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Celtics Pull Away to Top Knicks

The Boston Celtics moved to 6-1 in preseason action with a 97-84 victory over the New York Knicks in Hartford, Connecticut. 

Full disclosure: I'm going to brag about Kevin Garnett for the next 300 words or so, so feel free to sit back and enjoy or hit the jump for some other game notes.

  • Kevin Garnett played by far his best preseason game tonight, posting 20 points on 9-11 shooting, four rebounds, and one block (looked more like three to me). While Boston's defense in the first quarter was somewhat slack (30 points for the Knicks on 60 percent shooting), Garnett was dominant offensively, scoring 11 of his 20 points on 5-6 shooting. His first bucket was perhaps the most encouraging one - an aggressive slam dunk off of a Rajon Rondo touch pass. But he wasn't done. He connected on a jump shot as the shot clock was expiring at the 9:32 mark of the first frame, abused Anthony Randolph with power dribbles in the paint which led to short jump hooks, and scored inside off of a Shaquille O'Neal feed after Shaq drew a double team. 
  • Later in the third quarter, Garnett took another feed from Shaq underneath and hung in the air as he converted a difficult up and under on the left side. At the 7:32 mark of the third, Garnett scored inside and drew a foul on Ronny Turiaf, and Garnett's reaction was the best part of the play. He let out one of his classic primal yells and punched the air - a great sign that he's feeling great. The emotion is always key with Garnett. He followed that play up with some great defense on Wilson Chandler towards the end of the third. Chandler had the ball on the left wing with KG in front of him, and Garnett bent down and started clapping his hands, egging Chandler on. We've all seen it before, but it never gets old. Chandler drove, got past Garnett, but Garnett recovered and swatted Chandler's shot out of bounds from behind. 
  • Garnett looked fantastic, physically. He was moving well on defense (he also appeared to block Randolph twice), wasn't shying away from contact on offense, and got up the floor ahead of the defense on a number of occasions. On the second block on Randolph, Garnett turned and sprinted up the floor, beat the majority of the New York defense, and took a pass from Rondo, which he turned into a left-handed layup. Doc Rivers stressed in training camp that Garnett looked explosive again, and tonight he did indeed. One caveat worth noting (before I get too ahead of myself): The majority of Garnett's points came against Randolph, who's 21 years old and not known for his defense, but the fact that Garnett was exploiting the matchup and not shying away from contact was huge. 
  • Garnett and Shaq worked inside together very well tonight. Their interior passing was impressive, as Garnett scored on two assists from Shaq, and Shaq scored on an assist from KG. 
  • The injury bug's sticking with this team, as Jermaine O'Neal (hand) and Marquis Daniels (right shoulder) sat out tonight. Nate Robinson played and scored 13 points (on 4-14 shooting), but was apparently bothered by a sore right shoulder as well. I'll have a full injury report tomorrow, updating everyone on each player's status. 
  • The Rondo-Ray Allen-Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett-Glen Davis quintet was effective in the second half of the third quarter. When Davis entered the game with 5:58 to go in the third, the C's were trailing 63-55, and when Garnett checked out with 1:25 left in the third, the Celtics led, 71-68. This was a lineup Doc had been waiting to play, but its unveiling was delayed due to various players sitting out of certain games.
  • While Davis didn't shoot particularly well from the field (4-11), he did shoot eight free throws, making seven of them.