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Kevin Garnett says Celtics tribute was ‘over the top’ 01.27.14 at 12:29 am ET
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Paul Pierce (left) and Kevin Garnett address reporters Sunday night after their victorious return to TD Garden. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Paul Pierce (left) and Kevin Garnett address reporters Sunday night after their victorious return to TD Garden. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

It takes a lot for Kevin Garnett to be blown away.

The Celtics and their fans achieved that and more on Sunday night with their tribute to KG and Paul Pierce for their six years together in Boston that produced one NBA title, two NBA finals appearances and countless memories as one of the most inspirational leaders in franchise history.

“This was over the top,” Garnett gushed afterward, referring to the 60-second video tribute and the standing ovation from the crowd late in the first quarter. “Doc (Rivers) had [texted] us two days ago [telling us what to expect]. I think I had reporters ask me about the expectations before the Dallas game and I didn’€™t want to be thinking about things before I had another game to play. What comes to mind is unbelievable, I didn’€™t expect anything like that for myself, shows the first class, shows the type of organization that this is and the appreciation from this organization for you.

“And I couldn’€™t put it into words. Paul and I were joking before the game who was gonna tear up and drop a tear. I had lumps in my throat and I kept them under control and I focused as much as I could on the game and not take away from it but man this was over the top. I couldn’€™t put that into words.”

It was Garnett who stole a Rajon Rondo pass when the Celtics were within a 3-pointer of tying the game. Garnett knew Rondo was trying to set himself up for a three. Garnett, who knows Rondo as well as anyone on the court, stepped into the lane and rumbled the other way and made the layup that sealed the 85-79 win for the Nets against his former team.

“I knew they were trying to run a pick and roll and (Rajon) Rondo was gonna try a three, I knew they needed a three at that point and I just played the passing lane,” Garnett said. “It took me two days to get the layup up I thought I was gonna get caught but I got it still, put the ball in front of me, and I got the layup.

“I’€™m glad we came here and got a win. A lot of distraction, but they were good distractions. It felt good to be showered and for the city to show their appreciation nevertheless the organization man. You give yourself, people always say players can be too loyal. I don’€™t believe that, a city like Boston is worth it and tonight’€™s the epitome of all that.”

For Garnett, he said the totality of the night didn’t hit him until he saw longtime Celtics‘ staffers in trainer Ed Lacerte and public relations director Jeff Twiss.

“€œIt didn’€™t hit me until I saw Ed Lacerte and Jeff Twiss,” Garnett said. “I got to see all the guys that made our stay worth it; Phil Lynch, Johnny Joe(Connor) all those guys. The guys that people really don’€™t know but make the whole thing go around. You see, like Paul said, the endless friendships through the place; the security guards, the ball boys everybody man that shows their appreciation. By far the hardest day that I’€™ve had to focus. This is bigger than Minnesota, even when I went back to Minnesota, Minnesota wasn’€™t like this.”

And for anyone who thinks this rivals any of the playoff experiences Garnett had, don’t. Garnett said Sunday night was much, much more intense.

“€œ[The playoffs] is not even close [to Sunday],” Garnett said. “It’s not even close. The impact of people and how much we’€™ve impacted their lives, not just kids but grownups, just the culture here. You come here and one of the first things Jeff Twiss tells you, he takes you through the library where he shows you all the history here and you feel that responsibility. To come back here and be showered like this, it’s not even close, not even close.”

The moment Garnett will always relish, though, came with 2:25 left in the first quarter when the video came up on the big board 50 feet above center court.

“It was just an emotional moment that I just kind of went back and reflected on myself,” Garnett said. “When we all got together a lot of people didn’€™t think that the first year we could do what we did and I think before everyone started getting together making their teams, stacking their teams, I think we were the first to initiate that. We had a lot of pressure on us. As I sat back and watched the video, I thought a lot about the fun, how much work was invested in that.

“To this day, I talk about how big Doc Rivers was for us just from a growth, not just as a players, but as a human being and a young man perspective, of every man he coached. I don’€™t know, I’€™m just appreciative of the time. Throughout the timeline you think about those moments and you reflect, that’€™s what the fist pump was. I had some great times in here, like Paul (Pierce) said, obviously some dismal times, but none of those overshadow the good. It was a great time here in Boston ‘€œ

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Fast Break: Nets cut down Celtics in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett homecoming 01.26.14 at 9:09 pm ET
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This game was obviously more about Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett‘s return to Boston, but the basketball portion of the evening was a sloppy mess of Atlantic Division basketball.

Pierce and Garnett combined for 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a 85-79 Brooklyn victory, handing the Celtics (15-31) a 17th loss in their last 20 tries. Meanwhile, the Nets (20-22) moved within 1.5 games of the division-leading Raptors.

Rondo (13 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds) engineered a Celtics comeback that brought the Celtics within three points in the final minute, but a Garnett dunk off one of the C’s 16 turnovers put the game out of reach. Brandon Bass led the Celtics with 17 points and eight rebounds, Chris Johnson netted 12 points on the night his first 10-day contract is set to expire and Gerald Wallace also added a dozen.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Sweet emotions: It’s almost as if everyone forgot they had to actually play a basketball game. Pierce and Garnett finished scoreless in the first quarter (0-3 FG), and the Nets were 4-of-18 in the opening 12 minutes. The Celtics weren’t any better, as Brooklyn took a 35-34 halftime lead. (Fitting, the C’s had 34 first-half points, by the way.) Pierce didn’t score his first points until the third quarter, when he sunk a pair of free throws 1:08 into the frame.

Oh, shoot: After Brad Stevens ripped his team for settling for too many jumpers against the Thunder, the Celtics fell into the same trap in the third quarter against Brooklyn, taking 12 of their 18 shots outside the paint and making just three in the frame. Meanwhile, the Nets built a six-point cushion heading into the fourth quarter.

Sully-Green: While Rondo and Bass enjoyed stellar games against their former teammates, Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger struggled offensively opposite the two C’s legends. Through three quarters, the pair was a combined 3-for-18 from the floor, and Stevens actually gave more crunch-time minutes to Gerald Wallace and Humphries.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Paying tribute: As usual, the folks behind the video tributes did a masterful job putting together pieces for both Pierce and Garnett. Likewise, the crowd responded accordingly, chanting “Paul. Pierce.” before the Nets lineup was introduced, cheering their introductions and tearing the roof off the Garden when the Garnett and Pierce tributes were played on the Jumbotron during the second timeout and following the first quarter, respectively.

National TV Rondo: Whether it was the bright lights or just a natural progression, Rondo enjoyed his best game since returning from ACL surgery. He played 14 first-half minutes, also his most this season, producing eight points, five rebounds and four assists by the break. Whether he meant his “just another game” comment about his former teammates’ return or not, Rondo showed little emotion as he remained focused on his comeback.

Bass swishing: Only a handful of the current Celtics were on the roster with Truth and Ticket, and Bass was one of them, getting the start over Kris Humphries. Like Rondo, he responded with a solid game against his former mates, even driving past both of them for a dunk at one point. After failing to grab more than five rebounds since Jan. 15, he asserted himself on the glass, leading a solid team rebounding effort that included double-digit offensive boards.

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Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett return to Boston and get a Celtics Pride welcome at 6:59 pm ET
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After the first quarter Sunday night in his return to Boston, former Celtics captain Paul Pierce was given a stirring video tribute by the Celtics on the TD Garden video board. The crowd stood and cheered for several minutes while the cameras showed Pierce thanking the fans who chanted, “Thank you, Paul Pierce.”

During a minute-long video tribute with 2:25 left in the first quarter, Kevin Garnett stood and watched in front of the Brooklyn Nets bench as he was cheered by Celtics fans. At the end, he pounded his chest and pointed to the fans in appreciation.

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3-day former Celtics reunion tour ends in Brooklyn 12.13.13 at 8:40 am ET
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bos_a_rivers_pierce_garnett_b1_600x600

The three-day former Celtics reunion tour ended Thursday night in Brooklyn, where Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett led their Nets to a 102-93 victory against Doc Rivers‘ Clippers, and naturally it was a mutual love-fest.

Quotes courtesy of the New York Post.

Pierce: “I grew under him. I was a young player, played nine years with him, just continued to mature and become a better all-around player under him. Before I was really known as a scorer; now when he took over he taught me the other parts of the game, the defense, the rebounding, the passing, just helped my game grow and mature.”

Garnett: “He taught us a lot about not just basketball and the philosophies of it, but about being a young man, a young black man, understanding your responsibilities, because we were starting our families. [He’s] just overall a great model. No one’s perfect, all humans have their flaws or whatever; but shoot, he’s damn near close to it. I’m just grateful he came into my life and that I had that experience to him.”

Those two remarks offer a reminder of the one significant difference between Rivers and new Celtics coach Brad Stevens. Doc is revered by veterans. Those who know Rivers love and respect him, and those who don’t hear stories from the ones who do. That helps when a team is trying to lure high-profile players. Stevens may get there one day, but it takes years to develop that type of cache, and that’s what the C’s will miss most in Rivers’ absence.

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Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett show Celtics love 12.10.13 at 10:38 pm ET
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Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce

Both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett spoke fondly of the Celtics in the aftermath of their new team’s 104-96 win over the organization that sent them to Brooklyn.

Paul Pierce: “I love those guys. They’re going to fight. That’s that Celtics pride. They all wear it with pride. You see it in the way they play, the way they’re coached. You hear [Rajon] Rondo on the sidelines coaching. They’re going to continue to be the Celtics, and they’re going to always play with pride.”

Kevin Garnett: “Because Doc [Rivers] isn’t there, it’s a little less emotional. You don’t see Danny [Ainge] sitting on the sidelines. You don’t see Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Eddie House, Baby [Glen Davis]. I see Rajon over there, which makes it a little more emotional at times. Obviously, I went to battle with BB [Brandon Bass], Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and a lot of those guys. Those are real solid guys that I know on that team. Other than that, it was another night in the office. They’ve been playing well. They beat the crap out of the Knicks. Obviously, we haven’t been playing well at home, so we wanted to come in and play well, but there will always be a special place in my heart when I face the green.”

One reunion down, one to go, as the Celtics host Rivers’ Clippers on Wednesday night.

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Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett win Celtics reunion at 10:01 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

The pregame hoopla may have focused on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce‘s first game against their former team, but Brook Lopez and Deron Williams stole the show on the court in Brooklyn’s 104-96 victory against the Celtics.

Williams (25 points) and Lopez (24 points) helped the Nets end the C’s three-game win streak and crawl within two games of Boston’s Atlantic Division lead. Garnett and Pierce combined for 15 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.

All five Celtics starters scored in double figures, led by Bradley’s 22 points. Brandon Bass (13 points, 11 rebounds) notched his first double-double of the season. Jeff Green added 19 points and six boards while Jared Sullinger and Jordan Crawford added 15 apiece. The Celtics fell to 10-13.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Babbling Brook: The Celtics had no answer for Lopez. The undersized frontcourt of Sullinger and Bass was no match for the 7-foot, 275-pound Lopez, who scored 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting through the first three quarters, when the Nets owned a 46-24 advantage in the paint and an 85-72 edge on the scoreboard. The Celtics made it a game in the final minutes, but couldn’t overcome a Nets lead as large as 17.

El Hombre Destructible: Celtics coach Brad Stevens attempted to counter Lopez with Vitor Faverani, but the Brazilian 7-footer finished minus-12 in four minutes with two personal fouls and zeroes across the stat sheet. In his last five games, Faverani is averaging 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds. While Kelly Olynyk‘s return may help the front line, the C’s still won’t have a defender capable of matching up with a true center.

Bench press: Pierce came off the bench for just the fourth time in his career, anchoring a Brooklyn second unit that dominated their Celtics counterparts. While Pierce scored in the single digits, he added seven rebounds and three assists to give the Nets reserves a total of 22 points, 20 rebounds and six assists. Faverani, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries all struggled, as the Celtics bench totaled just 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Second helping: Often matched up with Williams, who missed the previous nine games with an ankle injury, Bradley torched the Nets point guard in the second quarter, scoring 12 of his 15 first-half points to help the Celtics remain within nine, 56-47, at halftime. Bradley has now reached double-digit scoring in 15 games, a number he didn’t reach until mid-March last season.

Triple threat: The Celtics made eight of their first 14 3-point attempts, including their first three tries of the third quarter to tie the game at 60-60. Bradley started 3-of-5, Green made his first two and Sullinger connected on his first two tries after halftime, as the C’s erased a 13-point first-half deficit 2:22 into the third quarter.

Old friends: As far as the reunion goes, this hug between Garnett and Rajon Rondo during a timeout said it all. This wasn’t exactly the cold shoulder routine KG gave Ray Allen last season.

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Paul Pierce just made this Celtics season a little sadder 11.04.13 at 10:34 am ET
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As if this Celtics season wasn’t sad enough so far, American Express just released this Paul Pierce ad. “The more I embrace Brooklyn, the more Brooklyn embraces me. It feels good being here. It feels like I’m home.”

P.S. Seriously, though, it’s nice to see Pierce embracing the Brooklyn community the way he did Boston.

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