Leon Powe: I must start with some full disclosure here. I am a big Powe fan. It’s hard not to be knowing his story. Leon came through though with another impressive fourth quarter performance highlighted by a thunderous dunk off a dish by Paul Pierce with five minutes remaining to put the Celtics up 10.
Powe logged the entire final period much like he did last Friday in New York and rewarded Rivers trust in him with a seven point quarter. He finished the night with 11 points and six rebounds on 3-3 shooting and the Celtics were +11 with him on the floor.
With Ray Allen injured and Kevin Garnett invisible for much of the 2nd half, Rivers needed the bench to come through and Powe answered the call. In my estimation the Celtics are a different team with a confident Leon Powe wreaking havoc down low. With an effective 24 minute performance like this Powe took another step in staking claim to the title off best big man option off the pine.
Doc Rivers’ Bench Management: I touched on a few of Doc’s options in handling the Celtics bench on Tuesday given Tony’s Allen’s injury. The situation became more desperate once Ray Allen did not come out of the tunnel after halftime due to a thumb injury.
With both Allen’s out Rivers faced a daunting challenge in how he would handle the final 24 minutes against Hornets team with a significant height advantage at SG over the Celts options.
Rivers managed the scenario to perfection however sticking Gabe Pruitt in at SG for the 3rd quarter in an effort to tread water and have the remainder of the starting five in help offset Pruitt’s liabilities.
This move also enabled Rivers to insert a fully rested Eddie House for the duration of the 4th quarter. House responded with three jumpers including two threes in the first five minutes of the fourth to help extend the Celtics lead from 3 to 12.
Rajon Rondo: The point guard provided a spark as well in the 4th quarter playing with the bench unit. Rondo generally has not seen much time with the second team but his performance with them tonight should give Rivers some consideration on whether to make it a more regular occurrence.
The bench’s main problem offensively as a team has been an inability to move the ball on offense with any kind of flow. With Rondo last night it was a different story. He pushed the ball in transition and created ball movement in which he found the gaps within New Orleans half court defense which allowed Powe and House more open looks than they would regularly see with the normal 2nd unit.
Grant it, Rondo and House makes for a very small backcourt but if the two can hold their own defensively it would make for an more effective unit with Powe and Big Baby off the bench. Rondo is only averaging 33 minutes a game so the young stud could handle the few extra minutes Pierce and Ray usually see.
Paul Pierce vs. Peja Stojakovic: Pierce carried this team for three quarters last night, abusing Peja’s matador defense to the tune of an efficient 30 points on 10/19 shooting. Once again, Pierce brought it on the defensive end too limiting Stojakovic to 25 percent shooting including 1/6 from three point land. All in all it was another heroic performance by Pierce to step up when the team needed it to get the team back on the winning track.