Celtics guard Rajon Rondo suffered what the team termed a strained left hamstring and sat out the final 4:44 of Friday's game, while forward Kevin Garnett endured an elbow to the back of the head that sidelined him for a 14-minute stretch, including nearly the entire first quarter.
Rondo is day-to-day and will be re-evaluated after receiving treatment Saturday, but expects to travel when the team departs for a brief two-game road trip to Toronto and Atlanta. Garnett returned to play 30 minutes against the Thunder and seemed no worse for the wear after the game.
Rondo crashed to the floor clutching the lower part of his left hamstring after Oklahoma City's Royal Ivey absorbed a charge with 6:19 to play in the game. Rondo got examined on the bench, but returned soon after. He played only 13 seconds before he was swapped out in favor of Delonte West as the Celtics tried feverishly to rally.
Asked about the strained hamstring, Rondo answered, "That's what the doctor said." Asked for a prognosis, he said only, "I'll just get treatment [Saturday] and we'll see."
Rondo suggested it was coach Doc Rivers' decision to pull him from the game. Asked after about Rondo's condition, Rivers said, "I don’t know how Rondo is; I have no idea. I just knew he wasn’t running right and had to come out."
Rondo finished with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting with seven assists over 33:25. Garnett chipped in 16 points (hitting 10 of 10 free throws, but just 3 of 6 shots) while adding two rebounds, a steal, and a block. Despite the unsightly lump on the back-right side of his skull, he seemed fine after the game.
“I just got [an elbow] man, and a hell of a ‘bow at that," he said. "It’s part of the game. No one out there is 100 percent. I'm no different from that. I came back. I continued the game and tried to get my team with it.”
Rivers said he wrestled with the decision to initially re-insert Garnett.
"I didn’t know if I should play him," said Rivers. "I still don’t know if I should have played him, even though he played OK. He was having headaches there for a minute. [Celtics trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] said he remembered everything and he did whatever tests that they do. But I was very concerned with that. So all that, obviously, throws you off a little bit."
--WEST OFFERS HIGH PRAISE WATCHING DURANT DEVELOP INTO STAR--
Even with Kevin Durant sitting out Friday's game with a left ankle injury, West offered a unique take on Oklahoma City's young superstar, having watched him grow up in the D.C. region (both attended high school in Maryland) and having spent his rookie season with him in Seattle.
"I’ve watched Kevin grow up," said West, detailing the similar backgrounds. "The guy keeps getting better and better... He's one of hardest workers been around, first in gym, last to go home. I'm not hyping him up either, he really is. He practices like he's the worst guy on the team. If he keeps up that attitude, the sky’s the limit for him."
That attitude sounds a bit like West, who is routinely the last one out of Boston's practice space. While West is five years older than Durant, he watched him develop from "the tall and lanky kid" in Maryland. He noted how "the game came so easy to him" and how Durant always operated as a guard, even as he skyrocketed to near 7 feet tall.
With Durant keeping that swingman label along the way, that meant West (at 6-foot-3) got the opportunity to defend him at times in Seattle, including a few 1-on-1 games during practice time.
"In Seattle, we did [play 1-on-1] a little bit," said West. "The guy's 6-11, there's nothing you can do about it. I got my tricks of the trade, but a guy that's 6-11 that can handle the ball like a guard -- he can cross over, step back, and shoot it from anywhere -- I don't care how tough a defender you are or how much grit you have, the guy has answers to any question you can ask.
"You know me, I don't care who you are, I'm going to try to stop you from being you. But he's one of those guys... He has what you call 'better offense.' You hear quotes like, 'good defense, but better offense.' He's in that category. Guys play tough on him, but he just has 'better offense.'"
--LOOSE BALLS: PIERCE'S GAME BALL FOR 20,000TH; SHAQ'S FLAGRANT--
* Glen Davis absorbed two more charges Friday night (enduring shoulder plows from James Harden and Russell Westbrook) to bring his season charge-taken total to 19. Davis has taken a charge in all 12 games this season and this was his seventh two-charge contest of the year.
* Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal earned his second flagrant foul in little more than a week for a hard foul on Westbrook with 4:30 remaining in Friday's game. O'Neal appeared to go straight up with his arms, but the impact of a driving Westbrook resulted in the flagrant-1 designation (which didn't aid Boston's comeback attempt). O'Neal earned (and the NBA upheld) a flagrant-1 for a hard foul on LeBron James during last Thursday's win over the Miami Heat. The league reviews all flagrant fouls and, on the surface, it appears this one could be downgraded to a basic foul. For each flagrant-1, players earn a one-point penance and suspensions begin after five points are accrued during the regular season.