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Oklahoman Published: November 5, 2008

P.J.: Celtics still team to beat

The Celtics lost key reserve James Posey to New Orleans, but Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo said they are essentially the same team that won the NBA title and 66 games last season. Carlesimo said Boston was the best defensive team in the league a year ago and is an underrated passing team.

"They’re the team to beat,” Carlesimo said. "At the 2 and 3 that’s as good as it gets with Ray (Allen) and Paul (Pierce). It’s as impressive a trio as you can have with Kevin Garnett. Rajon Rondo had an excellent year. And they really get you off the bench, too. Their bench people don’t hold the fort, sometimes they change the game.”

Thunder signs 7-footer

The Thunder has signed Steven Hill, a 7-foot center out of Arkansas. Hill averaged 4.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots as a senior and was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year his junior season. Undrafted, Hill was one of Portland’s final cuts.

"We worked him out twice in the summer,” Carlesimo said. "He’s not threatening to get in the rotation. We’re still trying to get Robert (Swift) and Mo (Sene) in the rotation. But he’s healthy, he can defend and block shots. As quick as he can learn (our system) he’s a guy we’ll evaluate and figure out whether he can help us.”

Hill, from Branson, Mo., was in Fayetteville, Ark., when he got a call late Sunday night.

"I knew a few teams were interested,” Hill said.


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