Garnett: Gay brings 'a spark' to Toronto

993185.jpg

Garnett: Gay brings 'a spark' to Toronto

TORONTO Rudy Gay has been a man in demand since being traded to Toronto from Memphis on Jan. 30.
And while he embraces this newfound attention, Gay isn't about to let it go to his head.
He knows for this trade to work, he has to do more than drop his usual 17.9 points per game or the 24.5 points in the two games played with the Raptors prior to Wednesday's 99-95 loss to the Celtics.
Gay led the Raptors with 25 points, but missed eight of his nine shot attempts in the fourth quarter and finished just 8-for-24 from the field.
Still, it's clear that the Celtics have a tremendous amount of respect for his game.
"Rudy's a great scorer," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "You can't stop guys like that. You're just trying to give him different looks and hope that he misses."
Indeed, this will be yet another lesson for Gay to learn from as he adapts to his new team in a new city, with a new role.
With so many young players on the roster, it's clear that the Raptors view him as the face of their franchise moving forward.
"It's a lot of great players here," Gay told CSNNE.com. "They're just young. They have to learn. For the most part, it takes time. Hopefully I can lower the curve a little bit just being out here."
Being called upon to be more of a leader was not one of the requirements of Gay when he was in Memphis.
While he was part of the Grizzlies' leadership core, the responsibility was doled out among other veterans such as Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and former Celtic Tony Allen.
But in Toronto, Gay understands all too well that his role will be one that includes delivering both on and off the court.
The best way to lead, he believes, is by example.
So in asking his teammates to improve their game, he too must find ways to become a better player.
"I still feel I have a lot more to prove," he said. "It's not about what I've done in the past, but what can I do in the future. I have a lot more to give, and I can do that here."
Although it's still early, Celtics coach Doc Rivers is convinced that the addition of Gay will make the Raptors a much better team.
"When you have a go-to scorer and what they have, it makes them a better basketball team," Rivers said. "Each time you add an offensive player to a team, it makes everyone better offensively."
Garnett is also among those who believes Toronto is a better team with Gay on the roster.
"They seem to be a lot more confident," Garnett said. "They are playing with the element ... all the games I've seen have been at home. They seem to be getting the ball up the floor at an unbelievable place. He's bringing a spark to that city. That's the first thing that stands out when I watch them."
But Gay isn't focused on being a star or anything like that.
He is more locked into finding ways to lead this team.
Miami's LeBron James is one of the players Gay has looked up to as a example of never being satisfied with one's game.
"He's a what? Two-time MVP? And you see he's always adding something to his game," Gay said. "That's what I'm trying to do; just keep getting better, doing more things to become a better player and hopefully that'll make us a better team.
"You can always add stuff to your game."

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

BOSTON – There was a point in the fourth quarter when Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins was fouled trying to score which brought about an automatic, intense and angry scowl from the all-star center. 

He raised his hand as he were going to strike back at the potential assailant. 

And then he saw the man was Jae Crowder. 

MORE:

Cousins, who had a game-high 28 points, then went to the free throw line, incident-free. 

“I’m not one those other cats he be punking,” said Crowder with a grin.

That moment was one of many throughout Friday night’s game when Crowder made his presence felt when the game mattered most, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with whoever stood between him and helping the Celtics win – even Cousins. 

But as Crowder explained following Boston’s 97-92 win, that moment was about two physical players who have developed an on-the-floor rapport that speaks to their intensity and desire to win at all costs. 

“He’s going to bring the game to you; his physicality,” said Crowder who had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. “He’s a very physical type of guy. If he senses you’re not physical at all, he’ll let you know. He’s a dog down there; he’s a bull. I love to go against a player like that. He’s going to give you his best shot each and every night. You either step up to the test or you get run over.” 

As soon as the two made eye contact, Crowder knew it was one of the many intimidation methods used by Cousins against opposing players. 

Crowder wasn’t having it. 

“That’s my guy; he’s my guy,” Crowder said of Cousins. “He plays a lot of tactics against a lot of other players. I’ve earned that respect with him. He knows I’m going to fight him just as hard as anybody else. We leave it on the court. He’s a good friend of mine. We’ve become friends, just playing ball, playing basketball the right way.”