N.Y. Wins Game 3, But it Can't Break KG

BOSTON – Doc Rivers stated Friday night that the Boston Celtics “lost their spirit” during Game 3.

Here’s a word of advice: don’t lump Kevin Garnett into that conversation.

Garnett is full of spirit. He is resilient. He’s a fighter.

Garnett on knee screaming

Many Celtics players lost their spirit during Game 3, but that group didn't include Kevin Garnett.
Jared Wickerham/NBAE/Getty Images

His team may have been in the midst of a lashing at the hands of the New York Knicks on Friday night, but that wasn’t going to change Garnett’s approach to the game. That’s just not how Garnett ticks.

“I’m going to play until it’s over. I’m not easily broken,” Garnett said after the Celtics’ 14-point defeat, which left them in an 0-3 series hole. “That’s always been my mentality; always probably will be.”

You have to respect that.

Garnett is in his 18th season and his team was en route to the brink of elimination Friday night. Still, he was flying around like a hungry youngster who wanted a taste of playoff success for the very first time.

His extraordinary effort lasted for more than 35 minutes of playing time and featured one of two double-doubles in the game. Garnett, the 36-year-old from South Carolina, hauled in a game-high 17 rebounds. He also scored 12 points.

There was one man hustling around the court all night long who was wearing a white jersey with green lettering. His name was Kevin Garnett.

“I just thought he played so hard,” Rivers said of Garnett. “He had 17 rebounds. I mean, he missed some shots, obviously, that he’d like to have back, but he really wanted to win tonight. I thought there were a couple of guys that stood out in that way, and he obviously – he was fantastic.”

Even the opposing head coach took notice of Garnett’s antics – and by antics, we mean inspired play. Mike Woodson couldn’t believe that he witnessed a player with so many miles on his legs play with so much heart and soul.

“To me, it’s amazing,” Woodson said. “I’ve seen guys who kind of go out at age 33, 34, and they don’t have much left, they’re done. These guys – I look at our team, there’s guys that are 38, 39, 40 years of age and they’re still running around, and KG is one of those type of players. He’s been around a long time and he’s been an awesome player in this league and he’s still out there doing his thing.”

Unfortunately for Boston, there were far more Knicks doing their thing Friday night than there were Celtics. Garnett had little company in that department, as Jeff Green, who scored 21 points and grabbed nine boards, was the only other Celtic who put forth a solid effort.

The Celtics realize that in hindsight. They aren’t going to beat this Knicks team without great performances from a handful of players. As much as KG wants to, he cannot do it by himself.

“He’s our emotional leader,” said Pierce. “We’re going to need that effort again, but we’re going to need a better effort from everybody else also.”

Garnett, in uncharacteristic fashion, echoed those sentiments.

“I’m a fighter at the end of the day, but it takes more than one person,” he said.

No team learned that more than Boston did on Friday night. Garnett emptied his tank in an attempt to win Game 3 all by himself. The Celtics still fell by a final score of 90-76.

Friday’s loss has Boston staring down an 0-3 series hole – a hole that has never been overcome by any team in NBA history. Such a challenge would break many, but don’t expect that to happen with Garnett. He’ll be back on the floor Sunday afternoon, and he’ll be as motivated as ever.

“That,” as Rivers said, “is why you love him.”