Big Al Goes for 11, 10, and 2 in 21 Minutes


Big Al Goes for 11, 10, and 2 in 21 Minutes

January 6, 2005

Al Jefferson can't really sing. He can, however, rebound and block a few shots - all of which was on full display in the FleetCenter last night.

Though he readily admitted carrying a tune isn't his forte, that didn't stop him from quietly serenading his teammates after the Celtics posted an 84-83 win over the Golden State Warriors. But with a double-double off the bench, Jefferson might just get a pass from the rest of the locker room.

   "He's been playing well the whole season," said Walter McCarty, whom Jefferson blamed for his proclivity for singing. "He's very talented. He's got good hands. He's good around the basket. At times he gets a little lost, but that's expected, he's just coming out of high school. I know it's tough for him, but he's getting it."

Just a day after his 20th birthday, Jefferson posted his first career double-double, staving off both a head cold and the supposed rookie wall with a career-high 11 rebounds, plus 10 points and 2 blocked shots in 21 minutes.

"It felt great," Jefferson said. "I knew the points were going to come, but I was just trying to get every rebound off the boards. There's still some I missed, but I tried to get every one of them. That felt good to have a double-double - especially with the win."

Shortly after Jefferson first stepped on the court last night, Clifford Robinson missed two free throws - a trend for the evening. Sixteen seconds later, the rookie slammed home a pass from Ricky Davis on the other end, en route to 8 points in his nine first-half minutes.

"Al was great," coach Doc Rivers said. "You know, Al's amazing - he doesn't care who's guarding him. You know, [Adonal] Foyle's not exactly a bad defensive player."

Removed for Mark Blount with 6:29 to go in the game, Jefferson wasn't on the floor for the final minutes, in which the Celtics nearly allowed the Warriors to steal a game the visitors hadn't led in the second half. Rivers said he had planned to keep the rookie in the game longer but was convinced by his assistants that Jefferson's defense might slip because of fatigue.

Thirty-two games into the season, Jefferson gets wide-eyed when he recalls that back in high school in Mississippi, his team would have been close to embarking on a postseason run with this many games in the bank. In his new home, he's not even halfway through the regular season.

Jefferson has begun his rookie campaign with varying amounts of success, shoving brief talent-laden episodes - like last night's - between disappearances - like a 1-point, two-rebound performance Dec. 31 against the Washington Wizards. Prior to last night's game, he was averaging 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in a little more than 15 minutes per game.

But with the team allowing more than 100 points in 11 of its last 13 games, Jefferson remains mostly concerned with catching up defensively, reasoning that was backed up by Rivers's decision to remove him at the end of the game.

"Some rookies don't even get off the bench," Jefferson said. "So I felt like in a way I'm kind of ahead. But in a way I'm behind, too. My main focus is defense, rotation.

"I feel like I'll play a whole lot more minutes when Doc feels like he's got that trust [in my] defense. It's a learning process."

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