Pitino Sits Billups

November 6, 1997
Chauncey Billups started last night's game. By the end of it, the rookie point guard was nearly forgotten. He played 11 minutes and sat out the entire second half. What's the story with the No. 3 pick in the draft?

"I'm just not real pleased with what he's doing right now," Celtics coach Rick Pitino said. "I've got to get him experience and try not to get discouraged, but at the same time, we've got to try to win some games." 

Pitino thinks Billups is reaching too much defensively and taking too long to get the Celtics into their offense. Billups said he knew the NBA would be a learning experience and he's just trying to absorb as much information as he can. He finished with a field goal attempt, an assist, and a turnover.

Last night was his second consecutive start. He played the first 3 1/2 minutes and was given a quick hook by Pitino. He came back in the second quarter and played seven minutes. Then his night was over. He was on the court at the beginning of the third quarter but stayed there for a nanosecond. Apparently, no one told him he wasn't starting the third. He was immediately replaced by Dana Barros and spent the rest of the night on the bench.

A difference for Day

First of all, Todd Day tells you, he wasn't aware that any of his Celtics teammates had a problem with him last season. He tells you he is happy to be with a legitimate contender, although his minimum-salary deal with the Heat is "a cold slap in the face." He also reveals that whatever practices the Celtics have now are "cupcakes compared to what we go through every day."

Lively as ever, Day returned to the FleetCenter last night. He is a role player with the Heat. He said he doesn't mind. So what if he opened the season with two straight DNPs and got his third last night - all of which the Heat have won? He'll be in the playoffs for the first time in his life, and it won't be on a seventh- or eighth-seeded team.

Last year, Day was on the worst team in the Eastern Conference. He scuffled with Greg Minor and decked Dino Radja. He said he could see it coming when the Celtics renounced him in July but he was shocked that they let David Wesley and Rick Fox go. He also said he wouldn't mind playing for Rick Pitino.

"Personally, I enjoy watching them play," he said. "They have the kind of style that I like to play, a lot of cutting to the basket and free-lancing."

Day said he had to be hospitalized after his first practice with Pat Riley. The guard describes the practices as physical, football-type affairs that last three hours daily. He also said he never had to prove he was a team player to Riley. "People say I'm not a team guy, but I am," he said.

Even though Alonzo Mourning is out with an injury, which has forced a reshuffling of the Heat rotation, Day hasn't come to expect regular minutes. He spent a good part of last night applauding teammates as they came to the bench. He said there is no bad taste for the Celtics. He's just happy to be in Miami.

Monster Mashburn

Jamal Mashburn played a near-perfect game. Not because of his 32 points and 9 rebounds. Consider that he played 43 minutes without a turnover, made all six of his free throws, was 4 for 5 from 3-point range, and blocked a shot . . . Tim Hardaway talked trash with the Celtics on the court, Celtics on the bench, and Celtic fans in the front row. He also found time to play 40 minutes and distribute 10 assists . . . For the season, Walter McCarty is 11 for 45 from the field. He was 2 for 11 last night . . . Bruce Bowen, a former Heat player, made an incredible defensive stop in the first quarter. Eric Murdock had an apparent breakaway layup until Bowen chased him down and knocked the ball away as he was shooting . . . Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay was here, broadcasting the game for the Heat. He is the father-in-law of Celtics associate head coach Jim O'Brien . . . Jack McCloskey, former general manager of the Pistons, attended the game. He was scouting players for Raptors basketball chief Isiah Thomas.

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