AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Ryan Gomes probably wants to forget the night of Nov. 4 at the TD Banknorth Garden. That night, he recorded the first DNP-CD of his NBA career. Celtics coach Doc Rivers hadn't figured out a way to fit the rookie into the rotation. But Rivers must have experienced a eureka moment about a week ago. Not only does Gomes have a spot in the rotation, but it appears to be a significant one.
Gomes was the first player off the bench against Houston Sunday night, and in 19 minutes 14 seconds, he led the reserves with 8 points and 5 rebounds (4 offensive). He also played 20 minutes in the blowout loss to San Antonio last Friday.
Both games represented a big jump from his games of single-digit minutes against New York, Charlotte, and Memphis. With Gerald Green inactive (and a candidate for time with the Florida Flame) and Orien Greene demoted to third-string point guard, Gomes has emerged as the man most ready to play.
"I don't ever look at the minutes," said Rivers. "It depends on how he's playing and how the unit that he's playing with plays. Sometimes second-unit guys are a victim of their unit.
"He's smart. He gets things done. You don't have to run a lot of things for him. I wish he was more aggressive as a post player, which I think he will be. He's just trying to find his way."
Playing what Rivers like to call "power small forward," Gomes often cleans up on the glass, relentlessly pursuing loose balls around the rim. For now, he feels most comfortable doing the so-called dirty work inside and running downcourt for open shots.
"One of my goals was to come in and get some minutes and work my way up by the end of the season," said Gomes. "So I'm going to continue to keep working in practice and show that I can play and I can help the team.
"If the only way I can seem like I'm involved in the game is by getting rebounds and doing the dirty work, that's fine with me. I guess you also consider garbagemen a hard worker who's willing to do anything to help the team. As long as my teammates see me doing that, they have faith in me being out there."
Pierce vs. Prince
When asked before last night's game who would match up with Paul Pierce, Detroit coach Flip Saunders did not hesitate in announcing Tayshaun Prince. If Prince needed extra motivation, he needed look no further than recent comments made by Pierce. When asked about the top defenders in the league, Pierce essentially called Prince overrated. "I don't think he plays great defense," said Pierce. "He has two of the best shot blockers in the game [on his team in Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace]. If you let a guy blow by you, then the shot blockers block the shot and you call that great defense." Ouch. Saunders defended Prince, noting that Tracy McGrady once said that Prince and Trenton Hassell gave him the most trouble ... During the brief but successful Larry Brown Era, the Pistons billed themselves as a defense-first blue-collar team. Detroit has not abandoned the workmanlike approach that fit so well with its city, but the defending Eastern Conference champions have become an offensive force under Saunders. They entered last night's contest ranked first in the league in field goal percentage (48.6), first in point differential (13.0), third in assists (24.3), and sixth in points per game (100.7). "Guys are unselfish," said Saunders. "They move the basketball."