There are two major stories that came out of tonight’s 104-101 Boston Celtics win: Paul Pierce’s game-winning jumper and Kevin Garnett’s ejection. I’ll discuss both later.
First, I want to write a sentence I’ve never written before and might not again for a long time: Luke Harangody notched a double-double and helped the Boston Celtics win a basketball game. One more time, for good measure. Say it with me, y’all. Luke Harangody notched a double-double and helped the Boston Celtics win a basketball game. Relish in those words, let them wash over you, allow them to cleanse your soul. With 16 points and 12 strong rebounds, Gody did his best to make me eat my words.
Okay, now moving on to the important stuff. First, Paul Pierce’s game-winner. Everyone in the building knew what was coming as soon as the birthday boy iso’d. One hard dribble right, stepback, release. That doesn’t mean it’s any easier to defend. The swish put the Celtics ahead two points, and the Knicks couldn’t come back.
The game probably wouldn’t have been so close if it weren’t for Garnett’s ejection. He said a few words, maybe warranted a single technical foul (maybe not), and then was tossed from the game by referee Kane Fitzgerald. Poor Tommy Heinsohn almost had a heart attack on the spot.
Everyone watching the game will inevitably cuss out David Stern and his new technical foul rule, and rightfully so. I did it myself. Fans don’t pay money to see all six feet and seven inches of Luke Harangody play center, they don’t pay money to see Marquis Daniels defend Amare Stoudemire, and they don’t pay money to see Garnett thrown out of the game for breathing in the vicinity of a ref.
But I’m not going to get too wrapped up in the preseason Joey Crawford-ization of technical fouls. By the time the regular season starts, or at the very latest a month or so into it, technical fouls will return to normal. A few more incidents just like tonight’s will cause Stern to rethink his new rule: Oh, shit. My league is a league of stars. When stars don’t play, fans get mad. Before long he’ll take the stupid tech rule back. Hey refs, let the guys get away with a little complaining from now on, eh? Maybe now the fans will stop complaining about the players doing too much complaining.
Even without Garnett, the product on the court was entertaining. It was a down-to-the-wire game that featured Harangody’s breakout, Amare Stoudemire’s bullying (30 points, 5 rebounds), Ray Allen’s hot hand (24 points, 9-14 field goals, 4-7 three-pointers), and Rajon Rondo’s two-way dominance (12 points, 7 assists, 6 steals). Tonight also could have marked the beginning of the end for Von Wafer. He played only two first-half minutes before getting the quick yank, while Lasme continued to impress with his versatility and energy. Mario West, also fighting for a spot on the team, received his second DNP of the preseason.
I can’t imagine Doc Rivers planned to play his starters in the fourth quarter, and I can’t imagine he wanted to play Rondo 40 minutes, but the starters wanted to stay on the court. Some time after the Garnett ejection, this game turned personal. The C’s didn’t want to lose. With a bunch of help from Harangody, Allen and Rondo, Pierce made sure they didn’t.
One dribble right, stepback, release.