Noah doesn't think KG's so bad after all

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Noah doesn't think KG's so bad after all

BOSTON -- Maybe, just maybe, Joakim Noah doesn't think Kevin Garnett is so bad.

There is a little piece of him that actually likes Garnett for intensity and appreciates his passion that gets under the skin of players around the league.

But before we get to those underlying emotions, let's go back to his sentiments on the surface.

On Friday the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls tangled in yet another battle. This time, the Derrick Rose-less Bulls beat the Avery Bradley-less Celtics, 100-99 in overtime. There were plenty of tense moments between Garnett and Noah and the hostility could be felt across the court.

Following the game, Noah discussed limiting Garnett to 5-for-16 shooting by playing tough defense and contesting his shot. Then he went a step further in his analysis.

"He's a hell of a competitor," said Noah. "He's always on some bulls. (What does that mean?) Just trying to throw elbows, cheap shots, just trying to get you off your game. But he's a vet, he's been doing this a long time, but it's alright."

There was a time when Noah deemed Garnett "a dirty player." Reflecting on that now, Noah said, "I feel like I was young, maybe talking a little bit too much. What happens on the court should stay on the court and I was pretty vocal about it but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is winning or losing basketball games. It doesn't matter, you don't have to like your opponents, it's alright."

When asked if he thought Garnett crosses the line when he plays, Noah replied no, before adding, "When we lose, I feel like he crosses the line. But since we've been beating their a, I'm cool with it."

Noah is now 27, about to turn 28 next month. He is in his sixth NBA season, long enough for him to know how to manage his emotions. He has learned opposing players are not there to be his friend. No matter who he looked up to as a child, unless they are wearing the same uniform as him, they are out to beat him. That was a challenging reality for him to understand early on and one of the reasons why he was so taken aback by and vocal about Garnett's demeanor.

Coming to that realization has given him an appreciation for Garnett. It is a feeling wrapped up tightly in layers of competitiveness, but it's there nonetheless.

"The thing is, when I was a kid I used to wear Kevin Garnett jerseys," he said. "I used to have his poster and his jersey and I would wear it proud. I guess it's part of growing up and being part of the league. You can't be a fan anymore, you've got to compete against these guys. He made me learn that, and I kind of like it, because from that day on, I would never, ever go up to somebody before a game or during a game and show my appreciation or something like that, or show what they meant to me. Because of KG, I will never, ever, ever do that again. It was embarrassing."

Noah refuses to be humiliated on the court. He gets in a zone before playing the Celtics, which begins the day prior to the matchup. Garnett has shut down players before, and Noah will not let himself be one of them. For that, he actually likes taking on the future Hall of Famer.

"Yeah, I do (enjoy playing against someone like Garnett) because I know that if I don't come ready to play, I know that he's going to embarrass me," he said. "I would never, ever go out before a game before I play KG. I would never ever. I'm always ready to play when I play Boston because I know a guy like that, if you don't come ready to play, he will embarrass you."

Garnett and Noah are driven apart by a commonality. They just want to win and their opponent, whether it is a childhood idol or longtime friend, is in their way. Noah doesn't expect to grab coffee with Garnett and get together in the offseason -- "Cool? No, he wants to win and I want to be win. I don't think it will ever be cool," he said -- but now he is at a point in his career where he is able to appreciate their differences that make them similar.

"We've had a lot of battles, but I respect his grind," Noah said. "I respect the way he competes."

Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz 'made one pitch that hurt' Red Sox

Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz 'made one pitch that hurt' Red Sox

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers:

QUOTES:

"He pitched as we had anticipated at the time of the trade.'' - John Farrell on Drew Pomeranz.

"I had a good curveball and I was locating my fastball a lot better. I was in a lot better counts all night, but I made one pitch that hurt us.'' - Pomeranz on his outing.

"He was able to limit the damage against a very good offensive team. He pitched well enough to win. I just wish we could have put more runs on the board for him.'' - Jackie Bradley Jr. on Pomeranz.

 

NOTES:

* Until Monday night, the Red Sox had won their last six series openers.

* Drew Pomeranz has allowed four or fewer hits in 12 of his 18 starts this season.

* Eleven of Travis Shaw's last 15 hits have been for extra bases.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. had his 25th multi-hit game.

* Sandy Leon is hitting .500 (11-for-22) with runners in scoring position.

* The Red Sox are 21-21 in games decided by two or fewer runs.

* Dustin Pedroia (walk, single) has reached base in 28 straight games.

* Xander Bogaerts has 133 hits through 97 games. Since 1940, only Wade Boggs (134 in 1983; 135 in 1987) and Adrian Gonzalez (135 in 2011) had more.

STARS:

1) Justin Verlander

Verlander has enjoyed a bounce-back season of sorts this year, and the Red Sox got to see it up close Monday night as Verlander limited them a single run over six innings.

2) Jose Iglesias

The former Red Sox shortstop haunted his old team with a two-run homer in the sixth to put the Tigers ahead to stay.

3) Drew Pomeranz

The lefty absorbed the loss, but pitched well enough to win, giving up two runs in six innings while striking out seven.