Asked for his thoughts on Saturday's loss to the lowly Nets, Kevin Garnett initially said, “I got nothing to say, I feel disgusted.” But Garnett had plenty more to say and didn't mince words.
"I’m not going to sit up here and give a bunch of excuses, that’s not my style," said Garnett. "You lose, you lose. They kicked our [butts] tonight. Period. Point blank. Players have to do more, including myself, we all have to dig deep and see what we’re made of as a team. Seriously."
Asked if this was another example of the Celtics turning it on (Boston scored 12 of the game's first 14 points), then turning it off (Boston trailed by double digits into the fourth quarter), Garnett suggested it wasn't. Even after a solid offensive outing (game-high 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting with 9 rebounds), he lamented Boston's team defense.
"No, they just played better than us today, we didn’t get any stops," said Garnett. "I felt like we were trading baskets with them. In this league you have to get stops, it's just that simple. A team gets into a rhythm, and its hard to turn it off. Its hard to get a team that’s in a rhythm especially when they’re up to turn it off. We’re a team that takes a lot of pride in getting stops, we have to get back to that. Hearing it is starting to make my ears ring, but that’s what it is, and we will, we have no choice.”
Rondo: Teams think they can win at the Garden
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo expressed disappointment after another lackluster showing by the Celtics on their home turf. Boston dropped to 16-11 at the TD Garden this season, nearly doubling their loss total from each of the last two seasons (when Boston posted 35-6 marks).
"Yeah, two in a row, back-to-back home games," said Rondo. "That’s what we talked about coming out of the road trip, that we wanted to come back and sustain homecourt advantage and take advantage of playing at home. Not right now, guys are coming in thinking they can win at the Garden, and last year it was totally opposite.”
Rondo got caught in early foul trouble, but rebounded to register 13 points, 17 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in 35 minutes. Despite the solid individual performance, he couldn't escape the boos that showered the Celtics at times during the loss.
“Obviously, you hear it, but you try to tune it out and continue to play," said Rondo. "That’s fans for you, that’s how it is.”
Doc's Opinion: Basketball gods punished uninspired Celtics
Celtics coach Doc Rivers stressed that it didn't take much digging deep to explain Saturday's loss to New Jersey.
“Well, they played better than us. It’s not hard to explain, it really isn’t," said Rivers. "I thought we started out the first three minutes of the game, it was like, ‘Okay, let’s play.’ We got out, I think it was 12-2, and then I thought that the turnover right after that, the three-point play got them back to 12-6, changed the game early. But then after that -- you get a team that’s desperate and has a chance to win and beat us -- they came to life. They made a lot of shots. We just gave up 104 points again. What did they shoot, 41 free throws, to our 11? In a home game? So that’s on us. It’s on us.
"And one of the things we told them, we told them [Friday], ‘It ain’t the system. It’s our heads. It’s between the ears.' And we’ve got to come out and play. Everyone wants to beat you, you can bank on that.’ So, we’ve just got to play better. We’ve got to play with more of a sense of urgency. We’ve got to understand execution and the value of it. And then we’ve just got to keep playing."
Asked if change was the answer, Rivers said it wasn't.
“No, like I said before, I still believe in this team," he said. "I just know for a fact we’re not playing well. But I do believe in this team. I don’t think you change just to change. I don’t think we need it. I think we need to change our approach and the way we play. And tonight you could see it early, even though beginning of the game we jumped out and after that you could sense that, ‘We’ll get back into it.’ And you know what happened? They actually did try. I thought our guys gave a great effort in the second half, but then they started making shots, and then we’d have the defensive breakdown with three seconds on the shot clock over and over again. Every time we got it down to six or four a guy would make a three, a bobbled ball would go to [the Nets]. I talk about it a lot with our guys: ‘Those are the basketball gods punishing you. You have no right to get back in this game.' I thought all those little breaks went to them, and I thought the basketball gods were saying that they deserve to go to [the Nets]."
* Rivers indicated that Paul Pierce (sprained right thumb) is likely to travel with the team for Tuesday's game in Detroit and suggested the captain could be back in the lineup as early as that game.
"I haven't checked, but my guess is next week," said Rivers. "Hopefully, [Tuesday vs. Detroit]. I'm hoping for that, but we'll take it from there. I think [Pierce will travel]. He's looking good, he's running good, catching the ball without any pain. So that's a good thing."
* Needless to say, the win went over huge in the Nets' locker room: "“Look, any win for us is big," said coach Kiki Vandeweghe. "There’s no question. But to get a win on the road, and this is one of the toughest places to play in the NBA, it should demonstrate to our guys that, if they play with effort, they can compete with anybody.”
* The Celtics generated 56 points in the paint, but got the charity stripe only 11 times. Put another way, they shot eight more 3-pointers than freebies. Lopez (11 of 14) and Devin Harris (10 of 10) lived at the free-throw line for New Jersey.
* Statistically, Boston played well. The Celtics shot 50 percent (42 of 84) compared to New Jersey's 44.4 percent (32 of 72), Boston outrebounded the Nets (41-35) and generated more second-chance points (18-8). But giving up 30 additional free throws killed Boston.
* The game featured only one lead change as the Nets rallied ahead and never gave it back.
* With a lot of players battling flu-like symptoms, Rivers was asked if that could have affected his team. "No, no, no. Everybody’s sick right now. We just didn’t play very well.” Marquis Daniels, who played ill Thursday night, started his third game in place of Paul Pierce and registered 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting over 27 minutes.