Celtics offense struggles without Garnett, Bass

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Celtics offense struggles without Garnett, Bass

DALLAS Not having Rajon Rondo available is certainly a blow to the Boston Celtics' chances of winning.

But not having Kevin Garnett or Brandon Bass?

Huge!

Monday's 89-73 loss to Dallas was yet another reminder of just how not having either one of those players available makes things a lot tougher for the Celtics when it comes to scoring.

Garnett has missed the Celtic's last two games while attending to what teammate Paul Pierce referred to as, "a family matter." And Bass is out with a left knee injury that will keep him off the court until some time after the all-star break.

Conventional wisdom dictates without Garnett and Bass, that just means more shots for Pierce and Ray Allen, right?

Not exactly.

Because both Garnett and Bass fall under the umbrella of being power forwards who can "stretch" the floor with their long-range shooting, their absence has made it easier for teams to defend Pierce and Allen.

"You could see it (Sunday night at Detroit)," Rivers said.

Just about every time either Pierce or Allen had the ball in their hands, at least two Pistons defenders were waiting or were close by.

That strategy employed by Detroit, was back on Monday night being implemented by Dallas.

"Our identity this year is that we're a defensive team," said Mavs coach and former Celtics player, Rick Carlisle.

But even Carlisle recognizes that the short-handed nature of the C's roster now, was indeed a factor that helped his team win.

"Their team was depleted to a great extent, so that's a mitigating circumstance," Carlisle acknowledged. "I understand that. But the other guys they threw out there were hard-playing guys and they played well. We had to play to win."

And that play included making sure that Allen and Pierce didn't get too many good looks, well aware that it would be easier with no Garnett or Bass in the picture.

Pierce, who had 20 points against the Mavs, will be the first to tell you that it's tough not being able to have the kind of freedom he's used to offensively.

But he totally understands where teams like Dallas are coming from.

"You've got to understand that if I was on the other team, I'd do that, too," Pierce said. "Especially when you don't have guys like Kevin and Rondo and Brandon out there, guyswho can space the floor. They have a good game plan and we've just got to figure out ways to get other guys the ball, and other guys need to step up and like I said, weather the storm."

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

BOSTON – No one is proclaiming DeMarcus Cousins’ demeanor is all that radically different than past seasons. 

But the volatile nature that has often overshadowed his on-the-court-brilliance, doesn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to. 

Maybe he’s growing up. 

Maybe he’s finally comfortable with his team. 

And then there’s the almighty dollar which was the incentive for one of his teammates, Matt Barnes, to clean up his act as far as racking up technical fouls and being fined by the league. 

I asked Barnes whether there was a light bulb moment or a teammate or player that helped him get on track and not draw so much attention from officials and the league office. 

“It was all the money I was being fined,” he said. “I think I lost like $600,000 over my career for fines. It was time to kind of wake and say ‘hey, they don’t like you so you have to stick to the book.’”

With Barnes returning to Sacramento (he played for the Kings during the 2004-2005 season), he finds an intense, kindred spirit of sorts in Cousins who like Barnes has had his share of technical and fines handed down by the league office. 

This season, Cousins is the NBA’s leader in technical fouls with six. 

“I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I’m just a passionate player. I play with my emotion on my sleeve. I think DeMarcus does the same thing. What I’m trying to show him now, we have to keep our emotions and energy focused towards the right things. That could be detrimental to the team if it gets out of hand.”

First-year coach Dave Joerger has been pleased to see how different Cousins is to be around on a daily basis as opposed to how he’s perceived. 

“He gets credit for his talent. He gets credit that he’s improved in the league,” Joerger said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for the way that his approach to the game and the way that he’s carrying himself and conducting himself has greatly improved. He’s a good person. Now being with him, I see improvement over the last three years, the way that he goes about his business. I think that’s very positive.”

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

BOSTON – Here are a few odds and ends to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings: 
 
· The Celtics have won eight in a row over the Kings in Boston, with the last loss to Sacramento at the TD Garden coming on Jan. 19, 2007. Current Celtic Gerald Green was in the starting lineup that night. 

· Only six times in franchise history have the Celtics launched 38 or more 3-pointers in a game, four of which came in the month of November this season. 

· Speaking of 3-pointers, 36.2 percent of Boston’s shots are 3s. That ranks fifth in the league behind Houston, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Golden State.

· Don’t be surprised if Avery Bradley gets off to a good start tonight, especially from 3-point range. He’s shooting 59.1 percent on 3s in the first quarter which ranks second in the league. 

· Isaiah Thomas tallied 395 points scored in November, the most by a Celtic since John Havlicek had 406 points in November during the 1971-1972 season. 

· Boston leads the NBA in points scored (46.3 per game) by second-round picks. The Celtics’ second-round picks include Isaiah Thomas; Jae Crowder; Amir Johnson; Jonas Jerebko; Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey.

· The Celtics are 5-0 this season when they outrebound an opponent. 

· Tonight’s game will be Boston’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. In the first game, they are 3-1 this season. On the second night, they are 2-2.