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Monday, December 31, 2012

KG, Pierce draw the line after second bad road loss

OAKLAND, Calif. – Twenty-nine games into the season, the Celtics sound like they’re at a crossroads. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce both had strong words Saturday after being blown out for a second straight game.

The Celts followed up Thursday’s 106-77 loss to the Clippers with a 101-83 defeat to the Warriors here that wasn’t as close as the score would make it seem. Rajon Rondo (bruised right hip) didn’t play, but the C’s didn’t put up much of a fight. ...

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OAKLAND, Calif. – Twenty-nine games into the season, the Celtics sound like they’re at a crossroads. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce both had strong words Saturday after being blown out for a second straight game.

The Celts followed up Thursday’s 106-77 loss to the Clippers with a 101-83 defeat to the Warriors here that wasn’t as close as the score would make it seem. Rajon Rondo (bruised right hip) didn’t play, but the C’s didn’t put up much of a fight.

“This is when you start to see who’s with you,” said Garnett. “This is when you see who really wants it, who really wants to get down and work and grind for it – and we’re about to find that out.”

As for whether the Celts can get it together, KG said, “We have no choice, man. If we want to be great, we’ve got to stop talking about it and actually do it.”

The Celtics allowed the Warriors to shoot 52.1 percent from the floor and a whopping 63.2 percent (12-19) on 3-pointers.

The C’s shot just 36 percent, and, as has been the case for a while, when they don’t hit, they don’t defend.

“If we’re not going to be a defensive team, we’ve got to be a better offensive team,” said Pierce after making just 4 of 20 shots. “It’s got to be something. We’ve still got to find our way.

“We’re searching for answers and still trying to figure it out. The good thing is we stick together. We don’t point the finger. We’ll figure it out.

“I’m always positive, I’m always optimistic, because I’ve seen the signs. I’ve seen the potential in this team. It’s about us putting it together consistently, and I know it’s in us. I know we still have a great run in us.”

As for what can turn the now 14-15 Celtics around, Garnett said, “Believe me, if I knew, I would have said it. I would have spread the word. But right now, that can’t be it.

“Since I’ve been here, we’ve always been a defensive team that has been fueled by the defense, and that has turned over to some offensive right now. Somehow through practice, through repetition, whatever it may be, we’ve got to change that. Got to keep going. Got to keep working at this.”

The Celts opened the trip with a nice win on Christmas Day in Brooklyn, but things have turned quickly.

“We’ve played one very good game where I thought we played like a team,” said Doc Rivers of the Nets’ game. “Deflections were high. Then we go into L.A. and have our lowest deflection count of the entire season.

“And then tonight I thought we got really frustrated with missed shots. That’s the one thing I do know about this team that has not been with us in the past: we could play bad and still win because we didn’t get frustrated if the offense (wasn’t clicking). This is not that group so far. When we miss shots, we’re a bad defensive team.

“And right now, our offense absolutely dictates how hard, how well and how disciplined we stay on defense. That’s something I’ve seen, and that continues. That’s who we are right now. You’ve got the whole year to change it, but you’ve got to change it quickly.”

The Warriors jumped out to a 15-7 lead and scored with ease most of the night.

“They made a lot of shots that were contested, but they made a lot of shots that were uncontested, too, and that’s what bothered me early on,” said Rivers. “I think their first four baskets were guys standing there with no hands up.

“Four times in the first half, we just didn’t account for an open guy in transition defense.”