Kevin Garnett became the 16th player in NBA history to break the 25,000-point barrier Thursday, and he finished with 15 points in a 116-95 win over the Lakers at the Garden.
“I’m sure someday when I’m rocking in a rocking chair, having a cigar or something, thinking about what I’ve done, I’m sure it will make some sense to me,” Garnett said.
Garnett then gave credit to the coaches, ex-players, current players, the Celtics organization, and everyone else who helped him reach that point.
“I’m more than honored because without the system and the coaches and obviously the players that put you in a position to score the basketball, none of this would have been possible,” he said.
“I try to keep my body up and pieced together. But there’s so many components that go into the individual awards, and I’d just like to obviously say I’m more than honored.”
Said coach Doc Rivers: “You know what’s funny is he’s a great offensive player, but that tells you he’s so good defensively that you rarely hear about Kevin being a great offensive player. That just tells you how good he is overall.”
Garnett also addressed trade rumors that have involved him of late.
“I love my situation here,” he said before referencing reports that linked him to potential trades to the Clippers or the Nuggets. “But I bleed green and I continue to do that and if it’s up to me, I want to retire a Celtic. I just want everybody to know that, all right?”
Wherever the Lakers go, drama follows. The latest issue to stir up headlines has been Dwight Howard and his injured shoulder. The All-Star center had missed three straight games, but he started Thursday night.
It wasn’t clear before his name was announced whether Howard would play. Coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t provide any clues, and neither did Howard, but Rivers seemed positive Howard would be out there.
Howard was in the lineup after Kobe Bryant had publicly urged him to play, after which Howard fired back during the team’s shootaround, saying that was just Bryant’s opinion and that he wasn’t a doctor.
Howard finished with 9 points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
D’Antoni has a plate full of problems, ranging from injuries (Pau Gasol, right foot; Howard) to the team’s overall struggles. From afar, though, he has been impressed with how well the Celtics have played without Rajon Rondo, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
“They’re moving the ball really well,” D’Antoni said before the game. “It seems like they have a renewed type of energy, maybe desperation like we’re in.”
Of his team, Rivers said, “We’re just playing right now, we’re not dealing with anything. [The Lakers] have more firestorms going on. But give them credit. They’ve won six out of seven through it. It may be helping them.”
Despite each team’s injuries, Rivers said the Celtics-Lakers rivalry hasn’t lost any of its shine.
“They still wear that same color, and we wear the same color,” he said. “Through all of it, it’s still all the same thing. You enjoy the games because they’re fun. Kobe is there, Kevin and Paul [Pierce] are there. It will always be fun.”
Time to shine
Since the start of the new year, the Celtics had played 18 games entering Thursday.
In the 12 with Rondo, Leandro Barbosa had averaged 2.2 points. In the six games without Rondo, Barbosa had averaged 10.7 points.
But it’s not Barbosa’s scoring increase that has surprised Rivers most.
“He’s been better defensively,” Rivers said. “That’s one of the things we kept hearing, is that he hasn’t been a defensive player. And I kept thinking, ‘Well, he’s beating everybody offensively with his speed, so he has to have some speed.’ ”
Barbosa scored 12 of the Celtics’ 30 fourth-quarter points in Wednesday’s comeback win in Toronto. The player known as the “Brazilian Blur” can get hot in stretches, but Rivers said he’s not sure when those stretches will occur.
Barbosa was held scoreless (0 for 6 from the field) in 21 minutes Thursday night.
After Rivers’s 400th victory as Celtics coach Wednesday, the team presented him with a game ball. And on the flight back to Boston, Garnett and Pierce stood and shared a few kind words about their coach, who described the gesture as “really nice.” Rivers, in turn, bought his players designer cupcakes, which were sitting in pink boxes in their lockers.
The snow is coming. Upward of 2 feet, according to forecasts. Yet Rivers said he hasn’t given too much thought about telling his team to prepare and act accordingly. “When I was in Orlando,” he pointed out, “we didn’t talk a lot about the snowstorms coming up.” Rivers conceded, though, that he ought to at least raise the issue with his players. He also noted that the Celtics will likely cancel practice Saturday. They host the Denver Nuggets Sunday . . . Pacers guard Gerald Green will be competing in the Slam Dunk contest Feb. 16 during All-Star Weekend in Houston, the league announced. Green won the event in 2007 as a member of the Celtics . . . Thursday was Lakers guard Steve Nash’s 39th birthday.