Detroit's Hamilton seeing more time on the bench

Detroit's Hamilton seeing more time on the bench

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Dribble. Dribble. Dribble. Pull-up from the elbow. Swish.

Detroit Pistons guard Richard Hamilton has been doing this for years.

But these days, the swish doesn't come about nearly as often.

And his playing time?

Gone.

The three-time all-star has not played (coaches decision) in Detroit's last four games, a trend that's expected to continue tonight against the Boston Celtics.

Hamilton's absence is especially noticeable in the TD Garden, a place where his battles with fellow UConn alum Ray Allen have been legendary.

Their battles became so intense, both had to shoot down rumors that they didn't like each other.

"He's somewhat come along in my shadow," Allen told CSNNE.com. "It's almost like the big-brother, little-brother you want to beat big brother all the time."

Said Hamilton: "Ray was a big part of me going to UConn. You look at UConn now, it has this reputation of producing NBA-ready 2s (shooting guards). It really started with Ray."

It is those battles with Allen and other upper-echelon NBA players, that have made Hamilton's demotion so difficult to swallow.

"The battles, like playing against Ray, it's always fun," Hamilton told CSNNE.com. "It's always great; it's a challenge."

These days, Hamilton challenges himself during and after practice, continuing to work on his game while the Pistons continue to search for him a new home.

It appeared the search was nearly over, with Hamilton a likely participant in the proposed blockbuster deal that will send Denver's Carmelo Anthony to the New Jersey Nets.

However, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov told reporters in New Jersey on Wednesday that the he was no longer interested in trading for Anthony.

Really, I am not happy with the way the deal has gone until now, Prokhorov told reporters prior to the Nets hosting the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. It has taken too long. It has been played out in public. The uncertainty has taken a toll on the players. And I believe it has cost us several games games I believe our team for sure could win in this period of time. Prokhorov added, So I think the management of the team did a great job. But there comes a time when the prize is simply too expensive. I am instructing our team to walk away from the deal, and the meeting that was supposed to be held by our management in Denver with Carmelo is hereby canceled.Even with the deal involving Hamilton essentially killed, the Pistons still elected to not play Hamilton (coaches decision) in the first half on Wednesday.

"It's a crazy situation," Hamilton said. "You hear so many speculation things like that. I've never been a part of this my whole career, let alone have to go through something here in Detroit."

Hamilton is in his ninth season with the Pistons, 12th in the league.

He has been an integral part of Detroit being among the most successful NBA teams during the early 2000s, which included a 2004 NBA title.

But that Hamilton and that unprecedented success he was a part of, are both things of the past now.

Hamilton knows his days as a Piston are numbered.

He's cool with that.

At this point, the only thing he wants is closure to what has been the most trying time of his career.

"I just want an opportunity to play," he said. "You've been hearing rumors for the last two-plus years (about me being traded). So it's more evident now than ever. My job is to stay ready, keep myself in shape."

He does this by undergoing a rigorous post-practice regimen with Ben Wallace, who was also with the Pistons during their glory days of the early 2000s.

"It's fun, playing with a guy that I've been through wars with," Hamilton said. "I still get a joy out of it. But I'd rather be out there playing than doing this."

Still, there's no denying the success Detroit has experienced since the Pistons opted to take Hamilton out of the rotation.

In the four games with Hamilton not playing, Detroit is 3-1.

While it may appear that Hamilton's game can't help the Pistons, the soon-to-be 33-year-old still has enough skills to help someone win.

And that, maybe more than anything else, is what really bothers him about all this.

"It's not like I can't play at all anymore," Hamilton said. "But you know that, it's out of my hands. What's going on right now is not basketball. It's more than that. So it's like when you go against teams like this you want to be in the war with your brothers. But it is what it is."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

WALTHAM, Mass. – When it comes to NBA standings, no Celtic pays closer attention to it than Isaiah Thomas.
 
But the 5-foot-9 All-Star is quick to say that while he’s aware of what’s happening with other teams record-wise, Thomas, like his teammates, isn’t obsessed with it, even with the Celtics (48-26) now in first place in the East following Cleveland’s loss at San Antonio on Monday.
 
“It’s a good feeling,” Thomas said. “It’s still not the end of the year; anything can happen. It’s a nice feeling to be the number one seed for once, but we just have to continue to control what we can control.”

The fact that Boston is even in position to finish with the best record in the East is amazing when you consider injuries and illnesses have forced them to use 13 different starting lineups this season.
 
And the preferred starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson has played together 31 times and posted an impressive 24-7 record.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been consistent in his message that while having the best record in the East is nice, he’s more consumed with the team continuing to improve.
 
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot right now,” Stevens said of being in first place. “The whole idea is to make progress, get better every day and stay in the moment. You do that if you’re in last place trying to build up or whether you’re in a position where you’re fighting for seeding. Ultimately, we’ve been able to grow and get a little bit better. But I still think we can play a lot better. That’s where my focus is.”
 
And the same holds true for his players. Thomas knows how unusual this season has been for the Celtics, who continue finding ways to win despite frequently being short-handed.
 
The latest example of that involves forward Jonas Jerebko, who is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee because of a sore left knee that limited him in Tuesday’s practice.
 
“It’s a long season. A lot of things can happen whether they be good or bad and we know that,” Thomas said. “We just try to withstand the storm we’ve had a few times this year, and continue to try and stay as positive as possible and we’ve done that. We’re in a good position right now. We just have to continue to take care of business.”
  
And that means steadily improving while piling up the wins, particularly against teams such as the Bucks (37-36), who are among a handful of teams that could potentially be Boston’s first-round opponent.
 
Milwaukee comes in having won 11 of its past 14 games.

“It makes the game that much more important,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “Just like the Miami game. We want to let the teams know now, they go up against us in the playoffs, it’s no mercy. We’re going to play hard. We’re going to bring it every single night. We’re going to play Celtics basketball every single night. Them knowing that, we can scare a lot of teams if we’re playing the right way.”

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics have spent most of this season playing short-handed and Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee will potentially be another one of those games.
 
Veteran forward Jonas Jerebko has a sore left knee and is considered questionable for the Bucks’ game.
 
“Jonas went through about half of [Tuesday’s] practice,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
 
Jerebko has missed two games this season due to illness.
 
Because of Milwaukee’s length at seemingly every position, Jerebko’s ability to play both forward positions will be something the Celtics will surely miss if he’s unable to play.
 
This season, Jerebko has appeared in 69 games while averaging 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 35.0 percent on 3’s.