Unfortunately for Paul Pierce and Luke Harangody, the technical foul fiasco stole the majority of the headlines this morning. A lack of consistency is my main concern with these new technical foul guidelines and last night was a perfect example of why. Both Jermaine O'Neal and Kevin Garnett were assessed technical fouls for the Celtics, yet, their respective actions did not seem overly aggressive or even out of control. My guess is persistence on Garnett's part contributed to his ejection.
Yet, in terms of emotional displays after calls are made, Ronny Turiaf had perhaps the most aggressive outburst, when he was called for an offensive foul with 51.9 seconds to play in the first quarter. He barreled into Stephane Lasme, crashed to the floor, looked up, realized which call had been made and not only cried out in disbelief, but also threw his hands up in protest. No technical foul, though. Both Garnett and O'Neal's reactions appeared to be far more subdued than Turiaf's, yet they were both assessed technicals. Again, I worry about consistency, because, in my opinion, these two scenarios exemplify a lack of it.
I also worry about the players who are able to control their emotions and don't burst our angrily once a poor call is made. A fair number of players will attempt to have an honest, anger-free conversation with a referee (not all that different from what O'Neal tried to do last night), about the call and give his point of view. I'm concerned that even this behavior will warrant a technical with the new guidelines. We'll just have to keep things monitored and see if anything changes once the regular season starts.
Lasme's Chances Improving?
There was more evidence last night that Stephane Lasme is the current favorite to win the 15th roster spot. Not only did he enter the game ahead of Von Wafer and Mario West (in fairness, this could be due to the Celtics' lack of big men last night), but Doc Rivers proclaimed afterwards that Lasme has an "excellent chance" of making the team.
"He's been terrific. We weren't sure what he was at first -- we didn't know if he was a 3 or a 4. Halfway through camp, we were still not sure, but we realized he could play either position. Defensively, he's an NBA player right now, there's no doubt about it. He has an NBA IQ as well, for a young kid."
Other Player Observations
While his shooting numbers weren't great (1-6 overall), his on-the-ball defense was impressive. He has great quickness, and he fought through a number of screens that were intended to free up the likes of Jrue Holiday and even Andre Iguodala. Early in the fourth quarter, Bradley was guarding Holiday when one of Philly's bigs set a screen on Bradley's left side. Bradley fought around the top of it, but was clearly a step behind Holiday, who was proceeding to the basket. But then, all of a sudden, as Bradley was sliding left to finish getting by the screen, he took this monster step sideways and thrust himself back in front of Holiday, completely blocking his path to the rim. It was incredible how quickly he recovered after having his path of motion disrupted by the screen. And Holiday's no slouch, either, when it comes to quickness. Unfortunately for Bradley he was called for a foul shortly after. Honestly, though, it was just great defense. Did anyone else notice this play?
Hopefully last night's 16-point, 12-rebound double-double will be a confidence booster for Harangody. There's been a lot of talk throughout the preseason that Harangody just needs to slow down and show more patience on the floor. I get the feeling Doc's also been looking for Harangody to shoot more, which he did last night, taking nine field goal attempts as well as nine free throws.
Rajon Rondo's second half performance last night confirmed my early preseason thoughts that he's been intentionally holding back on us so far. While none of the starters have necessarily distinguished themselves through the first four preseason games, before last night's game, Rondo definitely hadn't displayed much of the aggressiveness and assertiveness that we've come to expect from him (not that he's actually needed to). That changed last night, particularly in the second half, when he seemed to flip some sort of switch and helped take over the game. He scored 10 points, dished out three assists, and tallied four steals in the second half last night. At one point it seemed like he was stealing every single pass the Knicks were attempting to throw down the court. While it's pointless analyzing his effort level in these preseason games, it was cool seeing him finally assert himself in a tight ballgame that his team was trying to win. If you were to watch Rondo in the first quarter against the New Jersey Nets back on October 7, and then watch him in the second half last night, you'd notice a considerable difference.
For those interested in more discussion of last night's Celtics-Knicks game, Aaron Hodges of Knicks Fanatics was kind enough to have me on as a guest on the latest installment of Knicks Fanatics Radio.