|Ageless wit and wisdom from Shaquille O’Neal after turning back the clock||01.15.11 at 12:15 am ET|
The date was April 8, 2009. The site was New Orleans. Shaquille O’Neal led his Phoenix Suns to a 105-100 win over the Hornets. O’Neal scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and accomplished it in 36 minutes, 38 seconds of action.
That was the last time O’Neal played 35 minutes in a game – before Friday night.
On a night when the Celtics were without three big men and another fell into early foul trouble and had a sore groin, O’Neal delivered the goods.
The 38-year-old center played a season-high 35 minutes, scoring 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting, leading the Celtics to a 99-94 win over Charlotte Friday night at TD Garden. After the game, O’Neal said he wasn’t motivated by Doc Rivers‘ pre-game jab that the future Hall-of-Famer is day-to-day and will be for the rest of the season because “he’s old as hell.”
“I would agree,” O’Neal said without hesitation. “I’ve been around a long time. I knew that whatever happened I was going to be ready. I’ve been in foul trouble and haven’t really played a lot of minutes so there was really no excuse for me to be tired. I just came out and got a few more touches tonight and just did what I do.’
The signs were there early on that Shaq was ready to turn back the clock 5-10 years – like when he ran the court with Rajon Rondo and finished the two-man break by flushing down a jam on an alley-oop from Rondo with 9:36 left in the first quarter.
‘It helps a lot when he’s out there looking for me,” O’Neal said of Rondo. “He’s played well. It’s my job when I get the ball I have to finish. Whether its low or a little drop off.’
On Friday, it was Shaq who had to help out the bench when Semih Erden picked up fouls early and often. When Erden was whistled for his fourth with 1:29 left in the third quarter, neither Shaq nor coach Doc Rivers were particularly pleased.
“I was [ticked] too. Shaq wants to play but he doesn’t want to play 35 minutes and he had just said coming out, ‘Give me a blow here’ and then bam, bam, Semih’s out,” Rivers said. “With Shaq, it’s just too many minutes. You know, tonight we had no choice. It’s not a big deal for one night; I don’t worry about it. And we don’t play again until Monday, so that’s nice. It came at the right moment.’
It was just Wednesday, when O’Neal played just over 13 minutes, that Rivers felt Shaq took a foul just to get out of the game and get a seat on the bench in the second half.
‘You know a lot of times I get fouls helping out so I got to be selective,” O’Neal said. “So I knew we were a big man short so it was like a couple lay ups I knew I had to let go. I was just trying to play smart.”
So how does he go from 13 minutes to 35 minutes, 13 seconds in the span of 48 hours?
“I live in Sudbury and the people at Sudbury Farms won’t allow me to eat junk food,” O’Neal explained. “So I’m eating salad, eating fish. I’m really in shape and work out every night. I’m ready. I came here to be ready.”
As for his role now, O’Neal said he’s not worried about that.
“I’m here to do whatever Doc asks me to do,” O’Neal added. ‘I knew that whatever happened I was going to be ready. I’ve been in foul trouble and haven’t really played a lot of minutes so there was really no excuse for me to be tired. I just came out and got a few more touches tonight and just did what I do.’
The Celtics are hopeful to have Garnett back on Monday night after a nine-game absence due to a strained right calf.
Oh yeah, Shaq turns 39 on March 6. Maybe Doc will have something special planned for his big man that night.
|Kevin Garnett is ‘pretty close’ to returning but that won’t happen Friday night||01.13.11 at 4:16 pm ET|
WALTHAM — In a sign that he is close to returning to game action, Kevin Garnett took part in contact practice with the Celtics on Thursday for the first time since straining his right calf against Detroit on Dec. 29. Coach Doc Rivers said that Garnett participated in a little more than half the practice, going through plays and running up and down the court but ruled him out of Friday’s home game against Charlotte.
“He went through half the practice or more than that, actually,” Rivers said. “He looked pretty good. He’s not playing [Friday] but he looked pretty good. Besides just his wind, I thought his movement was very good. I want to see him another practice but he’s getting close.”
Rivers said trainer Ed Lacerte and team doctor Brian McKeon checked out Garnett and cleared him to participate in all of the contact drills and plays in practice.
“That was him and Eddie, they just thought he could go and Dr. McKeon, all three, thought he’s fine so we let him go,” Rivers added. “There were a couple of times I wanted him off the floor and he stayed on the floor and did all the pick-and-roll defense live. We went up and down and he did all that live.”
The Celtics are 5-3 in the eight games without Garnett in the lineup.
“This is who we are right now,” Rivers said in announcing the latest injuries to hit the Celtics‘ front court.
Jermaine O’Neal had an MRI Thursday on his sore left knee that acted up in the second half of Monday’s game against Houston.
Rivers is concerned that surgery will likely be needed to correct the issue.
“Don’t know yet,” Rivers said following practice Thursday. “I know he did [have] an MRI. Honestly, my guess is they’re going to have to do something. So, I don’t know that. I’m just using my doctorate right now. My guess is they’ll probably have to do something.”
Complicating matters is a groin pull sustained by back-up center Semih Erden, which kept him out of practice Thursday and limited the Celtics to nine healthy players. With Kevin Garnett still out with a strained right calf, Kendrick Perkins (right knee) not yet cleared for contact practice and Shaquille O’Neal getting limited minutes to save his stamina for later in the season, the Celtics are struggling with depth in the front court.
“It puts more pressure on them,” Rivers said of his remaining healthy front-court players. “Semih couldn’t practice today. He has a groin pull. So, that’s what we are. We have 15 players. We’re going to send Avery [Bradley] down [to D-League] pretty soon, too, so he can get some reps playing basketball. I just think he needs to play basketball. It’s part of it.”
The Celtics face Charlotte on Friday night at TD Garden as they continue their season-long six-game homestand, likely without Garnett, Erden and Jermaine O’Neal.
Celtics big man Jermaine O’Neal checked in with the Dale & Holley show Thursday as part of the show’s Celtic of the Week interview series. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
O’Neal has been struggling with his surgically repaired left knee the entire season, and he’s been limited to 17 games. “For the most part, it’s been a frustrating first part of the year,” he acknowledged. “I do understand where I’m at. I understand what we’re dealing with. We actually had a little evaluation this morning about something that may or may not be done to kind of just put a couple of scenarios behind me.”
O’Neal said another meeting was scheduled for Thursday afternoon with doctors and Danny Ainge, so they can make a decision on the treatment plan. O’Neal indicated surgery definitely is in his future, but he’s hoping it can wait until after the season.
“[Surgery] was definitely something that we talked about the first time I was out for an extended period of time,” he said. “We wanted to try a couple of options. And we may be looking at that situation now. It’s something that I will eventually need at some point, at the end of the season or in the season, but you want to be around. You don’t want to miss an extended period of time. I already did that. So, you make your decisions as a player. You listen to the staff, and if they have a certain way, then you try that. And if that doesn’t work, you’ve got to go with the next best scenario.”
Despite the injury troubles, O’Neal gushed about how much he’s enjoyed playing in Boston. “This is a very enjoyable time for me,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re not doing some of the things you’re used to, sometimes you look at it as a negative. But I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had so many enjoyable teammates. so many enjoyable personnel as far as the coaching staff, and just so many enjoyable people throughout the city that really makes it easy to be here, and no matter what you’re going through, it makes it fun.
“It’s funny, because me and Kevin [Garnett] were just talking over the last couple of weeks, and we were talking last night actually about the ability to pick a teammate up when he’s sort of down and make him feel like nothing else matters. You know, We love you and we want you here. That’s how we approach it every day.”
Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett have been passed by Derrick Rose and Amar’e Stoudemire, respectively, in the latest round of All-Star voting numbers released by the league. Rondo and Garnett have had slim leads over their counterparts since the returns started coming in, but Rose and Stoudemire have been making steady gains each week.
Here’s the latest voting:
Forwards: LeBron James (Mia) 1,518,807; Amar’e Stoudemire (NYK) 1,143,391; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 1,049,544; Paul Pierce (Bos) 578,473; Chris Bosh (Mia) 427,551; Carlos Boozer (Chi) 320,661; Josh Smith (Atl) 280,158; Danilo Gallinari (NYK) 259,619; Danny Granger (Ind) 201,653; Luol Deng (Chi) 191,312.
Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 1,499,768; Derrick Rose (Chi) 1,225,575; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 1,171,311; Ray Allen (Bos) 630,588; John Wall (Was) 260,893; Brandon Jennings (Mil) 254,614; Raymond Felton (NYK) 246,208; Gilbert Arenas (Orl) 240,586; Jamal Crawford (Atl) 163,971, Darren Collison (Ind) 156,230.
Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 1,537,619; Shaquille O’Neal (Bos) 639,661; Joakim Noah (Chi) 291,107; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 245,253; Al Horford (Atl) 193,449; Roy Hibbert (Ind) 183,092; Andrea Bargnani (Tor) 162,364; Brook Lopez (NJ) 125,022; JaVale McGee (Was) 106,710; Ben Wallace (Det) 79,017.
Forwards: Kevin Durant (OKC) 1,270,729; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 945,720; Pau Gasol (LAL) 851,456; Blake Griffin (LAC) 702,784; Tim Duncan (SA) 663,487; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 615,243; Lamar Odom (LAL) 364,950; Luis Scola (Hou) 347,986; Kevin Love (Min) 301,529; Caron Butler (Dal) 205,146.
Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,757,216; Chris Paul (NOH) 949,049; Manu Ginobili (SA) 593,718; Steve Nash (Pho) 522,215; Deron Williams (Utah) 487,887; Russell Westbrook (OKC) 463,250; Tony Parker (SA) 355,993; Jason Kidd (Dal) 303,164; Vince Carter (Pho) 277,430; Kevin Martin (Hou) 266,037.
Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 928,928; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 660,576; Nene (Den) 389,263; Marc Gasol 352,136; Emeka Okafor (NOH) 317,677; Brendan Haywood (Dal) 276,777; Marcus Camby (Por) 201,133; Chris Kaman (LAC) 165,684; Andris Biedrins (GS) 126,567; DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 110,230.
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I’m against what the Jets are doing’||at 10:55 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning, following Wednesday’s night’s 119-95 rout of the Kings. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Rivers started the conversation by giving his opinion of the trash-talking going on in the lead-up to Sunday’s Patriots-Jets playoff game. He said, “I can’t wait for the game,” but he didn’t support the Jets’ disrespectful comments. “It’s stuff obviously I don’t like,” he said. “But it’s who they are. And that’s what they’ve been all year. ‘¦ I’m against what the Jets are doing, because I do think it ‘ I don’t know if it motivates you, but it may give you that extra, a little bit more, so who knows?”
The Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak with Wednesday’s win. It followed Monday’s 108-102 loss to the Rockets in which the Celtics’ effort was lacking, according to Rivers. “In an 82-game season, you’re going have some of those [letdowns],” he said. “I didn’t feel like we would have one last night, because of what happened against Houston. ‘¦ I just thought we’d be ready last night.”
Kevin Garnett remains out after straining his right calf two weeks ago vs. the Pistons. “He is day-to-day, very close, but just not ready yet,” Rivers said.
Rivers said he feels sympathy for Cavaliers coach Byron Scott, whose team was hammered by the Lakers, 112-57, in losing for the 21st time in 22 games on Tuesday. However, he doesn’t think LeBron James deserves the type of criticism he’s received for abandoning Cleveland.
“No it’s not unfair,” he said. “It was legal. He became a free agent and he left. And there’s nothing wrong with what he did. What did they have, seven years, in LeBron’s mind to get it right, to get him the players he wanted for them to win. And in his opinion, they never did that. And so, he had every right to do what he did. Obviously, you knew if LeBron left it would wreak havoc on that team, and it has. It tells you one thing, is how good LeBron was. He’s the only guy that really left the team, and man, it’s amazing what’s happened.”
Rivers raved about the iPad, which he uses to watch video and check stats. “It is absolutely amazing how often I’m on it,” he said. “Way too much.”
|Kevin Garnett likely out two more games||01.12.11 at 7:12 pm ET|
The original prognosis for Kevin Garnett‘s return from a strained calf was two weeks. Now it appears that it will take a little longer. Garnett won’t play tonight against the Kings, as expected, but Doc Rivers sounded pessimistic about whether Garnett would be ready to go Friday against the Bobcats. That puts Monday’s game with the Magic as the new target date.
“Eddie [Lacerte, the team’s trainer] and I talked about it yesterday and it will really depend on what we do [Thursday],” Rivers said. “My guess [for Friday] is no, because after that we have two days off. My thinking right now, unless he comes out and practices the whole practice and looks great, is probably off Friday too and then probably [play] Monday.”
Rivers is aware that people are questioning the nature of Garnett’s injury, but he insisted that nothing has changed except the timeline. “There’s no conspiracy here or anything like that,” Rivers said. “He’s just taking a little longer than we wanted it to, but it’s not a big deal.”
While Rivers insisted that he’s not concerned that the injury is worse than originally feared, he is concerned about Garnett’s mental state.
“With Kevin because he’s so emotional, you just want to make sure he doesn’t get down about stuff,” Rivers said. “That’s where I’m always concerned with him. Starting with the, ‘Why is this happening to me,’ stuff and you don’t want him to go there, because it’s not a bad injury. But he doesn’t like missing games.”
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