- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The rundown (a quick look at the postgame headlines)
Walker, Giddens finally get chance at Garden
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Former Celtic JR Giddens plays defense on Kevin Garnett.The last time that J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker shared the court at TD Garden, it was the final minute of a 99-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 18. A month later they were traded to the New York Knicks. Another month after that, they were back on the Garden floor for Wednesday's tilt against their old team.
Giddens, cleared before the game to return to action after being sidelined six weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery, made his Knicks debut, registering four points, two rebounds and two assists over 13 minutes. Walker, making his first NBA start, added eight points, a rebound and a steal in 23 minutes.
The two more than held their own against their familiar foes. Early in the second quarter, Giddens took Pierce off the dribble and drove hard to the rim for a layup. Next trip down, Walker splashed a 22-foot jumper as Boston's lead dipped to single digits, a rarity in the Celtics' rout.
The pair were pretty quiet from there on out. Part of their struggles stemmed from less than ideal matchups. Walker banged with Kevin Garnett near the blocks, while Giddens chased Allen as he ran off screens and did everything he could to limit Pierce, who finished with 29 points. It might have been a familiar scene earlier this year, with the only difference the blue and orange jerseys Walker and Giddens donned instead of Boston's white practice jerseys worn by the reserves.
"Every day, every time we had practice, I definitely tried to guard Paul and learn as many of his moves as I could," said Walker. "Ray [Allen] the same way. I have a great respect for those guys, especially KG.”
Walker said he enjoyed going up against his old teammates, but didn't like the result.
"There wasn’t a lot of looks tonight, It happens sometimes," said Walker, who has contributed four games with 21 points or more since arriving in New York. "I just didn’t want to force anything and slip out of character. I don’t know, I'd rather be in a close game, but that’s sometimes how the ball bounces.
"It’s easier to come off the bench and jump into the game than it is to create a flow [as a starter]. But I had fun lining up against Paul and Ray for the first time."
Before the game, both Walker and Giddens gushed about the opportunity to prove themselves and the uphill battle they faced in Boston to show they deserved more playing time. While Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted he's been surprised by Walker's shooting ability, he just didn't see how more playing time would have been available here.
"It's tough, unless you want me to sit Paul and Ray and Marquis [Daniels]," said Rivers. "It's been tough to play here, but right before [Walker] went out, we moved him [into the rotation] and played him some. He earned it, he was looking better in practice. It's good to see him playing well.
"I didn't know he could shoot that well. He just didn't do it with us, and we didn't ask him to do it, to be honest. One thing about Billy, I always thought he had an NBA feel. He doesn't necessarily play at the pace, but his feel is terrific. And you can see that. Problem was he was never around, he was always under the knife.
"It's probably the most important part of his career, this next month of games, then he has a chance hopefully this summer to sign with the Knicks or [another] team. This is vital for him."
Rivers said he told Walker and Giddens to embrace their roles with the Knicks and utilize as much playing time as they could to develop, something the Celtics couldn't afford them.
Doc's opinion: Praise for Perk
It's no secret that Kendrick Perkins' play has tailed off a bit the past two months as everything from his field-goal percentage to his points per game has fallen after a hot start.
But the most disappointing statistical dip might be Perkins' rebounding as he had grabbed double digits in caroms just once over the past six weeks (14 rebounds vs. the Lakers on Feb. 18). This after registering nine games with double-digit rebounds in January.
After averaging 9.6 rebounds per game in January, Perkins' boards dipped to 5.9 per game over the last month and a half.
Perkins' offense is picking up again and he's doing more of the little things, like freeing teammates with screens. Playing an undersized New York team Wednesday, he got back to work on the glass, collecting a game-high 12 rebounds -- seven more than any of his teammates -- in just 22 minutes.
"I already said to the staff [before the game] that, no matter how small [New York] went, we were not going small," said Rivers. "We were just going to stay big throughout. And we did, which was great. And Perk and Rasheed [Wallace], they were guarding guards most of the time. And I thought they did a terrific job.
"The last three, four or five games, [Perkins'] energy is back. He's doing all the little things that he did earlier in the season. He's running the floor, running down the middle of the paint. He's just been terrific."
KG: Not a statistics guy
Garnett blistered the field with 9-of-11 shooting while scoring 22 points in Wednesday's win, but he was in no mood to talk stats after the game.
“I could care less,” Garnett said of his proficiency from the field. “I’m just glad we got a big win and the starters got a chance to sit in the fourth. For the most part, I thought I had a lot of energy. I ran the floor as good as I’ve been doing this year and I have to continue to [do that]. But other than that, we got the win. I could care less about 9-for-11, 0-for-4, whatever. It’s the W in the win column that I care about.”
When asked about the point distribution among the starters, Garnett again barked, noting it didn't matter how the points got on the board, as long as they totaled more than the opposition at the end of 48 minutes.
"You know I have to say one thing about this team: You can take these starters, you can take the five right here, these first five," said Garnett, pointing to the box score in front of him. "This 11-for-17 [by Pierce], this 9-for-11 [by Garnett], this 3-for-6 [by Ray Allen]. This can change at any point. Different defenses and different schemes on [different] nights are going to allow certain players to have certain nights like this. As long as it’s going to come from two to three guys on here.
"We focus on our turnovers being down, we focus on our blocked shots and our rebounds. Other than that our scoring is going to come from different places each night. [Rajon Rondo] was 2-of-3, Ray was 3-of-6, but Paul and I had decent shooting nights where we were aggressive and hit shots. It could have easily been Ray, Perk, whoever. As long as we’re productive with what we’re doing on the defensive end, then in terms of offense we care less with who is doing what."
12dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford