the season has taken on a special feel in recent weeks.
“Special?” he asked.
The question — a legitimate one given the circumstances — was asked again.
“We haven’t given in to the [expletive] critics,” said Garnett, who finished with 17 points and seven boards in the 107-102 overtime win over the Hawks. “We’re working hard. We’re grinding. We’re showing our character. Our coach is a grinder himself, and his team is just that. We’re not looking for any handouts or sympathies or anything like that. We don’t expect anybody to give us nothing. We’re going out, working hard and gaining everything we’re getting. We’re giving ourselves a chance every night. We’re leaning on each other. We’re playing together.
“I could probably better answer your question later on in the postseason to see where were at. It’s still early. Everybody’s fighting for positioning. Everybody pretty much has the same road at this point, so it’s kind of early.”
As much as things have changed, some things never do. We’ve officially entered the part of the season where KG begins calling out the critics who doubted the Celtics throughout the first half of the season. Remember this?
“Never count us out,” Garnett said when the C’s clinched a fifth straight Atlantic Division title last April. “You guys called us old. Over. I read some of your pathetic articles and some of your lousy analysis. It’s a pain. Obviously, you don’t know what drives us. I thank y’all for those articles. I appreciate it, because it lit a fire under us.”
As for last night, Garnett had plenty more to say on a range of topics, and as usual it was all entertaining:
How is your depth stilling winning games? “I think the guys that [Celtics vice president] Danny [Ainge] has brought in are aggressive guys. They fit sort of the character of our team. They’re gutty guys, they’re gritty guys, guys that are willing to work, get down. [Celtics coach] Doc [Rivers]’ team, since I’ve been here, has always been like that. We bring in guys who are willing to work, willing to listen, willing to be coached, and they’ve bought in. We don’t have any distractions in here. Everybody knows what the goal is, and I think one through however many we have here — 15, 14 — guys all understand that. We practice the same way. We practice for games, we practice for playoffs, preparing ourselves for our postseason, but more importantly those guys have bought in.”
How satisfying is to beat Atlanta in overtime after losing to them in overtime? “To win at home is important. Other than satisfaction, it comes off kind of personal. To win, period, is a good feeling. We’re playing for something, and we’re trying to get better here, trying to jell as a team. No personal dilemmas.”
Can you talk about the lift Jason Terry  gave you tonight? “I thought Paul [Pierce] and JT in overtime were great, even in the fourth quarter. Paul had some great shots, unbelievable shots, typical Truth shots. JET hit typical JET shots, man. Both of them are known for big shots. We needed them, and they hit them. And I thought we did a good job of coming down and getting stops when we had to.”
Is there any concern about this team not being able to close teams out well enough? “We’re not perfect homes. We’re dealing with new people, dealing with the same system, new guys in it. We’re playing an NBA team. We’re not playing high school, middle school teams. We’re playing other teams that have great talent on their team, being well coached by good coaches. You have to anticipate first off being in someone else’s gym on the road, like Philly. They play really well at home. We grinded that out. Indiana plays really well at home. We grinded that out. And now tonight at home we played a really, really, really, really good Atlanta team and had to go to overtime to grind that out, so give other teams credit, too. They’re good, too. It’s a grind-out thing, all right?”
Are you a 3-point shooter? “I am not.”
This was of course a reference to another rant  last season, when Garnett said: ‘Everybody in Boston, everybody in the world, everybody in Minnesota, LA, or wherever I’m at — Concord, Lexington, Burlington — I can shoot 3’²s. Let that go. I can shoot 3’²s. You guys all are acting shocked like you haven’t seen a black guy hit a 3 before.’