“Up and down, he’s getting beat up,’’ Rivers said when asked about Johnson’s progress in practice. “He’s excited when he actually gets the [scrimmage] refs to come on the floor, I’ll tell you that. But he did a couple of good things today. He’s starting to learn who he is. He knows he’s a jump shooter and he’s starting to become comfortable enough to take that shot.’’
“Today was the first day when he picked-and-popped, he caught it and shot it,’’ Rivers said. “The other two days he tried to make another play and got bumped off the spot, so I think he’s starting to simplify his game.’’
When asked if he expected Johnson to generate an interior game, Rivers said, “Nah. I mean, he’ll dunk because he’s athletic as heck, so we’re going to run stuff to get him rolling to the basket and throw it up in the air and he’ll go get it. But as far as post presence? Not really, but that’s fine. We don’t need that. We’ll try to get that somewhere else.’’ Read more »
Posts tagged: Brian Scalabrine
Before NBA team officials were mandated to stop talking to NBA players and draft picks, Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers gave E’Twaun Moore some advice.
“Danny and Doc told me to stay in shape, and to be able to shoot the NBA three,” Moore told the Boston Herald in July.
Presumably, after signing a deal with the Italian team Benneton Treviso and participating in the team’s training camp, Moore is staying in shape. And if his latest exploits in an exhibition game are any indication, Moore’s three-point stroke isn’t looking bad, either. (ESPN Boston)
According to a box score in a game story posted on the team’s official website Monday, Moore dropped 21 points in an exhibition win over a team from Frankfurt, Germany. The best news for Celtics fans: Moore hit 5-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc in the game, an encouraging sign about the progress of his 3-point shot (one that he undoubtedly has attempted to hone with eyes toward making the Celtics roster when NBA hoop returns).
I tried to read the game story about Moore’s 21-point performance, but Google Chrome’s translator left the story too scrambled. Sentences like, “Still, ‘White Mamba’ Scalabrine enhances the capacity audience with a trapping of Panzano-NBA choreography with singing, then Moore supports the 48-41,” are a joy to read, but also quite difficult to decipher. It’s especially tough to figure out what “a trapping of Panzano-NBA choreography with singing” means while still getting over the shock of seeing Scalabrine referred to as White Mamba. So forgive me for not knowing many details about Moore’s big night.
Anyway, Moore’s hot shooting shouldn’t come as a surprise. He shot 40% from behind the arc last season at Purdue and finished his college career with 243 made three-pointers. He can score, he can shoot, and his game is polished. He does have certain drawbacks which kept him on the draft board until the 55th pick; he doesn’t scrape the clouds when he jumps, nor does he stand a chance against Rajon Rondo in a foot race. But Moore was a stud in college, and Danny Ainge normally prefers selecting proven players in the second round.
So far in Italy, so good for Moore. Let’s just hope his game translates back to English a little better than the Benetton Treviso website does.
Kevin Garnett was married in 2004, but I know nothing else about his relationship. You won’t see him pretending to be a statue in Boston anytime soon and he likewise would never conduct the Boston Pops or sing at the bar Cheers. You see, Garnett is an intensely private individual. But when he gives interviews, we are sometimes allowed to peer through brief windows into his character.
Garnett appeared on the Dan Patrick Show this morning. While he didn’t quite bear his soul like the time he cried in front of John Thompson, Garnett nonetheless revealed himself, this time more subtly. Maybe I’m being overly psychoanalytic. It probably wouldn’t be the first time, nor would it be the last. But Garnett’s interview seemed telling (read the transcript on Green Street).
At one point, Patrick poked fun of Brian Scalabrine.
“You got room for me on a one-year deal on the bench?” Patrick asked. “I could be sort of a Scalabrine type.”
But Garnett is fiercely loyal to those who deserve it.
“You willing to give up that body of yours, man?” KG said. “Scal gave up a lot. He was big for us. I know people like to crack little jokes about Scal. Scal’s in the league for a reason.”
Garnett went on to discuss a host of different topics. He does not trust the owners in the labor battle because they are the opponent and he does not know their entire agenda. He loved playing with Shaq and called this season “probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time in the NBA.” He believes the lockout will not continue throughout the entire season — “this game is too beautiful,” he explained, “with everything that’s going on and all the story lines that surround our game, I can’t see just blowing away the season.” He still wishes he left Minnesota earlier because management did not share his vision for the future, which presumably featured winning rather than rebuilding. And he has not yet discussed a contract extension with the Celtics (his contract ends after the 2011-’12 season), nor does he know how long he wants to continue playing.
The conversation turned to the Lakers’ suiting of Garnett when he was available on the trade market. As Zach Lowe recalls, the Lakers reportedly offered Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum for Garnett. And the deal was close. If Garnett had said yes, he would have been a Laker.
“What’s disturbing about the whole Lakers situation was just Kobe [Bryant] and Phil [Jackson] at the time,” said Garnett. “They were at each other pretty bad, and a new situation full of uncertainty wasn’t something that I wanted to get into.”
Garnett loves to win. Hell, he once famously broke down in tears because his Minnesota Timberwolves were mired in struggles. But he could have played alongside Kobe Bryant, then the game’s best player, and played for Phil Jackson, the game’s most accomplished coach, yet Garnett said no.
Maybe he feared that the duo’s squabbles would keep the team from winning. Or maybe there are some things more important than winning, even to Kevin Garnett, who might run his grandmother over with a tractor if it meant he could win an NBA championship. Garnett paired with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Doc Rivers instead, two stars and one then-unheralded coach. They had not won any championships alone or together, but hey, they weren’t mired in a public argument either. They were in the right stages of their career to embrace Garnett and everything he stands for.
I have to admit, I’m fascinated by Kevin Garnett. The way he plays with a volcano of emotions. The way he walks into Boston’s locker room before a game and does not say a single word. The way he altogether stops talking to young teammates who won’t listen to his advice. The way he looks down most of the time he talks, but when he looks up it’s as if his eyes could stare a hole into your soul.
Garnett almost always shields his private life from the media. He’s a complex individual, one of the most unique characters in the NBA, and I would never claim to understand everything he is. But sometimes he opens his mouth and a few telling words come out, and I feel just a little bit closer.
Full (and perhaps slightly conceited) disclosure: I consider myself a knowledgeable basketball fan. A lot of people I know call themselves “students of the game,” but I—at least in my opinion—fit the bill.
I don’t just watch basketball; I study it. I re-watch games and I dissect what went right and what went wrong, what plays worked and what plays didn’t, or even such minutiae like “why does Paul Pierce’s stepback jumper free him from his defender every single time?” I read every article I can about basketball. I try to smell the game’s aroma through my nose, breathe its life into my lungs and then type whatever bits I can discover into my computer to publish on my website. Even when I’m wrong, my opinions (and I have opinions about mostly everything) are at least educated.
But there are times when I understand there are limits to my basketball knowledge. There are things I will never quite comprehend, partially due to personal shortcomings, but also because I have limited access to NBA players and coaches. I can see what happens on the court. I can see when Paul Pierce makes a sharp cut to the hoop for an easy layup. But I cannot hear if Rajon Rondo whispers into Pierce’s ear, “He’s over-playing you, Paul. Cut backdoor.” I can see what plays Doc Rivers calls, and I can determine which ones succeed and which ones don’t. But I cannot hear if Rondo says in the huddle, “Doc, I think we should run a pick-and-roll with me and Paul because the Bulls are switching ball screens.” Sometimes, on lucky days, a player will offer me a window to the inside, will tell the media a story about the secrets that occur between the baselines, the stuff TVs can’t portray and microphones can’t pick up.
Yesterday, Brian Scalabrine christened Rondo the smartest player he has ever played with. Being Scal’s smartest teammate is no small feat. Scal played with Jason Kidd, one of the best lead guards ever, when Kidd was the NBA’s best point guard. He played with Derrick Rose when Rose won the MVP. He played with Kevin Garnett, who quarterbacks defenses and never stops teaching his teammates. He played with Paul Pierce, one of the craftiest scorers of his era. Yet even when compared to Scal’s other elite teammates, Rondo stands out.
“Rondo is conceptually smarter than both of those guys,” Scal told Comcast, referring to Kidd and Rose. “He thinks the game like a coach. He thinks of the different types of offense that [he] can use early, that he won’t use late. He’s just on—intellectually, he’s just on a totally different level than any player I’ve ever seen.
“When he was young and he was doing that, he was deemed uncoachable. As this thing’s going along and he gets older and we see how it all plays out, now people are starting to think, like, ‘Maybe he was just right.’ In his rookie year, his second year, he was making adjustments on the fly, and he was telling guys, like, ‘This is what we need to do to win.’ And this guy’s a second-year point guard, and it—it works.
“And that’s the thing you have to understand. He’s one of the smartest—I’m just gonna go out there: he’s the smartest basketball player I’ve ever played with, as far as understanding what he needs to do to run that position and what he needs to do for us to score in the fourth quarter. He’s not thinking about the second, he’s not thinking about the first. He’s thinking … ‘Down the stretch, where am I going to go, what am I going to pull out of my back pocket that I know I can go to to win a game?”
Scal’s opinion is exactly why we cherish secondary access to athletes and coaches, why we yearn for their thoughts. Sure, I can watch Rondo nightly, observe his masterful no-look passes, marvel at the way he runs a team, and thank the basketball gods that the Celtics chose him with the 21st pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. But without Scal, I would not possibly be able to compare his intelligence to Jason Kidd’s. Of course, I could have compared Rondo’s IQ to Tony Allen’s IQ without enlisting Scal’s help; those two players’ intelligence are distant enough for Stevie Wonder to see the difference.
But for me to rate Rondo’s intelligence against Kidd’s would have been ludicrous; they’re too close in basketball IQ for somebody like me—armed with an admittedly limited scope of information—to accurately determine which player is smarter. Kidd is one of the all-time greats, a savant who used smarts (and elite skill, and great athleticsm) to dominate during his youth and now uses his guile to adapt, to fill a role, and to counteract the aging process. Watching Rondo play, I can easily notice comparisons to Kidd—specifically, their court vision, ability to excel without a jump shot (before he became an above-average standstill shooter, remember, Jason Kidd was known as Ason Kidd), rebounding acumen, and gift for making teammates better. But I would never have, could never have, compared their intelligence.
Without listening to Doc Rivers, Scal and other Celtics rave about Rondo’s basketball brain, I could never understand the full extent of it. Hell, even after listening to their opinions, I only get an occasional inside look into the Celtics—I will still never fully understand Rondo’s basketball mind. But after Scal’s words, I can imagine Rondo dictating plays to Rivers in the huddle. I can envision him whispering to Pierce about where and when he should cut. I can picture him interrupting a scouting report to argue it, and actually being right. I can see him studying film and tendencies and pouring over stats.
Today, I know a little more about Rajon Rondo than I did yesterday. While my knowledge remains imperfect and always will: thank you, Scal.
After the Celtics pulled away for a not-as-close-as-the-score-would-indicate 104-92 win, only one question remained: would Brian Scalabrine enter the game?
With just more than a minute remaining, Scal finally heared his number called. A little while later, a chorus of boos rained down from the rafters. No, the crowd didn’t despise Scal. There were no “Ass-hole” chants, and no signs saying “Quitness.” Nobody venomously chanted the name of a player who may or may not have slept with Scal’s mother. The crowd was upset for another reason — Scal had been called for a foul. Even now, Scal’s a fan favorite. As soon as the game reached garbage time, the crowd clamored for the red-headed assassin to play some minutes. And yes, I just called Scal an assassin.
Do you want to know the real reason I led this recap with a stupid Brian Scalabrine anecdote, rather than discussing a player who had an actual impact on the game? I didn’t know whether Rajon Rondo or Kevin Garnett should be the real lead, so I went with the number one rule of writing Celtics recaps — when in doubt, choose Scal. Okay, so I made that rule up just now. Sue me.
Garnett sent a simple message to the NBA: don’t piss off Kevin Garnett. Joakim Noah screwed up. He called Garnett ugly. He called Garnett a “very mean guy.” He demeaned Garnett to reporters, and the bad thing for Noah was this — Garnett was listening. Garnett, from the opening tip, had Noah in his crosshairs. Garnett has always been a vengeful person, someone who becomes motivated even if you just breathe on him the wrong way. He feeds on emotion, feeds on the feeling that someone has wronged him. Last year, he just couldn’t do anything about that emotion. Garnett would get all fired up to play, he’d bang his head on the basket support, and then — zoom — Kris Humphries would drive by him while Garnett limped behind.
This year, when Garnett gets fired up, he can actually do something about it. He wanted to teach Noah a lesson, and Garnett now has the ability to do it. He can now drop 16 points and 11 rebounds in the first half. No more limping. No more being overmatched by inferior opponents. Kevin Garnett is back to being Kevin Garnett, and that never ceases to be a beautiful thing. At this time last year, I thought KG would never recover. I thought he was all washed up. Just don’t tell him I said that. I don’t need him dropping a double-double on me in the first half.
As for Rondo? I take him for granted. It’s that simple. He makes the game look so easy.
Oh, a rebound is coming my way. Why don’t I just touch-pass it to Shaq before I even catch it?
Oh, look, Paul Pierce found a sliver of daylight underneath the hoop. Why don’t I just fire a no-look bullet of a pass, so he can make the easiest layup of his life?
Gee, Kevin Garnett’s man is fronting him. Why don’t I just lob a perfect pass over the top, leading Garnett into an easy dunk?
Whenever Rondo plays against Derrick Rose, the contrast between the two players couldn’t be more evident. Rose calls his own number a lot, while Rondo, well, doesn’t. Rose looks to attack, attack, attack, while Rondo probes the defense, searching for an open teammate the whole while. Rose doesn’t just jump; he coils his body in preparation for take-off. He is strong enough to bounce off defenders and maintain his balance, but fast enough to sometimes make Rondo look a little slow.
Rose can score against anybody, but Rondo just knows how to run an offense, in a way that Rose can’t yet, and might never be able to. If you judged a point guard simply by his mastery of his own offense, PGs don’t get much better than what Rondo has provided this season. Rose is great, even magnificent at times, and I would take him on my team any day. But for a team as stacked and deep as the Boston Celtics, I don’t know if I would want any point guard besides Rajon Rondo.
There were other things that happened, of course. Semih Erden was as useful as he has been in a while. Paul Pierce was briefly unstoppable in the fourth quarter. Rondo picked Rose’s pocket a couple times, and was dialed in the whole game. The Celtics scored 189 points in the paint (slight exaggeration) and out-rebounded the Bulls by ten boards (fact). Marquis Daniels dunked, which was odd. Shaq is large, Nate Robinson is not so large, and Von Wafer still loves to shoot.
Most importantly, Rasheed Wallace watched from the stands. Shockingly, he was not issued a technical foul and did not shoot any ill-advised three-pointers.
I wasn’t at the Garden last night, so I couldn’t see the Scalabrine video tribute that was shown. I can only imagine it wasn’t anywhere near as touching as the one above.
We loved Brian Scalabrine for a lot of reasons. He is the lovable underdog, possesses a self-depricating sense of humor that is rare in an athlete, and is easy to make fun of. He never complained, never failed to be a great teammate, and once in a while he would even hit a three-pointer or two. He also — dare I say it? — has pasty white skin. For some people, I think that made a difference.
Yesterday was Scal’s triumphant (did you see him block Pierce? No, seriously) return to Boston. The fans gave him a terrific reception and standing ovation (“Are you serious, Scal?’’ Kurt Thomas asked him. “You’re that big out here?’’), and Scal’s former teammates and head coach showed just as much love.
“We won together,” Kevin Garnett said. “Scal is the ultimate professional athlete. I have uncanny respect for the guy. He came in here and was a professional every day that he put on the green and white. I respect him more than anything. He’s one of my favorite ex-teammates in my small 15 years [in the NBA].” …
“He’s lying; he’ll coach, there’s no doubt about that,” Rivers said. “We talk about it and he denies it to me all the time, as well. But he’ll be with me. I’ve told him that the day he’s done playing, if he needs a seat, it’ll be there for him. He’s just one of those guys you want around your team.
“It’s in his blood. He loves basketball. He loves talking about coaching too much. You’ve seen him, he’ll be in front of the [team] plane, asking [Rivers], ‘Why did you think about this coming out of a timeout?’ He would always ask those questions. Guys like that tend to coach.” …
“I know people look at him and say,” said Garnett, raising an eyebrow, “‘You know, but there’s a reason he plays; there’s a reason he’s on rosters; there’s a reason he’s in the league.’ He adds value. We understand that, like the Bulls and Thibs understand that.”
Scal adds value. He also adds humor.
“We were talking to Chicago the whole [offseason], but I was talking to [Bulls general manager] Gar [Forman] and the holdout was that I wanted a statue next to Michael Jordan [outside the United Center],” Scalabrine explained Friday before the Celtics beat the Bulls 110-105 in overtime at TD Garden. “He was like, ‘A lot of good players have come through Chicago, and I don’t know if I can guarantee we can do that.’ So I said, ‘I’m going to hold out until you promise me that.’ At the end of the day, I said, ‘Fine, you don’t have to put the statue up.’”
We miss you Scal, even if those feelings have little to do with your sterling physique or otherworldly basketball skills.