Celtics 76, Clippers 59
By Gabe Kahn
LAS VEGAS- Gerald Green had an auspicious professional debut and the Reebok Vegas Summer League, but after getting rid of some early jitters, he found time to wow the crowd time and again.
Green first entered the game with 3:34 left in the first quarter and quickly gobbled up a defensive rebound. Without noticing Erwin Dudley of the Clippers lurking nearby, he put the ball on the floor where it was snatched away by Dudley. He then fouled Dudley immediately to stop him from getting an easy 2.. It was certainly not the start Green wanted, but with the help of some pretty aerial moves and a couple of ferocious dunks, his slow start would soon be erased from people's minds.
With 26.9 seconds left in the opening period, Green finally got on the board, hitting a 20 foot-jumper from the left side and getting fouled in the process. In the second quarter, Green scored 7 points, 2 coming off an alley-oop, 2 from a jumper, and 3 from a spin move on the perimeter that was followed by a dunk over at least 19 Clippers. The docile crowd was suddenly awake and aware and jaws were dropping as far away as the MGM Grand. Green finished with 14 points, 6 personal fouls and 5 turnovers.
Aside from Green's flying act, there wasn't too much of note during the Celtics' first summer league action. Aside from Shaun Livingston, Chris Kaman and the immortal Quinton Ross, the squad the Clippers fielded for the game was devoid of almost any player capable of playing on an NBA roster. Yes, even the Clippers. The Celtics roared out of the gate with an 8-nothing run before LA scored their first point on a free throw by Dudley. The lead grew to 15-2, then 20-3 and finally 23-4 before Kaman scored the Clippers first field goal with 10 seconds left in the quarter. The Clippers first 4 points were scored on 8 free throw attempts. Truly, this was summer league.
The game was watched by Celtics' Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge, Head Coach Doc Rivers, General Manager Chris Wallace and, interestingly enough, in an isolated corner of the gym, Captain Paul Pierce. Pierce chatted with a few friends during the game, then said hello to his teammates as they came off the court. Only after the game was already over for a few minutes did Rivers and Ainge approach Pierce and exchange pleasantries. Pierce then went down to the Celtics locker room and joked with Ainge and the coaches, specifically Assistant Coach Tony Brown, who was tossed after a run-in with one of the officials (a first for summer league?). The Truth's interaction with the team personnel appeared genial, though that could have had something to do with the presence of a couple members of the media.
Though the outcome of the game was never in doubt, several second year players had strong performances. Delonte West got the bulk of the minutes at point guard and ran the team effectively, scoring 9 points, though whomever was keeping stats must have been in a foul mood, awarding West no assists, and giving the entire Celtic team just 2 for the night. Tony Allen had 13 points and nine rebounds, plus one crowd-pleasing dunk. Justin Reed started at small forward and looked impressive with 12 points and 7 boards. Al Jefferson, who dominated the competition in Vegas last year, had a quiet 9 points and 8 rebounds.
Second-year center Kendrick Perkins, whom Rivers' had singled out for his performance at practice, was off and scored just 1 point to go with a couple rebounds, but had one phenomenal block of a Kaman fade-away jumper. Like the assists, the block somehow eluded the scorekeeper, much to the amazement of the Celtics' brass. Rookie Ryan Gomes too looked like he was trying to feel things out, and chipped in with 4 points and 6 rebounds. Local boy Taylor Coppenrath was solid but unexceptional with 6 points, and Georgia Tech product Will Bynum was held scoreless.