The Celtics have gotten immediate results from two of the three players they acquired at the trade deadline three weeks ago - Isaiah Thomas is off to a blistering start and Jonas Jerebko has provided 8.3 points per game and some much-needed shooting (56.5 percent on 3-pointers) since coming over Detroit.
While his effort couldn't quite lift the Celtics over the Magic Sunday, the third member of Boston's trade infusion got his chance to shine. Luigi Datome may have only played 10 minutes, but he contributed ten points and made a pair of 3-pointers. He trailed one fast break perfectly for a 3-pointer, drove baseline for a dunk on a broken play and even submitted a decent Dirk Nowitzki impression on a one-legged fadeaway jumper.
With the offense bogging down in the third quarter, Brad Stevens brought Datome out of his bench hibernation to see if the Italian forward could give the Celtics some juice. Boston was +6 in Datome's limited run, and the 27-year-old forward even added a pair of blocks.
Stevens told reporters he was pleased with Datome's impact after the game. From Zack Cox of NESN:
“I felt like Gigi would step right in and be able to score, and he was able to score (Sunday night). He did a good job. And we needed scoring, because we weren’t getting scoring because we weren’t playing strong enough. We weren’t staying in our lanes well enough. We were trying to do things that sometimes you do, but we’ve got to do those less.”
Datome had played a total of 19 minutes during his first eight games in Boston, all coming in the end of one-sided blowouts. He appeared in just three games for Detroit before the trade and had a total of 18 points this season coming into Sunday's game.
A successful player in Italy who was the Italian League MVP in 2013, the 6-foot-8 forward hasn't gotten much run during his two seasons in the NBA. But he hasn't made a stink in the locker room and continues to wait for his chance.
Gigi gets his chance (10p/9:33): "I would never complain with coach. I just try to be a positive teammate and be ready for my opportunity."— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) March 9, 2015
It's far more likely that this is a blip on the radar than a true breakout performance. Datome isn't part of the Celtic's long-term plans and is behind several more promising players on the depth chart. But if the Celtics need a quick spark or some long-range shooting in isolated scenarios, Datome might be worth a look in some games. He won't always shoot as proficiently as he did against Orlando, but his timely outburst gave the Celtics new life Sunday night.
Photo credit: Willie J. Allen, Jr., Associated Press ImagesDan Hoppen 3/09/2015 10:02:00 AM Tweet Edit