No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

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No more Mr. Nice Guy: Sullinger shows nasty side on court

WALTHAM Jared Sullinger is one of the more happy-go-lucky guys you'll find in the NBA.

He answers reporters' questions. He makes sure his veteran teammates have whatever it is they need. He takes Doc Rivers' chiding him to play better with the same level-headed demeanor when Rivers is praising him.

But beyond the nice-guy demeanor is a fiesty, physical banger that doesn't mind showing his nasty side on the floor.

"You don't bring the nice guy on to the floor," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "That's not going to get you anywhere. He understands that."

The nasty side of Sullinger has led to some pretty nice play for the Celtics who come into Friday's game against Houston riding a four-game winning streak.

And Sullinger's play has been instrumental in that run, a run that includes him tallying a career-high 16 rebounds in Boston's win over Phoenix on Wednesday.

"I always had that," Sullinger said. "I'm always aggressive especially when it comes to rebounding. That's just been me since an early age."

He added, "in between the lines I'm a little nasty."

And his teammates absolutely love the balancing act, one that many of them - Garnett included - can relate to.

Like Sullinger, those close to Garnett say the intense, menacing figure you see in games isn't anything like the eloquent, jovial, fun-loving Garnett they see off the court.

"A lot of things he wants to be in the league, I've attained some of them," Garnett said. "So I just try to give him that experience. He asks a lot of questions about ... various topics to be honest; and I share them. A lot of guys don't really open up themselves or share those experiences or stories, etc. And I try to do that."

Garnett added, "Jared's a good guy. He's a guy you want your daughter to bring home. Not saying he doesn't have a mean streak in him. We have a connection and it works."

Especially when you consider that Sullinger (plus-68) and Garnett (plus-43) have the two highest plus-minus ratios on the C's roster this season.

Sullinger attributes some of his nastiness to getting roughed up at times by older siblings.

The 6-foot-9 forward recalled a time when he was much younger and he was playing with his siblings and went up for a lay-up.

"I went up for a lay-up and Julian just pushed me into a pole," Sullinger said.

Bleeding at the time, Jared said he ran home.

"I'm crying to my mom and she said go see your father," Sullinger recalled.

After a brief conversation, Sullinger said his mom cleaned him up, patted him on the back and told him to go back out and play.

It was a tough love moment, one that Sullinger cherishes.

He learned first-hand the value in pulling yourself back up when you literally get knocked down, and keep playing.

That has translated into him being a tireless worker on the boards for the Celtics this season, a player who seems to make those around him better whenever he's on the floor.

As much as Avery Bradley has been credited with Boston's turnaround, there's no way to ignore the fact that Sullinger is seeing more playing time during this current run, either.

This season, Sullinger is averaging 5.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while playing 18.7 minutes per game. During the C's current four-game winning streak he's up to 9.3 points, 12.5 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field in 26.8 minutes per game.

"He's very poised," Garnett said of Sullinger. "You're not going to get under his skin; you're not going to rush him. And just when you think he's backing down, he's in your face."

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

WALTHAM -- You won’t find the Boston Celtics blaming anyone but themselves for Saturday’s 127-123 overtime loss to Portland. 
 
But they certainly didn’t get any breaks down the stretch from the referees, who made a huge officiating mistake in the final seconds of regulation. 

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Following a Celtics miss in the game’s closing seconds, Blazers guard Damian Lillard wound up with the ball but was stripped almost immediately by Marcus Smart, who put the steal back in for a lay-up that would have given Boston a one-point lead with 10.8 seconds to play. 
 
The ruling on the floor at the time was a foul against Smart. But officials later determined as part of their report on the final two minutes of the game, that the foul against Smart was an incorrect call.
 
“It just pisses you off, doesn’t it?” Crowder said. “It just pisses you off. I don’t like it.”
 
Crowder, like a number of players I have spoken to about this particular subject, is not a fan of the league releasing the information. 
 
And his reasoning, like his NBA brethren, is simple. 
 
There’s no recourse relative to that particular game if the officials in fact got a call wrong. 
 
So for their purposes, the transparency that the league is seeking, while just, doesn’t do them a damn bit of good when it comes to what matters most to them. Which is wins and losses. 
 
“It’s over now. It’s too late to confirm it now,” said Smart who told media following the loss that the steal was clean. “The game is over with. It is what it is; on to the next game now.”
 
Smart added that having the league confirm the call was wrong is frustrating. 
 
“They come back and tell you they miss the call, but it’s over now,” Smart said. “We’re on to the next game. It’s like they shouldn’t even said it. But I understand it; they’re trying to take responsibility and show they made a bad call. We appreciate it but at that time as a player it’s frustrating. That possibly could have won us the game.”
 
But as Smart, coach Brad Stevens and other players asked about it mentioned, Boston made so many mistakes against the Blazers and played so uncharacteristically for long stretches that it would be unfair and just not right to pin the game’s outcome on one bad call late in the game. 
 
“It happens,” said Stevens who added that he’s never read a two-minute report other than what he has seen published by the media. “There were plenty of things we could have done better.”
 
He’s right.
 
That blown call didn’t cost the Boston Celtics the game. 
 
Their play did. 
 
The Celtics turned the ball over 21 times that led to 34 points, both season highs. 
 
They couldn’t contain C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, two of the league’s most explosive guards who combined for 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting.
 
Boston allowed Myers Leonard to score a season-high 17 points. 
 
Certainly the bad call against Smart was a factor. 
 
But it would not have been an issue if the Celtics had done a better job of controlling the things they could have controlled, like defending shooters better, making smarter decisions when it came to passing the ball and maybe most significant, play with a higher, more consistent level of aggression around the rim. 

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

WALTHAM -- The team flight to Washington for tomorrow night's game against the Wizards will be a little lighter than the Celtics would like. 
 
Boston continues to be cautious with Avery Bradley and his right Achilles strain injury. Coach Brad Stevens confirmed that the 6-foot-2 guard won't travel and will sit out for the seventh time in the last eight games. 

Stevens added he didn't anticipate Bradley returning to the court anytime this week, which means he's likely not to return until next week's game against Detroit on Jan. 30. 
 
Bradley won’t be the only Celtic not making the trip for health-related reasons. Gerald Green and Demetrius Jackson are both not traveling due to sickness. 
 
However, the Celtics did get a bit of good news on the health front. Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller, both having missed games with sickness, will take the trip to D.C. with the rest of their teammates.