Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/18/12
Courtney Lee has all the tools. He can shoot, jump, run, dribble and defend. With all those skills, the biggest question is why the 27-year-old Western Kentucky product is on his fourth team in five NBA seasons. A quick rundown of the point guards Lee has played with in his career may help explain why. Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic are all solid players with varying high points in their careers, but none is a distinguished floor general. Lee, who is known for being able to finish on the break and hit an open jumper but cannot always create his own shot, would have benefited from playing a true playmaker. Lee finally may have found that playmaker in Boston. Using the most uncomplicated of offensive strategies -- run out ahead of the defense, catch a pass, score a layup -- Lee piled up 18 points to tie Paul Pierce for the game's high in the Celtics' 115-85 win over the Brooklyn Nets in a preseason game Thursday. Lee hardly had to take a shot from beyond 10 feet as he shot 8-for-12 from the field. He made a few nice individual plays, to be sure, such as a step-back jumper that thunked through the nylon. But most of the time he simply reaped the benefits of Rajon Rondo's awareness and deft passing, which in turn had been facilitated by Lee and the Celtics' strong defense. (Lee had four steals to help Boston forced 19 steals and hold Brooklyn to 37 percent shooting.) This could be why Lee agreed to a sign-and-trade deal in August when he might have gotten more money as a free agent elsewhere. Rondo could turn out to be a career-maker for the well-traveled shooting guard, who may have only needed a point guard to give him the ball in the right spots. Likewise, Lee appears to be the type of backcourt partner Rondo has dreamed of having -- one who can not only shoot and defend, which Rondo has had in Ray Allen and Avery Bradley, respectively, but who can also beat even Rondo down the floor and finish in traffic. The Celtics count on Lee being able to do all three, and Rondo seemed to enjoy hitting Lee for touchdowns in Brooklyn. ARMOR PIERCED Celtics coach Doc Rivers claims to love the depth of his team, but he would rather not test it this early. Seeing Pierce limp off the court in the second quarter after turning his left ankle therefore must have been unnerving for the coach. Many of the Celtics players are somewhat replaceable in the rotation. Pierce is not one of them. Pierce had his ankle retaped and returned for the second half, so a crisis was averted. The moment still served as a warning, though, that Danny Ainge's best-laid plans are dependent on health and luck, just like anything else. Brandon Bass did sit out the second half with what was described as a bruised right knee, but that was merely precautionary. GREEN CLEANS UP Jeff Green is not an incredible shooter and his athleticism is not off the charts, yet somehow he makes it all work. Green's best quality might be that he never gives up on a play. That was evident when he trailed a play that should have ended with Jason Terry hitting a layup, but the ball spun out of the cylinder. Before any of the Nets players reaction, Green glided in and tipped the ball in. Maybe Green would have made this play anytime, anyway, and he had his share of hustle plays with the Sonics and Thunder and at Georgetown before that. But given his year away from the court, one has to wonder if he appreciates those types of plays a little more. STATS ARE FOR DUMMIES Blowout preseason games generate some weird statistical quirks. The team on the winning side of a whuppin' typically spends a lot of time at the line, but the Celtics never had a chance to get to the foul line in this one. They were too busy running unimpeded to the rim or simply draining unmolested jump shots. The Celtics managed their 20-point victory despite shooting 21 fewer free throws than the Nets. How hot were the Celtics? They were so hot, their shooting percentage actually got better as they moved farther from the hoop. They connected on 11 of 19 shots from 3-point range (58 percent) compared to 48 of 85 overall (56 percent). That is correct: The Celtics shot a better percentage on threes than they did on twos. It was almost like those short shots were too easy for the Celtics in this one. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.
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