Garnett shows he still has it in win over Wizards

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Garnett shows he still has it in win over Wizards

WASHINGTON There are going to be nights when Kevin Garnett will be the best player on the floor for the Boston Celtics.

Sunday night was one of those nights, as Garnett went in full-on attack mode offensively in leading the C's to a 94-86 win over the Washington Wizards.

Garnett, who came into Sunday's game averaging 10.8 points per game, had a game-high 24 points on 9-for-17 shooting from the field.

He did more than just chuck up shots, evident by him grabbing nine rebounds in addition to doling out three assists - one of which was a no-look pass to a wide open Rajon Rondo for a lay-up.

Garnett was his usual solid self defensively, which he admits has been and will remain, his focus in games.

But he understands that there will be times when the C's will need him to pick up his scoring.

That conversation - the one about looking to score more - is a conversation that coach Doc Rivers has had with Garnett for as long as he has been a Celtic.

"At this point, my defense is definitely ahead of my offense," Garnett said. "I'm trying to be just the anchor and the glue of the team. That's my role. Rivers wants me to be a lot more offensive. From a flow and how we were playing, it was just coming to me on Sunday."

Boston opened with an 11-7 lead, with Garnett scoring six points during that spurt.

"I could tell he was ready to play tonight, just from the start," said Paul Pierce. "He really came with a lot of energy, with his moves to the basket, ducking in we did a better job and a conscious effort of getting him the ball, too."

Garnett being more aggressive makes this well-balanced squad even tougher to defend.

"It helps us big," said Rajon Rondo, who tallied his 16th career triple-double with 18 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. "Kevin came through for us, and we needed him. They made a run, and Kevin made shot after shot."

While the Celtics certainly can't bank on Garnett playing that well every game, finding the happy medium between remaining a solid defender and looking to assert himself more offensively, will remain a work in progress.

It becomes even more challenging with the condensed season that has left little time for practice.

Rivers told reporters before the game about how Garnett talked to him about how much he misses not being able to practice due to the tighter-than-usual schedule.

Player improvement is going to have to come during games, which is another reason why Sunday's win - and Garnett's role in that victory - bode well for the C's moving forward.

"It's clear," Rivers said. "The more games we play the better he'll get, for sure."

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

BOSTON – When you look at Avery Bradley’s growth this season, seeing the tremendous strides he has made offensively is clear.

But at the heart of Bradley’s game remains a desire to dominate a matchup as a defender, something that was alive and well on Monday as he made his return to the floor after missing the four previous games with an Achilles strain.

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Bradley’s defense would prove instrumental in Boston’s 108-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

He was 2-for-9 from the field and played nearly 33 minutes against Hornets which is just a couple minutes under his season average of court time.

Usually he’s responsible for providing a boost at both ends of the floor.

But considering his long lay-off, it was clear early on that he was locked in defensively more so than looking to get back on track shooting the ball.

“You take any type of games off in this league, your rhythm and all that you gotta get it back,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.

Even though his shots weren’t falling, Bradley was on top of his game defensively while guarding 6-foot-8 Nicolas Batum who is six inches taller but never was a factor on Monday.

Batum finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he got out of Bradley in his return to action.

“I thought he (Bradley) was great,” Stevens told CSNNE.com. “He did everything we needed him to do. We knew there would be a little bit of rust (shooting the ball), but that’s part of you playing your way back into it.”

As far as Bradley’s stifling defense on Batum, Stevens said, “You have to do that against Batum. I thought Avery did a really good job of that. It’s a hard matchup no matter what way you go. Batum, giving up inches to him. He (Bradley) was there on the catch all night.”

And as Bradley gradually gets back into a flow, he’ll regain the form offensively that made him one of the NBA’s better two-way players this season.