Erden receives guidance from countryman Turkoglu


Erden receives guidance from countryman Turkoglu

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON The TD Garden had all but emptied out except for a dozen or so basketball fans, some carrying camera phones along with red flags that had a white Crescent moon with a star in the center.

It is the national flag of Turkey, and those fans waited patiently to see Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu and Boston's Semih Erden, arguably the face (Turkoglu) and future (Erden) of Turkish basketball.

Another one of Turkey's top NBA imports, Utah's Mehmet Okur, will be at the Garden later this week.

So for Erden, this week will be a chance to not only catch up with a couple of teammates from his national team, but also another opportunity to learn from players he grew up idolizing as a youngster.

"We are all very close because of national team," Erden told "We are like family."

And Turkoglu, the first Turkish-born player to play in the NBA, is the undisputed leader of the Turkish migration to the NBA.

It is a role that Turkoglu does not take lightly.

"I'm trying to be a big brother, take care of them and help them out as much as I can," Turkoglu, a former first-round draft pick, told "When we play against each other, we get together. We talk every week, see what's going on. It's a general thing we do all the time. I'm happy about that."

While Erden has been taking classes to improve his English, Turkoglu improved his speaking skills by reading books, magazines and watching television.

"I used to watch the Martin Lawrence show," Turkoglu said. "And then 'Friends,' definitely 'Friends.' One of my favorites all time. Start to get to know, 'Everybody Loves Raymond'; just keep watching different shows, and like I said, the talking really helped me out. The more you talk, the more you speak, the more you learn, using words."

All those tips have helped Erden, but he said the biggest lessons he has learned from Turkoglu involved advice on how to survive in the NBA.

"He knows better than me; he is experienced," Erden said. "He says you have to be focused every time. And one other important thing. You have to be patient. It's not easy. It's not easy for you to play in the NBA because your first year, you have to be a rookie. It's not easy."

Erden began the season as just another big for the Celtics who was looked upon to provide added depth. Injuries, more than anything else, seemed to catapult him up the depth chart. He has even started four games this season, the only C's rookie to do so this season.

Now, he's out of the rotation while fellow rookie Luke Harangody is logging the minutes he used to get.

While there are some who might become frustrated with this unexpected turn of events, Erden said it doesn't bother him because it's something that, in talks with Turkoglu and Okur, didn't catch him by surprise.

"Now I know, they're right. It's not easy being NBA rookie," Erden, who did not play (coaches decision) on Monday, says with a wide grin. "I appreciate them. They're good guys. They are good persons. They help me a lot."

And as Erden walks away, surrounded by fans from Turkey and Turkoglu, he says, "I am patient. I will stay ready to play, always."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

BOSTON – No one is proclaiming DeMarcus Cousins’ demeanor is all that radically different than past seasons. 

But the volatile nature that has often overshadowed his on-the-court-brilliance, doesn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to. 

Maybe he’s growing up. 

Maybe he’s finally comfortable with his team. 

And then there’s the almighty dollar which was the incentive for one of his teammates, Matt Barnes, to clean up his act as far as racking up technical fouls and being fined by the league. 

I asked Barnes whether there was a light bulb moment or a teammate or player that helped him get on track and not draw so much attention from officials and the league office. 

“It was all the money I was being fined,” he said. “I think I lost like $600,000 over my career for fines. It was time to kind of wake and say ‘hey, they don’t like you so you have to stick to the book.’”

With Barnes returning to Sacramento (he played for the Kings during the 2004-2005 season), he finds an intense, kindred spirit of sorts in Cousins who like Barnes has had his share of technical and fines handed down by the league office. 

This season, Cousins is the NBA’s leader in technical fouls with six. 

“I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I’m just a passionate player. I play with my emotion on my sleeve. I think DeMarcus does the same thing. What I’m trying to show him now, we have to keep our emotions and energy focused towards the right things. That could be detrimental to the team if it gets out of hand.”

First-year coach Dave Joerger has been pleased to see how different Cousins is to be around on a daily basis as opposed to how he’s perceived. 

“He gets credit for his talent. He gets credit that he’s improved in the league,” Joerger said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for the way that his approach to the game and the way that he’s carrying himself and conducting himself has greatly improved. He’s a good person. Now being with him, I see improvement over the last three years, the way that he goes about his business. I think that’s very positive.”

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

Game notes: Celtics look to extend Kings’ Boston losing streak to nine

BOSTON – Here are a few odds and ends to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings: 
· The Celtics have won eight in a row over the Kings in Boston, with the last loss to Sacramento at the TD Garden coming on Jan. 19, 2007. Current Celtic Gerald Green was in the starting lineup that night. 

· Only six times in franchise history have the Celtics launched 38 or more 3-pointers in a game, four of which came in the month of November this season. 

· Speaking of 3-pointers, 36.2 percent of Boston’s shots are 3s. That ranks fifth in the league behind Houston, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Golden State.

· Don’t be surprised if Avery Bradley gets off to a good start tonight, especially from 3-point range. He’s shooting 59.1 percent on 3s in the first quarter which ranks second in the league. 

· Isaiah Thomas tallied 395 points scored in November, the most by a Celtic since John Havlicek had 406 points in November during the 1971-1972 season. 

· Boston leads the NBA in points scored (46.3 per game) by second-round picks. The Celtics’ second-round picks include Isaiah Thomas; Jae Crowder; Amir Johnson; Jonas Jerebko; Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey.

· The Celtics are 5-0 this season when they outrebound an opponent. 

· Tonight’s game will be Boston’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. In the first game, they are 3-1 this season. On the second night, they are 2-2.