Garnett sits with thigh bruise
Kevin Garnett missed last night’s 103-94 win over the Pacers at TD Garden because of a right thigh bruise.
The news came as a surprise to teammates, who didn’t know they would be taking the court without their defensive leader until about 20 minutes before tip-off.
“I didn’t want them thinking,’’ Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “I just wanted them to go out and play.’’
Garnett had been playing with the injury since sustaining it Dec. 14 in a victory over Memphis.
“He said that’s where he got hit,’’ Rivers said. “And, of course, he hadn’t told anyone until, I think, today.’’
Garnett, who had started all 26 games this season, was replaced in the starting lineup by Rasheed Wallace, who contributed 9 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. Garnett attended the pregame shootaround and told Rivers he wanted to play, according to team spokesman Jeff Twiss, but Rivers decided to rest the 6-foot-11-inch power forward in preparation for a four-game trip that starts Christmas Day in Orlando and continues on to the West Coast.
“He wasn’t thrilled with it,’’ Rivers said. “But I think he’s better this year than he was last year. You know, yesterday, he actually sat down in practice and Paul [Pierce] walked over to him and said, ‘Wow, someone’s growing up.’ You know, instead of fighting through it. He has that warrior mentality, sometimes it’s to his detriment.’’
Garnett missed 25 regular-season games and the playoffs last season because of strained ligaments and bone spurs in his right knee. After surgery in May, Garnett has been touchy whenever questions about his health arose.
Rivers said he expects Garnett to be ready for the Magic.
“The fate of how far we go lies on how healthy Kevin is,’’ Pierce said. “So you definitely want him to be all right. From the look of things he’s going to be all right.’’
Garnett won player of the week honors earlier this month after averaging 19.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in three games.
Referee Bennett Salvatore made good on his word and rescinded a technical he assessed to Wallace during a Nov. 29 win in Miami. Wallace was reprimanded for yelling “And one!’’ after a made basket.
“He said it right away,’’ Rivers said of Salvatore. “The ref said it at halftime that he was going to rescind it. But he told me something I didn’t know. I thought that when the refs said that they were going to rescind a tech, it still has to go to the league and it still had to be approved. They don’t have to rescind it. I just thought it was always automatic. I didn’t realize the league can say, ‘No, we still want to fine him.’ So that was good.’’
Wallace still remains on a troubling technical pace. Should he reach 16, he would face a one-game suspension for every ensuing technical foul.
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.