BOSTON -- Once again, the Celtics faced a manpower shortage Friday night. Then again, two nights earlier they had a full roster, their coach said his team was in the best place possible and they lost by 32 points.
Nonetheless, both Mickael Pietrus and Chris Wilcox were unavailable for the game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Pietrus is experiencing soreness in his right knee, according to coach Doc Rivers. It’s the same knee that he had surgery on prior to signing with the Celtics on Christmas Eve. It’s the second game Pietrus has missed since he debuted with the Celtics on Jan. 11. He also missed the Jan. 23 game against Orlando with a sore right shoulder.
“It just keeps flaring up, so who knows,’’ Rivers said of Pietrus’ knee. He added it’s tough gauging Pietrus’ health because “he is one of those guys you have to watch because he’ll play regardless.”
Wilcox had missed 10 games due to health prior to Friday night with injuries to his left shoulder, left calf and right adductor. He was spotted at TD Garden before the game and, when asked how he was doing, he said, “I’m going to see them now.” He was otherwise unenlightening.
Trade Talk, etc.: Rivers said he had a three-word answer for Danny Ainge regarding any chemistry issues that may arise should the team decide to make a trade: I don’t care. “Not this year,’’ he said. “I told Danny I wasn’t concerned. Whoever we bring in is going to have had one less practice than all of us. I told him that. If you think you can get a better talent, just go out and do it. And that’s dangerous to tell Danny.” ... Ray Allen has been in the NBA since 1996, but he’s having trouble remembering a longer road trip than the one the Celtics are about to experience: eight games in 14 days. The only positive, Allen surmised, is that the trip ends with games in the Eastern time zone. “Usually, we end up playing out West and the first home game still feels like a road game,’’ he said. “This way it will ease the transition by us being in the East.” ... Rivers said LaMarcus Aldridge, who made the Western Conference All-Star Team for the first time this season, should have made it last year as well. The reason he didn’t? He plays in Portland, where no one sees him. “I mean, their games start at 12,’’ Rivers joked. “If he had played anywhere else he would have made the All-Star team last year and be a two-time All-Star. Because people don’t see him a lot, they just think he makes jump shots. They don’t realize he has a solid post game, runs the floor, rebounds the basketball. He’s just a good basketball player. ... The Trail Blazers were without Eliot Williams, who was sent back to Portland for an MRI on his shoulder. Coach Nate McMillan said Williams "threw his arm out of place” trying to dunk on Chris Johnson in some one-on-one action after practice. “It’s unfortunate,’’ McMillan said. “I hated to see that happen to him.” Williams had just started to get some playing time for the Blazers.
Like Father, Like Son? Blazers rookie Nolan Smith is the son of Derek Smith, who played briefly for the Celtics: two regular-season games and 10 playoff games in 1990-91, the last season of Smith’s nine-year career. Sadly, Derek Smith died of a heart attack in August 1996 at the age of 34. Nolan Smith had just turned 8 at the time of his father’s death and, with his older sister, Sydney, has formed a foundation to offer support and resources to young people struggling with the loss of a loved one. Nolan Smith went on to a solid career at Duke and was a first-round pick of the Blazers (21st overall) in 2011. Blazers coach Nate McMillan played against Derek Smith and had this to say about Smith pere and Smith fils. “They both have a good feel for the game,’’ McMillan said. “His father was a big guard (4 to 5 inches taller than Nolan) and was versatile. Nolan is too. They are both hard workers, competitive, class acts. They’re pros. You can tell they are good citizens and good athletes. Nolan has a quiet demeanor about him but, like his dad, is very competitive once he hits the floor.”
Derek Smith had a Jeremy Lin-like, out-of-nowhere moment in his NBA career. After two lackluster seasons with Golden State and the then-San Diego Clippers, he exploded on the scene in 1984-85 for the Clippers, averaging 22.1 points a game. He was scoring at a similar pace the following season when he blew out his knee and was never the same player again.