Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

AROUND THE NBA ; Little Man Thomas Playing Bigger Than Ever for Boston

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

AROUND THE NBA ; Little Man Thomas Playing Bigger Than Ever for Boston

Article excerpt

When 6-foot-10, 240-pound Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng flattened 5-9 Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas with a moving screen, the fiery underdog popped right up and got right in Dieng's face to let him know he wasn't about to be pushed around. Thomas has never let his smaller frame hold him back from excelling in the land of giants. In his sixth season in the league, Thomas is playing bigger than ever.

The Boston Celtics guard is averaging a career-high 26.1 points and has helped the Celtics stay afloat while Al Horford and Jae Crowder missed big chunks of time with injuries. Thomas is averaging more than nine free throw attempts per game, using that fearlessness that turned him into an All-Star to drive the Celtics offense.

"He puts pressure on the defense just because he is in constant attack mode, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "He's always live. He's always a threat and he's got great explosion in his drives.

Dieng's screen on Thomas, and the fiery guard's reaction, woke the Celtics up in the second half and helped spark a rally from 13 points down to start the fourth quarter to a 99-93 victory.

"I mean, I'm already little, man, Thomas said of his reaction to Dieng's screen. "You don't need to hit me that hard to get your man open. But when they try to take me out, that's when I get a little (angry).

Now that Horford has returned from nine games off because of a concussion and Crowder is working his way back from a sprained left ankle, the Celtics are positioning themselves to start taking off. They play at Miami on Monday, host Detroit and Sacramento on Wednesday and Friday and finish the week at Philadelphia as they try to work their way up the Eastern Conference ladder.

And even though Horford got the big payday over the summer, the green still revolves around the smallest guy on the roster.

WELCOME BACK

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