The Boston Celtics lost their second straight game for the first time in the 2007-08 campaign Monday night, raising questions about the team's makeup and commitment, its ability to cope with defense and a growing disinterest with the season, even though it's only approaching the mid-point.
The 88-83 home loss to the Washington Wizards sparked talk about trading Kevin Garnett, who led the team with just 23 points on 8-of-17 field-goal shooting. It was the kind of sub-50 percent shooting night the Celts were warned could happen when they acquired the forward, a frequent all-star who played on lousy Minnesota Timberwolves teams for years and couldn't make them a winner. Garnett also missed a free throw.
Team officials refused to comment about their sending out trade feelers, although one official close to the situation said Garnett never struck him as a good player, and it might be difficult to unload him after back-to-back losses.
Fans weren't blaming the skid entirely on Garnett, but the mood was dour at many Boston bars, where the New England Patriots' playoff run and undefeated season have become old news, and the Red Sox' 2007 World Series title seems like ages ago. Crabby Beantown fans haven't had anything to bitch and moan about for days.
Many absolved Paul Pierce (18 points) and Ray Allen (16) of any wrongdoing, saying they aren't as tall as Garnett and don't play as close to the basket as he does. Celtics' officials said the team, which has an NBA-best 30-6 record, better turn things around soon or the ax will fall. In a show of mounting disgust, fans have already started Celtics' ticket bonfires around the city, giving at least the homeless something to cheer in the bitter January weather.
Celtics' management announced it will give rebates on future ticket sales to spur interest in the team again.
Meanwhile, Jessica Simpson was spotted in the vicinity of the TD Banknorth Garden, all but confirming that she and Garnett are now an item. The glassy-eyed tuna fish connoisseur has apparently jettisoned love-interest Tony Romo after the quarterback screwed up the Dallas Cowboys' season with an upset loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.
One Celtics' official said off the record that it looked to him as though Garnett was distracted during Monday's game, which may account for the rumor circulating on fan blogs that Garnett promised to score a basket for a sick kid. The blogs said he "played gingerly" the whole night.
"I scored that basket in the first quarter for crying out loud," Garnett said. "It wasn't that hard. Seriously."
One fan growled that Garnett should stop scoring baskets for sick kids and start scoring them for the Celtics.