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BOSTON — With so much energy that he always seems to be on the verge of exploding, it should come as no surprise that Kevin Garnett has to be told to slow down from time to time.
Doc Rivers found himself in desperate need of that energy from Garnett, who responded to Rivers’ plea in helping Boston knock off Orlando 116-110 in overtime on Sunday.
Garnett had a game-high 24 points in the win, half of which came in the fourth quarter following a third-quarter collapse by the Celtics that saw their 12-point lead totally wiped out.
“I was on him about slowing down, because there’s no one his size,” said Rivers, who added that the Magic did a nice job of keeping a body on Garnett, which led him to shoot more quickly than usual.
I specifically remember late in the game watching this. KG had a wide open path to the basket, with only Jameer Nelson in his way. But instead of driving, he fired up a quick off-balance shot that clanked off the rim. Normally I’m happy with KG taking a jumper, but not in that instance.
But when the game was anyone’s for the taking, Garnett made sure it was his. All his.
He had 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, providing the kind of steady production down the stretch that was absolutely critical to the Celtics to win and will remain a vital component for future success.
“When he slowed down,” Rivers said, “the game changed for us.”
Garnett said he had no idea that the Celtics would make him such a priority on offense down the stretch.
“Usually times like (that), Paul (Pierce), Rajon (Rondo), each one gets in another gear,” Garnett said. “You could see . . . we had a little lackadaisical presence. Everyone reaches within themselves to try pick it up.”
This is just another part of the adjustment of being an older player. He’s going to be 37 before the season is over, but his production isn’t slowing down at all. In fact, he’s doing more with less time on the floor. He’s playing two minutes less per game, but his average is up slightly. And that means his per-36 numbers are up even more. He’s averaging 19.6 ppg per 36, which is higher than his career average and only a point off of his first season in Boston.
Everyone slows down when they get older. For a guy as intense as KG, that could be a good thing.
The rest of the links:
Globe: Sullinger, Bass work to help C’s rebounding numbers | CSNNE: Celtics crash boards in win over Magic | Herald: Barbosa out to make a score | Rivers not concerned with Green misses | ESPN Boston: Rondo edged for Player of the Week | Bass is all over the glass | WEEI: Why Rondo’s assists streak is more impressive than Stockton’s or Magic’s