Some people don’t handle rejection very well.
Kevin Garnett and the Celtics turned out to be among those people. Led by ‘oldie’ 29 year old Samuel Dalembert, the active young Kings rejected 10 first half Celtic shots.
The Kings seemed like they would block just about everything the Celtics tried to throw up there in the first half. Sacramento had more energy and appeared to control the game until Kevin Garnett had a long talk…with himself.
In the second half an uninspired Celtic team gained inspiration after Kevin Garnett had a few intense talks with himself or whoever he talks to when he’s walking around out on the court talking intensely to that mysterious invisible man. It first started with the Celtics down but mounting an early second half comeback.
It was after a DeMarcus Cousins foul on KG on a KG dunk attempt with 8:47 left in the third and the Cs still down 59-51. KG made both free throws bringing the Cs to within 59-53.
It must have been a motivating conversation, because that conversation, and some fired up Celtic defense led by Garnett, changed the complexion of the game. After a Shaq made one of two free throws, KG went from guarding Cousins on the perimeter to blocking 7′ Dalembert on a dunk attempt – giving the game’s leading shot blocker a taste of his own medicine.
KG then walked away and got even madder at himself ( I should have blocked it twice?) and performed some one handed chest pounding CPR on himself at the same time. It was a cardiac procedure that worked not only on himself but vicariously on the whole Celtic team. Medical research centers everywhere are asking for copies of the game tape to analyze just how that could work.
Then Garnett guarded Cousins at the three point line, forcing him into a bad attempt as the shot clock expired. More intense, animated self flagellating conversation as KG headed down court. After Rondo got blocked and sent to the floor on another Dalembert rejection, he made up for it with a driving lay-up and Ray Allen received a nice pass cutting into the middle from Garnett and put up one his little ‘scissor feet’ jump shots to get the Cs within one at 61-60.
Garnett got fouled on a shot attempt and continued his verbalocity, telling his team mates to get him the ball. He then hits the two free throws to give Boston the lead at 62-61 after that. Apparently a Ray Allen half time dressing down of the team laid the groundwork for KG’s driven second half. Together, they spurred an 11-2 run by the Green Machine. Maybe Ray Allen motivated the motivator.
Floor Diving KG – Play of the Game
If there was any question the Celtics would join KG’s fight for this game, that was answered after Landry made two foul shots on a KG foul (who else?). Ray Allen came down and missed a three pointer that Rondo tapped away from Carl Landry to KG who then went to the floor battling Landry for the ball. KG got it and rolled and tossed it to Rondo nearby who then passed it to an attacking Ray Allen at the side three point line. Ray buried it this time. Celtics up 65-64 and their energy was off the hook from here on.
Watching an intense, maniacal Garnett like that is a thing to behold. While it may not have the same effect on the top contending teams in the NBA, it certainly has an intimidating and deflating effect on young teams, even talented ones like the Kings. The Celtics rolled to around a 8-10 point advantage the rest of the way until the final minute of the game when some big but desperate King shots brought them to within 5 points.
No More Upsets
After going into half time down ten points (55-45), the Boston Celtics move to 37-11 after upsetting the upstart upsetters, the Sacramento Kings, with a strong second half to pull out the ‘W’. The now 12-34 Kings had won 2 in a row with major upsets of the Lakers and Hornets, and 3 of 4 with another W over the Blazers. They had the Celtics lined up as next in their sights and played with unusual poise. Schnikees, is this King team finally starting to get it?
It was starting to look like one of those trap games for the Celtics. They were playing the lowly Kings, on the road, after an emotional win over the Lakers on Sunday, the team that stole the NBA title from Boston’s very grasp last June. They could easily have been played out, and looked a bit like that in the first half.
The Kings could be an ‘Oklahoma City-Lite’ kind of team if they ever get things clicking. Young, athletic, talented and energetic. The kind of team that can give an aging veteran team trouble if they don’t come to play.
The Kings blocked and altered multiple shots with an active interior and weak side defense, especially in the first half. Perkins got blocked. Shaq got blocked. Rondo and Davis got blocked. Seven different Celtics were rejected in all. Samuel Dalembert led the way with 4 first half blocks and finished with 5 of the Kings 12 rejections in the game.
On top of that, unsung Donte Greene looked like the second coming of…. Hondo Havlicek? Okay, Bill Walton was announcing for the Kings and was going for that over reaching comparison, but Greene was lighting it up from everywhere on the court and had 15 first half points to lead Sacramento. Donte finished with…15.
The Celtics came out in the second and largely behind Garnett’s determination, sparked Nate Robinson and the rest of the Celtics, as they refused to let this one get away. Though the Cs defense amped up and closed the Kings offense down, holding the Kings to just 36 second half points, the Kings would put up a fight until the end. With the game seemingly won, the Kings would close to within 2 possessions three times in the final minute.
Robinson Helps Steal the Game Away
Both teams displayed active hands with the Celtics committing a larcenous 14 steal game, surprisingly led by Nate Robinson’s 5, with 4 of his in the second half. Rondo was the other major part of the Cs theft ring with 4 steals. The Kings stole the ball 10 times led by the active hands of Beno Udrih with three knock aways.
Robinson couldn’t throw it in the ocean most of the night and that too often means he doesn’t contribute much to the team’s success on those nights. This night would be different.
Nate’ poor shooting was offset by the active hands, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists that should have been 3 if Davis was able to get off a left side jumper after Nate collapsed the defense inside with a beautiful drive and superb dish to a now open Davis. Jeter came out of nowhere and knocked the ball loose as Glen was going up. Davis played a solid game and got his offense going late, adding ten 4th quarter points to finish with 14 in 24 minutes.
Boston’s win was also aided by another category that they are chronically deficient in – offensive rebounds. The Celtics grabbed 11 offensive boards and converted a number of them for second chance points. The Celtics also won the overall battle of the boards with 43-36, led by Kendrick Perkins off the bench with 10 boards in 24 minutes
Ray Allen led the Beantown Ballers in scoring with 22 points on 9 of 15 shooting with 4 more three pointers, against an improving Sacramento defense. Ray added 6 rebounds to the Celtics’ efforts. Rajon Rondo added 17 points and 10 assists. Paul Pierce added 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals, while KG finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal to go with his game changing defensive effort.
Tyreke Evans and a noticeably improving DeMarcus Cousins led the Block-Kings with 20 points each.
In the end, the Celtics’ poise, infusion of second half energy, and formidable defense won the day. The Celtics offense was a team affair once again, but Ray was the leader among equals.
The last game Robinson surprised the Lakers with much needed scoring. This time Nate surprised the Kings with alert and active hands as the Celtics head home to play the Mavericks on Friday.
In the end the Celtics got over the rejection(s) and signs of fatigue to steal a game from a Kings team that is showing signs of life.
KG’s solo conversations just this side of mental health and self CPR?
Not sure whether cardiac specialists or psychiatrists are studying game tapes on that one. Dude is crazy with heart.