BOSTON (CBS) – Kevin Garnett had a vintage KG performance Thursday night as the Boston Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs.
Garnett did it all. He scored, putting in a game-high 28 points, including a go-ahead bucket with 30 seconds left to give Boston an 80-79 lead. He rebounded, pulling down a game-high 14 boards, including four on the offensive end.
Most importantly, he played defense. It was a defensive effort you would expect from a 25-year-old Garnett. He blocked five shots and had three steals, both game highs. His value to the team was never as glaring as it was during a fourth quarter breather, when the Celtics saw a nine-point lead drop to just one.
Garnett came back in, ready to defend, score, rebound, whatever was needed. The Hawks tied the game, but KG helped lead the way to the 83-80 final, hitting the turnaround jumper to give the C’s the lead back for good.
He was a man possessed, and after the victory, let everyone know why.
First up, it was Hawks owner Michael Gearon, who for some reason thought it would be smart to call Garnett “the dirtiest player in the NBA” on Wednesday.
“First off, I want to say thank you to the (Hawks) owner for giving me some extra gas tonight,” Garnett started his postgame presser with. “My only advice to him is next time he opens his mouth, actually know what he’s talking about — X’s and O’s versus checkbooks and bottom lines.”
KG Responds To Hawks Owner
“We’re not dirty. We’re firm, we play aggressive. But we’re not dirty,” said Garnett. “You have to understand the word ‘dirty’ in this game is very defined. Going under guys, trying to hurt guys, ill intent — that’s not how we play basketball. We play very, very respectable to the opponent, to the city we’re in, the game. We play with a lot of passion and with force. It’s the playoffs. I haven’t been here trying to hurt anybody and nor has my teammates. I found that comment to be a little rude and out of hand, and I wanted to address it.”
“Just because you got a bunch of money doesn’t mean you can open your mouth.”
Later, Garnett set his sights on the media. Yes, Garnett is getting up there in age. In his 16th year, the 35-year-old has had to revamp his game a bit with father time catching up to him on the floor. He’ll admit that himself.
But just don’t call him ‘old.’ Although, whoever has been saying it should keep it going. It adds more fuel to the Garnett fire.
“I don’t want to come off kind of wrong, but I really go with my craft and I take it very seriously,” said Garnett. “I guess being 35, soon to be 36 — not 37, (19)76 (birth year), look it up — I put a lot of work into my craft. I take it very seriously. I always have, since ’95, since I’ve been able to come into the league and it’s almost like you guys are shocked. Like this ain’t what I do every day, like this ain’t what I was made for. It does come off disrespectful at times. I put a lot of work and time into this, and there are certain levels I expect from myself.”
KG Fueled By Being Called ‘Old’
“I take this very seriously, so you guys calling me old, that number defies. You have no idea what you are doing when you say those ‘old’ comments. I appreciate that. I don’t read your columns, but it gets back to me.”
While those provided some of the fuel for Garnett, there is no certainly no lack of motivation for the 14-time All Star. Especially since he knows the end of his career is in his sights.
“Not knowing if this is my last year to play,” he said of what drive him most. “Playing against younger talent, being competitive. I’m a very, very competitive person. I’m playing with great guys — even better, younger guys that are getting better. Great coaching staff and a great organization with good people that’s working in it.”
“I’m self-motivated, but to come here every day is an easy thing to do,” said Garnett. “I look forward to waking up and coming in here.”