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Celtics aren't going away

Boston showed its heart against Cleveland, giving the Lakers more to think about.

March 08, 2009|Mark Heisler

Never underestimate

the heart of a Celtic

We don't know who's best, but we know who's toughest, or here's something to remember if that day comes that the Lakers face the Celtics this spring:

Boston 105, Cleveland 94.

The Celtics did it without Kevin Garnett, and with Glen "Big Baby" Davis, booted early in the second half but still combining for 30 points with Leon Powe.

If the Lakers haven't figured it out from last spring, when they were favored, to this spring, when they'd be bigger favorites with Andrew Bynum: The Celtics are either better than anyone realizes, or no one rises to the occasion and raises their game the way they do.

In either case, someone will have to beat them. They're not going away.

Some people who

are going away

Reborn or not, as a Phoenix Sun, Shaquille O'Neal fit as well as he did as a jockey, dwarfing the horse he rides in that commercial.

Not that the Suns may have to worry much longer as playoffs hopes fade, with owner Robert Sarver, who faces a big tax bill, running around like Chicken Little.

Insiders say Shaq wants out. His recent tear came after reports he was almost traded.

Said teammate Grant Hill: "Shaq plays better when he's mad."

Hill also told the Orlando Sentinel, "I don't know whether everybody will be back or everybody will be gone. . . . If not, my agent will find a place to play."

You don't tug on

Superman's cape

O'Neal averaged 27 points in his last five games, sneering at rising stars such as Toronto's Chris Bosh ("the RuPaul of big men") and Orlando's Dwight Howard ("Everything he's done, I've invented, so I'm not impressed.")

In Orlando, where Howard outscored Shaq, 21-19, and Coach Stan Van Gundy joked about the flop he took, O'Neal called his former coach "a bum" who would "panic" and "quit" as he had in Miami.

When Pat Riley fired Van Gundy and took over in Miami, O'Neal was so discreet, Riley got all the heat.

In retrospect, what chance is there Shaq wasn't involved?

More people who

are going away

Amid speculation Golden State Coach Don Nelson benched Jamal Crawford to get him to opt out, Monta Ellis already wants out.

The Contra Costa Times' Marcus Thompson said Ellis, angry that the team still reserves the right to void his contract because of his moped accident, has been late to everything and skipped last week's photo shoot.

Meanwhile, Nelson called off his bench-a-veteran-a-game experiment.

"I've already talked about it enough," he said. "I've explained the reasons why, how we're doing it. Everything's fine. Read the paper. It's in the paper, OK? I'm all done."

Eastern philosophy

Houston's Dikembe Mutombo, who wants teammate Yao Ming to block more shots, recently celebrated when Yao was called for a foul, trying to take a charge.

"Good," Mutombo said. "He has to learn that he's too big to think he's going to get those calls. Maybe if he gets more going against him, he'll stop it."

Said Yao: "I learned that move in the CBA [Chinese Basketball Assn.]. Tell Deke it takes skill to move your feet."

Said Mutombo: "Now I know why China never won the Asian Cup."

-- Mark Heisler

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