By A.Sherrod Blakely
PORTLAND, Ore. When you look at the hybrid players in the NBA these days, they are big men who can also handle the ball. They often go by the name of point-forwards.
Kevin Garnett is not a point-forward, but that doesn't mean he can't find teammates in position for easy baskets.
That's exactly what he did on Thursday in helping the Celtics defeat the Portland Trail Blazers, 88-78.
Garnett had a near triple-double, scoring 10 points to go with 9 rebounds and 9 assists.
The points and rebounds, no surprise.
The nine assists?
Where did that come from?
Garnett's passing success had a lot to do with an adjustment by the Celtics in the third quarter.
"Rajon Rondo called a great call, which got the ball in Kevin's hands," said coach Doc Rivers. "He was basically, for that one stretch, turned into our passer with everybody cutting . . . He was terrific."
Six of Garnett's nine assists came in the third quarter.
"Some of the play calls permitted me to be a lot more free with some of the decision-making," Garnett said. "I'm a decent decision-maker. I know I can make some plays. I know how to pass the ball. I know my role. I don't come outside of that."
It was another night in which Garnett dominated the game in stealth fashion, raising hardly an eyebrow until you look at the final box score and see that he was just a rebound and an assist shy of his first triple-double this season, 20th of his career.
But in typical KG fashion, his impressive night statistically didn't mean much.
He was reminded that LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds, had a double-double in the first half.
Garnett then reminded a reporter that Aldridge's big game also came with "an 'L.' "
"I'm more into letters, than numbers," Garnett said. "All right?"