CHICAGO — After the Celtics’ shootaround Monday morning at Moody Bible Institute, Leandro Barbosa stayed around for a few minutes, taking jumper after jumper, most of which touched nothing but net.
Barbosa began his Celtics tenure with a sizzling 6-of-8 shooting performance en route to 16 points in the season-opening loss to the Heat. But going into Monday’s 101-95 victory over the Bulls, Barbosa was 4 of 16 from the field since the opener, including 0 of 6 in Saturday’s win against the Bucks. Against the Bulls he shot 3 of 7 for 6 points in 15 minutes.
So Barbosa was putting in extra work, hoping to regain his stroke and earn more playing time. The reserve point guard is averaging 11 minutes as Rajon Rondo’s backup.
“The shot looks fine, I’m just not used to the offensive situation,” he said. “I’m not worrying about the offense, I’m just worried about the situation I’m in. It happens when you are not knocking down shots, it’s part of the game.”
Barbosa told Doc Rivers he would be a veteran presence and wasn’t concerned with minutes, but he has played more than expected.
“I’m happy to be on the court, it don’t matter if it’s one minute or 12 minutes,” he said. “I’m just trying to feel comfortable with the [offensive] sets to make everybody feel comfortable because I’m the point guard and make sure everybody’s taken care of.
“The best thing I want right now is the chemistry. I don’t know everybody’s position on the court. Just the chemistry, knowing what guys like to do, that would be best.”
Paul Pierce said after Saturday’s win over Milwaukee that he’s getting accustomed to a new offensive role. Instead of allowing Pierce to take defenders off the dribble, Rivers has changed Pierce’s spacing on the floor, where he is coming off more screens, similar to Ray Allen.
Rivers said the change was necessary because of Pierce’s advancing age.
“I just don’t think Paul is as athletic as he used to be,” Rivers said. “Where before it was great having the luxury of knowing that at any time you swing it to Paul, he’ll beat his guy and score, now guys are doing a better job staying with him, and so we feel like we have to get a body off of him. We felt that last year but Paul didn’t feel that. Now Paul feels that, and that’s good. He’s already good at pin-downs, coming off of them but it’s still an adjustment for him and he’s got to get used to it.”
A quick healer
Brandon Bass left Monday’s game briefly in the first quarter after dislocating his right ring finger, jamming it against the ball. After it was popped into place, Bass was taped up and returned for one of his best games of the season – 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocked shots.
“You know what? It probably made me stop thinking about my game,” Bass said. “I was thinking about just going out and helping the team any way and it happened for me offensively.”
Barbosa played his first five seasons with the Suns under coach Mike D’Antoni, who was named coach of the Lakers Monday. The organization apparently passed on 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson because D’Antoni was a better fit for an offense led by point guard Steve Nash, who likes D’Antoni’s uptempo style.
Barbosa said D’Antoni’s system isn’t difficult.
“It will be easy,” he said. “Coach Mike is a great coach and he really understands offenses. It’s easy. He likes a lot of pick-and-rolls. Him and Stevie, they know very well each other. I’m sure it will be really easy for them. It’s nothing complicated. It won’t be hard for them for sure.”
Rivers wasn’t as interested in the Lakers’ affairs but endorsed D’Antoni.
“He’s a hell of a coach, it’s a good fit,” he said. “I think it’s a terrific fit. I heard all this stuff going on [in Los Angeles]. It’s not my team so I can care less but I don’t know anyone who could scoff at Mike D’Antoni being the head coach.”
He’s on point
The Celtics were home to Chicago point guard Nate Robinson for less than a season, and while he did contribute during the 2010 postseason, his tenure in Boston is mostly highlighted by clashes with Rivers and bouts of immaturity. Robinson was briefly without a team after being waived by Oklahoma City before signing with Golden State.
Robinson joined the Bulls in the offseason as a fill-in for Derrick Rose, who is expected to miss most of 2012-13 after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament. Robinson is playing well, averaging 11. 4 points, 4.6 assists, and 3.3 rebounds in just 23.7 minutes per game. He had 11 points in 30 minutes Monday night but turn the ball over four times.
“I just think he’s matured, honestly,” Rivers said.
Long time coming
It was the Celtics’ first win at Chicago since Dec. 12, 2009, a 106-80 victory . . . Rivers stuck with the same starting lineup as Saturday, with Bass at power forward and Jason Terry (13 points) at shooting guard . . . Rivers acknowledged that Darko Milicic has fallen in the rotation and would help the team “sometime this season.” Milicic played extensively in the preseason before hurting his wrist but played in just one of the first six games . . . Rondo showed no after-effects of banging knees with Milwaukee’s Samuel Dalembert Saturday and was in the lineup.Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.