Sullinger continues to impress with first double-double

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Sullinger continues to impress with first double-double

BOSTON -- Jared Sullinger knew his role from being the centerpiece of the Ohio State University basketball team would change once he entered the NBA.

From the moment the Boston Celtics drafted him with the 21st pick this summer, he emphasized the importance of rebounding and chipping in wherever the team needed help. Ten games into his first season, he is practicing what he preached.

On Saturday, the rookie recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench during the Celtics 107-89 win over the Toronto Raptors. Rebounding came first, scoring was secondary. He grabbed three boards in his first three minutes on the court

"Sully does small things like rebound the ball, the way he gets guys open," said Kevin Garnett. "Small things that you're probably looking for stat-wise, when you're playing with him and you're his teammate, his dives, his rolls, getting JT (Jason Terry) open looks, little small things that aren't going to show up on your yellow pad, the small things which he does makes us better. In order for us to be better and in this process in getting better, everybody has to do those things.

"So you know what? On your yellow pad he's not that big of a deal, tonight obviously for your yellow pad he did a great job, but overall Sully's doing small things along with Chris (Wilcox) and all the other guys that are making us come out of this funk that we were in."

Sullinger played over 26 minutes on Saturday, an increase of from the eight he played against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday. Head coach Doc Rivers had outlined the consequences of giving up offensive rebounds and Sullinger had to oblige. Rivers sensed unhappiness from the 20-year-old forward, but appreciated that he put it out of his mind two days later.

"He wasn't happy about not playing against Brooklyn," said Rivers. "And I just told all the guys, 'Guys got offensive rebounds on you, you're coming out.' And he was the first. I thought he really did a great job overall (against the Raptors). They got a couple but I thought he was aggressive. He just knows how to play. He's a calming effect at times when you put him in, and I don't think I've ever said that about a rookie. It's nice to have that."

Said Sullinger, "I just had to channel my energy towards the next game, understand that even though I don't play a lot, there's still a lot of things I can do to help the basketball team. I wasn't upset that I didn't play a lot, I was just upset that we lost. That's my main priority, to win."

Sullinger's first double-double is a glimpse into his potential. Since coming into the league, he has working on improving his consistency, shooting abilities, lateral quickness, and conditioning. He has always understood his role on the veteran team, and he is making an impact by embracing it.

"What I came here to do is just to rebound," he said. "Then everything else just falls into place."

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

BOSTON – Many times this season Tuukka Rask has bailed out the Bruins when the team was at less than their best.

Monday afternoon was not one of those times as the Bruins goaltender was knocked out of the game after two periods on the way to a listless 4-0 shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Rask allowed three goals on 15 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes, and was responsible for a very soft goal during the Isles’ three-score barrage in the second period.

After the game Rask wasn’t ducking responsibility for the subpar performance, and admitted he was simply beaten to the short side post on a bad angle shot from Islanders forward Josh Bailey for the soft-serve special.

“I was just late. I picked the wrong seal. It’s one of those [goals] that I should have stopped,” said Rask. “Claude [Julien] mentioned [not taking the Isles lightly] before the game, and the last game we played here they got us. It was a bit of a flat game again last time, and we just woke up too late today. We didn’t want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going.”

Rask was being kind because the Bruins never actually woke up at all in the first B's shutout loss to the Islanders on home ice in franchise history, and that includes when the Finnish netminder was yanked after the second intermission.

Julien’s act of pulling Rask from a 3-0 game was clearly designed to spark the struggling hockey club, but it did nothing to breathe life into a dead hockey club that simply allowed another goal playing out the string in the third period.

“There are two things that can happen. No. 1, you hope you can spark your team because of the performance in front of him,” said Julien. “If it doesn’t spark your team, [at least] you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

One would expect that Rask will be back between the pipes on Wednesday night against the Red Wings in Detroit, and in hindsight perhaps this Monday matinee might have been a good time to see what Zane McIntyre has to offer as the backup. Instead it will go down as an “off” game for Rask and another inexcusable no-show on home ice for the Black and Gold. 

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics get a boost from their bench

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics get a boost from their bench

BOSTON –  Questions about Boston’s second unit have lingered all season.

But in the first half of Monday’s game against Charlotte, the Celtics got a major boost from the second unit which paved the way for Boston’s 59-53 lead at the half.

They outscored their Charlotte brethren 21-10 which was instrumental in them fending off an always-tough Charlotte team despite the Hornets (20-20) coming in having lost four in a row – all on the road.

Boston opened with a 10-2 run, the kind of spurt that you knew would likely be followed at some point by a comparable run by the Hornets.

On cue, Charlotte began to chip away at Boston’s lead and eventually went ahead following a pair of Kemba Walker free throws with 3:39 to play.

The teams went back and forth until Boston’s Jaylen Brown, who delivered a moving pre-game speech in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, took over the game with less than a minute to play in the first.

Trailing 30-29, Brown scored the quarter’s final five points to lift Boston to a 34-30 lead going into the second quarter.

In the second quarter, it was Kelly Olynyk – another Celtics reserve - taking over with a slew of baskets and hustle plays including saving a ball from going out of bounds in front of the Charlotte bench and tossing it up court with the Celtics ultimately getting a lay-up from Brown.

With 7:24 to play in the half, Charlotte called a time-out with the Celtics leading 45-40.

The Hornets responded with an 8-3 spurt to tie the game at 48 following a dunk by Spencer Hawes which led to Brad Stevens looking for answers during a Celtics time-out with 5:18 to play in the half.

Boston’s starters eventually returned to the floor in the second quarter and seemingly picked up where their backups left off.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Kemba Walker

There was a definite sense of urgency on Walker’s part to do what he could to lead the Hornets out of their four-game funk. He did his part in the first half, scoring 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field.

Al Horford

This was one of the better first halves offensively we’ve seen from Al Horford this season. He led the Celtics with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field.

 

STUDS

Isaiah Thomas

With what looked like an increased emphasis to get the ball to Horford, Thomas played the role of the other scorer and didn’t disappoint. He had 13 points in the first half along with three assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk was assertive both on the perimeter and around the basket. And the results by and large, were positive. At the half, he had nine points off the bench to go with five rebounds and three assists.

Jaylen Brown

He provided a major lift at the end of the first quarter, which is when he scored five of his seven first-half points.

Marvin Williams

He gave Boston problems both inside the paint as well as on the perimeter as he tallied 12 points which included a pair of 3-pointers.

 

DUDS

Cody Zeller

His job is to roll to the rim, defend and rebound. He seemed to struggle in all three phases in the first half. He had three points and three rebounds, but when he was on the floor the Hornets had a plus/minus of -7.