Kevin Garnett couldn’t recall the last time he finished an NBA game without a rebound. And he probably shouldn’t have because it was an NBA generation ago.
Garnett finished Saturday’s 92-79 win over the Philadelphia 76ers with no rebounds in 23 minutes, 26 seconds, the first time in nearly 16 years that he went without a rebound. On Jan. 21, 1997, a 20-year-old Garnett finished with no rebounds in 35 minutes in a 118-106 Timberwolves loss at Toronto.
In that season, Garnett grabbed 10 or more rebounds in a game 17 times and had a season high of 17 rebounds, but for that night, he was empty.
On Saturday night, it was the same situation. He scored a team-high 19 points, on 9-for-11 shooting, even collected a steal and two assists — but no rebounds.
Garnett was in disbelief.
“You know what? I’m looking for the statistician around here, and when I find out what he looks like we’re going to have some problems,” Garnett said, half joking. “I had a rebound in the first quarter. That’s [expletive], that’s [expletive expletive]. I had a rebound in the first half. I think that’s an error and we’re going to fix it.”
When told it had been nearly 16 years since his last reboundless game, he said, “Are you serious? That’s an error. I got a rebound. They’re going to go back and fix that.”
Green means go
Though the Celtics’ stifling defense held Evan Turner to 13 points on 6-for-16 shooting Saturday, he is still averaging 21.3 points per game against the Celtics this season and has flourished against Boston in his career. He sank the winning basket in Friday’s 95-94 overtime 76ers win, finishing that contest with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Turner is averaging 21.3 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in three games against the Celtics this season. And for his brief career, his 14.5 points-per-game average against the Celtics is his second-highest against any team. And during the Eastern Conference semifinals last May, Turner averaged 10.7 points and 8.5 rebounds with two double-doubles in the seven-game series.
Turner’s versatility and touch around the basket have given the Celtics fits. In one key sequence Friday, after Paul Pierce blocked his shot, Turner gathered the ball and scored on a difficult double-pump layup.
Both coaches, Boston’s Doc Rivers and Philadelphia’s Doug Collins, have their theories on why Turner fares so well against the Celtics.
“Evan played like [an All-Star], for sure,” Rivers said before Saturday night’s game. “He made a couple of incredible shots. Even his game-winning shot was well-defended — almost trapped, for the most part — and he had like a one-hand push shot.
“The blocked shot by Paul and getting the rebound . . . he had another one where he split our pick and roll. He made three sensational plays. That’s what he does. That’s what he’s always done. He did it in college.
“I think he’s getting comfortable in our league now.”
Collins, who has had a difficult relationship with Turner since taking over as Philadelphia coach, said the third-year guard elevates his game for the Celtics.
“I think Evan enjoys competing against the Celtics,” said Collins. “When you see that Celtic jersey, I think it brings out the best in everybody.’’
Rivers usually addresses the media without his customary tie about an hour before tipoff, but Saturday he was wearing a tie after returning to Boston from Milwaukee, where he attended the funeral of former Marquette coach Rick Majerus, who died of heart failure Dec. 1.
Rivers nearly broke down the night Majerus died. It was Majerus who dubbed Glenn Rivers “Doc” at a Marquette summer basketball camp.
“It was just a long day, tough day, and now we have a game,” Rivers said. “Listen, Rick had a lot to do with why I’m here. I’ve been with Rick since fifth grade for the most part, so I felt like I had to be there. It was important for me.”
Rivers said he never considered not coaching Saturday’s game.
Aches and pains
The 76ers were again without Royal Ivey (right groin strain) and Nick Young (hyperextended right big toe), but Kwame Brown (stomach virus) was available, although he never checked into the game . . . The Celtics sent Kris Joseph back to NBADL Maine for a third stint after recalling him for the past two games. Joseph did not play Friday against the 76ers and logged a minute against the Timberwolves Wednesday. Teams are allowed to send players to the NBADL an unlimited number of times this year. It was a three-time limit in previous years. The Red Claws acquired former Detroit Piston DaJuan Summers.
Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.