SACRAMENTO, Calif. — They stunned the Lakers and snapped the Hornets’ 10-game winning streak, and coming back from a 10-point hole and catching fire in the second quarter, the Kings looked like they were ready to make the Celtics’ their latest high-profile victim.
The Kings rung up 34 points in the second quarter. Donte Green scored 13 of them. The Celtics second unit blew the double-digit lead and when the Celtics went into halftime down 54-45, the starters were fuming.
The first unit chewed the bench out in the locker room at the break, and the entire team responded in the second half, sparking the Celtics 95-90 win at ARCO Arena
It was one of those games, I was upset at halftime. Coming off the game Sunday, you’re worried about just the emotional up and down of the season. Our first unit played great, and then our second unit came in and almost literally robbed our spirit from the team with the way they played.
They didn’t move the ball. I thought they were all thinking about offense. In the second half, I thought they played the right way … Once you knew they got their spirit up, you knew it would be a difficult game and that was the concern going into the game.
The defense clamped down, holding the Kings to 31.6 percent. Meanwhile, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Glen Davis combined for 29 points on 12 of 20 shooting.
“Tonight, our first team did a real good job of keeping control of the momentum, understanding the momentum, getting it back when we needed it,” Garnett said.
Rivers will coach Eastern Conference All-Stars
He had other plans on All-Star Weekend. One of his sons has a district tournament. But by beating the Kings, the Celtics guaranteed that Rivers would head to Los Angeles for the All-Star Game on Feb. 20. Down 9 at halftime, though, the his team had Rivers sweating.
“We had his blood pressure up tonight,” Garnett said. “Sometimes he needs that. In all seriousness. I’m happy for him, happy for his staff. We see the countless hours they always put in. We’re not always liking the preparation for it, but we know a lot goes into our gameplan and it starts with those guys, him and his staff.”
Garnett and Rajon Rondo missed out on starting spots which were announced last week, but both have a strong chance of being named to the team as reserves, which will be announced Thursday. Along with wanting to close out the road trip, Pierce said the Celtics used Rivers’ all-star push as a carrot.
“It was kind of a little fun motivation,” Pierce said. “Not only to finish off the trip, but to kind of just be able to coach in the all-star game. It’s always a privilege when they get recognized for what they’ve done halfway through the season.”
Focus up in the air: The Celtics initially planned to try to fly out after the game, but called an audible, staying an extra day in Sacramento. The weather and its effect on travel plans made it difficult to focus. “Guys wanted to know what we were doing after the game,” Kendrick Perkins said. “Were we staying, were we going home. But at the end of the day, I think you’ve got to focus. I think we do a good job of doing that. It’s just about focus.”
Rondo’s technical: When Kevin Garnett found himself in no-man’s land by the Kings bench after diving for a loose ball in the second quarter, a crowd of mixed jerseys formed around him, and in the scrum Rajon Rondo gave one King a shove, earning a technical foul for defending Garnett. “I just think Rondo thought he was standing over me,” Garnett said. “We’re a very prideful team. We don’t really do that to other people, and we just want to uphold the decency in this game and respect. We all have each other’s back. I guess he felt like he was standing over me, which was disrespectful to us. It’s the game though. It’s what it is.”
Cousins shows respect:His assignments weren’t the easiest. Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins found himself trying to guard Shaquille O’Neal, being called for two fouls that e had to try his best not to explode over. At the other end, Kevin Garnett was trying to shut him down. Cousins still went for 20 points and six rebounds, his third straight game with 20 points. “These young guys have been having some unbelievable stretches,” Garnett said. “The young boy was doing unbelievably well and I was locked into slowing him down, giving him different looks.” Cousins didn’t miss in the fourth quarter (3 of 3 from the floor, 2 of 2 from the line), but couldn’t keep the Celtics from surging late. “They have poise,” Cousins said. “They did what they needed to do down the stretch and that’s why they have the rings and they probably will be there in the championship again this year. Boston is a real physical team. They have experience I wish I had. I love the way Boston talks to each other. We need to take a page from them and do the same.”