Green speed demons
PHOENIX, Feb 23, 2013 (Boston Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Bigger help may be on the way, but last night the Celtics made desperation work for them.
A fatigued Kevin Garnett was given the night off -- Doc Rivers said he should have given his center a rest two nights earlier against the Lakers -- and the result was one of the smallest Celtics teams in memory.
Consider the C's lineup that opened the second half of last night's 113-88 win over Phoenix, their biggest margin of the year: Paul Pierce (6-foot-7), Brandon Bass (6-8), Jeff Green (6-9), Avery Bradley (6-2) and Courtney Lee (6-5).
The Celtics coach, with one of the Western Conference's worst teams on the other side, was able to work new combinations. He got a lengthy 25-minute look at Terrence Williams, who was once told by his Louisville coach, Rick Pitino, to take advantage of his Paul Pierce video library.
Rivers was pleased with the swingman's nine-point, four-rebound, four-assist performance. The 6-foot-6 Williams played everything from small forward to point guard.
The even-newer Jordan Crawford was sent in to do what he does best -- shoot the ball -- and finished with 10 points in 18 minutes.
But Jeff Green, given his first start of the season as the result of Garnett's absence, led this speed lineup with 31 points on 11-for-14 shooting -- his high as a Celtic.
"Jeff was fantastic," said Rivers. "He knew he didn't play well against the Lakers. He was down after that game, and he voiced that.
"He's a matchup nightmare. At 3 he can post you, and at the 4 he has speed. When he's making his jumper like he did tonight, it's a tough night for whoever is guarding him."
Above all, Green attacked. He started with seven straight points in the C's opening 13-0 run and never slowed down, or passed up a chance to score.
"I didn't have a different mindset at all," said Green. "It was the same mindset as when I come off the bench. Just be aggressive, try to make a statement in the game early. That's what I did by attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line.
"We have guys who can play multiple positions and off the ball," he said. "We did a great job of playing together and spreading the floor."
Perhaps the biggest revelation was the playmaking skills of the new players, Crawford and Williams. In the case of the latter, the Celtics may have found the backup point guard they have lacked since the departure of Leandro Barbosa to a torn ACL.
"You have to ask God, he gave it to me," Williams, half-joking, said of his point guard skills. "I just try to find people. I think this is a great, great group of guys who are able to make shots. I'm just getting them the ball. It's definitely a dream to play with shooters. I'm just trying to get them the ball.
"I got thrust into that when I played for Rick Pitino (at Louisville) in college," he said. "I had a few stops in the NBA when I actually brought the ball up, most recently in Sacramento. I'm not great like these other guys as far as running off of screens and shooting the ball, but I can find you and let you do the running."
Williams is particularly thankful for the veteran influence now watching his every move.
"I know KG wasn't here tonight, but I can still hear him in my ear, saying be aggressive," said Williams. "It's definitely great, also having Paul. When I committed to Louisville, coach Pitino had a lot of Paul Pierce tapes that he told me to watch."
Fittingly, one of the biggest beneficiaries was the subject of those tapes. Pierce didn't have to worry, for a change, about staying on the floor. The C's captain took a seat for good after only 26 minutes, with a modest eight-point, four-rebound performance to his name.
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