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DENVER – Gerald Wallace has emerged as the Celtics’ voice of reason and biggest critic in his first season in Boston, and once again he challenged the team following its embarrassing 129-98 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. Denver canned 14 3-pointers, attempted 38 free throws and led by 22 points at halftime.
The Celtics allowed 103 points through the first three quarters and looked discouraged and lethargic throughout the night.
“I’m very surprised. Right now, we’re the team that’s all talk,” he said. “We talk about how we want to get better. We talk about things we need to do to get better. It’s easy to go out and practice and do it. Practice doesn’t really apply to anything with making yourself better. When they turn them lights on, when it really counts, when it’s about the team and making the team better and trying to win as a team, we don’t do it.”
Jared Sullinger’s evening exemplified that. He was called for two flagrant fouls in a 23-second span and was ejected in the third quarter. Sullinger now has five flagrant points and would serve a one-game suspension with his next flagrant 1 foul.
“Hey, Denver was doing everything the right way, so everything was going their way,” Wallace said. “The way we played, the way we play as a team, the things that we do, we don’t deserve to get the calls they got. They got them. Jared’s first (flagrant) was 50-50 and the second one, I’ve seen that play done 50 times, that’s my first time ever seen it called a flagrant foul. Everything was going their way, so why should we get the benefit of the doubt? We’re not playing worth a crap anyway.”
The Celtics have dropped eight of nine games and have allowed 248 points in the past two games. Wallace said he is done with team meetings and gatherings to figure out the issue.
“Like I said, guys gotta look in the mirror man. It’s gotta be the individual. It’s gotta be timeout for I and what I can do to help us win?” he said. “What can I do to help the team win? What can I come out on the court and provide to make our team better? Right now it’s too much of ‘I,’ too many guys trying to do it on their own and in this league, that’s hard to do.”
When asked about Sullinger and his flagrant fouls, Wallace had nothing but support.
“Like I said, they had everything going, so it is what it is. I’m just happy to see somebody take a hard foul from our bigs,” he said. “He’s the only big that’s willing to take a hard foul not to give up a layup. I’ll take that all day. We get hammered going to the hole, we shouldn’t allow the other team to just come in and lay it up and dunk on us. I applaud him for that.
“If you’re going to build a reputation of being a hard-nosed player, you keep it going. Eventually, the refs gotta see it. It’s not intentional. It’s not like he’s going out there trying to hurt people and intentionally knock people out. He’s playing and he’s playing hard in the paint. That’s what bigs do. A lot of bigs do that. Hopefully it turns around for us.”
Finally, Wallace said the Celtics have all the right answers in the locker room but they don’t translate to the court.
“We done met, we done talked, we done did everything, we done argued, fussed, complained, moaned, everything you can do,” he said. “It doesn’t matter in here. It matters out there on the court. And until we can take all the talk and everything that we say in here and apply it to out on the court, it’s useless, it’s basically like talking to the wall.”
The defense has slipped considerably. Randy Foye scored 23 points, hitting seven 3-pointers, most of them without a defender in his vision.
“It’s a pride thing man. We know (Randy Foye’s) a shooter, that’s what he does,” Wallace said. “The last two games, Oklahoma City, they probably had five, six dunks in a row on us. Just walking down the middle dunking. It’s not about skills, it’s about pride. Pride and playing as a team, pride and not wanting to be embarrassed. That’s what it comes down to and we’ve got to figure it out.”