Doc Learns Something about KG


SEATTLE - He is unapologetic about wearing his game on his sleeve, about allowing the heat to push his internal thermometer so high that the mercury explodes.

That's Kevin Garnett, and the proposition isn't a matter of better or worse, because where the Celtics forward is concerned, there generally isn't the latter.

Passion has driven him to the level of annual All-Star.

That's why Celtics coach Doc Rivers believes he learned something important about Garnett during Wednesday's black-and-blue, 89-69 win at Sacramento.

Worried that Garnett was about to boil over while complaining to referee Jack Nies about a true bit of weirdness and chutzpah - Ron Artest's bizarre attempt to walk into the Celtics huddle in the second quarter following his minor dust-up with Kendrick Perkins - the Celtics coach told his star to stop emoting.

Though Garnett reluctantly took his coach's advice (and probably spared himself a technical foul in the process), this was like telling Led Zeppelin to turn down the volume.

``I killed him,'' Rivers said of the drain on Garnett's game that followed. ``He's the one guy I can't tell to check his emotions, because it's so much a part of what he does and what our other guys feed off of.

``It's almost like he was hurt by it. He stopped talking, and his game went a little flat. It's not that he was pouting or anything. He just couldn't talk anymore.''

Garnett later managed a smile. Hopefully, this was a learning experience for his coach.

``It's just how I play,'' Garnett said. ``Doc and I had a private conversation after the game, and we went over it. It wasn't a big deal. We just talked.

``Like I told him, I feel this team feeds off of it. But it wasn't a big deal. I wasn't a dead man walking out there.''

At this rate, however, Garnett could be a very bruised one.

The hack-fest that the Kings' Brad Miller, Mikki Moore and Artest launched on him may have been the most blatant attack of its kind this season. And surely, it won't be the last.

Seattle, last night's opponent, didn't have the same muscle as Sacramento, but certainly was capable of going after the Big Target.

After Wednesday, Garnett understands that this strategy can pop up anywhere. This much, however, is a given: When Garnett absorbs these shots, his team responds.

Consider when he crashed to the floor in the fourth quarter after getting poked in the eye while battling Miller and Artest for a rebound. A timeout was called, a dizzied Garnett went to the bench and then he went right back out on the floor, rubbing his eye and not asking any questions.

Moments later, James Posey buried a 3-pointer from the left corner, turned and stared down the ARCO Arena crowd.

``Hey, their man was on the floor,'' Rivers said of his players' response. ``And our guys felt that was a hard foul. At this point, everything we do through is good. I think we all learned something from this.''

The same can be said of the man whose health goes on the line every night as the NBA season approaches its dog days.

``I'm a player who listens to the head coach,'' Garnett said of honoring Rivers' request to stop talking. ``I understand what can happen. Jack Nies was in the mood where he looked like he was ready to start throwing people out.

``I got poked in the eye twice and hit on the head once. It's edgy, and some of those guys played out of character. Maybe they were asked to do it. I'm sure we're going to see all types of different things, and this might be one of them.''

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