BOSTON — Entering Monday’s contest with the New Orleans Pelicans, Boston Celtics rookie Robert Williams had played in just nine games this season, never logging more than eight minutes in a single contest.
He set a career high in minutes by a wide margin Monday, and he made the most of his time on the floor.
The rookie received 25:30 of work, and for good chunks of it was tasked with trying to neutralize one of the NBA’s best players in Anthony Davis. It was an unenviable task, indeed, and Davis dropped a cool 41 points with seven rebounds. But what people will remember from Boston’s 113-100 win, at least in Celtics circles, are two plays that stunned the TD Garden crowd.
Twice in the victory Williams blocked a shot by Davis, with the building erupting both times it happened. The first instance came in the first quarter, with Williams swatting away Davis at the rim. Williams did it again in the fourth, and while it wasn’t as authoritative as the first rejection, he blocked it straight up and corralled the ball himself.
After the game, Williams responded like a commensurate professional when asked about denying Davis twice.
“Just felt like a block,” Williams said. “I feel like it’s my job defensively.”
Not only did Williams block Davis twice, but he out-rebounded him 11-7 as well. Though the league hasn’t been exposed much to Williams just yet, suffice to say Davis has — and he had plenty of good things to say.
“He did a good job,” Davis said of Williams. “He blocked a couple shots, got a couple dunks. He plays hard. If he keeps working on it he’s going to get better.
“I thought he was going to go for the pump fake, but he didn?t,” Davis added. “I just tried to shoot over. He?s good, he talented. A good defensive player.”
Williams has a long way to go before he’s universally respected around the NBA, but making big defensive plays against Davis isn’t a bad way to get some folks’ attention.