The rundown (a quick look at postgame headlines)
--SHAQ TURNS BACK THE CLOCK AGAINST THE NETS--
The Celtics don't run many intricate plays for Shaquille O'Neal. Then again, you don't need X's and O's to draw up many plays that involve lobbing the ball at the 7-foot-2, 325-pound monstrosity near the basket.
Matched up against one of the league's top young centers (Brook Lopez), 38-year-old O'Neal turned back the clock, while pouring in a season-high 25 points to go along with 11 rebounds to carry Boston to a come-from-behind triumph on a night when the Green had every excuse to let the game slip away.
Kevin Garnett, who heaped praise on O'Neal after Monday's win in Atlanta, comparing his presence to the smell of "fresh laundry," kept giving thanks for O'Neal after Wednesday's performance on the eve of Thanksgiving.
“Well, he has his family in town, so that’s tough to beat," said Garnett. "I know he’s a huge family guy. His family’s not always with him, so maybe he got like a boost of adrenaline from his family or something, but he looked great. He looked like the 2000 Shaq -- the ’99 Shaq, the 2001 to 2002 to 2003 to 2004 to 2005 to 2006 ... He looked fresh tonight; He looked really good. I thought he did a great job of getting us in the bonus early. He definitely was the target tonight."
O'Neal didn't even want the postgame spotlight. If not for stopping for an orange soda at the refrigerator near Marquis Daniels' locker (where reporters were peppering Daniels on his big night), O'Neal might have been able to slip out of the locker room undetected (no easy feat at that size). Instead, reporters tracked him down in the hallway outside the locker room, where he dished praise everywhere but on himself.
"I gotta thank my teammates because I don't get a lot of plays called, but guys are penetrating and they're dropping it off to me, and I'm just finishing," said O'Neal. "I score whenever they need me to. But I just play hard, do the little things that I was brought here to do. Do whatever Boston needs me to do; whatever [coach] Doc [Rivers] needs me to do."
The Celtics don't need O'Neal to be a 25-11 guy every night, but they don't mind if he brings back 200 Shaq every now and again.
“That was the young one," said Rivers. "He was just good. He had great energy. And, well, we had to have it. We had to leave him on the floor at times. I used the one timeout in the fourth just because we were about to pass out. His energy, his size, everything -- he was just phenomenal for us."
Not even the opposing coach couldn't disagree.
"Boy, he got it going, especially in that second half," said Nets coach Avery Johnson, whose playing career started a mere four years before O'Neal's. "He has always been a tough cover. More than anything, he got them in the bonus quicker in the second half, which put pressure on our defense. In the first half, we weren’t in the bonus. We were playing good defense without fouling."
And even when the Nets fouled O'Neal, he made it hurt, hitting 7-of-13 free throws, including 5-of-8 attempts in the final frame. And when Shaq's hitting free throws, you know it's going to be a long night for the opposition.
--DOC PLANS TO SIT J.O'NEAL 'UNTIL HE'S 100 PERCENT'--
Rivers suggested before Wednesday's game that reserve center Jermaine O'Neal could be sidelined longer than the two- to three-week absence the team initially projected with eyes towards eliminating -- and preventing any recurrence of -- the left knee soreness that has sidelined him for seven straight games.
"No, I haven't talked to Jermaine and I don't know if he's feeling better or not," admitted Rivers. "I don't even know [the timetable], what did I say, 2-3 weeks? I would be surprised if it's even that, personally. I don't know. The one thing with Jermaine, and I guess this [injury situation] I'm involved in with more than usual, I told [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] that we're not bringing him back until he's 100 percent. There's no reason to allow him to play, then go right back down the road he came down. So, if that takes 2-3 weeks, if that takes a month, if it takes six weeks, that will not change, in my mind.
"If he's not running great, I'm not going to play him."
O'Neal has been rehabbing the knee at the team's training facility and gave a brief update via Twitter Wednesday, writing, "Off to rehab! The knee is feeling better and can't wait until I'm able to return and join paul, rondo and the rest of my brothers!"
--LOOSE BALLS: CHARGE NO. 21 FOR BABY, PICKING UP SHAQ--
* Charge Watch: Celtics reserve forward Glen Davis started a new charge streak after his 13-game stretch to start the season was snapped Monday in Atlanta. Davis earned his 21st charge of the season when rookie Derrick Favors got whistled for the infraction with 6:41 to play in the second quarter.
* Value the Ball: Even after losing backup point guard West to injury, the Celtics still committed a mere 10 turnovers on the night (while forcing 18). Boston committed five second-half turnovers, but the Nets converted those into only two points overall, aiding the Celtics' comeback.
* Perk's Turkey Talk: Center Kendrick Perkins, rehabbing from offseason ACL surgery, got pregame microphone duties and wished Celtics fans a happy Thanksgiving on behalf of the team.
* Don't expect Rondo Friday: Reiterating what he said before Wednesday's game, Rivers suggested postgame that Rondo will likely sit on Friday against the Raptors: "I’m probably less likely [to play him] the way things are going," Rivers said half-jokingly on the heels of West's injury. "I’m serious about that. Unless Eddie [Lacerte] says he’s feeling great, I just can’t see us [playing him]. And I know Rondo, so we’re going have to really have a long talk for him to play on Friday."
* Laugh of the night: Daniels tried to scrape Shaquille O'Neal off the ground after he tumbled there following a fourth-quarter foul. He failed miserably with Shaq flopping right back down on the ground (and nearly dragging Daniels with him). Shaq joked he was just practicing his disco spin, while Daniels recruited help when the situation occurred again later in the frame. This time both he and Ray Allen were able to yank Shaq up. As Rivers
noted after the game, he instructs all his players to avoid picking up Shaq out of concern for their own health.