OFFSEASON

O'Neal delivers finest Celtics performance

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O'Neal delivers finest Celtics performance

BOSTON -- For some veteran players, a condensed season means conserving minutes and limiting time on the court to preserve energy for the next game.

Jermaine ONeal wants the opposite of that.

On Friday night, ONeal played nearly 29 minutes in the Celtics' win against the Detroit Pistons. He scored a team-high 19 points (7-for-9 FG) and grabbed seven rebounds. It was his highest point total since last April in which he scored 15 points in 36 minutes.

ONeal, who had not played more than 22 minutes the first three games of the season, was able to find his rhythm -- and the basket.

I was able to be effective by playing extended minutes, he said after the Celtics' 96-85 victory. I think when you can get a rhythm, you can get a flow, you can get comfortable with what the team is doing.

You look at the first couple of games, I was in and out of there so fast, it was almost impossible to get any flow to the game. But more than anything, concentrating on the task and thats setting screens, rolling to the basket, try to get to the open spot, and this team is about a team. Its about finding the open guy and helping the next guy get his shot. Tonight it just was falling for me.

Coach Doc Rivers was complimentary of the big mans performance after the game.

He was terrific, said Rivers. He gave us a great lift, played with great energy. He made shots, but the offensive part, to me, came from doing his job, really. I told him that. I thought he was really focused on setting picks and rebounding and doing all the little things.

Its funny, we just talked about this as a group and I said, Guys who do that, its amazing how you get rewarded somehow. And thats what happened, to me. He kept setting picks on Ray Allen. And listen, JOs no dummy. If you set a pick on Ray, everyones jumping to Ray and he kept slipping it. He sought it early in the game, and thats brilliant. He did his job by getting Ray open and he benefited from it, and we benefited from it.

Allen, who scored 17 points, appreciated his teammates efforts.

He was huge, Allen said of ONeal. He showed his length, his presence, he rotated over, he made guys miss around the basket. Even if he wasnt in position, he gradually saw them coming and he gave us great position deep in the paint. And he made his shots. He played a great game for us.

On paper, Friday night was ONeals best game since joining the Celtics last season. He agrees with that assessment on the offensive end, but points that he judges his overall performance on more than just scoring baskets. He looks to continue staying out of foul trouble early and helping the team on the defensive end.

Im not going to let the offensive end dictate, and I know people are always going to judge that part of me how I helped the team based off that, he said. air or not, thats just how people are. But defensively and rebounding is where Im going to judge myself and thats my role.

Ive heard people ask me, Why would you accept that role? Because thats what you do on a championship-caliber team. You accept your role and you get into that position and you own that position. Thats what I want to do.

OFFSEASON

Yabusele expects to be on Celtics summer league roster

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Yabusele expects to be on Celtics summer league roster

ROXBURY, Mass. – The Boston Celtics shocked many on draft night last week when they selected French forward Guerschon Yabusele with the 16th overall pick.

Well here’s another unexpected twist involving Yabusele: He said he plans to be on the Celtics’ summer league team which begins play next week in Salt Lake City.

“My agent is working in France to do something for me, to be able to play in summer league,” Yabusele said.

Like most NBA rookies, Yabusele is eager to get on the floor and get his first taste of NBA basketball this summer.

“That’s a dream come true,” Yabusele said. “When I was young thinking about the NBA all the time. I knew it would happen at some point.”

But the 20-year-old forward isn’t focused on testing the NBA waters and returning to overseas play soon.

“Not just stay three years or four, but stay all my life in the NBA,” he said.

Yabusele made the announcement following the Boston Celtics’ rookies (minus Ante Zizic) all participating in a basketball clinic at the Madison Park Community Center as the Boston Celtics celebrated their 50th Renovation project since 2008.

The news isn’t quite as optimistic for fellow international Celtic Ante Zizic who is not likely to have his contract situation overseas worked out in enough time to join Boston for summer league play in Salt Lake City and afterwards in Las Vegas.

Still, Yabusele getting a shot to play now is huge both for his own personal growth and that of the Celtics to get a better feel for how their first-round pick stacks up against fellow rookies and young teammates like Jordan Mickey.

This past season, Yabusele averaged 11.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 28.7 minutes with Rouen Metropole Basket in the LNB Pro A league in France. He appeared in 34 games and grabbed 10 or more rebounds 11 times while tallying eight double-doubles.