Powe-Davis Bookends Proving their Worth


Powe-Davis Bookends Proving their Worth

In an NBA season when major trades are ruling the day, the Celtics are still on record with the biggest - the two-trade flurry last summer that changed the face of the organization.

But big trades are only as solid as health will allow, and in that respect the Celtics go into tonight's game against the Pacers on precarious footing.

Or so one would think, with Kevin Garnett set to miss his eighth straight game because of an abdominal strain and Kendrick Perkins out for a second straight game with a left shoulder strain.

But, as national announcer and former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy said while watching the Celtics beat San Antonio without their two starting bigs, depth is where executives like Danny Ainge earn their money - especially where second-round picks are concerned.

That's why the contributions of Glen Davis and Leon Powe, who combined for 14 points and 11 rebounds in addition to exemplary defense on Tim Duncan, stood out Sunday. Both players are second-rounders - neither considered a prototype for NBA power forwards.

But both are giving the Celtics enviable depth now. The team is 5-2 without Garnett, and expected to play on without him tonight as well as tomorrow against New York at TD Banknorth Garden.

As even Ainge admits, a team can only plan so much for injuries.

``That's how it always is,'' Ainge said yesterday. ``When you're missing key guys, that's when you need others to fit in. But you never know.

``I think we knew that all of the guys we had on this roster could play,'' he said. ``But you never know how all of those players who can play are going to fit together. That's why I think it's a credit to Doc (Rivers) that he was able to bring everyone together so well.

``The character is great on this team,'' said Ainge. ``Not only do they all play together, but they play for each other.''

The biggest cheerleader in that respect is Garnett. He took players like Davis and Powe under his wing even before training camp started, and takes his rooting interest in both players seriously.

Indeed, big plays by Davis and Powe elicit jubilation on the bench - a rather unusual and even corny sight in the NBA.

And though Powe and Davis have been known to hammer each other in practice - on at least one occasion early in the season they had to be separated by teammates - they also seem to feed off each other.

``I think they want to perform for each other and live up to the standard that has been set by the other guys on the team,'' said Ainge. ``I know they're second-round picks, but we knew that these guys could play. Gabe (Pruitt, another second-round pick) can play, too. When Rajon (Rondo) was out earlier this year, we really liked what we saw from Gabe out there.

``I think (Davis) and Leon are both guys just out there looking for an opportunity to play every day,'' he said. ``They root for each other. One day Baby has the big game, and the next it's Leon. They've both been able to contribute.''

Neither could be making those contributions at a more important time.

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