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Celtics notebook

Garnett is out with knee pain

He may not play until Wednesday

By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / March 28, 2009
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ATLANTA - Kevin Garnett's jersey was untouched inside his locker at Philips Arena last night, but the Celtics hope he will be able to put it back on soon after some solid practices.

Garnett missed the 99-93 win over the Hawks because of right knee soreness. He missed 13 games with the injury before returning to play the previous four games. Coach Doc Rivers said Garnett's latest ailment "wasn't an injury" and a doctor's visit wasn't necessary.

Rivers acknowledged considering sitting Garnett until late in the regular season and said a determination would be made "sometime soon." An NBA source said Garnett still has discomfort and tightening in his knee. Rivers said Garnett will likely miss tomorrow's game against Oklahoma City, but solid practices could allow him to return Wednesday against Charlotte.

"He's not feeling great and we're just not going to take the chance," Rivers said. "A day of rest . . . it's more just the whole knee strain. We're just going to go day by day. I'd say that because we're sitting him down that we'd probably do it for more than one game. But I'm not sure yet."

Rivers said if last night had been a playoff game, Garnett would have been playing.

After scoring in double figures in his first three games back, Garnett appeared hampered as he had 4 points on 2-of-5 shooting and eight rebounds in 17 minutes during an 84-82 loss to Orlando Wednesday. Garnett declined two interview requests last night.

"Its uncharted waters," Rivers said. "We don't know where we are going with this right now. But what we do know is we're going to do whatever it takes to be 100 percent when the playoffs start. And whatever that takes, that's what we're going to do.

"I'm not concerned about the big picture. I'm just going to make sure I don't have concerns."

Not in time
A new NBA rule arrived too late to help the Celtics. The NBA Board of Governors voted Thursday to approve a rule change regarding "too many players on the court," which took effect last night. Under the rule, when such a violation is called, a technical foul will be assessed and the non-offending team will have the option of accepting or nullifying the game action that occurred during the violation.

That rule would have helped the Celtics during a 91-86 loss at Portland Dec. 30. The Trail Blazers were assessed a technical at the end of the first half for having six players on the court, but a Portland basket was not waved off. The Celtics had momentum before that play. Referee Mike Callahan said in a statement after the game, "If we would have caught the six men on the court before the made goal, there would have been no score."

"A little too late," Rivers said. "I don't know why it took so long. It probably took until they had their committee meetings. I have no idea why it took so long. But listen, it affected us. The good thing about the league is they decided it was the wrong decision, which we knew at the time, and they made a change to it. That's a good thing when stuff like that happens.

"There will be another issue that will come up that no one has ever thought about and they'll have to make a change. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they do. I'm glad when they do."

Asked what else he'd like to see change if he were commissioner for a day, Rivers said he'd help the referees.

"I think as far as officiating the games, they have so much to call," he said. "I just think it makes it very difficult for them to do their jobs. I've always thought that. There are so many different rules. If you think about it, on one play an official can call a three-seconds offense, a three-seconds defense, a five-second dribble offense, and then ref the rest of the game all on one play. If you give me the ball in the post, you have to watch me for a five-seconds count, you got to make sure no one is in the lane for three seconds, no one's in the lane for three seconds on defense. And then you got to actually ref the game."

Tough to stomach
Rajon Rondo had 9 points and five assists in 25 minutes despite two sore ankles. Rivers thought Rondo looked sluggish in the first half, but Rondo said it wasn't because of his ankles, rather a sandwich that didn't settle well.

"It was something I ate in the first half," Rondo said. "I didn't have a lot of energy. I shouldn't have eaten that before the game. I had Chick-fil-A with all that barbecue sauce and honey mustard.

"It didn't settle in too good. So I came in [at halftime] and had a couple bananas and some juice and I felt better in the second half."

Marbury heats up
Stephon Marbury entered last night's game averaging 2.7 points but had a season-high 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, made 3 of 4 3-pointers, and dished out 2 assists. "Once my legs get back, I'll be the freshest one out of everybody," he said. "It's just a matter of time. I'm not worrying about it at all. I'm just taking it in stride." Said Rivers, "Steph is playing better for us. We're going to need him down the stretch." . . . Rivers said Tony Allen, who is rehabilitating from left knee surgery, is expected back in a little less than two weeks . . . Former Celtics guard Sam Cassell visited his old teammates in the locker room after the game . . . The Celtics had their shootaround at Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum instead of at Philips. Boston had its shootaround prior to the game in Orlando at a sports club instead of the Amway Center. Asked why the Celtics are having shootarounds at alternate sites, Rivers said, "We don't like using the other gyms. We like having our own control. We've done that everywhere. It's nothing personal. We just kind of like going to another gym and having shootaround when we want to have it. That keeps all the spies away. I'm joking."

Marc J. Spears can be reached at mspears@globe.com.

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