The Pacers and Celtics have somewhat of an understated rivalry.
Going back to the 1980s, Larry Bird and The Rifleman Chuck Person always had heated battles — both by continually drilling dagger threes on one another and continually telling the other guy about it all game long.
More recently, the Pacers and the Cs played in the First Round of the Playoffs for three consecutive years from 2003-05 (the Pacers won the last two series. Serieses? Seriesi?) Since then, they have had somewhat of a Trading Places sort of fate-reversal with the Ron Artest saga ranking as only slightly less disappointing than Reggie Lewis’ death.
But more than any sort of weird grudge or heightened intensity associated with this borderline rivalry, it just seems that strange things tend to happen when these two teams step on the court.
In the 2003 Playoffs, for example, they played an overtime game where the Celtics didn’t score a single point in the extra period. Not one. In fact, the Pacers didn’t score for the first 3:52 of the five minutes either and neither team scored in the final 2:01 of regulation (Indiana won by scoring five points in overtime — one jump shot and three free throws). In all, that makes five minutes and fifty-three seconds of scoreless basketball in a hard-fought, intense NBA Playoff game that went into overtime. I’m not sure if that is unprecedented, but it sure is weird.
Then last year, Celtics reserve guard Tony Allen, who had been playing pretty well early in the year, blew out his ACL while attempting to dunk the basketball after a whistle had stopped play. It was like an NBA version of the Milton Bradley comedy of errors minus the quintessential douche-baggery he invariably brings to the table.
And now, in Saturday’s game in Indiana, Danny Granger, who signed a five-year, $60 million contract extension about 24 hours before tip-off (which proves Larry Bird is an avid Both Teamster), lost both of his front teeth while diving for a loose ball and having Paul Pierce’s entire weight smash his face into the hardwood.
From the way the shattered dental shrapnel looked lying on the court and since there was very little blood, it seems they were apparently false teeth that he had had installed some time back. But it still must have hurt like hell and Granger’s reaction was priceless nonetheless. While still lying on the floor, he ran his hand along the court to search for the teeth that had formerly been in his mouth. Then he simply jumped up and ran by the Pacers bench towards the training room, only letting his coach, Jim O’Brien, know what had happened by flashing a smile that showed his now-vacant gumholes as he jogged off.
“It was a hell of a hustle play. He pressured Pierce, got a deflection and dove face first to get the ball. I went to congratulate him and he smiled at me and I saw what happened. It’s ironic that’s a play made by a guy who just signed a long term deal and wants to help us get back in the playoffs.”
(The time it rained on Jimmy’s wedding day was also ironic.)
But just as fast as Danny ran off the court, he was back, missing only a TV timeout and maybe a minute of action.
Further adding to the moment was when Granger got back into the game. As he was checking back in at the scorers table, he initially put in a mouth guard, but immediately cast it aside on second thought, presumably realizing that wearing one now would be like putting on a seatbelt after a car crash.
He had gotten off to a great start in Indiana’s utter shallacking of the Champs (Indy Cornrows covered it live) and although I don’t think he hit another jumper after he returned, he continued to play well overall and watching him shoot toothless free throws on one of his first possessions back was particularly entertaining.
In the end, let’s just hope that $60 million extension included dental.
UPDATE: I’m still not 100% positive that the knocked-out teeth in question were fake, but this note reminded me that Granger required some other dental surgery after taking a Kobe Bryant elbow to the mug like two years ago, which is the likely reason why he would have falsies.
Danny Granger had a front tooth knocked out of place while guarding Kobe Bryant last night.
The rookie got three shots to numb the pain and had the teeth yanked back into place by the team’s dentist. “It was the worst pain of my life,” he said. “I was squeezing his hands and screaming as loud as I could. I could hear it cracking when he pulled (the tooth) back. I think my root cracked.”
UPDATE: Don’t have a link, but they were real. He and the Pacer announcers said as much on TV. That musta hurt like a bitch.