Stiemsma shows his skills in spot start for Celtics

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Stiemsma shows his skills in spot start for Celtics

BOSTON A couple weeks ago, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers needed to make a point to rookie center Greg Stiemsma.

He is a solid defender, and a really good shot-blocker.

But he also can shoot the ball, a point that Rivers has struggled at times to get Stiemsma to buy into.

"We had a silly day," Rivers said, "where he wouldn't shoot and I made him stand in front of the whole team and say, 'My name is Greg Stiemsma and I am a shooter.' And we kept making him repeat it."

Stiemsma appears to have gotten the message on Monday, as he replaced Jermaine O'Neal (hamstring) in the starting lineup in Monday's 100-92 win over Washington.

The 6-foot-11 rookie responded with a career-high 13 points, seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in his first NBA start.

"He does what he does," Rivers said of Stiemsma. "For him, the game is simple. He knows what he does. You rarely see him do anything else. He blocks shots; he tries to rebound. He makes these shots."

Rivers said the decision to go with Stiemsma was made during the team's walk-through.

"I just literally walked up to him in our walk-through and said, 'Greg, you're at the 5,'" recalled Rivers.

Stiemsma was excited, but didn't show it.

"This whole time here has been about opportunities," Stiemsma said. "I just look at it as another one."

And that opportunity involves making an impact at both ends of the floor.

Naturally, Celtics players were happy about the win as well as the role Stiemsma played in it.

"I'm happy for Greg," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "You see a guy come in here, come from the bottom, coming from nothing, he's very appreciative of his opportunity. He comes in and works his ass off; he's a true professional. You're just happy to see a guy get an opportunity like that, and more important, take advantage of it."

As well as Stiesma played on Monday and for that matter this season - he came into the game as the NBA's leader in blocked shots (3.3) per game among rookies and second overall - don't expect for Rivers to make a change at center anytime soon.

"JO is our starter," Rivers said.

Starter or backup, Stiemsma's even-keeled demeanor isn't likely to change.

"With every opportunity I've had I feel like I've tried to step up to the plate and come out and perform well and tonight was another opportunity," Stiemsma said. "I was happy to get the opportunity and to play well on top of that."

But there is a definite downside to Stiemsma's emergence for the Celtics.

"What I hate now, everybody knows who Greg is," Garnett said. "He's not our big secret anymore."

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All-Stars, studs and duds: Westbrook's reign as MVP comes to an end

All-Stars, studs and duds: Westbrook's reign as MVP comes to an end

NEW ORLEANS – You don’t rack up triple doubles at a historically ridiculous rate the way Russell Westbrook does without being able to dish out an assist from time to time.

The biggest assist he made in the 66th annual NBA all-star didn’t make its way on to the stats sheet.

But it was historical in so many ways.

Westbrook’s advice to Anthony Davis on how to win the game’s MVP award was indeed taken to heart with Davis winning the award following the Western Conference’s 192-182 win over the East All-Stars.

Davis finished with a game-high 52 points, shattering the previous mark set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Davis won the MVP award after Westbrook had won it each of the two previous All-Star games.

Prior to the game, Davis said he did do a little lobbying among his fellow all-stars in the locker room.

“I stressed that, I think more than enough, to the guys in the locker room before the game that I wanted to get the MVP for this crowd, for this city, and I ended up doing it.”

Following the game, Westbrook acknowledged that he did speak with Davis about how to win the MVP award.

When asked about what he said, Westbrook replied, “I’m not going to tell you, but he did a good job and got it done.”

Despite not winning the MVP award, Westbrook had a dominant game of his own as he tallied 41 points which was one point shy of the previous record.

But after the game, it was clear that he was more pleased with the performance of Davis.

“It was great,” Westbrook said. “It’s definitely always a great thing to do, especially here where he plays in front of his fans, his family. It’s a great experience and definitely happy for him.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the 66th annual NBA all-star game.

 

STARS

Anthony Davis

The hometown team’s best player delivered a scoring night for the ages, finishing with an All-Star record 52 points on 26-for-39 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. The previous record of 42 points was set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Russell Westbrook

His All-Star reign as the game’s MVP came to an end after having won the award the previous two All-Star games. He finished with 41 points.

 

STUDS

Giannis Antetokounmpo

He was an above-the-rim monster, scoring 30 points primarily on a dozen dunks.

Kevin Durant

He was filling up the stat sheet in several categories for the West, finishing with a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Kyrie Irving

Arguably the best performer for the East, Irving had 22 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas

There were others who had a more prolific night shooting the ball, but Thomas’ impact off the bench was indeed felt. He led all East reserves with 20 points.

James Harden

The bearded one had a triple-double as well, although not the kind he would prefer. Along with scoring 12 points, and dishing out 12 assists, Harden also racked up a game-high 10 turnovers.

 

DUDS

None

There were some guys who didn’t do much statistically, but with this being such an exhibition-like event, putting too much stock in any player’s performance is a waste of time. They are among the top 24 or so players in the NBA. No amount of missed shots or turnovers will change that fact.