Boston Celtics: 2012Game21
Quick links: KG showcases his range | Pavlovic's role, confidence growing | Loose balls
KG SHOWCASES THE THREE-BALL
Move over, Ray Allen. There's a new 3-point threat in town.
Kevin Garnett punctuated a brilliant first-half shooting performance by the Celtics by splashing a 3-pointer from the right wing just before intermission, sending Boston into the break up 22 en route to a 100-64 triumph over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
It was Garnett's first triple of the season and only his fifth with the Celtics. Sure, he was only 4-for-29 with Boston entering Wednesday's game, but he's now perfect on the season.
So how is his form? We turned to Boston's resident 3-point pros in Allen and Paul Pierce.
"He doesn't shoot a lot of them, but if you look at a lot of the shots he takes, his heel is very close to that 3-point line anyway," Allen said. "When he caught the ball, I was on the side and I was not going to let me get me the ball because I was thinking, 'Shoot, he's very capable.' And I've seen him work on that shot [in practice], so it's not like [he can't make it]. He looked very comfortable when he did it. It wasn't out of his range."
Added Pierce: “I tell him all the time he should shoot more 3s. I see him take 3s all the time in practice and he knocks them down consistently. A lot of his long-range 2-pointers are almost near the 3[-point line], so it’s only one step back. I know that if he started taking them, maybe he would start making more of them. He has that kind of range."
It's easy to forget, but Garnett utilized the shot more often during the early days of his career. He's creeping up on 600 career 3-point attempts, though he's connected on a mere 169-of-597 (28.3 percent). Back during the 2001-02 season, Garnett put up a career-high 116 attempts, making 37 of them (31.9 percent). He often closes his practice workouts by going around the arc and routinely splashes a noteworthy amount of his 3-point attempts.
Even so, Doc Rivers would prefer Garnett stick to the 19-footers. Asked about making the 3-pointer Wednesday, Rivers playfully quipped, "That's the worst thing that could have happened."
BOSTON -- The crowd around the rookie’s locker intrigued Mickael Pietrus, so the veteran swingman detoured on his way to the showers and popped his head through the crowd to get a listen at what JaJuan Johnson had to say.
Finally, during a lull in the questioning, Pietrus, the team's resident chops-buster offered, "Whenever you’re done with the media, let’s keep it real -- get me some water."
Ah yes, the glamorous life of a rookie, where the biggest gameday task is sometimes the run to the local convenience store to secure the peanut butter and jelly that will comprise the pregame snack (and heaven help you if you forget to purchase both grape and strawberry varieties).
Limited to 28 total minutes (and never in more than a six-minute burst) in the first nine appearances of his rookie campaign, Johnson might have been the chief beneficiary of Boston's lopsided victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
The 27th overall pick in last summer's draft received the longest stint of his NBA career, logging 9 minutes 43 seconds of court time in the fourth quarter and responded by chipping in 11 points while making all five shots he hoisted en route to a breezy 100-64 triumph.
"It definitely helps [my confidence]. I know I can compete with these guys," the soft-spoken Johnson said. "I never had any doubts about that, but it’s just a comfort level. That’s where it helped me out tonight."
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
In less than 26 minutes of court time, Celtics captain Paul Pierce filled up his stat line (17 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, steal, block, +28 in plus/minus) helping to turn this one into a laugher with no signs of a Cleveland-like comeback. The Celtics led by 13 after one quarter, 22 at the intermission, and 28 entering the final frame. The best number in Kevin Garnett's stat line: a mere 16:52 of court time (chipping in 7 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks during that span). Avery Bradley (11 points on 5-of-6 shooting) and Ray Allen (12 points on 5-of-9 shooting) joined Pierce in the starters' double-digit party. Jerryd Bayless scored a team-high 14 points off the bench for the Raptors.
BASS, PIERCE PROVIDE EARLY SPARK
Brandon Bass might not have been the first big off the bench (Chris Wilcox came in early relief after Jermaine O'Neal got two quick fouls), but he continues to provide the reserve spark, hitting all three shots he attempted in six minutes, chipping in eight first-quarter points as the Celtics opened that 13-point lead (29-16) after one frame. Pierce aided the strong start, chipping in seven points, four assists, and three rebounds while playing the entire frame. Boston shot 60 percent (12 of 20 overall) during the first quarter (and 62.2 percent in the first half).
WHEN KG'S HITTING THREES...
... it's going to be a long night for the opposition. Garnett was a couple steps behind the stripe when he splashed a 25-foot triple to end the first half. It was his first 3-pointer of the year and fifth in the Big Three era. What's easy to forget is that Garnett used to go to that weapon more often, hoisting 596 triples for his career (making 168, including a career-high 37 in 2001-02).
Garnett grooved with his favorite American Bandstand dancer as Gino Time rolled with Boston out front 89-58 with 4:43 to play. As play resumed on the court, the JumboTron displayed a shot of Garnett shaking his hips with a wide grin as he watched the video from a few steps in front of the Boston bench.
EXTENDED ACTION FOR YOUNG PLAYERS
With such a lopsided lead -- and no signs of a let-up -- the Celtics were able to give young players like rookie first-round pick JaJuan Johnson extended action. Johnson played nearly the entire fourth quarter, chipping in 11 points while hitting all five shots he attempted. Greg Stiemsma (7 minutes) and E'Twaun Moore (21:32) got quality time as well.
WHAT IT MEANS
That's how you take care of a 22-point lead. Even on the second night of a back-to-back, the Celtics came out with excellent energy and ran Toronto out of the gym early. The starters enjoyed low minutes, while the younger players got extended burn. It's exactly the type of night the Celtics need more of during this condensed season. The Celtics have now won seven of their last nine and jump above. 500 at 11-10. The New York Knicks visit Friday as the Celtics continue a five-game homestand and Boston will be looking for revenge after a Christmas Day loss in New York.
BOSTON -- Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will miss his eighth straight game due to an injured right wrist, sitting out Wednesday's visit from the same Raptors team he was injured against two weeks ago.
Could Rondo be back for Friday's visit from the New York Knicks?
"I think he’ll be in the building," Celtics coach Doc Rivers quipped. "I don’t know if he’ll play or not; we’ll just wait until Friday. We've got a game tonight, so we’re going to wait for that. I think he’ll be close. He’s getting closer every day."
Rivers said Boston's lineup will remain the same coming off Tuesday's win in Cleveland, meaning Jermaine O'Neal, who had returned after a three-game absence due to a left knee bruise, is back in the starting lineup after providing a boost in the back end of a home-and-home with the Cavaliers.
Rondo and Keyon Dooling (hip pointer) are inactive for Boston.
Regarding Marquis Daniels, who earned an eyebrow-raising DNP (coach's decision) on Tuesday, Rivers said it was simply a desire to give more minutes to Sasha Pavlovic.
"Just went with Sasha," Rivers said. "I’m sure [Daniels will] get his number called again."
1. Will the Celtics' late-game stumble Tuesday night in Cleveland hurt its cause Wednesday against Toronto?
Robb: No. If anything, I expect it to be a helpful motivating factor. The Celtics had the right to start feeling good (probably a little too good) about themselves after rolling off four straight quality wins last week while undermanned. After collapsing on Sunday night though, they responded for three quarters again last night before letting down their guard late. I expect another strong effort Wednesday night in response to this. Toronto is coming off a back-to-back as well, so tired legs will be an issue for both squads, leaving the C's with no excuse.
Forsberg: The need to trot out the starters for extended minutes to simply save Tuesday's win certainly doesn't help matters, but I'm not sure it will hurt Boston that much, either. The Celtics have been solid on the second night of back-to-backs in Boston, winning all three of the games played in that situation (what's more, all three came in situations where the first game was on the road). If this was a top-tier opponent, the concern might be greater. But let's face it, it's the Raptors and the Celtics shouldn't need the freshest of legs to race away on Wednesday.
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