BOSTON -- Mike D'Antoni fired back at armchair coaches who criticized him, and the team, for not getting the ball to Amar'e Stoudemire in the final two minutes after the all-star power forward was dominating in the fourth quarter.
His lengthy, somewhat rambling reply wasn't quite a rant, but it was defiant:
"I love people that maybe didn't watch the game. I don't know, because I went back when I heard that and go, at the two minute and a half mark, Amar'e scores a basket. We went to him almost every time up to that point. The next time we went down was at the two minute mark, and he charged. Then at a minute-fourty, we come down, we ran a play for him and they kind of knocked him off of it and overplayed him and we had to go; I think that's when Chauncey got hurt and he had an opening to the basket. You know, our guys can't be robots. They've got to play. But every play that was called was for Amar'e, they did a couple, two things well to snuff it out. One time we got Ronny straight to the rim that got a block, kicked it back out to Carmelo for a three, he was wide open and missed the three. So the team, the players, Amar'e, we were going to him and I think there was four possessions after the last time he scored, we tried to go to him on all four. They did a good job on a couple and one we thought we saw something else and it just happened. Our team, we talked about it, they were great, they were trying to do what you should do."
(Inhale, exhale...follow-up question about the idea of having two stars allows you to switch to the second when the defense adjusts to the first guy):
"Again, without knowing what's going to happen, you would say in the last 10 years who's the best at closing games? Let's go away from him. You just don't do that. Now, you try to get Amar'e involved, but he comes out like a storm and we didn't go to Amar'e, like it's a capital offense. We did go to him and we tried to go to him. Give Boston credit, you've got Garnett, who may be the best defensive player in the last century, draped on him and we didn't quite get it done or whatever. But I'm comfortable with what the team's mindset was going down the stretch, what they tried to do. We've just got to do a little bit better of a job."
Sometimes these media scrums can be therapeutic for a coach.
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* - Paul Pierce is known for being a trash-talker on the court, but Carmelo Anthony said so far there hasn't been much conversation between the two all-star forwards.
"I don't do no talking, I don't get into all that," Anthony said. "I play the game, I don't talk. I let the other players do that."
"No, actually, he don't really be talking when I'm out on the court with him," he replied. "At least not to me."
* - With Chauncey Billups out, not only is there more emphasis on Toney Douglas' play, but rookie Landry Fields becomes more important, as well, because Douglas will have to focus most of his attention on Rajon Rondo rather than Ray Allen. Fields looked a bit overwhelmed on offense -- his three attempts looked rushed and rattled -- but defensively there was no question he came prepared. Allen wasn't much of a factor in the first half (2-for-3, six points) and Fields did a nice job staying locked on him.
Fields playd 14:42 in the first half, but only 4:20 in the second half, when Allen went off for 18 points, including the game-winning three. D'Antoni admitted he kept Fields on the bench because of offense and said he needs to show more trust in Fields. "I would be better served if I had more patience," D'Antoni said.
* - I think Amar'e has had it with me referencing his dead-legs period in March by making such a big deal about how dominant he looked in the second half against KG. "I feel great," he said. "Again, you guys keep channeling that crazy month of March for us . . . My body felt the same, we just had a totally different strategy to try to get used to. So there's nothing changed. And the playoffs always bring the best out of me, so it's going to get better as this thing goes on."