AP Photo/Charles Krupa
Shaquille O'Neal and the Celtics were focused on defense.MANCHESTER, N.H. -- First impressions after the Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 93-65, in the Green's exhibition opener Wednesday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena:
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Rookie Semih Erden took center stage, utilizing the absence of Jermaine O'Neal (sore hamstring) to get extended time with Boston's second unit. The Turkish 7-footer finished with 13 points, hitting all three shots he attempted, and connecting on 7-of-8 free throws over a team-high 24 minutes. Ray Allen registered team highs with 14 points and 8 rebounds over 16 minutes, while Glen Davis added 13 points and 5 boards over 20 minutes off the pine.
The Celtics opened the game on a 12-2 run with Paul Pierce producing a pair of buckets and Shaquille O'Neal adding two more, including an alley-oop lob from Rajon Rondo. The Celtics allowed only nine first-quarter points and a late second-quarter burst pushed their lead to 49-22 at the intermission.
STAT OF THE GAME
After being dominated on the glass over the last two games of the NBA Finals, the Celtics owned the boards in the exhibition opener, finishing with a 48-32 advantage overall.
Camp invitee Stephane Lasme played the final 7:07 and exploded for 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting. When he wasn't finishing Delonte West feeds for emphatic jams (that had Kevin Garnett spilling onto the floor in excitement), he was getting to the charity stripe, where he connected on 6-of-7 attempts overall.
WHAT IT MEANS
You never want to put too much stock in one exhibition game -- particularly against a 76ers team coming off a back-to-back and playing without starters like Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala -- but Boston's defense was downright stifling at times, limiting Philadelphia to 65 points on a mere 26.9 percent shooting (18 of 67 overall). Boston also forced 21 turnovers thanks to 11 steals, while adding four blocks (two by Erden).
Pierce did not play in the second half due to illness... Rondo sported a large ice wrap over his right hand during the second half, but coach Doc Rivers said it's an injury from earlier this preseason and is not a major concern.