Ron Artest can be a funny dude sometimes, and Wednesday night definitely qualified.
So he walks into the locker room after the loss to the Celtics that was about as physical as games come in this modern day of touchy-feely officiating, looks at the media and says, "Man, what in the world could you guys want to ask about?"
I'm not even sure he was kidding, but it struck me as hysterical. There was plenty to talk about after this rock-em-sock-em matchup, with nothing nearly as interesting the aggressive way in which the Kings conducted their business.
And after Artest explained that he simply didn't like the way the Celtics were talking in the Kings' building, the similarity of his comments to those made by Francisco Garcia made me wonder if they had spoken of this topic beforehand.
"I was just trying to get the crowd into it," said Garcia, referring to his first quarter exchange with Kevin Garnett in which he basically played unfriendly pattycake with KG while tussling over the ball after the whistle had blown. "I don’t like it when somebody just comes in here to our house like that. We’ve got to show that no matter what their record is we’ve still got to play. I was ready. I was trying to show everybody I was ready and get some intensity going."
So in two meetings against the Kings, Garnett scores a combined 25 points on 12 of 23 shooting and the Celtics cruise to victory late in both games. All of which proves what Boston GM Danny Ainge was saying when we spoke for yesterday's Celtics piece: KG's selflessness is sometimes as vital as all his other incredible skills.
"Kevin just has a great emotional and physical energy," Ainge said. "And I think that his work ethic and his talent just gives confidence to the other players.
"And also his unselfishness, his willingness to do the little things to win. His teammates and coaches respect him because it's very clear that winning is all that matters to KG."
There is certainly no lack of confidence among Garnett's teammates, and the Kings may argue that some players have more than they should. For example, the buzz on the Kings bench was about Boston center Kendrick Perkins and how he suddenly talks more than ever now that he has three All-Stars around him. Perkins didn't have much to brag about in this one, contributing three points and eight rebounds in just 19 minutes.
Allen appears to have sacrificed his numbers for the greater good as well.
"Some nights, I've started a game not even thinking I was going to score and not worrying about it," Allen said. "And that wasn't a big deal. Then there are nights when four or five times in a row you might get scoring opportunities and you take advantage of it. The ultimate objective for us here is to get wins."
I didn't quote Boston coach Doc Rivers in the Celtics piece, but he had some fascinating insight as to his role in attempting to get the most out of this talented bunch.
For starters, the team took two days completely off earlier this month (Dec. 9 and Dec. 10). I can't remember that happening in my three seasons covering the Kings, nor have I heard of it happening elsewhere. But as Rivers verified, it had everything to do with the fact that his stars aren't all that young (The Big Three has all turned the Big Three-O, with Allen the elder at 32) and he needs to think about the miles logged in the long haul.
Also, he is at the forefront of the mental approach that the Celtics haven't accomplished anything just yet.
"No matter what our record is, my job is to get the whole team to understand that we've accomplished zero," Rivers said. "We've won zero playoff games, gone through no adversity (before the recent two-day absence of an injured Ray Allen), and we're not good enough today to be the (NBA champion)."
Ainge said he has nothing but confidence in Rivers, who just last season was a fan favorite to be fired when the home games sometimes came with chants for his head.
"I have great faith in Doc keeping these guys in tune, making them continue to be alive and work and stay humble and continue to be coachable," Ainge said.
Rough night for Kings center Brad Miller, who missed his first six shots and finally hit a field goal with a dunk at the 10:43 mark of the third quarter.
Miller finished 2 of 11 from the field, and his seven points marked the first time he scored in single digits since a Dec. 8 loss at Denver (seven points). Miller had not shot below 40 percent in a game since hitting just 1 of 9 shots in a loss to Golden State on Nov. 28.
- Sam Amick