Celtics  coach Doc Rivers  put a silver lining on a 110-100 road loss to the Timberwolves  Monday night at the Target Center. It was a game in which Rivers did not have four of his projected five starters, as Rajon Rondo , Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce  and Jared Sullinger were out.
The latest addition was Pierce, who was not with the team Monday due to personal reasons. Rivers said before the game he expects Pierce to be ready to go on Wednesday at home against Detroit.
Still, Rivers thought his undermanned team played hard and handled adversity the right way, starting with a lineup of Avery Bradley , Courtney Lee , Brandon Bass , Jeff Green  and Chris Wilcox .
‘I go into every game thinking we’re going to win the game,” Rivers said afterward. “We had our chances tonight. But I get it, too. I just want us to play the right way and do things our way. I think overall we did that.’
The Celtics trailed for most of the game and never got closer than eight points in the fourth quarter against a Minnesota team that had 26 wins coming in and had lost to Boston 11 straight times dating back to Feb. 11, 2007, before Garnett arrived in Boston.
The Timberwolves took full advantage as 6-foot-11 Nikola Pekovic scored 29 points, including 15 in the first quarter and 21 in the first half.
‘I thought we played pretty hard,” Rivers said. “We had no one to deal with that big monster they had down there. I was kidding with Longo [defensive coach Mike Longabardi], we held him to about eight points in the second half after he had 21 in the first [half].
‘I thought our guys did everything I wanted them to do. One of the things I told them was that seven out of the last nine games, we’ve given up 100 points. We’ve proven we can score. We scored 100 tonight even without 50 points of our offense [in Garnett, Pierce and Rondo]. We’ll be able to score but, especially with all the new guys, learning the little things on our defense, there’s a we need a lot of work with them, and it showed tonight.’
More from Rivers:
On Boston’s 17 turnovers leading to 22 Minnesota points: ‘I thought we did OK, but I didn’t like our turnovers. Our turnovers were ‘live-ball’ turnovers. If you turn it over, throw it into the stands. But don’t leave it in the middle of the floor and let them come down and get layups off of them. I thought we tried to do too much at times with the ball but because there are so many different ball-handlers, I understand that as well so I have to give them a pass for it.’
On Avery Bradley’s 19 points: ‘It was good. I think five times in a row we’ve run the first play of the game for him, and finally he came up with a jumper. I told him after the game that his arc was back on his shot; it wasn’t flat. So, that was good to see. And that will make him a better defender, too. He’ll be able to relax.”
On the C’s defensive approach: ‘We can trap more. I just didn’t want to, and obviously tonight we should have. That’s what we did in the second half, but I’m trying to get us to learn our individual defensive and our ‘digs.’ Right now, I know it doesn’t look great but I think overall it will be important to guard that way.’
On Jeff Green and his fourth-quarter upper-leg injury after a knee from Pekovic: ‘He got kneed in the thigh or hip or something like that. He’ll be fine.’
On Green playing the game’s first 30 minutes before getting subbed midway through the third quarter: ‘I probably should’ve taken him out to give him a bit of a blow.’