BOSTON — It was another up-and-down night for Boston's Kevin Garnett in the Celtics' 116-103 win over the Toronto Raptors. The Big Ticket finished with 12 points on perfect 6-of-6 shooting, seven rebounds, and a sweet reverse layup.
But he struggled with fouls and saw his counterpart, Chris Bosh, score 20 points.
It has been a difficult start for Garnett, who is averaging a modest 13.6 points and 7.3 rebounds a game this year, both his lowest since his initial NBA campaign (10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds).
But he drew some support from a player that has seen plenty of Garnett both as a teammate and opponent, Toronto forward Rasho Nesterovic.
"Maybe he's lost a step," said Nesterovic. "But he can still get the job done. He is still one of the best players in the game."
Nesterovic spent five seasons playing in the same frontcourt as Garnett (1998-99 to 2002-2003) with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Like most, he was quick to note Garnett's trademark intensity.
"Sometimes it's a little much," Nesterovic said with a smile. "He's a little intense sometimes, but most of the time it's good and I always liked it. It's what definitely makes him one of those special players."
One Big sighting
Before the game, injured Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis was milling around the locker room and court with a cast on his right hand.
Davis, who became a playoff hero last season after averaging 15.8 points in the postseason, has not played yet this year after suffering fractured right thumb in a fight with a friend.
While expressing optimism, Celtics coach Doc Rivers declined to say Big Baby's return would be the solution to Boston's rebounding issues.
"The longer a guy's out, the better he gets," joked Rivers. "If I'm Baby, I think I sit out another month and maybe I'd make the All-Star team.
"Last season, one of my biggest complaints was his rebounding. So we'll have to see,"
Allen eyes return
Injured Celtics swingman Tony Allen was spotted before the game shooting around with guard Eddie House and former NBA point guard and current C's Director of Basketball Development Tyronn Lue. Allen has not appeared in a game this season after undergoing right ankle surgery Aug. 3. He was not on the active roster last night.
Rivers said Allen practiced yesterday, and he hopes the five-year veteran could be back as early as this weekend. He said that Allen's activation could mean sending rookie point guard Lester Hudson and/or second-year forward J.R. Giddens to the NBA Developmental League.
Not so glorious return
Toronto's roster last night sported a pair of names remembered around the TD Garden for all of the wrong reasons in Marcus Banks and Patrick O'Bryant.
Speedy point guard Banks was selected by the Memphis with the 13th pick in the 2003 NBA draft, then traded to the Celtics along with Kendrick Perkins on draft night.
But he averaged only 5.3 points a game in 2 1/2 years with the C's before being traded to Minnesota.
Since that time, he has played for three other NBA teams, and has appeared in only two games this season, playing a total of six minutes.
O'Bryant, the ninth pick in the 2006 draft, was signed as a free agent by the C's last season. But the 7-footer played in only 26 games for the Celtics, averaging 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds, before he was traded to Toronto for a second-round pick. He has appeared in three games this year, totaling only 15 minutes.
Both were inactive for the game.
Underrated no longer
While Raptors forward/center Chris Bosh may be the NBA's most overlooked superstar — playing far away from the spotlight in Toronto — Rivers said the NBA is well aware of his talents.
"I know everyone that has to play or coach against him knows who he is," said Rivers. "He's terrific. He can play on the elbow, back down or shoot. Most people think of him as a jump-shooter, but he is averaging 11 free throws a game."
Bosh, who will be a highly-coveted free agent after this year, has been to four straight All-Star games, and is averaging 25.4 points and a league-high 11.9 rebounds a game.
Patriots Wes Welker and Adalius Thomas were in attendance along with actor and Celtics superfan Donnie Wahlberg.