Stiemsma answers the bell vs. Rockets

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Stiemsma answers the bell vs. Rockets

BOSTON -- With Jermaine ONeal sidelined by a sprained left wrist, the Boston Celtics are shorthanded at the center position. Doc Rivers has shifted Kevin Garnett to the starting five spot, and on Tuesday night, rookie Greg Stiemsma was the first off the bench to sub in for the veteran big man.

Stiemsma checked in with just under seven minutes to play in the first quarter, a change from the late-game minutes he had played in the past when the outcome has already been decided.

Going in, you know with the situation what it is, especially with the bigs, you just never know when you will play, he told CSNNE.com following the Celtics' 97-92 overtime win against the Rockets. Youve got to, from the jump, be into the game, try to get a feel for the flow from the bench, know what were going to early, know what we want to get to over our game plan. Just keep that stuff simple and go with that.

Stiemsma played 13 minutes in the first half, scoring eight point off of 4-for-6 shooting. His season (and career) highs are 13 points and 21 minutes in a win against the Washington Wizards.

Still, he wished he had done more on defense. Stiemsma grabbed only one rebound and did not block a shot.

Ive got to be ready to shoot whenever I go out there, he said. But still, my role hasnt changed. Its block every shot and get every rebound. Tonight the shots were there. Rebounds and stuff were not quite as available. You always want to get more, so I dont know how many I ended up with but I dont think it was enough. It doesnt change. Just got to keep grinding it out.

Stiemsma sees an advantage to playing with the starters, one other than being on the court with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. With so much focused placed on stopping them from scoring, it leaves Stiemsma with opportunities.

With those starters out there, Im so far down on everybodys scouting list that I can kind of hide away or sneak away a little bit and surprise some teams, he said with a laugh. But (Rajon) Rondos going to get guys shots, get guys open all the time, and with them focusing on all the other guys to score, when Im open Ive got to shoot it in order to keep those guys getting open. The shots were there tonight and I took advantage.

After a solid first half, Stiemsma did not play in the remainder of the game. With the team playing a back-to-back game on Wednesday in Philadelphia against the 76ers, Doc Rivers a reason for kept Stiemsma off the court.

Greg was terrific, he said. I was going to go with him in the second half, but I thought we had a good flow so I didnt. Its funny, sometimes youre almost protective of your young guys. You dont want to mess up his good game, in some ways because his confidence it is a game where honestly, Im thinking, Until tomorrow. Hes going to have to play some minutes and his confidence had to be high, and it should be good tomorrow.

Stiemsma has focused on preparation for the moment his name is called. In addition to studying game tape, he is also adjusted his diet, enhanced his conditioning, and gained what he estimates to be eight or ten pounds this season and is up to 240. He says he feels like he is in the best shape of his life.

The experience of a winning game helps, too.

I dont know, I feel like Ive been getting more excited on the bench lately, he said. These close games, I dont know. Theyre fun to watch, fun to be a part of.

Crowder and Booker exchange Instagram barbs following 70-point game

Crowder and Booker exchange Instagram barbs following 70-point game

Jae Crowder is not known for being shy on social media.

He was at it again on Friday night, commenting on an Instagram post of the Phoenix Suns celebrating Devin Booker's 70-point game at the TD Garden.

“NEVER SEEN SO MANY GUYS HAPPY AFTER AN ‘L’’” Crowder said in the Instagram comment.

Booker responded, telling the Celtics veteran, “you can’t guard me.”

Booker became just the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a game,  the most scored ever at the TD Garden.

Stars, studs and duds: Booker 'in one of those zones' in 70-point game

Stars, studs and duds: Booker 'in one of those zones' in 70-point game

BOSTON – Al Horford knew Devin Booker was having a big game, but it wasn’t until the third quarter was over and he looked up saw Booker already had 42 points.

“When I looked up and saw (his points total) … it’s just impressive.”

Booker would finish with a franchise-record 70 points against the Celtics, a ridiculously unheard of tally that still wasn’t enough as Boston came away with a 130-120 win.

The 6-foot-6 guard became just the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a game.

While Celtics players were quick to praise Booker for his historic performance, there were a few Celtics who were clearly bothered by Suns coach Earl Watson having his team commit fouls late in the game in order to get the ball back so Booker could have more shots at the franchise record.

“It was weird what they were doing,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “I’ve never seen anything like that. It is what it is. I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15, but I mean it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him the most points possible. Hat off to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

That said, it wasn’t like the Celtics were willing to give him all those points.

“No matter who we tried on him, what we tried on him, he was in one of those zones in a rhythm,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He was in that rhythm early in the game, and we didn’t do a very good job of breaking that rhythm.”

Putting Booker’s performance in words let alone perspective, was not easy – not even for Booker.

“It’s a zone that’s kind of hard to explain,” he said. “I’ve been in those zones before but never to this extent. It’s hard to explain … when you’re in the gym alone. You’re taking shots and making them consecutively. That’s what it starts feeling like for me. Felt comfortable, at my home gym draining.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night’s game.

 

STARS

Devin Booker

It was a historic night for the second-year guard, setting a Suns franchise record with 70 points on 21-for-40 shooting. The 70 points were also the most scored at the TD Garden, with Booker becoming only the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a game.

Isaiah Thomas

Very efficient game for Thomas who is steadily getting his groove back after missing a couple games with a knee injury. He led the Celtics with 34 points on 10-for-20 shooting along with dishing out seven assists.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

The Celtics got another strong game from Horford who had 15 points and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double this season. He also dished out six assists.

Gerald Green

The Celtics hit a bit of a scoring slump in the first half, but there was Green to the rescue. He finished with 15 points off the bench, all of which came in the first half.

Alex Len

One of the players besides Booker to make somewhat of an impact for Phoenix, Len finished with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting with six rebounds and two blocked shots.

Jae Crowder

He had 13 points and 10 rebounds, giving him his eighth double-double this season, while shooting 4-for-8 from the field.

 

DUDS

Celtics defense

Missing Avery Bradley was obviously a factor in Devin Booker’s big night for Phoenix. Boston reverted back to play way too casual defensively and Booker made them pay all night long. The Celtics have to correct this before it costs to something more than pride; but potentially being what winds up getting them eliminated from the playoffs.