In his first five minutes against the Celtics tonight, Ron Artest has ;

a) hit a three-pointer and another long jumper
b) hauled down a rebound in heavy traffic
c) forced a turnover leading to a fast-break basket by Brad Miller (Artest with the assist)
d) harrassed Paul Pierce into travelling.

Not bad for a guy who hasn’t played in 7 weeks.

(UPDATE : Tied at 41 with two minutes left in the first half ; there was a massive ovation for Wally Szczerbiak when he checked in for Raef LaFrentz a moment ago. They love those pale guys who can’t play D down at North Station. 9 points, two rebounds, one assist and one steal for Artest, who looks like he could really use a nap. Tommy Heinson, the biggest homer this side of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, boldly proclaimed that if Artest “ever gets his emotions in check, he could be a perennial All-Star”. )

(UPDATE 2 : Celtics win, 84-74. Szcerbiak, the 5th leading scorer for the home team with 10 points, was interviewed right after the buzzer as the Garden fans chanted “Wally, Wally”. I’m sure the chanting will be just as loud whenever Michael Olowokandi makes his C’s debut.)

At MSG tonight, the Knicks clung to a two point lead with less than 30 seconds remaining and Jamal Crawford was fouled on an inbounds pass. Though he converted the 2nd of two free throws, that was after Stevie Franchise (36 points, 14 in the 4th quarter) tried to psych Crawford out with an accidently-on-purpose bump at the line. Mike Breem called it “a smart move”, though it seemed pretty bush league from this vantage point. Eddie Curry and Channing Frye combined for 45 points in the New York win. In a week in which Isiah Thomas has taken a terrible beating, it should be stressed that his trade for Curry and drafting of Frye could well help the club long after he’s fired.