Celtics notebook

Living on the edge

Garnett gets involved in yet another late dust-up

By Julian Benbow and Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / November 4, 2010

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Knowing Kevin Garnett as well as he does, Celtics coach Doc Rivers could feel something coming last night.

He talked with Garnett on the plane home from Detroit after the forward got into a war of words with Charlie Villanueva, who claimed on Twitter that Garnett took the talking too far by saying Villanueva looked like a “cancer patient’’ during Tuesday night’s game.

Garnett plays with a volatile mix of emotion, intensity, and intimidation. Rivers understood that. He also understood the implications it had on last night’s game, in which the Celtics beat the Bucks, 105-102, in overtime.

“I said this could be a tough night,’’ Rivers said. “He’s such an emotional player. And if he has an emotional day, then it usually affects his play. So I was really concerned about his energy.’’

And Garnett found himself at the center of a fourth-quarter dust-up for the second straight night. This time it was a shoving match with Andrew Bogut with 2:30 left in the quarter that led to double-technical fouls but also fueled a wild comeback by the Celtics.

It was the double-technicals that bothered Rivers, who tried to refrain from commenting. “Really, the thing that all coaches complain about is this double-technical thing,’’ he said. “It’s just an easy way out.’’

Garnett, who took heat most of yesterday for the Villanueva incident, said he is adjusting to the league’s new emphasis on respect for the game.

“It’s been 15 going on 16 years that I’ve played this way,’’ Garnett said. “If you like my style of play, that’s what you’re going to love about me. I leave it all out there on the court, no ifs/ands about it. I’m a competitive human being. I hit the floor. I have no excuses for it. I’m trying to give my team an edge and do it in the right manner.

“Control is a mental thing. I’ve got it. I’m trying to do my best to adjust to these rules and I’ll get better at it. I had a little talk with Doc about some things. It’s some things that I know I can do, so I’m not going to worry about that.’’

As the game went more haywire, Rivers said he could sense Garnett flying off the rails.

“I thought he was exhausted,’’ Rivers said of Garnett, who scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 38 minutes. “One stretch, I had to take him out when we were making a run. You know by his body rhythm when he was running, it was time to get him off the floor. He used up some energy today that he probably didn’t want to use.’’

Jennings weighs in
Second-year Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, a flashy player known as much for his brashness as his immense talent, said he likely would have refrained from posting any in-game trash talk on his Twitter page, as Villanueva did.

“Personally, I don’t think I would have said anything to the media about [trash talk],’’ he said before the game. “I know last year me and KG got into it, but I wasn’t going to tweet about it and tell you what he said because that’s nobody’s business.’’

Jennings got into exchanges with Garnett and Glen Davis last season during the four heated matchups between the teams.

“Out there on the court between the lines is what’s said,’’ Jennings said. “If I was really that mad, then I would have done what I would have done right then and there instead of putting it out there.

“Who knows what was said? I wasn’t there, but if I’m that mad and to put it on Twitter and I was ready to fight, then I would have done it right there.’’

Shaq sits out again
Shaquille O’Neal sat out his second straight game after colliding with the Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire Friday night and injuring his right knee. Rivers said he doubts that O’Neal will be available for tomorrow’s game against the Bulls and also suggested that he could miss the four-game road trip next week. O’Neal missed the final 23 regular-season games with the Cavaliers last year because of a thumb injury, though he returned for the playoffs. The Cavs exited in the second round at the hands of the Celtics. “The key — and I learned this from Cleveland — is when he’s not playing, you have to keep him integrated in what we’re doing, so when he comes back, you don’t have to re-teach,’’ Rivers said. “We put in something new the other day and he got it. And that’s the key. When he comes back, he can just step out and play.’’ . . . There were two straight possessions in the fourth quarter when the Celtics had Paul Pierce bring the ball up the floor instead of Rajon Rondo, and Rivers said Rondo was having foot problems late in the game. “But he told me after the game he was fine,’’ Rivers said.

Julian Benbow can be reached at

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