Thursday, March 15, 2012
Postgame notebook: Pietrus finds his shot
By Chris Forsberg
AP Photo/Amy SancettaCeltics reserve swingman Mickael Pietrus connected on 5-of-6 triples vs. Golden State.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers now knows the perfect remedy for Mickael Pietrus' shooting slumps: The Golden State Warriors.
Over the past month, Pietrus was a mere 8-for-44 from beyond the 3-point arc over a 14-game span. He busted out in a big way against the team he spent his first five NBA seasons with, connecting on 5-of-6 triples as part of a 15-point effort in Boston's 105-103 triumph over the Warriors Wednesday at Oracle Arena.
"Clearly we need to just tell him we’re playing Golden State every night," quipped Rivers.
Pietrus downplayed the opponent, instead trying to shift the focus to identifying his evolving role with his new team.
“Sometimes we have too many offensive players and I just don’t want to give [Rivers] another headache," said Pietrus. "I’m willing to sacrifice my offense for the benefit of the team because we have Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and [Kevin Garnett], who are all going to need the ball a lot. Those three guys are going to take us to the championship, so I’m willing to sacrifice myself to make the team better in other parts of the game, like defense and rebounding. I just tried to make some plays. Sometimes shots are going to come and sometimes they aren’t going to come."
On Wednesday that came early and often. Pietrus tied a season high for trifectas, splashing the first four he took in the first half before adding a fifth in the third quarter. Winners of eight of 10 to start the second half of the season, Pietrus said the Celtics are simply trying to improve before the postseason arrives in little more than a month.
"I think everybody’s trying to play together, everybody’s trying to raise their level for the postseason," said Pietrus. "I know when you look at the schedule right now, we’ve got like 20 games left. So we’re just trying to make a push. It’s been an up-and-down season for us. But nobody wants to play the Celtics in the playoffs."
Stiemsma aids bench effort, too
The Celtics employed just a four-man bench Thursday night, leaning heavy on the core rotation players given that offdays sandwich this visit to Golden State. But the reserve group of Pietrus, Greg Stiemsma, Avery Bradley, and Keyon Dooling still responded by combining for 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting with eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and a block.
Stiemsma contributed all of the bench rebounds and the block, while adding eight points. Both his buckets came off dunks and he made four free throws in a rock-solid 16 minutes, 42 seconds of court time.
"You get time in this league, you never what may happen, man," said Garnett. "Opportunity is something that we always say -- 'Value the opportunity that you get, because you may never get it again.' He’s doing a great job of it."
Even Pierce called Stiemsma "huge" and praised his efforts both on the glass and defensively. Rivers simply liked the energy the second unit brought when the starters were slow out of the gates.
"You could feel it at the beginning of the game, we didn’t have a lot of energy," said Rivers. "I thought our bench won this game for us... Avery and [Stiemsma], all of them, their energy was phenomenal tonight. On a night where no one else really had it."
Loose Balls: Celtics win a shootout
* The Celtics shot 51.3 percent overall (40-of-78), yet Golden State was even better (52.6 percent, 41 of 78). Alas, Boston made the shots when it mattered most down the stretch and was aided by being far better efficiency beyond the 3-point stripe. Rivers still saw plenty of room for improvement. "You know what I told them after the game, I said, we played great against the Lakers and the Clippers, and we won [Wednesday]," said Rivers. "We just found a way; we just made more plays. [The Warriors] played great... Great energy, executed pretty well. Honestly, we just made shots."
* Pierce liked that the Celtics could win ugly: "It’s good for the team," he said. "It’s good for our confidence. This shows we can win even when we don’t play well. We didn’t play a lick of defense tonight, but we played defense when it mattered, so that was the most important thing for us tonight.”
* Rivers on Klay Thompson, who scored a team-high 26 points for the Warriors: "Heck of a basketball player; really enjoy watching him, to be honest. That’s what it felt like, at one point -- that we were watching a Klay Thompson video. He was terrific." Thompson finished 9-of-16 shooting (3-of-7 beyond the arc), but turned the ball over a team-high four times in 40 minutes.
* The playful Pietrus wrapped up his interview by keeping it light. "I love you guys," he told reporters in his familiar sign-off. "Maybe we can have a chicken Caesar later?" Then he pointed at the camera in front of him and said, "Me and you, cameraman. Alright?"
* KG was asked again about playing more of the center position and barked, "I hate playing center." It doesn't show, considering how well he's played since the start of the second half."