Garnett grateful for career accomplishments

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Garnett grateful for career accomplishments

DENVER The locker room had all but emptied out, with Kevin Garnett the last player still around. It is an image that those of us in the media who have followed his career that began in Minnesota and lived on in Boston, have seen countless times.

For fans, images of Garnett have a certain individuality about them as well which in itself, ironic.

Because when you talk about the greatest players of this generation, often they are clumped into groups of scorers, or rebounders, or assist men.

And then there's Garnett, one of the best all-around players not just of this generation, but to ever play the game. When it comes to such comparisons, words are hollow if they're not backed up by numbers.

And Garnett?

Oh he's got numbers. Hall-of-Fame, milestones-by-the-minute it seems, numbers.

In Boston's 98-91 loss at Denver, Garnett became the first player in NBA history with career totals surpassing 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists and 1,500 steals. He came into the game needing one assist, and finished with five.

For any player to surpass any one of those barriers is an accomplishment. But for one man to do so, and still compete at a relatively high level, is astounding.

"To be honest, I'm not a stat guy," Garnett said. "But anytime you make accomplishments in the league, milestones, you gotta be grateful."

Indeed, good health - and a healthy work ethic - are both essential to having the kind of career Garnett has had.

But ultimately, it comes down to having a desire to be more than good, but great.

And while some see that as being able to score a lot of points or grab a lot of rebounds, Garnett has never viewed himself in such a one-dimensional prism.

"I've always told you guys, that's what I am. My greatest strengths are sometimes my greatest weaknesses. if you know anything about me, my personality, I'm not one-dimensional. It's multi-facets that make up the man that's in front of you. At the same time, I work really hard at understanding the game and trying to perfect my craft."

That work ethic has been a constant throughout his career, drawing younger players to approaching the game the way he does, like a moth to a flame.

"When you see a player that's as good as he is, working so hard all the time, treating practices like games, you can't help but work harder," Celtics guard Avery Bradley told CSNNE.com. "I pride myself on having a great work ethic, but KG his work ethic is on another level. That's what makes him such a great player."

And while Garnett has certainly put his time in working out, conditioning his body on the beaches of Malibu, and countless, blurry-eyed sessions of breaking down video, he's quick to remind folks that his path to basketball greatness involved many others.

"You just don't reach milestones by yourself," Garnett said. "You need help. and I've always wanted to give that thanks to not only the coaches, but former players I played with, former teammates, great friends. The milestone is a great one. I'm very appreciative of it. Someday it'll be a big deal to me. I'm honored."

Flip Saunders has been a part of Garnett's development, both as his coach in Minnesota, and as someone who tried to come up with game plans to stop him.

"He's always going to play with a great amount of passion. He's always going to play hard. He makes winning plays," said Saunders, who coached against Garnett in Detroit and later, Washington. "As all guys, when you get a little older, he doesn't probably block as many shots as he used to and doesn't have the same total athleticism, but he's got a lot of minutes on those legs. He's going to do whatever it takes to win. Whatever Doc asks him to do, he's going to do that."

Said Garnett, "duration is everything, man. To be able still, to be playing on this level, it says a lot. It's not like I'm playing on some grand level, but I am playing on a decent level to where it's helping the team and I'm still trying to create different edges and different matchups and different mismatches night-in, night-out. And I still have a brain; I still know how to think this game. There's different formats of the game for me at this point. And I'm still enjoying the game. As long as those components are still a part, then I'm good."
But Garnett, who will be 36 in May, has been arguably the Celtics' most consistent player this season. In addition to averaging 15.2 points per game, he's also grabbing a team-best 8.2 rebounds and dishing out 2.8 assists while playing the center position almost exclusively

Garnett doesn't like being a center, but he plays it - and plays it well - because that's what the Celtics need from him.

"That's the great thing about this team," Celtics guard Keyon Dooling told CSNNE.com. "Everybody is willing to sacrifice, because everybody is on the same page, with the same goal and that's to win, win as many games as possible."

And Garnett is often the jumping-off point to the selfless mindset that for the bulk of his time with the Green Team, has been a staple of the Celtics.

But it's not easy, Garnett will tell you, to be all that he can be for himself and the Celtics.

"Every year, trying to better myself, finding things that I need to work on, staying motivated, keeping my body those are not easy things," he said.

And as for all the milestones that he seemingly reaches every game, Garnett said, "I'm blessed man, I'm fortunate. By no means is this something you just wake up and it just happens."

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Just about every part of Isaiah Thomas’ game offensively has seen tremendous growth this season.

But what has really separated him from earlier versions of himself, has been his 3-point shooting.

He comes into tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards shooting a career best 38.4 percent from 3-point range.

When asked about how he has elevated his game this season, the answer isn’t that simple.

“I don’t know” he told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “The game is slowing down for me. My teammates put me in position, my coach does … and I’m just knocking down shots.”

Because of his shot-making, Thomas has made it difficult for defenses to give him a steady diet of any style of play in trying to limit him.

And because they have to change things up with regularity, that has created more scoring opportunities.

“Sometimes they forget what they want to do (defensively) and leave me open for a three,” Thomas said. “Those are the the types of shots I need to knock down and I’m being aggressive.

He added, “I need to get to the free throw line, trying to make plays for my teammates. It’s one of those things where I’m in a really good zone now; a really good rhythm.”

A good rhythm?

According to NBA statistics guru Dick Lipe, Thomas is the first Celtic ever to make at least four 3-pointers in five straight games. Taking it a step further, he has made at least three 3-pointers in seven straight games which equaled Antoine Walker’s streak in 2001.

Thomas has also attempted 11 three-pointers in five straight games which is a franchise record. There have only been three longer streaks in NBA history - Golden State’s Stephen Curry (7 straight games, 2016); Washington’s Gilbert Arenas (7 straight games, 2005) and Dallas’ George McCloud (6 straight games, 2006).

He’s also averaging 3.1 made 3’s per game which would be a franchise record that’s currently held by Antoine Walker who averaged 2.7 during the 2001-2002 season.

And all those 3’s have added up to Thomas scoring at least 27 points in seven straight games, something that hasn’t been done by a Celtic since Larry Bird had eight such games in March 1988 as well as the 1987-1988 season.

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Former Ravens and Jets linebacker - now an "NFL Today" analyst for CBS - Bart Scott usually "can't wait" to make his disdain for Tom Brady and the Patriots known. 

He was back at it Tuesday in an interview with CBS Radio's Damon Amendolara, in which he said the Falcons have the better quarterback heading into Super Bowl LI.

“We know they’re the better offense, and right now, you could say they got the better quarterback because they have the MVP of the league,” Scott said. Ryan is the favorite to win the NFL MVP, which will be announced the night before the Super Bowl at the "NFL Honors" show.

“Now that’s a debate, but Matt Ryan has earned the right for his name to be put up there with the upper-echelon quarterbacks," Scott said. "He’s always been elite in the regular season, but now he’s taken this show into the postseason and he’s won the hard battles against the elite quarterbacks and now you have to give him his due.”

More from Scott: “I can’t see the Patriots stopping this offense. So, that means that these receivers are going to have to [keep] pace. It’s all going to come down to what it always comes down to. It’s going to come down to who makes the turnovers, who gets up early and puts the pressure on the other team. Matt Ryan and that offense showed me a lot when they went behind [in the divisional round against the Seahawks]. Seattle came and busted them in the face, and [Atlanta] went right back down and answered immediately.

"The Patriots always find a way, but I think it makes it more close of a game than what people think.”