WALTHAM — In the wake of his critical comments that questioned the Celtics’ effort, veteran swingman Gerald Wallace said that the Celtics coaches asked him to “relax and ease up.”
But Wallace more than stood by his comments after practice here Tuesday.
“I’m getting fussed at by the coaches, they’re trying to tell me to relax and ease up,” said the 12-year veteran, “but the main thing is, I want the guys to compete.
“If we lose every game, if we lose all 82 games, but we lose them going down fighting and competing hard, then I can live with that. I just can’t live with losing and we didn’t compete, we didn’t give our best effort and we just gave the game away. I don’t want that for these guys and this team.”
Wallace also wanted to make it clear that his comments weren’t directed at his teammates.
“It’s for the whole team,” Wallace said. “I think we’re laid back at times . . . We don’t put forth the effort offensively and defensively. We’ve got to do things hard for 48 minutes. We don’t have the luxury of being able to take a quarter off or take five minutes off. We don’t have that luxury. We’ve got to be able to play and continue playing hard together for 48 minutes.”
Coach Brad Stevens said the Celtics had perhaps their best practice of the preseason Tuesday, leading into their final preseason game Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets at TD Garden.
Stevens added that he had no issue with the critical comments made by Wallace and Jeff Green after Sunday’s 104-89 preseason loss to Minnesota in Montreal, the Celtics’ sixth loss in seven preseason games.
“One of the things I appreciate is, we all discussed that in the locker room,” Stevens said. “Those guys have been in the league, and whatever those guys see, I’m comfortable with them saying that. I think the biggest key is to make sure we’re all together and moving forward. And [Tuesday’s] practice was going to be our first challenge in that. I thought it was, if not our best practice, definitely in our top two or three.”
Forward Brandon Bass said he just hopes that “everybody got the message and as individuals come out and give maximum effort.”
Bass added, “I don’t think we should point the finger at anybody, I just think each individual should get the message from those guys, move forward, and hopefully we can stay together because we don’t have any room to be having groups, cliques, or people feeling a certain kind of way. We’ve got to stick together.”
Forward Kris Humphries, a teammate of Wallace when the two played in Brooklyn before being traded to Boston, said the team needed to hear what Wallace had to say.
“If you look at [Sunday’s] preseason game, especially against a team like that, there’s no reason that they should look like they’re playing harder than us,” Humphries said. “They’re getting balls, or we’re not getting back on defense. Everyone can see it. It’s not a bad thing that [Wallace] talks about it because we’ve got to be accountable.”
Guard Keith Bogans has been a teammate of Wallace for five seasons on three teams, and Bogans said that he wasn’t surprised at all by the comments Wallace made.
“He is going to give 110 percent every night,” Bogans said. “It’s kind of hard to match his intensity every night, but at least he wants you to give what he’s giving. And if he doesn’t see it, it’s going to make him upset.”
Bogans added, “A lot of guys when they are young and they come into this league, they don’t know what it takes. It’s good to hear it from a guy that’s been through it, that’s been on good teams. [Wallace] know what it takes.”
Wallace made a point of saying that the Celtics’ preseason ended Tuesday. “This is the start of our season right here and we’ve got to come out and compete like we want to win every game,” he said.
But he also acknowledged that it might take some bad losses before some of the younger Celtics players realize what it means to play with maximum effort.
“At the end of the day, when they keep looking up the scoreboard and we’re getting our [butts] kicked every night, some response has got to come,” he said.
“The effort, it’s something that everyone can control. Everyone can look at themselves in the mirror and do something about it. It doesn’t take talent or skills to just bring effort, to just come out every night and compete and just give the will to win. It’s not that hard.”
Wallace added, “The one thing about this league, it’s 82 games. So this league, it gives you an opportunity to learn from those whoopings, correct those mistakes, and pick yourself up very fast.”
Pierce, Garnett out
Former Celtics and current Nets forwards Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will both sit out Wednesday’s game, and All-Star guard Deron Williams (ankle) will not play. Nets guard Jason Terry, who was with the Celtics last season, is expected to play . . . Stevens said he’ll treat at least the first half like a regular-season game . . . Bogans (sprained right thumb) practiced for the first time in nearly two weeks. He said he has been cleared to play, but it’s unclear if he will against Brooklyn . . . Celtics rookie forward Kelly Olynyk was the biggest steal of the 2013 draft, according to the league’s 12th annual poll of general managers, which was released Tuesday . . . Stevens said several younger Celtics “serenaded” him on his 37th birthday Tuesday. “It wasn’t the best I’ve ever heard,” Stevens joked.Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxterHolmes