Denton's Notebook: January 23, 2012

By John Denton
January 23, 2012

BOSTON – Boston head coach Doc Rivers has an appreciation for trying to guide a team through adversity what with his Celtics missing Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox because of injuries.

Rivers has also taken notice of the job that Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy has done keeping the Magic focused despite the daily drama that surrounds superstar center Dwight Howard and his trade request. Rivers said that Van Gundy deserves much of the credit for the Magic coming into Monday’s game with one of the best records in the NBA.

``With Stan, this year, I don’t think there’s a guy who has done a better job in this league when you think about the distractions they’ve had to go through,’’ Rivers said. ``Getting guys to play, that’s always hard to do when there are distractions. I don’t think people have any idea how hard that is. And give Dwight credit because he’s been terrific as well. But it’s tough to get other players to play like that and (the Magic) have done it. I really think Stan deserves most of the credit.’’

Rivers’ aging roster has had to deal with one injury after another so far, and the Celtics had to start Avery Bradley and Sasha Pavolvic in the backcourt Monday night. Rivers is confident that Rajon Rondo (sprained wrist) and Keyon Dooling (knee) will be back by Thursday for the rematch against the Magic in Orlando.

STILL A THREAT: Though the Celtics have limped along much of this season and would seem to be longshots in the playoffs because of the hectic nature of the schedule and their aging roster, Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis said it would be unwise to write off Boston as championship threats.

Davis, who was honored with a video tribute Monday night during a timeout in the first quarter, should know. He won a title with Boston in 2008, reached Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 2010 and played the previous four seasons with the Celtics. Davis fully expects the Celtics to hit their stride at some point and be a factor by the postseason.

``Me knowing that (Boston) team and how they want to win so badly and their mentality, I’m surprised they have struggled,’’ Davis said. ``But you don’t count them out. Let them work through the kinks and then come playoff time I think they’ll still make some noise.’’

Davis, who averaged career highs in points (11.7), rebounds (5.4) and minutes played (29.5) last season while playing for the Celtics, credited Boston power forward Kevin Garnett with helping him get in a position where he could sign a four-year, $26 million contract back in November. Davis admitted it would be weird going against Garnett after playing alongside of him the previous four years.

``I know (Garnett) as a player and a person and his game personality is so different than his personality (off the court),’’ Davis said. ``He’s going to be trying to come at me, but there’s a level of respect there because we’ve been through the wars and in the trenches together. But at the same time I’m on the other team now. It’ll be fun.’’

BASS BACK VS. MAGIC: Brandon bass, who spent two seasons with the Magic before being shipped to Boston in the trade for Davis and Von Wafer, said he never saw the trade coming. Bass slimmed down for this season and was hoping to make more strides with the Magic when he was told by Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith that he was being dealt to Boston.

``I was shocked. I was really shocked,’’ Bass said, repeating himself for emphasis. ``But it’s life in the NBA and you have to learn to get over it quickly. You make your adjustments and move on. But no doubt about it, I was shocked.’’ Bass has played well so far in Boston, averaging 11.5 points and 6.4 rebounds in 27.9 minutes a game. He had a season-high 20 points in the opener against the Knicks.

``Everybody here, from the coaches and the players, has made me feel comfortable right away,’’ Bass said. ``I feel right at home with these guys.’’

ETC: Magic CEO Alex Martins will take a train from Boston to New York on Tuesday to join Magic Chairman Dan DeVos in a meeting with NBA Commissioner David Stern. Dan DeVos took over the chairman duties from the retiring Bob Vander Weide back in November. Martins said the meeting will be so that DeVos can meet and greet Stern and discuss future plans for the organization. ... Davis admitted that his emotions got the best of him last week against the San Antonio Spurs when he was whistled for a technical foul for partially pulling his shorts down during the game. Upset by a call, Davis tugged at his shorts that weren’t tied tightly. They partially fell, exposing his black tights underneath. Said Davis: ``It was a reaction, but at the same time my shorts were baggy. I don’t know if they were tied as tight as they should have been. I was upset and they came down and I was like, `Dohhh.’ I accidentally did that, but it wasn’t my goal to pull my shorts down and show off my tights.’’ … Martins was delighted that the New York Giants defeated the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday to reach the Feb. 5 Super Bowl. Martins said his first job in professional sports was working as a 16-year-old at the concession stand ``scooping Italian Ice’’ at Giants Stadium. Rivers offered up some perspective on the four years he spent coaching Davis in Boston, saying: ``He gave us a lot of laughs, which is always good for your locker room. He’s a better player, I say, than his act. I was very hard on him and I still am when I talk to him, but I think that Baby has a lot of good basketball left in him. When he focuses on (basketball), he’s really good.’’

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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