Postgame: O'Neal aims for Sunday return

January, 28, 2012
1/28/12
12:40
AM ET
BOSTON -- A collection of postgame news and notes after the Boston Celtics defeated the Indiana Pacers 94-87 Friday night at TD Garden.

Quick links: O'Neal aims for Sunday return | Pietrus on flagrant/tech | Loose Balls

J.O. SLOWED BY LEFT KNEE BRUISE


CSN ScreenshotJermaine O'Neal suffered a left knee bruise taking this charge from Hedo Turkoglu Monday night.
Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal would probably understand if you cringed a bit when you saw "DNP - Sore Left Knee" next to his name in each of Boston's last two box scores. Yes, that's the same bothersome left knee that limited him to 24 regular-season games a year ago. But he swears the latest flareup has nothing to do with internal structure of his knee, but simply a bothersome bone bruise on the knee cap that flared up after Monday's win over Orlando.

O'Neal was scheduled to meet with team doctors Friday night to see if he required an MRI or any further testing, but was adamant that he would get in some court work on Saturday and planned to be back in the starting lineup Sunday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I just need one day to move around, which I’ll probably go work out and do some court stuff [Saturday]," said O'Neal. "I’m not going to be 100 percent, [but] I just need to be able to jump, move, slide -- stuff like that. Because, where the bruise is, it’s on the knee cap, which is difficult when you move around. All in all, Sunday’s the day for me to come back and play."

O'Neal said he endured the injury in the third quarter of Monday's win over the Orlando Magic when he took a charge from Hedo Turkoglu. It was one of three charges absorbed that night by O'Neal, who joked he's trying to work some incentives into his contract based on the number of offensive fouls drawn.

"I’m still negotiating right now with [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] on kickers," O'Neal joked. "They told me the other day that I’m second in the league in charges behind two guys that are tied for first. But I’m playing a lot less minutes; I’m playing like 20 minutes per game. I don’t think the league’s ever even seen that -- a guy that block shots and takes charges. It’s a tough job to do. But basketball is about giving up your body. You can’t stop because you don't want to be hurt. We are vulnerable to get hurt on any given play -- a charge or just running up and down the court. So, if that’s what this team needs, I’m going to do it."

O'Neal said the difficulty with the bone bruise is that he can't wear any additional protection over the left knee because of the cumbersome brace he already wears. But he also knows that his teammates are battling through bumps and bruises, and he just wants to get to the point where he's able to help the team on the floor.

"I’m not looking to be healthy, I’m looking to be effective," said O'Neal. "I’ll be back out there."

Fore more on the Celtics' injury woes, see our pregame notes HERE.

TO PIETRUS, FLAGRANTLY OBVIOUS IT WASN'T A FLAGRANT


It's hard to wipe the smile off the face of Celtics swingman Mickael Pietrus, but he frowned and (somewhat playfully) chided a reporter Friday night when the conversation steered from Boston's recent success to a fourth-quarter sequence that left him with both a flagrant and technical foul when Indiana's Paul George took umbrage with a hard foul around his head with 34 seconds to play.

With the Celtics out front by 10 and the game seemingly out of reach, George slipped behind the defense and was streaking in for a layup, when Pietrus shuffled over and gave a hard foul to prevent the easy bucket. Referees ended up going to video review and assigning the flagrant and technical.

"To me that wasn’t even a flagrant," said Pietrus, who earned the technical foul for taunting George after the play. "[George] was trying to go to the basket and I was just trying to foul him. They were trying to make a big deal out of it -- blah, blah, blah. It’s just a foul; I’ve got fouls before like that. It’s not anything. I get my foul and I move on. I don’t know why they tried to make a big deal out of a small thing. I’m glad we got the win, that’s the most important thing."

Pietrus, making his second straight start with Ray Allen sidelined by an ankle injury, chipped in 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting (2 of 5 beyond the 3-point arc) with eight rebounds over 33 minutes. Despite landing hard on his back Thursday night against Orlando, Pietrus said he feels fine and leaned backwards while dancing a bit to show reporters his lack of pain.

He closed his brief interview by announcing to reporters, "You guys are the best," before turning to the reporter that asked about the late-game antics and quipped, "Except him -- blah, blah, flagrant, blah, blah."

LOOSE BALLS: CELTICS AVOID THE TRAP, REBOUND


* Celtics coach Doc Rivers fully admitted Friday's game had "trap" written all over it, especially with the Celtics' arriving back into Boston early Friday morning after their spirited come-from-behind triumph over the Magic.

"Oh, it was a trap game -- make no mistake about it," said Rivers. "We got in at 3:30 a.m. You know, it’s funny I asked all the guys -- they basically said they went straight to bed. Because none of the coaches did. But I thought we had unbelievable energy. I thought there were stretches where you could see – coming out of the beginning of the third, you could see they were going to try to run us out of the gym. You could see the energy that they wanted to play with. And we thought the key to the game for us tonight was to try to force them in that, playing against our half-court [defense]. We wanted to take as much of the transition game away from them as possible. And I thought we did that.

"And then the second thing I thought we did a sensational job was rebounding. Because they are the best in the league. They had, I think, 34 offensive rebounds in two games against us coming into tonight. So we felt if we can take their transition away and take their extra shots away that we would have a great shot of winning the game.”

The Celtics won the battle of the boards 45-42 overall and allowed only six second-chance points off 10 offensive rebound (while generating 14 second-chance points of their own off nine offensive boards).

“We’re trying to attack the glass with our bigs or whoever was under, and then get back," Rivers said of the offensive glass. "So, I think over the last four, five, six games we’ve done a better job of it. But, you know, some of those jump shots were flying out and our guards got to them. Our guards equaled our bigs tonight, if you added all the rebounds. If you added all the rebounds, I think it came out about even. Maybe our guards beat the bigs by one. I’m not sure. That’s huge for us."

* The Celtics announced Friday that telecommunications entrepreneur Rob Hale, a Hingham resident and president of Quincy-based Granite Communications, purchased an undisclosed share of the team. A group led by Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca purchased the team in 2002 for $360 million -- then a record for an NBA franchise. A recent report in Forbes magazine put the value of the franchise at $482 million, according to the Associated Press.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksK. Humphries 0.9