Pierce: Sullinger to NBA's Rookie-Sophomore game 'a no brainer'

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Pierce: Sullinger to NBA's Rookie-Sophomore game 'a no brainer'

BOSTON -- Paul Pierce didn't hesitate on his answer.When asked if he thought Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger should be named to the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend in February, the team captain hardly took any time to respond."Oh yeah," he said. "I think that's like a no brainer."Formerly referred to as the Rookie-Sophomore Game, the event will feature two teams made up of both first and second-year players. Sullinger has made a strong case to be included on the roster.He ranks fourth among all rookies in rebounding with 5.9 boards per game, behind only New Orleans Hornets Anthony Davis (7.8), Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond (7.3), and Charlotte Bobcats Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (6.5). In spite of averaging less than 20 minutes per game, Sullinger has grabbed 217 rebounds, trailing only Drummond and Kidd-Gilchrist. When it comes to offensive rebounds -- a coveted skill among bigs -- Sullinger is also third with 77.The 20 year old has emerged on a team full of veterans. Unlike other rookies who were immediately given a significant role when they were drafted, Sullinger has had to earn his minutes by hustling on each possession. His contributions have helped translate into victories, matching the high quality with quantity on the box score.Sullinger is averaging 9.8 points and 9.3 rebounds during the Celtics current six-game winning streak, including back-to-back double-doubles in which he posted a total of 26 points and 25 rebounds against the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets.You look at the rookie class, I really cant even name five quality rookies thats really playing well and playing significantly for their ball club, said Pierce. I definitely think he should be there.

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Celtics-Sixers preview: Road has been kind to C's lately

Celtics-Sixers preview: Road has been kind to C's lately

BOSTON – For most teams in the NBA, road games are a necessary evil. 
 
Not for the Celtics. At least, not lately.
 
The Green Team hits the road for its next three games, and that has been a good thing – a real good thing – lately. 
 
Boston (11-8) has won its last four road games, the kind of success that breeds a heightened level of confidence heading into this current trip which begins tonight at Philadelphia. 
 
And it only helps that they hit the road coming off a 97-92 win over Sacramento on Friday. 
 
“We have to carry that momentum with us,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “You know how...anytime in this league, the momentum, you have to stay with it. We’ve been having success away from home. It was big for us to get this win (over the Kings) to start the road trip off.”
 
A big part of Friday’s victory was the play of Al Horford who finished with 26 points, eight rebounds, and six blocked shots. The points and rebounds for Horford were both season-highs.
 
Horford’s breakout performance came on the heels of a 121-114 loss to Detroit, a game in which Boston’s $113 million man (Horford) only took five shots.
 
“Coach [Brad Stevens] didn’t say anything about going to him just specifically,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “We just found him and made the right play and when he got it he was very aggressive.” 
 
Part of Horford’s success was that he was in more of an attacking mentality. But he also benefited from a Kings defense that didn’t double-team him nearly as much as the Pistons did. 
 
“I got a lot of early looks in the game and like I said [following the Pistons loss] I think the Pistons did a good job defending and doubling and forcing me to pass the ball. [Friday night] I had more opportunities to be aggressive.”
 
Facing a Sixers team that ranks among the NBA’s worst in several defensive categories, Horford and the rest of his Celtics teammates should have ample opportunities to make plays offensively. 
 
And in doing so, they will be able to add on to what has been an already impressive stretch of play this season away from home.
 
“I think it will be good,” Horford said. “[Tonight] it’s a Philly team that plays hard and we just want to keep building on [Friday night’s win over Sacramento] and just try to be better.”