C's Bounce Back with W
MILWAUKEE - After a tough 18-point loss to Utah at home Friday, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce strongly stated there would be much better focus in their next game. It's safe to say Garnett was pleased with the outcome, as he went to each player on the Celtics' bench to slap them five in appreciation of a 99-77 blowout victory over the Bucks last night at the Bradley Center.
"Good game, C's," Garnett told his teammates.
The Celtics are an NBA-best 52-13 and have won five straight on the road. Boston has won 11 of 12 games and tied Orlando with an NBA-best 23 road wins. Garnett had 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting in 26 minutes and guard Eddie House added 17 points and three 3-pointers off the bench. The Celtics are 7-0 in the second of home-road back-to-back games.
"We got our [butts] kicked [Friday] night," Garnett said. "It was a no-brainer how we had to come out and get back on that same trail we've been on for a while now."
Said Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "It was a good win for us. The guys came out with great spirit."
The Celtics were ahead by 23 points and did not have a lead of fewer than 15 in the fourth quarter. The Celtics also limited Milwaukee to 34.1 shooting from the field (28 of 82), 5 of 26 from 3-point range, and scored 50 points in the paint.
"We really buckled in on the defense," said Pierce, who had 13 points. "I knew we weren't going to come out flat. It was good winning on a back-to-back situation, especially with what we did [against Utah]."
Bucks reserve guard Charlie Bell, who scored a team-high 16 points, said: "You can't make any mistakes against a team like that. To beat them you have to play nearly perfect basketball because they're good."
The Celtics head south for a tough Western Conference trip against reigning world champion San Antonio tomorrow, followed by games against torrid Houston (winners of 21 straight), Dallas, and New Orleans. All four are considered Western powers expected to make some noise in the postseason.
But even with the challenge ahead, the Celtics were focused on the Bucks.
"We're taking it one game at a time," Pierce said. "You have to on these types of trips."
The Celtics were without guard Ray Allen (left foot injury). Bucks owner Herb Kohl showed his respect, coming to the Celtics' bench to shake Allen's hand at halftime with Boston up, 53-35.
Brian Scalabrine (1 point) was activated in place of Allen and Tony Allen (5 points in 27 minutes) started at shooting guard. The Bucks were without center Andrew Bogut (thigh) and rookie forward Yi Jianlian (wrist), and ex-UConn star Jake Voskuhl missed the second half with a stomach virus. Glen Davis was a DNP for Boston.
Rivers did not play veteran newcomers Cassell and forward-center P.J. Brown Friday night. But before last night's game, Rivers expressed a need to get Cassell and Brown acclimated with the team during the final stretch.
"We don't have enough games to wait," said Rivers. "So we're just going to do it and hope that it doesn't throw us off too much. If it does, it does. But, it's worth doing it."
Cassell scored 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, dished 5 assists, and nabbed 3 steals in 23 minutes. The former Buck, who was named with Allen to the franchise's 40th anniversary team, also received a strong reception from the fans when he entered in the fourth quarter.
"I thought it was going to be [the Jazz game]," said Cassell, about Rivers's push to get him acclimated. "It took another day, but I'm learning more and more on the court. I'm ready if he calls my number."
Brown missed 5 of 6 shots and nailed two free throws to score 4 points, but also had a team-high 9 rebounds, and 4 assists, in 23 minutes.
"I felt pretty good," Brown said. "I had my moments where my lungs were burning a little bit. I was a little surprised that I was out there that long. I didn't know I was going to play this much, but I guess [Rivers] is starting the process to get us in game mode."