Saturday, January 25, 2014
Notebook: Thanks for staying
By Chris Forsberg
BOSTON -- Did the Boston Celtics lose a bit of their focus when they learned that Kevin Durant wasn't going to play during Friday's visit from the Oklahoma City Thunder?
"Consciously? No. But something happened," admitted Celtics forward Kris Humphries. "You guys all saw the game. It wasn’t great."
Then Humphries deadpanned, "Thanks for staying for the whole game."
Yes, some in the sellout crowd of 18,624 (many of whom arrived clad in blue and orange and hoping to see Durant) filed out long before the final buzzer. The Thunder busted open a close game in the second half, leading by as much as 23 while cruising to a 101-83 triumph at TD Garden.
It should come as no surprise that Gerald Wallace wasn't particularly thrilled with Friday's effort. The outspoken veteran didn't allow his team any excuses after one of the most lopsided home losses in recent memory.
"We laid down," Wallace said. "We let them do whatever they wanted to do. They ran their offense, executed. They got whatever shot they wanted to get. They scored however they wanted to score, and we didn’t do anything about it. We didn’t man up tonight, and it showed out on the court."
Did the absence of both Durant and Russell Westbrook, combined with a hot-shooting first quarter for the hosts (Boston shot 73.3 percent overall in the first frame), lull the Celtics into a false sense of competitiveness with one of the best teams in the West?
"If you're a player in this league, there's no way you can not take those guys serious, no matter who's playing," scolded Wallace. "I think the main thing was we just laid down. I think we felt like, because [Durant] wasn't playing, that they were just going to
hand us the win, and that wasn't the case. They came out in the second half, competed, took it to us, and it was kind of like [we] just laid down."
Added Wallace: "I'm very disappointed. We play a game like we did Wednesday short-handed, and then we come in tonight on our home court on top of all that, and we just lay down. This should have been a bigger challenge for us than the Washington game was. It seemed like we showed up and competed in that game, where we didn’t in this game."
Captain Rajon Rondo didn't like the team's defensive effort.
"We gave up 100-plus points without Durant," Rondo said. "We didn’t play any defense; we didn’t get a stop at all. Early in the first quarter, we just traded baskets and, once we stopped scoring, they continued to score."
Celtics coach Brad Stevens wasn't leaning on silver linings.
"[I'm] very disappointed," Stevens said. "I don’t want to knock the effort, per se, because I think you had some guys that were really locked in and really played hard effort wise. But collectively, we were not engaged defensively together."
Added Stevens: "Today counts as a bad night; that was not a good performance."
Read on for a handful of quick hits after the Thunder rolled without the Slim Reaper:
- Injury update: Sully's dislocated digit: Celtics center Jared Sullinger dislocated his right index finger during the first quarter of Friday's loss and was in apparent pain while team physician Dr. Brian McKeon attempted to pop the digit back into place on the bench. Sullinger eventually retreated to the locker room but soon returned and played a total of 24 minutes. How's the finger? "It’s just hard to shoot, that’s all," Sullinger said. "If it ain't one thing, it’s another." Sullinger has been playing with a deep bone bruise in his left hand that contributed to a holiday slump. Said Sullinger: "That’s life in the NBA. You gotta get used to it."
- Injury update, Part II: Jerryd Bayless sat out his third straight game due to a sprained toe in his left foot. Stevens noted, "Jerryd is still sore, more day-to-day. He shot free throws today at shootaround, but that’s it." Bayless sat on the bench for Friday's game. As for Avery Bradley and his sprained right ankle, Stevens said, "Avery did not participate in anything. Avery looks like he’s still a little bit out, whatever that means. I wouldn't be shocked if it’s two weeks from the date of injury." That timeline would peg his return closer to a Feb. 5 visit to Philadelphia.
- Something in reserves: With the All-Star starters determined by fan vote, the NBA's 30 head coaches will now determine the reserves by voting for members of their own conference. Asked about how he selected the seven players on his ballot, Stevens said, "My criteria is pretty simple: Guys that obviously are statistically relevant in that discussion
then guys that I really think impact winning and guys that, whether their teams are at the top of the heap or not, when they are on the court, they make their teams better." Stevens said he initially narrowed his list to 10 guys and pared from there.
- Perkins reflects on Boston return: It will be an emotional night Sunday when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce return to TD Garden for the first time as members of the Brooklyn Nets. Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins was asked to reflect on his first game back and the tribute the team ran during the first quarter of that game. "It was great. The fans, the organization, the Celtics -- I thought everybody showed me great appreciation," Perkins said. "It was great. It gave me chills. It’s hard to kind of play through that like you get a ceremony like that. It was great."
The tribute video that ran for Perkins that night is embedded below.