Lee wears many hats against Blazers

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Lee wears many hats against Blazers

BOSTON For weeks, Courtney Lee has been the last man off the floor for Boston following practices.

During his post-practice time, you can often find him working with assistant coaches on his ball-handling, seemingly aware that he just might have to play some point guard for the C's in the very near future.

With Rajon Rondo serving a two-game suspension beginning with Friday night's game against Portland, Lee was back in the starting lineup in the backcourt.

And while Lee is a much different kind of playmaker than Rondo, it didn't hurt that he had a Rondo-like night in helping the Celtics to a 96-78 win.

Lee spent the second half trending towards a triple-double before finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

"Defensively he did a good job on his man," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "He's out there getting four or five assists tonight, he just shows you flashes of what he's capable of."

Said Lee, who has had only two double-digit scoring games this season with both coming when Rondo was out of the lineup: "That's what you gotta do. Rondo is a great playmaker, the guy's gonna rack up a lot of assists, so we just have to play within the offense, move the ball around, and you see the assists were spread out throughout the whole team."

Filling the void left by Rondo was just one of the many hats worn by Lee against the Blazers.

Defensively he spent time chasing around Portland's point guard Damian Lillard, shooting guard Wes Matthews and small forward Nicholas Batum who each present a different challenge that Lee proved he was up to handling. Those three combined to shoot 6-for-25 from the field.

"It's tough, man," Lee said of juggling so many different assignments. "You have to be in good shape. I take it as a challenge. Anytime Doc tells me to guard somebody, it's my personal challenge. That's one thing I can look at individually, if I can keep my man from scoring it's going to better the team defense. I accept those challenges."

Following the game, there were plenty of players that Rivers praised for their play, a group that included Lee.

"Courtney was great," Rivers said. "You could see Courtney is getting better and better at what we're asking him to do. He's bought in completely, which you can see that."

The one area that Lee has surprisingly struggled at is shooting the ball.

A career 38.2 percent shooter on 3s, Lee is connecting on just 21.7 percent of his 3s thus far this season.

When the C's traded for Lee, they added him in part because of his ability to shoot 3s. Only former Celtic Ray Allen was a better corner 3-point shooter than Lee last season.

"His shot will fall," Rivers said. "I feel like with him, with Avery (Bradley) last year, where I kept telling you guys 'Avery can shoot' and you guys were looking at me like I was a Martian. And then he started making them. And Courtney is proving he can. He's getting wide open ones, and eventually they'll fall."

Regardless of whether his shot is falling, Lee says his approach to every game has to be the same.

"I just gotta go in there with the mindset of being aggressive at all times," he said.

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

BOSTON – The trip to the TD Garden is one that Jared Sullinger has made many times but never like this. 

The former Celtic was back in town with his new team, the Toronto Raptors who signed him to a one-year, $5.6 million deal after the Celtics rescinded their qualifying offer to him and thus made him an unrestricted free agent. 

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“I had a feeling it was going to go that way once they signed big Al (Horford), that they were going to let me go,” Sullinger said prior to Friday’s game.  “We were prepared for it. It is what it is. I’m happy these guys are doing well.”

And he hopes to say the same for himself sometime in the future after undergoing surgery to have a screw inserted in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot – the same foot he had season-ending surgery on during the 2014-2015 season with the Celtics. 

There’s no specific timetable as to when he’ll be back on the floor, and Sullinger is cool with that plan. 

“I don’t know. They’re hiding the protocol from me so I won’t rush; we’ll see,” said Sullinger who is still in a walking boot. 

The 6-foot-9 forward played well in the preseason and solidified himself as the team’s starting power forward. 

Now that he’s out with another injury, he’ll have to once again try and prove himself either later this season when he returns, or this summer when he becomes a free agent again.

For now, Sullinger is happy to be back in town, seeing lots of familiar faces, friends and ex-teammates that he says he still keeps in close contact with. 

“Some of these guys I considered like brothers to me,” Sullinger said. “IT (Isaiah Thomas), Jae Crowder to name a few. So I watch from a distance, I support from a distance. They’re playing well.”

In addition to his former teammates, the lines of communication remained open between him and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens as well. 

Stevens said the two exchanged text messages right before he had foot surgery, and afterwards. 

“Obviously, everyone here wishes a speedy recovery and hopefully he gets back on the court soon,” Stevens said. 

Sullinger has been an effective player during his time in the NBA, with career averages of 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 

But this will be the third time in his five NBA seasons that he will miss a significant amount of time on the court due to an injury or recovering from an injury. 

Stevens acknowledged that he feels for Sullinger who once again has to go through rehabilitation in order to get back on the floor.

“I like Jared a lot,” Stevens said. “He’s a heck of a player, he’s a really smart guy. Got a lot of respect for him and it stinks that he’s got to go through that but he’ll come back strong I’m sure.”