A stray elbow from Carlos Boozer, maybe the third or fourth he absorbed on the night, left Celtics forward Glen Davis sprawled on the floor with a bloody lip in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss. Davis endured everything Boozer threw at him and got back up each time, but this was a unanimous decision that left Big Baby philosophical about where he wants to be as a player.
While Boozer connected on 9-of-15 shots for 22 points with 10 rebounds, Davis struggled to find his shot, hitting just 4-of-17 attempts for 11 points with three rebounds.
"It's a learning experience for me," said Davis, who drew the tough assignment with Kevin Garnett still sidelined with a strained right calf. "Especially if I want to be at the same level as the KGs and Carlos Boozers. You guys have seen me grow a lot, but now, it's time to hit a different level. That's what I'm experiencing right now.
"Carlos Boozer got the best of me today. At the same time, I want that. I want all that -- being that guy. That's the way it is. I take it in stride. I try to get better each day. I know I have the potential to be a player in this league; A player like the Carlos Boozers or the Kevin Loves of this league."
Resplendent as Boston's sixth man this season, it's been an up-and-down week for Davis as he fills Garnett's starting role. His shot selection has been questioned, most notably for an ill-advised 3-point heave in the final moments of a loss to New Orleans on New Years Eve, and again after leading the team in attempts against Chicago.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers suggested the team needs to get Davis back to setting more screens for the other shooters when he's with the starters, but continues to show faith in him, saying before Saturday's game that he wants him to take those 19-foot jumpers when they're open looks.
Point guard Rajon Rondo is confident Davis can put it all together.
"He's human," said Rondo. "It's a tough challenge every night and it's not going to be easy. He's gotta continue to grow... The next step, I tell him, is to keep working harder and stay humble. Go out there and play each game like it's your last."
--A HOMECOMING FOR HARANGODY--
The public address announcer butchered his name, but there were plenty of Luke Harangody supporters in attendance to correct him.
Harangody, who grew up outside of Chicago, expected as many as 100 supporters in the United Center crowd between family and friends. He dubbed it a bit of a homecoming and it couldn't have come at a better time with Harangody turning in his best game as a pro one night earlier with a 17-point, 11-rebound effort in Friday's win over the Raptors.
"It’s great, I haven’t been in this area for five or six months," said Harangody. "To come to Chicago, it's like a home game for me. I'll get to see a lot of family after the game that I didn't get to see at Christmas."
Harangody did joke that he washed his hands of the ticket process, letting his mother handle all the distribution. But it seems the majority of his supporters were more than happy to pay for the chance to see him play.
Boston's second-round draft choice (52nd overall) finished with zero points and two rebounds over 13:28, missing the only shot he took. Even still, his emergence as a role player was a big story in Chicago, especially as his minutes have jumped up with Garnett sidelined.
And Rivers continued to sing his praises.
"Every night, baby," Rivers joked when asked if Friday's performance had set a new benchmark. "No, he was terrific. You can expect him to play hard every night, that's almost a guarantee. I think he’s figured out, at least on this team, if you run to an open spot and you’re open, our team will get you the ball. It's very unselfish group and Luke is not shy. He's going to take it and that’s what we want him to do.
"[Harangody brings] energy, defense, and utility. He's an undersized 4, for the most part, but he can stretch the floor for us, which helps. One thing he can do is really rebound for his size and just keep getting better. He's still young and there are times he goes too fast. That's every rookie I’ve know, for the most part. He's got great character, a great guy in that locker room, and our guys love him."
--NOT READY TO SUBMIT HIS BALLOT--
Asked if Bulls first-year helsman Tom Thibodeau deserved early consideration for Coach of the Year, Rivers wasn't ready to cast a ballot, but showered his former top assistant with praise.
"I don’t know who should be Coach of the Year -- I never want it because it usually means that you get fired in a year or two after," joked Rivers. "Thibs has done an amazing job. Not just because of that, but he's a first-year coach who had to adopt a very talented team that had demands -- that comes with its own set of pressure. He was ready for the job, no doubt about that."
"Thibs and I talk a lot and you do what's good for the team, always, and you're up front about that," said Rivers. Boozer later conceded that Thibodeau might simply been leaning on the players that fueled Chicago's comeback attempt.
"You're trying to win that game. If every decision is for the good of the team, there's never a controversy, and should never be a controversy to me. I didn't think that was."