By Jessica Camerato
BOSTON - Kevin Garnett let out a sigh as he recalled watching Shaquille ONeal hobble off the court.
It wasnt what he wanted to witness, not after ONeal had worked so hard to come back after injuring his right Achilles in February.
That wasnt good to see, Garnett said following the Celtics 101-90 win over the Detroit Pistons. Hes been working his behind off to get back to this point (sighs). He had some momentum going, he definitely gave us a spark. It was good to see him out there.
If you know Shaq, you know hes always in lively spirits and to see him to go like that, it was tough.
ONeal played only 5 minutes and 29 seconds before exiting his first game back since February 1 in the second quarter. He scored six points during that span, a reminder of just how much of an impact he can make down low.
It was almost like a tease having him available for such a short stretch.
It was great. We had size, said Doc Rivers. You know, its amazing what size does.
The Celtics were encouraged, though, when ONeal was diagnosed with a right calf strain. There is no timetable for his return yet, but Rivers projects, I dont think very long, honestly.
Nonetheless, his teammates felt for their big man and hope a speedy recovery.
Its minor, said Garnett. Hes a huge dude. Hopefully he can bounce back from this, but leg injuries are not easy and were just hoping for the best at this point.
Paul Pierce felt for the 39-year-old, given his age and long list of injuries this season.
When you get to that age, those ones tend to hurt a little bit longer, Pierce said. Its tough. Hes been out so long. He tried to do it today without any chance to have any practices. I just hope hes all right. I dont really the know the extent of whats going on, but hes been out so long, resting, trying to get his injuries together, and its very disappointing. He comes out, especially after being out so long, to come down with another injury.
Jermaine ONeal, who recently came back from his own injury, was optimistic for his fellow center. He hopes that Shaqs upbeat attitude was an indication of a quick return.
He seemed to be in good spirits when he left, he said. I think he may be back on there on Tuesday when the Celtics host the Sixers, well see. But he was laughing and joking. It was more of a scare, I think, for the guys on the team and the fans of the Celtics. But I think the lack of practice time hurt him - because he hasnt had the ability to practice, he was kind of on the fly so he wasnt able to test a lot of things - so today he kind of tweaked it. Hopefully for us, we can get him back sooner because he got off to a great start.
As for Glen Davis, he is certain hell be seeing ONeal back on the court sooner rather than later.
Hell be okay. Shaqs always going to be all right. Shaq dont get hurt, Davis said. Shaqs invincible. Thats what I believe in. Hell be back. Hes all steel - man of steel. Thats what Ive believing since I was a little kid.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba