Garnett: 'We're a team that will fight'

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Garnett: 'We're a team that will fight'

Two months after Doc Rivers called the Boston Celtics a "soft team," the words are still fresh on Kevin Garnett's mind.

Rivers made the comment following the Celtics altercation with the Brooklyn Nets in late November, a scuffle which resulted in a suspension for Rajon Rondo and fines for Garnett and Gerald Wallace.

Now the Celtics are facing adversity far greater than heated exchanges with Kris Humphries -- season-ending injuries to both Rondo (ACL) and Jared Sullinger (lumbar disc). Garnett sees them proving Rivers' earlier comments wrong.

"Although Doc made his (expletive) comments about us being soft and (expletive), we're a team that will fight and we are a team who is very competitive and we're very prideful," he said. "When you lose pieces and you lose certain things about your team, you learn that you see the fight within each other and you just follow that. More than anything, I think we're just being competitive out here, sharing the basketball, and playing."

The Celtics have responded to their new challenges with a three-game winning streak. They beat the Miami Heat on Sunday without Rondo, dominated the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday after Sullinger left the game with back spasms, and topped the Orlando Magic on Friday down two of their key players.

With every obstacle, the Celtics are upping their roles and making contributions where needed.

Veterans Garnett and Paul Pierce immediately stepped up to lead their team. Pierce has averaged 15.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 7 assists in the last three games, well above his season average of 6.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He posted a triple-double against the Heat and back-to-back double-doubles in the next two contests. Garnett is averaging 17.0 points and 10.0 rebounds (season average 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds) since Sunday.

On Friday against the Magic, the backcourt trio of Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Leandro Barbosa combined for 38 points, while Jeff Green scored a game-high 17.

In any given game, a different player could take the lead with the team on the same page.

"I told you when Rondo went down that obviously all of us would have to pick up the load," said Garnett. "And now we lost Jared, even more. Jared is a great rebounder for us, great facilitator. The guys now that are getting opportunities are just going to have to come in and, like I said with Rondo, it's going to fall on the backs of everybody."

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

You knew the 3-point shots were going to be flying all game long when the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets tipped off Monday night. 
 
Now whether they would go in, that’s another matter entirely. 
 
Boston’s struggles with knocking down the long ball played a pivotal role in them going into the half trailing the Houston Rockets, 58-48.
 
Houston, the NBA’s leader in three-pointers made (14.0) and taken (37.0), were 8-for-21 in the first half on 3s while the Celtics were a not-so-impressive 5-for-18.
 
Despite the shooting struggles, Boston managed to lead 37-36 after a driving lay-up by Jaylen Brown. 
 
But the Rockets had too much firepower and when they weren’t knocking down shots, they were getting to the free throw line where there 18-for-20 compared to Boston which was just 1-for-2.
Here are the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game. 

 

STARS
 
James Harden

The MVP candidate was bringing it all areas, scoring 21 points to go with seven assists. But he was far from perfect, evident by his six turnovers. 
 
Isaiah Thomas

He led the Celtics with 11 points, but looks to be growing frustrated with the lack of calls going the Celtics’ way. Near the end of the second quarter, Thomas was grimacing while holding his right groin. But it didn’t appear to be too big a deal as he hit a 3-pointer just moments later. But it’s worth keeping an eye on in the second half. 
 

STUDS
 
Jaylen Brown

He gave Boston a surprisingly strong lift off the Celtics bench. At the half, he had seven points which included a lay-up that put Boston ahead 37-36.

Trevor Ariza

He doesn’t get a ton of attention, but Ariza’s play has been one of the keys to Houston’s success this season. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds.

 

DUDS
 
Jonas Jerebko

He got the start tonight, but looks nothing like the high-energy, impact player he has been of late while coming off the bench. He was scoreless in the first half while missing all three of his shot attempts.