Boston Celtics 77, Dallas Mavericks 73
By Gabe Kahn
LAS VEGAS- The Celtics' second game of the Reebok Vegas Summer League against the Dallas Mavericks provided much less individual heroics than their first game when they crushed an excuse for the Clippers by 17, but at least this time there was some competition on both sides of the court.
Today's matinee was close the whole way through, with the Celtics ultimately prevailing by a score of 77-73. The Mavs fielded a team with far more NBA experience than the Clippers, with players such as Devin Harris , Marquis Daniels, Pavel Podkolzin, Felipe Lopez and DJ Mbenga. Also, the deep Celtics squad had played the day before while the Mavs were off, which seemed to have something to do with the parity.
In the first half, there was nothing at all spectacular to report on. Short of a Gerald Green alley-oop from Will Bynum and a gravity-defying dunk by the Mavs' Michael Harris, the game action could have been used by scientists interested in sleep studies. Though a Darko appearance was positively awesome. However, if slow and steady was the theme of this game, it would be appropriate that second-year point guard Delonte West would be the star.
As is his style, West wasn't flashy, but his steady play was easily the story of the first half. Whether he was throwing a perfect full court pass to Justin Reed, leaving Reed in the perfect spot to find Taylor Coppenrath for a layup, or looking to drive when the defense expected him to dish leading to an easy 2, or getting after every rebound and every loose ball, West was just doing what he does best: Everything.
Still, when asked after the game how he thought he played he answered "I think I played like [expletive]. You know, though, in the big picture, that doesn't matter. What matters is that we won and that's all I care about."
West, who finished with 12 point and just one assist awarded to him by the fickle statkeeper, showed why the Celtics are confident to hand the starting point guard duties to him, running the team well once again. He also hit a jumper that put the Celtics ahead for the first time since the first quarter. Scoring is something that he always has to remind himself to do.
"Sometimes I forget that I'm a scorer and the coaches have to remind me, and say 'you know you can shoot the ball,'" West said. "It's all a learning process."
For the second straight game, Reed showed that he is one of the better players on this team scoring 13 points, displaying a nice shooting touch, good ballhandling and a real ability to run the floor in the process. If the first two games of the Summer League for the Celtics is any indication (though there is probably ample evidence to suggest it's not), Danny Ainge may have picked up a real steal from the 2004 draft. Reed has improved drastically from last summer, when it appeared that all he could do was hit a few open jumpers.
Rookie Ryan Gomes looked comfortable after an unimpressive game 1, showing some of the craftiness he picked up in college. It appears that the Eric Williams comparisons were on target, although Gomes does not yet have post games that Williams did, nor the constant exuberance. He is stronger and more athletic, though, and, of course, much healthier. He finished with 10 point and 8 rebounds, though he received a couple staples in his head after getting an elbow in the second quarter. He should be fine to play for the rest of the week. Fellow rookie Green looked much more tentative than yesterday and had 8 points.
A svelte Al Jefferson was more active than he had been the night before, hitting a key basket in the Celtics' deciding run in the fourth. Scoring 11 points and 9 rebounds, he had some of his signature moves in the post, but continuously had trouble making the bunnies after creating the space he needed. Kendrick Perkins provided a terrifying block as well as a nice power hook, a move he would be wise to use more often, given his overwhelming strength and long arms. He collected 6 boards. Tony Allen looked human with 6 points and 6 personal fouls.