Let's be Blount: Mark's been Struggling

January 22, 2005
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Yesterday morning, it went Mark to Mark. The Celtics' Mark Blount and his agent, Mark Bartlestein, chatted and the topic wasn't places to dine in Atlanta or the line in the AFC Championship game.

It was about Blount's uneven play of late, lowlighted by a 0-point, 0-rebound performance in 22 minutes Wednesday night.

"He's just going through a little bit of a tough stretch," Bartlestein reported via phone from his Chicago office. "He got comfortable last year and there have been a lot of changes this year. He's determined to fight his way through it."

Did Blount have any regrets re-signing with Boston?

"No. No regrets," said Bartlestein. "That is all wasted thinking."

Said Blount, "I thought they paid me to play."

Blount, who scored 9 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Celtics' 104-98 loss to the Nets last night, said he's taking things "day by day" and said he was concerned about his game. "It can't be just one thing. "It has to be a combination of things."

Bartlestein was asked if Blount might be pressing because of the contract (six years, $38 million) he signed over the summer. "Mark does have a lot of pride and he puts a lot of pressure on himself," he said. "So much at this stage is all confidence. If you've lost it, you can't just flip a switch and get it back. His confidence level is not where he wants it to be."

One guy who professes not to be overly concerned with Blount's play is Danny Ainge, the Celtics' executive director of basketball operations.

"I think Mark is more disappointed with himself than anyone else is," Ainge said. "I think his confidence is down a little bit. I think he can do better and I think he will do better."

Ainge also dismissed Blount's pitiful individual numbers from the Bulls game Wednesday.

"He was on the court for the last 8 1/2 minutes when we played our best defense and held them to one basket," Ainge said. "That's what's important to me."

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