Print and Go Back ESPN.com: TrueHoop [Print without images]

Thursday, December 30, 2010
Celtics feel pain of Garnett loss

By ESPN Stats & Info

For the second time in a week, one of the best teams in the NBA lost an elite player to injury. The impact of the absence of both Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett was immediate.

For the Mavericks, it came with a home loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night. In the case of the Boston Celtics, it came in the form of a 104-92 loss to the Detroit Pistons a day later.

Kevin Garnett
Garnett
Data from the Elias Sports Bureau shows that the Celtics typically outscore opponents by 14.9 points-per-48 minutes when Garnett has been on the floor this season, and outscored by 3.6 points when he has been out of the game. The difference (18.5 points-per-game better) ranks third among NBA players, trailing only Nowitzki and Steve Nash.

They got burned for 104 points by a hot-shooting Pistons team, one that sizzled from 3-point range for the second straight game. The Pistons followed up an 11-for-19 3-point shooting effort in their last game against the Bobcats by making 10-of-15 3-pointers against the Celtics.

A check of Basketball-Reference.com showed it to be the third time in the last 25 years (and the first time since 2008) that the Pistons had consecutive games in which they made at least 10 3-pointers AND shot 55 percent or better from 3-point range.

Elsewhere, while the Celtics had a rare bad night, the Los Angeles Lakers had a rare (relatively speaking) good one, snapping their three-game losing streak with a 103-88 road win over the New Orleans Hornets. The Lakers shot only 29 percent from 3-point range, but made up for that by making 68 percent of their two-point attempts.

The Lakers have played it to an extreme over the last two games. Tuesday night, they shot a season-low 35.4 percent against the San Antonio Spurs. Their 58.6 percent Wednesday was a season high.

Our nightly look at the most interesting plus-minus numbers also provided a couple of interesting takes from Wednesday’s games.

Miami Heat forward, Chris Bosh, who entered the night leading the NBA in plus-minus, was minus-16 in a 125-119 win over the Houston Rockets. In fact, when Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade were on the floor together, the Rockets outscored the Heat, 80-78.

It was a historic win for the Heat. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they became the first team in NBA history to go 10-0 on the road in a calendar month.

Tyreke Evans was minus-8, but was plus-3 when it counted, sinking his first career NBA buzzer beater, a shot from beyond halfcourt that gave the Sacramento Kings a 100-98 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

It was the eighth NBA buzzer-beater this season, the first for the Kings since Kevin Martin hit one to beat the Seattle SuperSonics on January 27, 2008.

And Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups may have had the best game of the night by someone other than Wade, going 6-for-6 from 3-point range, and finishing with 36 points in a 119-113 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

But the Nuggets were outscored by two points when Billups was on the floor. In contrast, J.R. Smith was just 4-for-16 from the field, but Denver outscored Minnesota by 21 points in his 30 minutes of play.