Sometimes in basketball you can win shooting worse than your opponent. You can get beat in the paint, you can turn the ball over too much. You can even do all three and still win.
Because sometimes, all you need is Kevin Garnett.
Garnett scored 24 points on 11-for-15 shooting, including a jumper with the shot-clock expiring and 5.7 seconds left in the game. The Boston Celtics beat the Golden State Warriors, 105-103. The Celtics have now won two in a row on their eight-game road trip.
Garnett’s Jumper Highlights Lights-Out Fourth
Garnett scored 12 of his 24 in the fourth quarter. No Warrior could contain him in the post or on jump-shots: Even when power forward David Lee knocked Garnett to the court early in the fourth, Garnett still sank his shot. The resulting free throw put the Celtics up 89-81 with just over 10 minutes left.
Rookie guard Klay Thompson‘s third three-pointer (part of a career-best 26-point night) helped cut the lead to three, but Garnett then scored the next two Celtics buckets on two passes – one alley-oop – from Rajon Rondo, who finished with a “serviceable” 14 assists.
Still, Warrior reserve Brandon Rush‘s free throw tied the game 95-95 with just over four minutes left. Rondo broke the tie with an offensive rebound and basket, then found Brandon Bass (22 points, nine rebounds) twice for slam dunks (plus two free throws) and a 103-97 lead.
A fired-up Nate Robinson (20 points, 11 assists) helped tie the game 103-103 with 30 seconds left, setting up Garnett’s eventual game-winner. Paul Pierce used up most of the shot-clock, penetrating inside and drawing in several defenders before kicking it out to Garnett.
Garnett had just over a second to beat the buzzed, and he swished his shot from 20 feet away. He didn’t miss a single second-half shot.
The Warriors got off one more shot, but Robinson missed from deep, and Garnett grabbed both it and the game-ending inbound pass.
Garnett also anchored several scoring plays for his teammates. Catching Avery Bradley‘s inbound pass early in the fourth, Garnett quickly gave it back to him for an easy layup and an 84-79 lead on a beautiful give-and-go. He later ran a textbook triangle, catching the ball in one low post, drawing enough defenders to leave Rondo open at the foul line.
Garnett found Rondo, who then passed to a wide-open Bass at the opposite low post, who pushed Boston’s lead to 99-95.
Pietrus and Bench Pitches In
Doc Rivers went to his bench throughout the second and third quarters, and they didn’t left him down. Down 27-23 to start the second, Mickael Pietrus drilled a three-pointer. He drilled another just a minute later, giving pushing Boston’s lead to 31-27.
Pietrus converted two more treys in the second quarter, then sank another late in the third for a 79-77 lead. He took six shots Wednesday – all three-pointers – and knocked down five.
Bradley, meanwhile, gave Boston four points and three assists in 13 turnover-free minutes. Greg Stiemsma scored eight, didn’t miss a free throw and grabbed eight boards. In the final minute of the third, Stiemsma blocked Lee, then on the other end grabbed an offensive board and dunked it with 2.7 seconds left.
Pierce Played Distracted
Though Pierce scored 15 with six assists and six rebounds, his play exemplified the sloppy, dispirited attitude many Celtics showed throughout the game. Two fouls in the first eight minutes probably disrupted his rhythm: he shot 5-for-17, missing on all four three-point attempts.
Pierce also committed six turnovers, including brainlessly stepping out of bounds in the second, then later bringing the ball up the court so slowly that Robinson came up from behind and stole the ball, leading to a Lee layup and 54-51 Warriors lead. Pierce just wasn’t mentally in this game.
Though Pierce’s play improved in the second half (nine points, including getting his own offensive rebound off a miss and scoring), his lack of focus got the better of him. When a potential foul went uncalled early in the third – leading to a layup from Robinson – Pierce started barking at the ref. He immediately received a technical foul.
While the technical didn’t ultimately cost the team, it showed how mentally out of it Pierce was. Perhaps Thursday’s trade deadline distracted him.
Whatever the reason, Pierce’s (and most of his teammates’) attitude let the Warriors dictate the pace of the game, shoot 52.6 percent, score 60 in the paint and 25 off 18 turnovers. Against a better team – one not in the midst of roster upheaval – the Celtics could easily have lost this one. Badly.