1.29.2008

Gerald Henderson Says 86 Lakers are Deeper than 86 Cs

He knows that he played a major part in bringing one of those championship banners to Boston, but Gerald Henderson still hopes his final gift to the Celtics will be something less than a No. 1 draft pick.

"If we don't make the play-offs, Red (Auerbach) will be a genius again in his old age," Henderson said after scoring 20 points in Seattle's 114-101 loss to the Celtics yesterday.

The Celtics own Seattle's top pick (in exchange for Henderson) and hope that the Sonics finish out of the play-offs. Boston has a one-in-seven shot at getting the nation's top pick if Seattle doesn't make the NBA's postseason tournament.

"We might be the last team to get in the play-offs, but we'll get in there," said Henderson.

"I know the people in Boston don't want to hear this, but I'm pretty sure we can make the play-offs," added Seattle coach Bernie Bickerstaff.

Yesterday's loss lowered Seattle's record to 17-31. The Sonics have lost 9 of 11 and would be a lottery team if the season ended today.

Henderson is still slightly bitter about the trade that sent him to the Pacific Northwest. Noting Boston's offseason acquisitions of Sam Vincent and Jerry Sichting, Henderson said, "They got two point guards and they're both sitting on the bench. Maybe K.C. just hasn't found that guy yet."

Asked to compare the Celtics and Lakers, Henderson said, "Boston is 7-8 deep, but the Lakers are 10-deep, and in a seven-game series, it means a lot to have that extra one or two players."

He didn't like being on the losing side in the Boston Garden. "Nothing's changed in this place," Henderson said with a chuckle. "The crowd gets into the game and the coaching staff puts pressure on the refs. Nothing's changed."

Henderson later made a visit to the Celtic locker room to exchange greetings with his former teammates.

Boston's 11-game winning streak represents the longest in the NBA this season, and the fourth-longest of the Larry Bird era. The franchise record is 18 straight, but the Celtics haven't won 11 in a row since December '80- January '81, when they had streaks of 12 and 13 straight . . . Kevin McHale sat out his fifth straight game because of a sore left Achilles' tendon. McHale went through pregame warmups, but the tendon tightened and it was decided that he would rest another day. He will make the trip to Milwaukee, where Boston plays tomorrow . . . Scott Wedman suffered a four-stitch cut inside his upper lip and had a tooth loosened when he collided with Danny Young in the first half.

Boston leads Philadelphia by a whopping eight games in the Atlantic Division non-race. The Celtics have 10 fewer losses than Philadelphia . . . Boston blocked seven shots, Seattle zero . . . Danny Ainge, who is growing his latest in a long line of weak mustaches, fouled out for the second time all year . . . Face in the crowd: Bruin Gord Kluzak . . . Best Laugh: Jack Sikma fired a pass into the lane that bounced off Bill Walton's hands and soared high in the air before coming down through the basket. Runnerup: Jerry Sichting made a jump shot after ducking under Gerald Henderson.

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