|Mickael Pietrus played the entire fourth quarter against the Thunder Monday and showed a nice offensive touch. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)|
Pietrus is staying positive
Newcomer feels Celtics will get it together soon
When the Celtics lost four successive home games during the 2006-07 season, they understood that only a revamped team could solve their problems.
In a 97-88 loss to Oklahoma City Monday that extended the current team’s home losing streak to four, the Celtics learned they have an effective “small’’ lineup to close out games.
However, that group was facing an uphill battle in an attempt to rally against the Thunder. And, like other Celtic lineups, this one self-destructed with a lack of defensive discipline and turnovers.
But this is a weapon that could help the Celtics as they close out a homestand against Toronto tonight and Phoenix Friday.
And a key to the tactic could be Mickael Pietrus.
Though Pietrus is recovering from knee surgery, he seems energetic and resilient. He was the only Celtic to play the entire fourth quarter, and he scored 14 of the team’s final 29 points. The Celtics seemed dynamic offensively in the final quarter but failed to defend effectively on the perimeter.
“We did a lot of good things,’’ Pietrus said. “I can tell you, when we start winning, we’re going to be so hard to stop. Especially that small lineup. That was the first time it looked good.’’
The Thunder, like most Boston opponents, focused their defense on Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Allen attempted only seven shots in 38-plus minutes. Pierce had a 24-point breakout game.
But Oklahoma City barely considered Pietrus, who was able to line up uncontested 3-pointers and even completed a back-door sequence, finishing a Kevin Garnett assist.
While coach Doc Rivers is rationing minutes to the starters, it is becoming apparent that he can lean on Pietrus for long minutes, if necessary.
“I’m comfortable,’’ Pietrus said. “When I signed here, they took care of me. They took care of my knee, so I’ve got to give them back what they gave me. Obviously, the coach gives me a lot of confidence.
“We just have to be patient with ourselves, man. We can see our chemistry is coming. All we need right now is just that one win - it can be against anybody - to get everybody to regroup and feel better.’’
Pietrus is also bringing an enthusiastic, uninhibited attitude to practices and the locker room.
Pietrus, 29, defers to veteran teammates and has a strong respect for the Celtics, derived mainly from opposing them as a member of the Orlando Magic from 2008 through last year.
“This is the Celtics,’’ Pietrus said of the team’s struggles. “I mean, this is what everyone on the outside, except the Celtic fans, wants. But we have a new group, including myself, so we’re going to keep working hard and we’re going to be the Celtics.
“Even though some teams are winning right now, they’re going to go through a slump, too. The most important thing for us is to try get our chemistry back.
“We just have to stick together and stay with the vets - they know what to do - stay with them, just follow their lead, and we’re going to be OK.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.