Game Notes: Celtics at Pistons
Healthy T-Mac powers Detroit past injured Cs.
by Eric Woodyard / @eric32woodyard
A huge poster of a menacing player hangs directly outside of the Detroit Pistons locker room. The player is gripping the ball in his right hand as he flexes his muscle in a Pistons home jersey. The word “DETermination” bombards the top of the poster in bold, white letters. The person on the sign was a joke to fans three months ago but in the Pistons’ final home game of 2010, could it be possible for Tracy McGrady to steal the show against the Boston Celtics?
Heading into the game, there was a huge build up about the Charlie Villanueva/Kevin Garnett match-up. When the Celtics raided the Palace of Auburn Hills on Tuesday, November 2, the Cs left with a 109-86 victory. Despite their dominating team effort, the trash talking of Kevin Garnett created a frenzy.
“KG called me a cancer patient, I’m pissed because, u know how many people died from cancer, and he’s tossing it like it’s a joke,” Villanueva posted on his twitter account after the game.
“My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact, You are cancerous to your team and our league,” Garnett said. “I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure. I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. I would never say anything that distasteful. The game of life is far bigger than the game of basketball.”
Bullshit! Garnett is notorious for his trash talking and he went way too far with Charlie Villanueva.
In the visitor’s locker room prior to the game, the incident between the two didn’t seem to bother Celtics guard Ray Allen as he sat comfortably studying game film. Come to think about it, what really does bother Ray Allen?
SLAM: It’s been a big thing about the trash talking between you guys, has this been something that you guys talked about in practice about maybe cutting down on because of what happened the last time between KG and Villanueva?
Ray Allen: It has been a non-issue at this point. I think we play from one game to the next and it’s always somebody whether it’s an older player in the League that you know is a trash talker or a young guy that’s trying to establish himself but you just deal with it. Somebody blocks a shot and talks a shot and talks a little trash is part of the game. It’s always been a part of the game so for us it’s been a non-issue even since that issue and I forgot about it to you mentioned it just now.
SLAM: You guys have been in so many battles this season. How is it to get up every night for these battles with everybody coming for y’all heads and continue to play a high level of basketball and stay focused?
RA: You just have to always tell yourself that, This team is good enough to beat you tonight. Regardless of who it is because they are and you always look at that this could be a turnaround for their season if it’s a bad team and a good team could use it as a gauge so you just always have to remember that it’s preparation and motivation and go out there and do your job.
SLAM: Do you feel like this team is a lot better than last year at this point of the season or do you think you still have a lot to learn about each other with all the new faces?
RA: It’s not really learning, it’s really doing with everybody being on the same page and just going through the process of what it takes to be successful so I don’t really compare the last year’s team because all we really need to do is be better than everybody else and not worry about being better than ourselves and how we judged ourselves last year and just beat everybody we’re supposed to.
SLAM: You’re not much of a trash talker, you have always just let your game speak. Do you think if someone talked trash about you that you or anyone else on the team for that matter would be more leery to talk back because of how big it was with the KG incident last time here?
RA: Kevin I think he’s the type of guy that plays the way he plays always. You know I grew up with Kevin and he used to talk trash to me on the floor when we played against each other so I don’t think it’s ever personal. He’s for everybody that he plays with and against everybody he doesn’t and he’s just always been that type of guy, that type of player.
As Kevin Garnett and Charlie Villanueva met at the center of the court for the tip-off, the two were both “against each other,” as Ray Allen described it. They didn’t acknowledge one another, shake hands, or even make eye contact. The tension could be felt from a mile away when Villanueva picked up two quick fouls guarding KG less than three minutes into the game. Garnett would also leave the game after throwing down a monster dunk at the 2:31 mark of the first quarter. He suffered a lower right leg injury and didn’t return.
The KG/Villanueva beef would quickly turn into the Paul Pierce/Tracy McGrady showdown. With Rodney Stuckey sitting out the contest due to a stomach virus, Tracy McGrady was inserted into the starting lineup to play point guard for the Pistons. In 30 minutes, T-Mac connected on 7 of his 11 attempts for 21 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Pierce tried his hardest to put the team on his back with 33 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals, including 13 fourth quarter points but it wouldn’t be enough as the Celtics lost to the Pistons, 104-92.
“We played like a team tonight more than I’ve ever seen this year,” Pistons’ head coach, John Kuester said.
“I’m always confident when I’m on the court, it doesn’t matter whether I’m a starter or coming off the bench,” Tracy McGrady said after the game. “Now my role is a little bit different. Obviously I’m used to starting and adjusting to coming off the bench is something that I’m still working with but it was just a game that I wanted to have under control right away and get us organized and we did a great job with that.”
McGrady also said this was the best he’s felt on the court since 2008. The Pistons will travel to Phoenix to take on the Suns this Friday at 9 p.m.