By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON — So this is what Rasheed Wallace looks like when he's rolling.
Games like Wednesday's 18-point effort have been few and far between for Wallace this season, which adds to the disappointment the Celtics felt following their 109-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It was a game in which Wallace seemingly did all the things Boston will want him to do when the playoffs begin next month.
He defended Oklahoma City's big men in the paint.
He helped out on high pick-and-roll plays.
And maybe most significant, he scored most of his points around the basket, an area he often stays away from like the way Kevin Durant avoids scoring slumps.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers isn't making too big a deal about Wallace's scoring outburst, which was just one point less than he scored in Boston's four previous games combined.
"He just played well," Rivers said. "It's a human game. You know, you can struggle a whole year and you keep working and it may turn on you. That's why I don't stay in the past very long. You just hope he keeps working and keeps improving."
The Celtic bandwagon has been kind of like the team: up and down, all season.
Rivers understands this, but he's not the least bit concerned with how others outside the C's locker room views his club.
"Either you're on the bandwagon or you're off. I tell guys that all the time," Rivers said. "That's the way I think. And that's how our team should think."
His focus, win or lose, remains the same: keep getting better.
"I'm not going to spend time trying to convince you to dislike us or like us," Rivers said. "That's up to you guys. Our team has to just keep working. We can't stay in the past."
Both Boston and Oklahoma City came into Wednesday's game ranked among the NBA's top 10 teams in scoring defense.
You wouldn't have known that by the way both teams knocked down one shot after another for most of the game.
The Celtics wound up shooting 59.5 percent for the game.
"I've never been, in all my 15 years, part of a team where you shoot 60 percent and still lose," said Celtics big man Rasheed Wallace.
Said Rivers: "Either both teams were horrendous defensively tonight - because one team [Oklahoma City] shot 51 . . . and one shot 59.5. That's good offense."
Rivers added, "It was a good night for basketball if you're a fan to watch. I'd take the 80-79 game, personally. It was a good night, except for we lost."
Free throws played a major factor in Wednesday's loss, especially when you consider Kevin Durant was 15-for-15 by himself while the entire Celtics' team was 13-for-17. While Durant is used to spending a good chunk of time at the line, Wednesday's 15 free throw attempts was about five more than he usually gets.
"I thought we were playing Michael [beep] Jordan tonight the way he was getting the whistle," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "Durant damn near shot more free throws than our whole team."
A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sherrodb