Celtics notebook

Garnett (knee) is sidelined

Injury to shelve him for 2 games

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / December 31, 2009

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PHOENIX - Doc Rivers didn’t like the way Kevin Garnett was moving the past two games. Garnett’s surgically repaired knee was ailing, and with the Celtics in a stretch in which they play only two games in eight days, Rivers made the difficult decision to hold Garnett out of last night’s 116-98 loss to the Suns.

Rivers said Garnett also won’t play Saturday against Toronto, but emphasized that the injury, a hyperextension, has nothing to do with the bone spur surgery Garnett underwent last May. Garnett told Rivers he was kicked in a midair collision during Sunday’s loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles, though he did play Monday against Golden State.

After facing Toronto, the Celtics don’t play again until Wednesday against the Heat, so Garnett will get eight days of rest.

The Celtics started Rasheed Wallace at power forward last night, and Shelden Williams will get more minutes with Glen “Big Baby’’ Davis out with a sprained ankle. And Paul Pierce missed his fourth straight game after having a procedure on his right knee last week to clear out an infection.

“I didn’t like the way he ran in the second half of the Clipper game,’’ Rivers said of Garnett. “That’s when I started watching it. That was the first I noticed anything.

“He looked great in Orlando [on Christmas Day]. That’s why he was so frustrated, because he said, ‘Man, I felt great, and how do you get hit up in the air?’ I don’t know what he’s talking about.

“I didn’t think he ran right in the last quarter and a half of the Clippers game, and I didn’t think he looked right at all, ever in the Golden State game.

“Someone said, ‘Are you being too cautious?’ Probably. But I would rather be safe than sorry.’’

Rivers reiterated that as long as Garnett is healthy, he will play. The coach said he and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge are not looking for open spots in the schedule to give Garnett rest.

“My only issue is how long it takes to get him right from this,’’ Rivers said. “A week? Three days? Four days? It could be three days.

“The way I looked at the schedule, obviously this is a tough game, but when you look at the schedule and you see the two days and then the game and three more days, there is no better time to rest him than right now.’’

Pierce, meanwhile, will not return for Saturday’s game, as first projected.

“I would say Paul is realistic for the Miami game,’’ Rivers said. “He hasn’t worked on the court yet.’’

Pierce rode the stationary bike yesterday.

Eye on Rondo
While Rivers decided to sit Garnett, he allowed Rajon Rondo (strained left hamstring) to play against Phoenix. Rondo was laboring at times Monday at Golden State but participated in yesterday’s shootaround and was in last night’s starting lineup. It wouldn’t have taken much for Rivers to remove him, too.

“I’m actually far more concerned about that than Kevin,’’ Rivers said. “Kevin I’m shutting down but Rondo I am watching closely because a hamstring injury is a tough injury. If I see anything in the game, he’s out, too, and we’ll just play with who we got left.’’

Rondo played 32 minutes and had 13 points and eight assists.

Heinsohn sidelined
Longtime Celtics commentator Tom Heinsohn told a team spokesman that he hopes to return from a bout with pneumonia by Saturday. Heinsohn did not make the trip west . . . It is uncertain when Davis will return, but his injury is not as serious as first feared . . . The Celtics will fly back to Boston today and may not practice until Saturday morning . . . Lester Hudson returned to the Celtics from NBDL Maine, joining his teammates after shootaround. He took a 6 a.m. flight from Boston following a drive from Portland, Maine. He played five minutes and scored 2 points.

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