Stiemsma won't relinquish minutes easily

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Stiemsma won't relinquish minutes easily

ATLANTA There is something to be said for being in the right place at the right time.

But recognizing that moment and knowing how to respond to it is an entirely different matter.

Boston Celtics rookie Greg Stiemsma has been in position to play for the C's this season because of injuries to more seasoned veterans. But the opportunity to play means little by itself.

What this rookie has done of late for the Celtics goes beyond just making good on a chance to see more action.

He has grabbed opportunity by the throat and doesn't appear willing to let go anytime soon, even as the Celtics scour the free agent market in search of another big man whose arrival will surely impact Stiemsma's minutes.

To his credit, he's not making it easy for the C's to pull the plug on his playing time.

"That's kind of been the motto; don't give them a reason to pull you out," Stiemsma told CSNNE.com. "Keep giving them lots of reasons to keep you on the floor. I feel like I've been doing a pretty good job of that lately."

With Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) and Chris Wilcox (heart condition) both out for the season, the 7-foot rookie has become the first -- and only -- big man off the bench.

Stiemsma has stepped his game up the last week or so, doing an even better job at what he does best -- blocking shots. In the C's last three games, he has 10.

He's currently second among all rookies with 1.25 blocks per game.

But among the four rookies averaging at least one blocked shot per game, Stiemsma's 10.7 minutes played per game is about half the amount of playing time that the other three rookies (Charlotte's Bismack Biyombo, 19.5 minutes per game; Cleveland's Tristan Thompson, 21 minutes per game; and Denver's Kenneth Faried, 19.9 minutes per game) are getting this season.

His play of late has certainly left a favorable impression on his teammates.

But more than that, it is the work that he has put into his game that has Kevin Garnett singing his praises.

"Steamboat's coming in, giving us what we need whether that's from his effort, his fight every night; whether it's blocking shots, rebounding, actually hitting the 15, 16-footers, being aggressive. That's what we need from him," Garnett said.

"He's been big for us since we've been coming down this stretch; second half he's been even more reliable. He's playing good basketball. We're all happy for him, just because you want to see the hard workers and the grinders of the league get an opportunity and he's taking his."

And Stiemsma's play, Garnett believes, should be rewarded this summer.

"I truly hope that Danny (Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations) rewards him at the end," said Garnett of Stiemsma. "If not us, somebody at the end of the year, gives him something long term to where he can build off of, substantial."

For now, Stiemsma is focused on doing whatever he can do to help the Celtics, preferably with him on the floor.

But if another big man arrives and takes some or all of his minutes away, he says you won't find him complaining or grumbling about his situation.

"I'll welcome him to the team, and hope he can help us win more games," Stiemsma said. "I'm not going to have any hard feelings or anything like that. This has been an amazing season for me, and I want it to keep going. I get to play with a great bunch of guys who have helped make me a much better player. Whatever is for the good of the team, I'm all for that."

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

BOSTON – This continues to be a historic season for Isaiah Thomas as more records fell in Wednesday’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee, and the company he’s keeping becomes even more exclusive. 

Thomas had a game-high 32 points on Wednesday which included five made 3’s on nine attempts. That gave him 223 for the season which is a new franchise single-season record for made 3-pointers. The previous record was 222 set by Antoine Walker during the 2001-2002 season.

And his 32 points scored gives him 2,012 this season. 

Only six players in franchise history (Paul Pierce was the last to do it during the 2005-2006 season) have scored 2,000 or more points in a single season. 

Oh, there’s more. 

With Wednesday being the 66th time this season he has had 20 or more points, Thomas has now tied Pierce (2005-2006) and Larry Bird (1985-1986; 1987-1988) for sixth on the Celtics’ single-season franchise list. 

“I didn’t even know that,” a visibly disappointed Thomas said following Wednesday’s loss. “It doesn’t feel that good right now. But when I look back on it, probably in the offseason, I’ll appreciate it a little more. But I’m just staying in the moment and try and play as best I can to lead this team to as many wins as possible.”

Other season milestones Thomas is in the mix for include the following:

  • The 5-foot-9 guard is one of three players this season to have 50 or more games of 25-plus points, joined by Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (57) and Houston’s James Harden (54).
  • Thomas has made at least one 3-pointer in a franchise-record 50 straight games (Dec. 3 – March 29). That’s also the longest current streak in the NBA. 
  • With 66 games of 20 or more points this season, Thomas is second in the NBA to Westbrook (67).

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

BOSTON – One of the more bizarre plays in Boston’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee came in the second quarter, requiring some explanation from the officials afterwards. 

With 3:55 to play in the second quarter, the officials had originally called a foul on Marcus Smart which he verbally protested that eventually led to him being whistled for a technical foul. 

After the officials reviewed the play, they changed the call to a personal foul against Khris Middleton but no change to the called technical foul against Smart who objected to a call that, upon review, they agreed was the wrong call to make. 

Official Sean Corbin, through pool reporter Ken Powtak of the Associated Press, acknowledged that the original call was a loose ball foul against Smart. 

“The (officiating) crew got together, we met prior to video and we decided that we needed to look at video because both players were on the floor bleeding so we went to the video for a hostile act,” Corbin told Powtak. “In the review we noticed that Khris Middleton initially made contact to Marcus Smart’s face. That’s how the original contact to the play occurred.”

Fortunately for the Celtics, Middleton missed his technical free throw while Smart split a pair of free throws which cut Milwaukee’s lead to 49-40.

Still, that’s no consolation for Smart who was whistled for a technical foul on a play that the official acknowledged was the wrong call to make. 

In the fourth quarter, Smart was at the center of yet another controversial call that was also reviewed by the officials. The verdict wasn't nearly as good for Smart who was whistled for a flagrant foul after getting his feet tangled up with Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo who was called for a non-shooting foul in the play with 4:46 to play. 

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws and on the Bucks' ensuing possession, he was called for traveling.

Smart was unavailable to talk after the game in part because the aforementioned incident left an abrasion to his mouth and, because of the technical foul, a little lighter in the wallet as well.