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Two of the league’s best defensive teams were at it Friday night as the Celtics faced the Spurs, but everyone knows the C’s aren’t nearly as stingy without their reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Kevin Garnett. For the first time since February 19 against the Utah Jazz, Garnett was back in the lineup and it showed, as the Celtics edged by “Los Spurs” 80-77.
Garnett played nearly 15 minutes, but was effective, scoring 10 points on 5-9 shooting with four rebounds in an assist. Tossing Garnett in the rotation really helped an ailing big man unit for the Green, who were still without Brian Scalabrine (concussion) and Leon Powe (bruised knee).
“I felt really good,” Garnett said. “Doc and I talked about strategy and minutes, and he said he’d go by the way I felt. I missed a couple of assignments, but overall it was good for me. Hopefully I can build on this and contribute.”
Kendrick Perkins, who seemed to be aided by KG’s return, added 10 points and five blocks. Mikki Moore and Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis moved to the bench, and they were effective as well. Moore finished with four points and eight rebounds, and Davis added seven points, seven rebounds, and two steals.
Paul Pierce had a rough game shooting (3-16, 9 points), but pitched in a team-high 12 rebounds in the win. Ray Allen had a team-high 19 points, and Rajon Rondo finished with 16 points, 12 assists, and three steals.
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 25 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists in a tremendous effort. Tim Duncan pitched in with 15 points, nine rebounds, and three assists to help a squad playing without Manu Ginobil (right ankle injury).
Stephon Marbury continues to struggle as he’s starting to look more and more like Sam Cassell did last season. I’ll give Marbury more time to get acquainted with the team, since he didn’t play in an NBA game for over year prior to signing with Boston. Starbury finished with two points and one assists in 12 minutes.
The Celtics next take on the Grizzlies Saturday night.