Big Three, Bargnani Star at the Palalottomatica
Posted Oct 8 2007 2:55PM
EUROPE LIVE NOTEBOOK - Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors
ROME, Oct. 7, 2007 -- On July 31, Boston pulled the trigger on one of the most significant trades in NBA history, bringing Kevin Garnett over from Minnesota in a five-for-one deal (seven-for-one if you add in the two future draft picks involved).
For 68 days the basketball world patiently awaited the Big Three era in Boston to begin. They saw KG throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game, officially welcoming him to the Beantown faithful. They furiously clicked through photogalleries on NBA.com depicting the trio all wearing Green and White. They adjusted the rosters on their basketball video games to simulate having them play together.
The waiting ended yesterday and for the Celtics fan contingent of the basketball world at least, it was worth every second.
"This is probably the most fun I've had in a training camp," Garnett said at the the postgame press conference, sitting next to Paul Pierce and cracking jokes under his breath while the translator was dictating his answers in Italian for the media to transcribe. "We spent a lot of time together off the court and today we just transferred it to on the court."
Speaking of the court, Garnett was all over it, scoring 19 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Ray Allen said after the game that he would have liked to grab a few more rebounds himself, but whenever he looked up, there was Garnett's hand corralling another one.
Allen, who was the first player in the gym hoisting up shots almost three hours before tip-off, said that he had a lot of energy for the game and was "geeked" to play.
He finished with 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting, but also had four assists and three rebounds.
Allen's numbers certainly weren't because of poor shot selection. Most of his looks came after dumping the ball in to KG or Pierce and then flaring out to the wing for a three.
"I had a lot of open shots, shots that I haven't had open in a long time," Allen said.
It was just a bad shooting night. He went 1-for-6 from three and 1-for-2 from the foul line. The difference is for Allen in this new chapter in his career is that if he did that when he was in Seattle, the team would struggle. Now he is just a co-star in an ensemble cast, he doesn't have to be the lead actor every night.
"There's other things to the game [than scoring]," Allen said. "I'd like to do things like average more assists or go get more rebounds and do things that are going to make my teammates better. That's an important thing."
That's how the new guys did, so what about the stalwart? Paul Pierce did what he's done for the last nine seasons for Boston -- be the No. 1 offensive threat.
Pierce led all scorers with 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting and really picked his spots well by only attempting shots on consecutive possessions when he knew he had a favorable matchup or he was wide open.
For all of his offensive exploits, it was defense that he wanted to talk about after the game.
"Our whole focus is going to be on the defensive end," Pierce said. "We have so many weapons on offense .. but our main goal is to be a great defensive team. We know if we can do that then we can go a long way."
Bargnani Back in Front of the Hometown Fans
The loudest the arena got on Saturday was about an hour before tip-off -- with only about 75 percent of the fans in attendance yet -- when Andrea Bargnani emerged from the tunnel onto the court.
A smile started to peak out of the corners of mouth, contrary to his normally stoic demeanor. He nodded his head a bit and raised his hand in a thankful, yet subdued, acknowledgement and that was it.
It turns out he was planning on letting his game do most of the talking as he scored six of the Raptors first eight points on the way to 13 for the game on 4-for-6 shooting, including two 3-pointers.
He played just 14 minutes - the result of the combination of foul trouble (he finished with four) and the fact that it was a preseason game.
"Andrea was pretty good. I probably could have done a better job at getting him back in, but I wanted to keep him fresh for tomorrow,'' Toronto's head coach Sam Mitchell said. "I know where Andrea's at.''
On Sunday he'll go up against Lottomatica Virtus Roma, featuring a couple of players who are having a different kind of dream realized than Bargnani.
While the NBA is affording Bargnani a homecoming, for former NBA players Erik Daniels (Kings) and Allan Ray (Celtics) who left the U.S. to continue their careers overseas, the NBA is coming to them.