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Celtics notebook

Garnett a late scratch with sore hip

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / February 16, 2012
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Kevin Garnett was the only Celtic to play in the team’s opening 27 games. And, an hour before the team’s 98-88 loss last night to Detroit at TD Garden, Garnett was listed in the starting lineup.

But Garnett (hip pointer) was scratched just before the start of the game.

“I thought he was going to go, until late,’’ coach Doc Rivers said. “That was as late a scratch as we’ve had. We had already filled out the injured list and, we would have activated Marquis [Daniels] because we had already put in the list, which I think is another silly rule. The guy [Daniels] is sitting there healthy, I don’t know why he couldn’t play.’’

Garnett was in the starting lineup before trainer Ed Lacerte and Rivers discussed the situation.

“He had a great shootaround today,’’ Rivers said of Garnett before the game. “Eddie just wants to make sure after his treatment he still feels good.’’

Garnett sustained the injury in a 95-91 win over Chicago Sunday.

Rondo scores 35

Rajon Rondo surpassed his career high of 32 points with a late free throw, cutting the Celtics’ deficit to 93-84. Rondo then converted on a goaltending call with 1:57 remaining to give him 35 points, but that would be the last Boston field goal until Ray Allen’s layup just before the final buzzer.

Rondo was coming off a triple-double Sunday.

“The main thing is our record is 1-1 in these last two games,’’ Rondo said. “We were unable to get stops in the fourth quarter and we were not able to shut them off after that. We gave them confidence, you know, they came out, Ben [Gordon] hit two big threes, gave them a lift, [Greg] Monroe hit a jump shot, I think. And, after that, we couldn’t turn them off.’’

Rondo got the Celtics into an effective transition game in the opening half and was effective isolated on the low post. But the Celtics failed to get Allen and Paul Pierce involved in the offense.

“I wanted to take advantage of the smaller guy guarding me,’’ Rondo said. “So, I just tried to jump-hook them to death.

“It’s difficult, when you have it going yourself. My teammates kept telling me to stay aggressive. But, at the same time, I was just trying to get other guys involved, you know. They tell me to attack and stay aggressive.’’

Cover story

Pierce on the absence of Garnett: “You talk about not having Kevin and he does so much for us defensively, covers up so much. That’s no excuse. We’ve played without a number of guys this year and other guys are capable of stepping up, despite the circumstances. We’re not an excuse team. This is a game we feel like we should have won.

“We have to understand, our defense - [if] we’re out there getting stops we’re able to run. That creates a lot of opportunities for us. It’s very draining when you come down each and every time and you give up big baskets and you give up open threes. It’s demoralizing and it takes away from the offense when you consistently can’t get stops.’’

The Pistons outrebounded the Celtics, 44-33, grabbing seven of a possible 18 offensive boards in the second half.

“That has a lot to do with dribble penetration from the wings,’’ Pierce said. “It’s allowing our bigs to really help more than they would like to and they end up taking the body off their man. And then it’s creating mismatches on the rebounds. I think we’re putting ourselves in those situations quite a bit, as you saw tonight.’’

Road beckons

The Celtics have an 11-8 home record. “It’s frustrating, but it’s basketball,’’ Rondo said. “We have to keep our head. We’ve got a tough game [tonight in Chicago] and it will be a big win for us if we can get it.’’ Pierce said the road trip could help the team. “Maybe, sometimes the team needs a little road trip to kind of get it together,’’ he said. . . . Jermaine O’Neal missed all of practice Tuesday, and Mickael Pietrus missed part of the session. Both were declared doubtful for last night but both played, and O’Neal in fact started . . . Ex-Celtics center and Hall of Famer Bill Russell sat courtside and participated in a halftime ceremony along with Mayor Thomas Menino.

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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