|Celtic Paul Pierce comes down with one of his nine rebounds against the Timberwolves. (MATTHEW J. LEE/GLOBE STAFF)|
Double-OT triumph speaks well of Celtics
In the end, Doc Rivers was hot about too much trash talking and Randy Wittman was hot about a blown call. The coaches -- former Atlanta Hawks backcourt partners in the 1980s -- each had a valid point. There was a lot of trash talking, which is what you had to expect given the arrivals of Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, and Kevin Garnett. And, yes, the referees blew a call late in the first overtime that, Wittman said rather melodramatically, "cost us the game."
Oh, yeah, the game. The Celtics won, in double overtime, 124-117, over the Minnesota Timberwolves, for their fourth straight win. They keep this up and we'll have to stop calling MIT about lottery odds and stop watching Ohio State and Texas.
A day after forcing overtime and prevailing over the Nets, the Celtics this time coughed up 3-point leads in the closing seconds of regulation and the first overtime before outlasting the rebound-phobic visitors. Bottom line -- the Celtics won this one on the glass, pummeling the Wolves, 57-27, in the rebound department, which led to a 23-4 advantage in second-chance points. The 7-foot Blount secured a meager three rebounds in 36 minutes before fouling out. Craig Smith, who's supposed to rebound, managed one in 29 minutes. Garnett had 13 for the Wolves. No one else had more than four.
The Celtics got a career-high 31 points from Delonte West (who had 0 points at the half) and many clutch free throws down the stretch. Ryan Gomes re emerged from wherever he had been hiding with 21 points and 17 rebounds. Paul Pierce had 27 points and Al Jefferson authored another ho-hum double double with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Garnett had 33 points and 10 assists for his third triple double of the season. Davis had a season-high 35 points and Troy Hudson had a season-high 26 points.
No one of the announced 18,271 in attendance left complaining about not getting their money's worth. There were 15 lead changes, 16 ties, and, yes, a lot of barking and woofing. ("Kevin Garnett [does] nothing but talk. But he also backs it up," Jefferson said.)
Gerald Green, however, was the only woofer to get a technical (for which Rivers promptly chewed him out). "I was sick at halftime because of all the trash talking," Rivers said. "We're not good enough to talk, and when we are good enough, I hope we don't do it. I just think it's bad for the game. It's bad for everybody. It puts the refs on edge. It's a good lesson for some of our young guys."
So, too, is fouling at the right time. Hudson knocked down a ridiculous fallaway three to tie the game at 93 near the end of regulation. Rivers was all over Gomes for not fouling Hudson because the Celtics had a foul to give. Said Gomes, "He got the shot off so quickly. I was afraid if I fouled him, it could have been a 4-point play."
On to OT No. 1. With 15.1 seconds left, and Boston leading, 105-102, Davis, who was 12 of 20 from the field and 4 of 6 from international waters, got fouled by Gomes, apparently while shooting a 3-pointer. Ref Violet Palmer signaled a three, which would have given Davis three free throws. But Rivers questioned whether Davis had jumped over the line and, after a conference, the officials ruled it a 2-point attempt. Davis made them both, and, after two West free throws, Garnett hit a three -- only his eighth of the season -- to force a second OT.
Each team converted on its first four possessions in the second OT. Minnesota led, 115-113, after a Garnett turnaround with 2:36 left. But West (8 of 13) knocked down an 18-footer to launch a game-deciding 11-2 run over the final 2:14.
"We're getting ourselves into a rhythm," said Pierce. "Guys are starting to feel confident. It's good that we've been able to win some of these games."