Eddie House understands the NBA is a business, so he didn't have any extra emotions walking back into TD Garden Tuesday night when the New York Knicks visited the Boston Celtics. But even House couldn't help but be touched by the outpouring of support when fans showered him with a standing ovation and chanted his name following a video tribute midway through the first quarter.
"It was beautiful, man," said House. "I loved the fans for the way they showed their love for me and I have just as much love back for them. I loved playing here. What a great run I had, winning a championship. I love the city of Boston."
House, traded to New York along with J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker in exchange for Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry, registered just four points on 2-of-7 shooting (0 for 5 on 3-pointers) in 27 minutes against his old team. Struggles are nothing new for House this season, but if there's one thing he's struggling to adjust to, it's losing, especially after the Knicks faded late Tuesday.
"That’s the hard thing, I’m not used to losing," said House. "I haven’t been on a losing team in quite a long time. That’s the toughest thing about it, is taking these Ls. Keep competing, man. As long as you’re playing hard and trying to do the right thing, you can never be upset with yourself or your teammates. Everybody is trying to do the right thing and playing hard, but for whatever reason we’re falling short."
House didn't get caught up in the hype of playing his first game against Boston so soon after the trade.
“It was no big deal -- I didn’t put any more weight on this game than I did my first game in Madison Square Garden," said House. "Just play the game of basketball. It’s the same thing, just different opponent and that just happens to be guys I played with before about a week ago. Just no strain on this game at all. I didn’t try to come in and just automatically try getting my shots like it was something. I just played the game and let the game come to me. Just play the right way, that’s all I’m trying to do all the time.”
Said Boston's Kevin Garnett: "It’s just good to have him back in the building. When you lose a personal friend, not just a teammate, but a personal friend, you always wish him the best. I just want to see him in good health. It’s good to see a classy organization give it up for him. It doesn’t always go like that, and that was just good to see, we all have a great appreciation for Eddie House."
Cutting edge with Daniels
With the Celtics gripping tight to a one-point lead with less than two minutes to go, Marquis Daniels slashed to the basket, where Garnett fed him for an easy layup and a 109-106 advantage. It proved to be the biggest bucket of the night and Boston leaned on its defense from there to close out the feisty Knicks.
Daniels finished with 14 points in drawing a spot start for Pierce (sprained thumb, flu) and, after the game, there was plenty of talk about Daniels' ability to generate points going to the hoop -- something coach Doc Rivers believes will be aided by the addition of Robinson.
“He’s just going to do his job," said Rivers. "I mean, he’s so good. He scores whatever he scored tonight –- 14 points -- without one play called for him. All were cuts. He just has a knack for knowing when to cut, where to cut. I mean, he had a layup at the end, that one that Ray [Allen] tried to throw that got deflected. He just has great basketball feel and timing. He really does. And, you know, in some ways we hurt him because, before we had Nate, he had to handle the ball a lot, so he couldn’t cut as much because he had the ball in his hands. Now, with Nate, it almost frees him up even more to be a cutter. And that’s what he truly is. So I think he’ll even be better.”
Robinson and Rondo
True to his word, Rivers utilized a lineup Tuesday night that featured both Rajon Rondo and Robinson on the court at the same time. Early results? Very promising.
“Well, the combination will be terrific once we get it right," said Rivers. "We had such a speed advantage on the floor and we really didn’t take advantage of it. We had that one little stretch, but they don’t know how to take advantage of it. So they almost ran into each other twice, trying to get to the basket. So we’ll work that out. It’s just going to take some time.
"I do like the combination. I like it more, obviously, if the teams have two small guards. I actually thought it stopped them from putting the two guards on the floor. We did it in the first half and you can see they stayed big in the second half. You’ve got to think they’re thinking, ‘We don’t want those two guys on the floor at the same time.’ So it’ll be interesting how it changes other teams’ rotations."
Added Robinson: "We both play good defense -- we're scrappy, get after the ball. But [Rondo's] running the show and I'm just trying to get in there."
* Bill Walker, a bit of collateral damage in the House-for-Robinson swap, turned out to have the most productive night of the five players involved in the deadline deal. “It was fun," said Walker, who finished with 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting over 13 minutes. "I enjoy getting to play basketball against my former team -- a little extra incentive.”
* The Knicks played it cautious with Tracy McGrady, who was coming off a bit of a scare with his knee and playing in the second night of a back-to-back. "I told coach [Mike D'Antoni] that, because I played 30 minutes the last two games, and this was a back-to-back, I didn’t want to push it," said McGrady, who finished with 6 points and 8 assists in 27 minutes. "I felt like tonight I made some plays in 25 minutes, but wanted to be cautious.”
* The Celtics suggested that New York's ability to generate open looks off the pick-and-roll was the Green's biggest defensive challenge Tuesday. Said Rondo: "The pick-and-roll was kind of hard because the guard was in a tough situation. You know you have a guy like Eddie House rolling up, and it’s hard to get the bump. That play pretty much tore us apart. I think that they play a similar style to Phoenix. Sergio [Rodriguez] turned the corner a few times; they did a great job mixing it up. I give them a lot of credit. They had us on our heels all night.”