CHICAGO Although he won't admit it, the best thing for Brandon Bass on Monday night might have been suffering a dislocated right ring finger.
It allowed him to focus his mind on something other than his play, which seemed to be just what both he and the Celtics needed in Monday's 101-95 win over Chicago.
Boston delivered what was as close as a team victory as they've had this season. But there was no mistaking the impact made by Bass, who finished with 16 points on 5-for-6 shooting, five rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocked shots.
And those numbers don't even begin to account for what he provided the C's in terms of his defense.
He has had bigger games scoring the ball and rebounding-wise since he has been in Boston. But Monday's performance was about as a complete a game as the Celtics have had from him since he's been a member of the Green team.
And to think that it came on a night in which he had to overcome playing with a injury to one of his fingers on his shooting hand, too.
"It probably made me stop thinking about my game so much," Bass said. "Just thinking about going out there helping the team anyway."
Did he ever.
"That's the Brandon we need every night," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "I told him, 'it doesn't matter if his shot is going in or not. When you play with that intensity defensively, good things are always going to happen.'"
That's why Rivers was especially pleased that the play that pretty much sealed the Celtics victory was a dunk by Bass with 22.4 seconds to play which put the C's ahead 99-93.
"He was rewarded for his effort," Rivers said.
Bass has repeatedly said that expanding his game to be more than just a pick-and-pop scorer was a priority this summer.
"I just feel I have to, defensively," Bass said. "This team, before I got here, when you came to Boston you worried about them defensively. You worried about them offensively. I just wanted to do my part, and do it to the best of my ability."
His efforts, both in terms of his play and how he fought through the dislocation of his right ring finger to keep playing, did not go unnoticed by his teammates.
"That was just another test," said Boston's Jason Terry. "Throughout the course of a season and a game, there's going to be situations ... are you going to man up, and tough it up, and fight through it? And Brandon showed tonight that he is obviously one of the toughest players on this team."
Kevin Garnett also viewed Bass' play as being instrumental in the Celtics (4-3) moving past the .500 mark for the first time this season.
"B.B. played well tonight," Garnett said. "From an energy standpoint, I thought we followed his lead tonight. Not just that, but I thought his defense fueled his offense. I'm happy for him."