HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Boston Celtics dropped Saturday's exhibition tilt against the New York Knicks, but coach Doc Rivers liked a lot of what he saw, particularly on the offensive side of the ball from his team.
"I thought we started off slow, defensively, and our offensive rebounding on the guards killed us," said Rivers. "But having said that, we still had a lead after the first quarter, and that’s a great sign. When you struggle defensively, when you struggle on the glass, and you have a lead, that tells you that there will be certain nights when your offense can bail you out and I thought our offense bailed us out in the first quarter."
Rivers has talked about a desire to play at an elevated pace and not only did Boston push the tempo (at least at times) on Saturday, but also got opportunities going at the basket, which led to 33 free throw attempts.
"We’re attacking, very aggressive," said Jeff Green, who scored all 12 of his points in the first half. "You can’t let the defense set up, you have to be aggressive, you have to force the defense to be ready. If they are going to give us lanes, we’re going to take them, and if we get fouled, we’re going to get to the line."
A handful of other notes after Saturday's exhibition tilt:
* Center Darko Milicic played only 7:23 and sat out the second half. Rivers said that decision was made simply based on the Knicks operating with smaller lineups (Amare Stoudemire and Rasheed Wallace did not make the trip). "I thought Darko played well in the first half, it was just one of those small-ball games, you knew it was going to be that," said Rivers.
* Rajon Rondo said he wasn't surprised by another solid performance from Green, including the night's biggest highlight when Green dunked over two defenders in the second quarter. Rondo did playfully give the jam a rave review. Said Rondo: "Preseason-wise? It's got to be the best dunk of the preseason. I say it's No. 1 right now on my list. I'm a little biased, but it's No. 1."
* Camp invite Micah Downs grabbed seven rebounds in less than 14 minutes of court time. The 6-foot-8 Gonzaga product is doing the little things trying to get noticed. "That's just something I can try to bring to the table," he said. "If I'm out there on the court and I'm not getting my shot, I'm not getting offensive looks, I'm going to try to go get the ball, help our team one way or the other. Whatever I can do. My size, my athleticism, I think I can help out at that position when Paul [Pierce is] not in the game or when Jeff [Green is] not in the game, or if we're playing smaller and I'm playing at the four. Just trying to do everything I can to stick."
* Jason Terry wasn't a fan of an extra five minutes of preseason basketball, but admitted he got sucked into the excitement watching the younger players in a tight game. "I don’t like to see overtime in the preseason, me personally, but they played hard," said Terry. "It was good to watch. It was exciting basketball. I know the fans of Hartford got a great show tonight."
* What did Rivers think of Jason Kidd playing the fourth quarter and overtime against Boston's freshman team? "Conditioning -- that’s what I thought," said Rivers. "[Kidd is] thinking, 'I need this to get in shape.' They knew they were going to get up into him, so he used it for what you use a preseason game for."