The bruising forward was a much-needed addition, filling a gap left by an injured big man with energy, rebounding, and scoring. Kenyon Martin provided life to a squad that was very much in need.
But Martin didn’t do all that for the Celtics, for whom all the above stipulations apply. Martin instead signed with their rival to the South, the New York Knicks, joining them on a 10-day contract last month and then signing with them for the remainder of the season.
“It’s their fault,” Martin said Tuesday night after scoring 9 points and grabbing five rebounds in the Knicks’ 100-85 win over the Celtics at TD Garden.
“They lost. There was talks, there was negotiations, they chose not to do it. It was out of my control. I’m a Knick now, so they lost.”
Martin has provided quite a spark for the Knicks and has helped make up for the absence of Amar’e Stoudemire, who was expected to miss six weeks with knee surgery.
The 35-year-old, who is in his 13th season, entered Tuesday having averaged 14.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in 28 minutes in the Knicks’ previous four games, each of them wins.
“I’m just here to prove to people that I’ve never lost it,” Martin said. “I guess I’m a better person than I am a basketball player. But the chip I’ve always played with hasn’t gotten bigger. I’m here to prove what I can do — that’s everybody, every night.
“It doesn’t start with the Celtics. Whoever puts that uniform on is opposite us.
“They’re going to see what they’re missing.”
Green starts up
Jeff Green has found himself in the Celtics’ starting lineup six times this season, but only out of necessity: a result of injuries or the need to rest other players.
However, Green has played far above an average, temporary stopgap in several of those starts (see: 31-points at Phoenix, a career-high 43 against Miami), leading Celtics fans to call for his place in the starting lineup to be a tad more permanent.
Green scored a team-high 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and had 6 assists against the Knicks, improving his scoring average when he starts to 21.5 points.
Conversely, when Green comes off the bench, he averages 10.8 points.
There are some caveats to those numbers. For instance, if you take away Green’s 43-point game against the Heat, he’s averaging 17.2 points as a starter this season.
And Green is also playing much better since the All-Star break, averaging 16 points as compared with the 10.3 points he averaged leading up to the break.
Yet considering the discrepancy between Green’s production when he starts vs. when he is a reserve, something would seem to be going on.
Before the game, Green said that is not the case, adding that the only difference to him between starting and coming off the bench is “I’m starting the first minute of the 48.”
Said Green: “It’s the same thing, the same strategy going into the game.”
Green’s scoring deluges have been a tease to the Celtics, who have pleaded with him to be more aggressive rather than deferring to the team’s more established stars.
In games when Green starts, though, one or more of those stars are often absent.
“Every game is different,” Green said. “You can’t go into every game thinking that just because you’re starting, you’re going to get that much. You’ve just got to go in, play hard, and take what the defense gives you.”
And of the calls for him to be in the starting lineup, Green said, “People only see stats. They don’t see the realness of what it takes to be a team and the sacrifices you have to make. When you have everybody here, there’s no reason for me to start.”
Green added, “We’ve just got to get what’s getting us to where we need to go.”
After Green scored 43 against the Heat in a 105-103 loss, the idea spread that his performance would mark a turning point in a season plagued with inconsistency.
Yet following that game, Green scored 35 points total in the next three games, all of them losses, though Green started just one of them, vs. Memphis.
“He’s been good and bad [as a starter],” coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s had some great games, obviously, and he’s had some OK games, as well. But what I like is he’s just being aggressive, and he’s starting to do that whether he starts or not, really.”
Rivers pointed out that in the New Orleans game, Green came off the bench and played well, scoring 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting in 27 minutes.
“From there, he kind of leveled off,” Rivers said. “We’re just trying to keep him to stay that way. It’s not just about the offense with him, for us. It’s everything that we want him to do and he’s starting to do it.”
Lee still sidelined
Guard Courtney Lee (sprained left ankle) missed his second consecutive game and Rivers said he doubts Lee will play Wednesday night against the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
Reserve guard Jordan Crawford made his first start for the Celtics, a choice Rivers said he made because Jason Terry preferred to stay in his role of coming off the bench. Crawford had 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting in 42 minutes.