|Notes and numbers: First quarter||03.23.09 at 8:11 pm ET|
At the end of the first quarter … Celtics 31, Clippers 18
– KG watch: 9 minutes, 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 foul
– Leading scorer: Rajon Rondo (10 points)
– Leading rebounder: Zach Randolph (5 boards)
– Leading ball handler: Rondo and Baron Davis (3 assists)
– Hot shot: Celtics 68.4% FG, Clippers 45.0% FG
|The boys are back in town||at 7:46 pm ET|
It’s been 30 days … But tonight the Big Ticket returns to the Garden … Are you ready?
For the first time in over a month the true Boston Celtics starting five is taking the court. After a dramatic introduction on the Jumbotron, Kevin Garnett looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. After the lineups were announced he got in Kendrick Perkins face and shouted who-knows-what. He acknowledged each of the Clippers and then ran to the corner of the court to address the crowd, lifting fans to their feet with every point of his finger. There is something different tonight — maybe the Garden is trying new lighting — but the energy in the air is undeniable.
|NBA already thinking playoffs||03.22.09 at 7:02 pm ET|
|Garnett makes most of minutes||03.20.09 at 11:43 pm ET|
Perhaps more frustrating than an injured Kevin Garnett in street clothes is a restricted Garnett in uniform.
After missing the last 13 games with a strained knee, Garnett returned to the Boston Celtics starting lineup in Friday night’s win against the San Antonio Spurs. (RECAP HERE) As a precautionary measure, head coach Doc Rivers capped his minutes at just 15, leaving the Celtics without their big man down the stretch.
However this game had a different result than the last time Garnett returned from a lengthy absence:
February 19, 2008 vs. Denver Nuggets
Last season Garnett was sidelined for nine games in January/February with an abdominal strain . After going 7-2 without Garnett, the Celtics dropped the first three games with KG back in the lineup. His return was spoiled by a 124-118 loss to the Denver Nuggets following the All-Star break. Garnett scored just 4 points (2-7 FG) in 27 minutes and committed four turnovers. After the game Rivers deemed Garnett’s performance ‘not very good’ and thought he looked ‘rusty.’ Garnett bounced back the following night, posting 17 points and 15 rebounds in the Celtics two-point loss to the Golden State Warriors.
March 20, 2009 vs. San Antonio Spurs
Garnett had been averaging more than 32 minutes per game before suffering his knee injury in February. Knowing his playing time would be limited, Garnett came out aggressive in his return. He attempted his first shot 15 seconds into the game and finished the night with 10 points (5-9 FG) in just 15 minutes. He also grabbed four rebounds. Unlike his return last season, Rivers was full of compliments for Garnett this time around. ‘He was playing terrific right before we took him out,’ he said after the game.
The Celtics intend to limit Garnett’s minutes on Saturday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
|KG and Allen off to San Antonio||03.19.09 at 11:44 am ET|
Ray Allen (elbow) and Kevin Garnett (knee) are traveling to San Antonio with the Boston Celtics on their team charter, according to multiple reports. Garnett has not played since February 19 against the Utah Jazz. Allen sat out of Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat. The Celtics will play the Spurs on Friday night.
|Too many whistles while he works||03.18.09 at 11:21 pm ET|
‘Foul on number seven, Mikki Moore.’
Those words have become all too familiar since Moore joined the Boston Celtics in February.
Moore has fouled out of the last two games, including Wednesday night’s overtime win against the Miami Heat. (He was gone after playing less than 17 minutes.) Over the last five games, he has been whistled for a league-leading total of 26 personal fouls. (Recap here)
‘I’m playing aggressive, trying to do the right thing, and most of my calls are just touch fouls,’ Moore said after the game. ‘That’s why I’m frustrated. But a foul is a foul. I have to make my fouls count.’
Moore explains there is a difference between a good foul and a bad foul. He should know. He led the NBA with 310 personal fouls during the 2008 season.
‘A bad foul is when it goes negative to the team, when it’s a turnover,’ he said. ‘Like if it’s an offensive foul or if I try to come off somebody’s back and get an offensive rebound. That’s a real bad foul. And if it’s low on the shot clock and I foul a jumpshooter, that’s a bad foul. But if it’s just a hustling foul or I’m going for a loose ball, I don’t think that’s a bad foul.’
Moore admits that part of his foul trouble has come with learning a new system. He is anxious to get adjusted, but knows he has to be patient.
‘I’ve got to stop trying so hard,’ he said. ‘KG told me tonight, ‘Just relax and play, man. Stop trying to do everything.’ That’s what I’ve got to start doing.’
Garnett’s advice was echoed by head coach Doc Rivers.
Said Moore, ‘He said, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day so you’ve got to keep working hard.”
|Competition among friends||at 10:47 pm ET|
Bill Walker and Michael Beasley were more than roommates at Kansas State. They were each other’s toughest competition.
‘Oh man, we competed at everything,’ Walker recalled earlier this season. ‘On the basketball side, out of basketball, video games, we competed in every thing. Everything was a competition.’
On Wednesday night the rookies faced off as Walker and the Boston Celtics took on Beasley and the Miami Heat. (RECAP HERE) Just like their friendship, the game was a back and forth battle. But it still doesn’t compare to their one-on-one games back in college.
‘That’s probably the most intense basketball I’ve played in my life,’ Beasley said. ‘When he won, I didn’t want to leave. And I when I won, he’s not leaving. So sometimes you could win three or four straight and he just won’t quit, or vice versa. I remember there were times we were in the gym until four or five o’clock in the morning just playing one-on-one.’
Walker dubbed Beasley, ‘The Beast from the East,’ and the two saw everything has a chance to win. Little things walking to the car became a race. Game days were another opportunity to one up each other.
‘Honestly, we prepared for a game by bringing our Xbox into the locker room and then playing games until pregame stuff,’ Beasley said. ‘We’d always play as ourselves and be Kansas State versus Kansas State.’
Their must-win mentalities pushed one another to become better than they were before.
‘It teaches you a lot about yourself,’ said Walker. ‘Especially when you go up against somebody that’s just as competitive as you are and he’s skilled in the same manner you are, that really challenges you.’