- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Celtics newcomer Jeff Green decided to get familiar with his surroundings the other day, so after picking up a car, he hopped on the highway and decided to make a test run to the TD Garden. Maybe not surprisingly, he got lost. Luckily, there's an app for that, and with the help of his iPhone, he navigated his way out of the tunnels and back to Causeway St. after a 35-minute detour.
He's not sure how long it will take him to get comfortable with his new surroundings, but he's confident it won't take nearly as long to navigate the Boston playbook. Green produced his best performance in a Boston uniform Friday night, pouring in 21 points over 27:39 as the Celtics held off the late-charging Warriors.
"I was lost for like 35 minutes downtown, trying to find my way [Thursday]; Sad, right?" joked Green, who admitted there wasn't even traffic to slow him down.
"I decided to try to get familiar with the area, learn my way around here, and I took the wrong exit. Once you end up in those tunnels, it's not fun. I took the wrong exit and I don't know where I was at. But my iPhone helped me out with the GPS."
If only there was an app for processing Boston's defensive schemes, particularly when you're learning two different forward positions. Green could use a Rosetta Stone to help translate all the knowledge he accrued in Oklahoma City to the defensive language Boston speaks.
But he's not concerned about that; he knows that will come. In fact, Green joked that he'll watch the game tape and have it down by the time the team hits the practice floor Saturday. That's probably a bit too optimistic, but given all the consternation about the need for Celtics coach Doc Rivers to figure out how to use Green, he showed Friday that it has the potential to come together quickly.
Green erupted for 13 second-quarter points, doing much of his damage around the rim, teammates finding him in transition throughout the frame, highlighted by an alley-oop jam off a Rondo lob on the break. He thrived especially in a lineup with Boston's four regular starters in Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett.
For the night, Green connected on 8-of-11 shots (and made all five free throws he attempted). He added two steals and a rebound before fouling out in the final moments.
"They share the ball," said Green. "They make it easy for me to get easy shot. It's a team effort and I think we do a great job to make sure everyone gets a touch, making the extra pass."
Rivers said Oklahoma City coach Scotty Brooks had raved about Green's speed and the Celtics simply took advantage of it Friday.
"Well, it’s funny, we didn’t do anything; He just ran the floor," said Rivers. "He’s a gazelle. I mean, the guy can absolutely fly. And our guys know that now and you can see them, they’re giving it to him, and he knows that they’ll get it to him, so he’s running. There’s a couple times that Kevin actually slowed down so he could run by him because he saw that he had his mean beat. And that’s just great awareness.”
--THEY'LL TAKE THE WIN DESPITE AN UGLY SECOND HALF--
For the second straight game, the Celtics let a double-digit lead evaporate in the second half with the visitors making it interesting over the final minutes. But given the obstacles his team is facing, Rivers is fine with simply escaping with the wins.
“I actually thought that we came out in the third quarter and just kind of went through the game," said Rivers. "We thought we had the game in hand, even when it was close, you could still see it. That happens. We won the game, so you take the win. The only thing I told our team after the game was that, when we have a lead, our starters have to come out and really play the same way, because they’re putting a lot of pressure on that second group. They don’t know many plays, so if you can give them a cushion, it would be nice. And I didn’t think we did that in the third quarter."
Rivers said he had hoped to throw newly acquired Sasha Pavlovic into the game, but when the lead dwindled, he had to keep him on the pine.
“I was going to play him, but the game got kind of out of hand," Rivers said after Golden State trimmed an 18-point lead to one in the final minutes. "I really wanted to play him, but it just didn’t work out.”
With Glen Davis (strained left knee) sitting out his first game of the season Friday and Von Wafer (right calf sprain) injured in the second quarter, the Celtics were forced to lean on their starters more than they would have liked.
"The minutes today were more because of the Von [injury]," said Rivers. "I’ll keep [Allen and Pierce's] minutes down to that 35 [range]; Tonight, I didn’t. The guy I’ve got to keep down more is Rondo. Even though he’s young, he’s still playing too many minutes the last four or five games. With Delonte [West] out, that’s put a lot of stress on us as well."
Rondo handed out 16 assists over 42 minutes Friday, but connected on just 3-of-11 shots for six points.
* After a late afternoon practice Thursday, Rivers hopped a plane to Bloomington, Ind. to watch his eldest son, Jeremiah, participate in his final collegiate home game (before zipping back to get ready for Friday's game against the Warriors).
"That was nice, really nice," said Rivers. "The crowd was just great. Jeremiah was the only senior playing, so he got a lot of attention and that was nice. Obviously, like his dad, once he gets that mic, he can speak for a long time. So it was a lot of fun."
Jeremiah made sure to reference his family in his pregame remarks to the crowd at Assembly Hall.
"I know it’s tough on my dad to get to a lot of my games, obviously, because he’s always on the road in the NBA doing what he has to do to support our family," Jeremiah said, according to a transcript on the Indy Star website. But Jeremiah heaped much of the praise on his mother, Kristen, for being the "backbone" of the family.
* Rivers said the Celtics were aware of Nate Robinson's right knee pain before he was dealt to Oklahoma City at the trade deadline, but suggested the Green didn't know it would require the arthroscopic surgery Robinson underwent Friday. He'll miss 4-6 weeks, while Kendrick Perkins, the other part of the deal that brought Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic to Boston, is out 2-3 weeks due to a left knee sprain suffered in his final game with Boston.
"We knew about it, Nate's injury," said Rivers. "We knew he had knee pain, but we didn't know much about that. Perk we knew, obviously, he got hurt in the game against [Golden State] and we knew he'd be out for a bit."
* Wafer hobbled off with a strained right calf suffered in the second quarter and did not return. Hop HERE for the full details.
* Shaquille O'Neal (inflamed right Achilles) and Delonte West (sprained right ankle) are targeting a return to action on Wednesday vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. Hop HERE to read more in our pregame notes.
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