With Spike Lee the latest to stand up on his soap box and publicly condemn Kevin Garnett for his on-court behavior, joining a line that grows deeper each day with opposing coaches, players and a slew of national pundits, Celtics coach Doc Rivers jumped to the defense of his star forward before Monday's game against the Bobcats.
"That means he’s on their mind, that’s fine by me," Rivers said. "Kevin does nothing wrong, he plays the game the right way. I think all these people that call him out would take him on their team right now. Other than that, I could care less about that stuff."
Lee, a Knicks superfan, told ESPNNewYork.com that Garnett cursed him out "for no reason" during Boston's visit to Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15 and suggested that Garnett "needs to calm the [expletive] down.”
Suns coach Alvin Gentry went on the radio last week and suggested he's lost respect for Garnett due to his antics, which included tapping Channing Frye below the belt as he released a 3-pointer (Garnett was ejected amidst the ensuing dust-up). Lakers coach Phil Jackson jabbed Garnett about the low blow soon after.
Rivers said he was unaware of Gentry's comments, but also brushed them off.
"Actually, I didn’t know Alvin said anything," Rivers said. "I’ll just let Alvin talk. He seems to do that well."
Garnett picked up his team-leading eighth technical foul of the season Monday night for shoving Charlotte's Gerald Henderson less than a minute into the second half. Eduardo Najera told reporters that Garnett elbowed him in the face near the end of the game, but said he told Garnett "he hits like my grandma."
Rivers noted that the anger directed at Garnett could be traced to Boston's success.
"[The criticism] says that our team is pretty good," Rivers said. "When they were bad in Minnesota, you heard nothing. So that’s all it is. Kevin’s not going to change. Kevin’s a terrific player, he plays the right way. I think all coaches would love their players to play like Kevin Garnett, to be like Kevin Garnett, and act like Kevin Garnett. I don’t worry about it."
--DANIELS DOING BETTER; UNCERTAIN STATUS LEAVES C'S IN LIMBO--
Celtics rookie Avery Bradley, on assignment with Maine of the NBA Development League, was in North Dakota on Sunday watching the national TV broadcast of the Celtics' triumph over the Magic when Marquis Daniels suffered a bruised spinal cord and was taken off on a stretcher in a scary scene at TD Garden.
Bradley instinctively reached for his cell phone and fired off a text message for Daniels. To his surprise, he soon got a reply back from Daniels saying he was going to be OK.
"I was a little scared," Bradley said. "A little bit after it happened, I texted Marquis. I looked back at my phone and I got a text back form him. I was like, 'All right, he's OK.'"
Like Bradley, Rivers traded texts with Daniels and said it's been encouraging. Daniels was discharged from New England Baptist Hospital Monday morning after completing a battery of tests.
"He's feeling a lot better," Rivers said. "He's fine. As far as playing, I don't know how fine he'll be. That's going to take a while. As far as life, he'll be OK. That's all that matters to me right now."
But as a coach, Rivers admitted to thinking ahead, and while the team will give Daniels a week or so to gauge his early recovery, if he's going to be sidelined beyond the month or two doctors initially projected, the team is going to have consider making a roster move in order to add depth at the swingman spot.
"Delonte’s not a 3, so I don’t know what we’re going to do," Rivers admitted. "What we have to do is wait and see what Marquis' situation is and how long that will be. And if that's long, then we have to do something. We have to get another 3, let’s be honest.”
--C'S WERE SET TO SEND HARANGODY TO MAINE BEFORE INJURIES--
For a fleeting moment late last month, the Celtics were healthy enough that they were set to assign rookie Luke Harangody to the Red Claws, hoping to get him the same type of playing time that Bradley was enjoying with the D-League affiliate. Then the injury bug started chomping down so hard that the Celtics were forced to not only keep Harangody, but recall Bradley as well.
"We were [close to sending Harangody down]," Rivers said. "Then we had these little injuries and we decided to keep him up."
With seven DNPs in the 10 games before Monday night's battle in Charlotte, Harangody had logged only 31 minutes since Jan. 19, and 21 of those came in a lopsided win over the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers. He got early action Monday, spending time as power forward in an undersized frontcourt alongside Glen Davis in the first quarter.
Harangody hit the only shot he took -- a 3-pointer -- and finished with 7:05 of floor time, but did not see action in the second half.
--LOOSE BALLS: BRADLEY'S BACK; SPURRIER SAYS HELLO; PERK'S BLOCKS--
* Bradley got word he was being recalled Sunday, but making the trek to Charlotte wasn't easy. He caught a 5 a.m. flight from North Dakota, where the Claws had a weekend series, to Minneapolis before continuing on to Charlotte. He was available for Monday's game, but Rivers had said he would try his best not to use him so soon after his return. Bradley got a friendly welcome from Pierce, who teased him about the hair he'd grown out to battle the winter chill in Portland.
* The Bobcats played much of the game without their own captain, Stephen Jackson, who got two technical fouls for barking at officials late in the second quarter and was ejected. Charlotte seemed to feed off his departure. "They just put another guy in," Rivers said. "Gerald Henderson was terrific down the stretch and Najera gave them energy. They beat us -- you think about what they did -- they just put in energy at the end of the game and we couldn't match it."
* South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier sat courtside and earned a mixed reaction when put on the JumboTron in the first quarter. Rivers spent time chatting with Spurrier before the game. "It's the first time I've met him in person. We've talked many times, that's what we were laughing at. I have two helmets in my office at home in Orlando, one is Spurrier's South Carolina helmet and one is Ronnie Lott, so he liked that."
* One real positive for the Celtics: Kendrick Perkins recorded three blocks on the night, a great sign in his recovery and one of the few areas he's struggled with since his return. Perkins finished with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting with seven rebounds over 35:25. He got into a dust-up with Kwame Brown over a foul he gave to prevent a basket and it led to Brown and Pierce earning double technicals.
* Rookie center Semih Erden sat out Monday's game with a right adductor strain. He admitted after the game that he's not feeling great, but wasn't certain how long he'd be out. Hop HERE for more on Boston's injury situation.