When Celtics second-round draft choice Luke Harangody emerged from the team's makeshift locker room following Monday's 87-82 summer league loss to the Thunder, he was immediately ushered by the team's media relations staff past a pack of reporters waiting to talk to him and to a cameraman stationed in a corner outside the gym.
The reason? Harangody needed to be photographed from multiple angles so his likeness could be included in one of this year's upcoming basketball video games. Welcome to the NBA, rookie.
The cameraman took about eight pictures of Harangody, rotating him 45 degrees at a time to capture his mug at multiple angles. Just another day in the life of the 55th overall pick, who spent his first 40 minutes in a Boston uniform making everyone else turn their heads and take notice.
Harangody poured in a team-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting with four 3-pointers.
"I got off to a good start shooting it," said Harangody. "It was nice to hit the first shot."
Harangody won't remind anyone of Ray Allen with his not-so-picture-perfect jumper, but it works. He connected on four of his first five shots from the floor, including a trio of first-half 3-pointers, as he and Oliver Lafayette (12 first-half points) paired up to help Boston open a 15-point first-half lead over a Thunder squad not short on NBA talent.
Boston ultimately squandered that lead as the Thunder rallied back for the victory, but that did little to temper Harangody's successful debut.
"I was a little nervous, anyone would be going into a game like this," he said. "I was more anxious than anything. As soon as we got out there and the ball was in the air, I was fine."
About the only downside for Harangody was picking up five fouls, including a pair while trying to draw charges where his feet got caught inside the circle below the rim. Celtics summer coach Austin Ainge suggested those are adjustments any college player will have to make at the next level.
But what Ainge liked was the natural instincts of Harangody to find open looks.
"Luke's a very good player, he runs the floor, he shoots, he hustles -- he's a good player and he shot lights out today," said Ainge. "[His shots] just kind of came out of the flow of the game. He has a knack for finding open shots and that's a skill that's hard to teach. He has it."
Harangody, who hasn't inked a deal yet, is working hard to ensure that Ainge's father, Danny, the Celtics' president of basketball operations, doesn't let him leave town without an invite for the varsity squad.
"Luke's a competitor, very businesslike since we've been out here," said Austin Ainge. "He has a serious look on his face in practice and games. He wants to win."
AINGE: AMAZING ENERGY IN THE FIRST HALF
More than a few eyebrows shot skyward when James Harden and Eric Maynor took the court for Oklahoma City on Monday night. The Celtics only boasted a single game of NBA experience in their starting lineup -- Oliver Lafayette's appearance in the 2009-10 regular-season finale -- while the Thunder were rolling out players who had key roles during a first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers just two months ago.
Eyebrows stayed skyward when Boston's fresh-faced junior varsity squad practically ran the Thunder out of the gym in the early going, opening a 15-point lead after one quarter. Kevin Durant, sitting on the bench and observing for the Thunder, seemed ready to throw on a uniform to stop the damage.
Boston simply couldn't sustain its intensity.
"Our energy was amazing in the first half," said Ainge. "We took them out of everything they wanted to do. I thought they did a great job bouncing back and playing harder than us in the fourth quarter. They got all the loose balls and all the tipped rebounds. We needed to come up with those to win."
Boston's summer C's fell into a lot of the same traps that plagued the varsity C's during the 2009-10 season.
"I think the game kind of came to a lull," said Ainge. "We need to get out in transition. We can't beat this team in the halfcourt game. They have too much talent, too much size. We couldn't get stops to run -- that was the difference. We had to get rebounds, get fast breaks. We couldn't score in the halfcourt, or stop them."
LOOSE BALLS: THOUGHTS FROM OPENING NIGHT
* Three players who impressed Monday night: Harangody, Lafayette and Jaycee Carroll. Harangody displayed nice range and, as funky as his shot looks, he made just about everything he put up. Lafayette clearly benefited from the time spent with the C's during their Finals run and was far and away the best player on the court for the first 25 minutes before fading late. Carroll, a fearless chucker, connected on 6-of-16 shots for 13 points.
* Artsiom Parakhouski came as advertised. The Belarusian big man logged 18 minutes of court time and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with four points. His offensive skills need some polishing, but the 6-foot-11 wide body sure knows how to box out and clean up on the glass, which could force Boston's basketball operations to take a longer look at him.
* Ryan Thompson did a nice job of not only getting to the free throw line, but connecting on all nine shots he took from the charity stripe while scoring 13 points in 15 minutes.
* Ainge utilized a 10-man rotation, and Vyacheslav Kravtsov and Ryan Wittman were the unfortunate recipients of DNP -- Coach's Decision on the first of this week's five games. Because he used 10 guys, Ainge refused to believe his team got tired down the stretch. "We played hard until the end," he said.