On November 2, 2007, Kevin Garnett pulled a white Celtics jersey over his shoulders, pounded his head onto the green padding of the stanchion, and took to the floor for his first official game as a member of the Boston Celtics. He finished that night with 22 points and 20 rebounds. It was the last 20-20 game from a member of the Boston Celtics.
Jared Sullinger had 25 points and 20 rebounds in a streak-snapping win over the Toronto Raptors. And if you’re regurgitating over the dramatics that started this recap, just know that it’s only a way to pretty up what was an abysmal fourth quarter during which neither team seemed to be particularly interested in winning.
Let’s go back to the start of the game, where Celtics hung tough thanks to some good ball-protection (zero first quarter turnovers) and aggressiveness that translated into free throws. The Celtics finished the first down two, but were only down two thanks to a 7-0 advantage from the line.
Avery Bradley decided to mix things up and score in the second quarter this time around, carrying the Celtics with 14 points in the quarter and a halftime lead. Mind you, this all came after he left the court with a bruised shooting hand. Sullinger, meanwhile, spent the quarter strictly chomping glass, grabbing eight of his 20 boards in the second.
Then it was time for Sully to take over. He had 20 and 11 in the second half alone, hitting on six of nine shots from the field and seven of the 10 free throws he took. Unfortunately two of the missed free throws came in the final minute, but we’ll look past that because he followed those misses with four makes that helped seal the win. Seven of Sullinger’s rebounds were on the offensive glass in the second half alone (eight were overall).
The Celtics, though, can’t stand success this season. Their 18 point lead dwindled all the way down to three with more than four minutes to go. The Raptors, though, couldn’t close in any further. The Raptors missed seven of the nine shots they took in the last four and a half minutes while turning the ball over three times. The Celtics gave them openings on which they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, capitalize.
I’m not going to lie, There were large chunks of this game that were un-watchable. And as Mike Gorman said during the last minute of the broadcast, “they’re not sending this fourth quarter to Springfield.” Still, the Celtics won, and now they get Rondo back.
Phil Pressey had his first career 10-assist game. He did a very good job pushing the tempo, and he’s proving to be a very capable NBA player. He struggled with his shot, but he’s showing that there’s a place somewhere on the bench for him.
Stevens on Pressey: “I thought he was absolutely terrific. I thought when things got tough, he got tough. I thought he pulled guys together”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 16, 2014
What more can I say about Sullinger?
Sullinger and Pressey are going to overshadow another big night from Avery Bradley. How’s this for a stat: Tonight was Avery Bradley’s 16th game scoring 20 points or more. 10 of them have come this season. Oh… guess who’s a restricted free agent regarded as strictly a defensive specialist?
Let’s give Gerald Wallace some love. I know he’s shooting his mouth off, but 7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals off the bench is pretty good. And his lone assist was a touchdown pass that brought back memories of Grant Hill-to-Christian Laettner.
Wait… I HATED THAT PLAY!
Anyway, nice game out of Gerald. They won, so he should be happy tonight.
Look, I’m going to just be real about Jeff Green. This is what he is… equal parts awesome and frustrating. He’s tantalizing and disappointing at the same time. He’s got the look, the feel, and occasionally the game of a “next level” guy, but it’s just not going to be there every night. It’s not. And sometimes, those “not there” nights are strung together. He was 4-16 tonight for 13 points, but he was absent for long stretches.
I like Green. I want so badly for him to find that…. thing…. that makes him be great. But let’s be honest, if Kevin Garnett couldn’t pull the “asshole” Jeff out of him, who can? Rondo?
Jerryd Bayless didn’t make a shot. Ouch.
Pressey to Bradley on the break
Gerald Wallace with the steal and dunk
- Celtics starters: 70 points. Celtics bench: 18 points.
- Rebounds: Celtics 58-44
- Points in the Paint: Raptors 24, Celtics 32
- Second Chance Points: Raptors 11, Celtics 25
- Fastbreak Points: Raptors 6, Celtics 13
- Celtics: 34.5% fg - Raptors: 38.5% fg (maybe I should have put that under “gross”?)
Did I mention that Rajon Rondo is probably coming back Friday?
Brad Stevens on Rajon Rondo: “If Rondo comes back Friday he’s only going to play 18-20 minutes.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 16, 2014
The entire Red’s Army team (except our new rookie Chris, whom we’ve bullied into recap duties on Friday) will be at the game on Friday night. If you’re there, hit me up on Twitter and come say hi.