Kevin Garnett’s left ankle was heavily iced in the Celtics’ locker room after an 88-79 loss to Chicago last night. Garnett then shed the ice packs and held a short interview session.
“You guys take it easy,’’ Garnett replied when asked about his ankle. Then he departed for a scheduled midnight flight to Indianapolis.
Garnett, who remained in the game until the final 55 seconds, cut the Celtics’ deficit to 71-68 with 8:25 remaining in the game. But Garnett did not score again, his final attempt blocked by Joakim Noah with 2:30 to play.
“They came out firing on all cylinders and created a hole for us early,’’ Garnett said. “[Against] good teams, you can’t do that. Second half, better effort. Somehow, we’ve got to find out a way to start games with better energy.’’
Garnett acknowledged the team’s frustration and pledged support for coach Doc Rivers.
“These are dog days man, really,’’ Garnett said. “We’re going to see who’s fair weather, who’s with you. Whatever Doc’s going to do, we’re going to support all the way.
“Frustration starts with the man in the mirror. I’ve definitely got to do better. I’m going to watch tons of film, continue to try and better myself, continue to be the glue, and just stay supportive.
“You don’t win anything in the first month. I’d rather go through it now than later.’’
Rivers on Brandon Bass starting in place of Jermaine O’Neal: “It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it since camp - before camp started. It was a lineup I wanted to get to, because I thought it gave us more versatility and I thought our rotations were easier when you bring Jermaine in for Kevin, you stay big.
“And, what I’m trying to do is always have Jermaine or Kevin - just size - on the floor more. So, it just didn’t work out because, unfortunately for Brandon [10 points], he got great shots and didn’t make any.’’
The Celtics are averaging 16.6 points in the opening quarter in the last five games, shooting 33 percent.
No doubting Tom
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is not writing off the Celtics’ chances this season. In fact, the former Celtics assistant believes the team soon will be playing like the one he knew from 2007-10.
“I think they’ll be fine,’’ Thibodeau said before the game. “Jermaine and Kevin give them the shot-blocking, two 7-footers up front. And [Paul] Pierce is a huge part of that defense, so him being out slowed them down a little bit.
“But they’ll be the same. They’re a well-balanced team, they play great defense, their rebounding will come around.’’
Pierce missed the first three games of the season with a bruised heel and has struggled to 8-for-34 shooting during the team’s three-game losing streak, including 3 for 12 last night.
“The thing that gets overlooked is Pierce’s rebounding,’’ Thibodeau said.
“The core of the team is still intact. That team is always going to be tough to beat. The adjustment is with the new guys. As those guys get acclimated to what they’re doing, they’re going to be right there with everyone else.
“Paul’s real tough, so when their ‘bigs’ go to help he syncs in there. He can mix it up, he’s a complete player.’’
Rivers said he is expecting a breakout game from Pierce. “He missed camp and that hurts conditioning,’’ Rivers said. “He’s working around it. It’s funny - he didn’t play well the other night but I saw it coming, you could see it coming. I wouldn’t be surprised in the next two or three games you’ll see a big Paul Pierce game. We all want to see it.’’ . . . Keyon Dooling (knee) missed last night’s game and also will be out tonight.Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.