MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For Shavlik Randolph, having an opportunity to play is incentive enough to stay ready when called upon.
But games like Saturday's 110-106 loss to Memphis, a game that went from being a blowout to a barnburner in the final seconds of play, can do wonders for both end-of-the-bench players like Randolph and the Celtics as a whole.
"We just wanted to come in and play the right way," said Randolph who had two points and four rebounds in just under nine minutes. "I don't think our focus was trying to bring the game back; just play the right way and do the things that we've been drilled with doing, and I thought we did it."
Randolph was part of a Celtics unit that ended the game with a 29-12 run.
"It was crazy," said Boston's D.J. White who had four points and four blocked shots in just over seven minutes of action. "I honestly wasn't looking at the score. I was just out there playing. I looked up, and we were down by six or seven. I thought we were back in the game."
They were, but the comeback was too little too late as the Grizzlies made 8-of-9 free throws in the fourth quarter and a perfect 6-for-6 in the final 18.5 seconds.
"They were great," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "All of the guys just came in, played hard for us and got us back in the game. We knew it was going to be a tough night, but I thought we had a shot to win."
And a key to that effort was the play of guys like Randolph and White who understand their opportunities to play decent minutes will likely come in blowout-type games or when someone is out with an injury like the C's are currently with Kevin Garnett (left foot) and Courtney Lee (left ankle) each nursing injuries.
But it's performances like the one they put on Saturday that gives them confidence that when an opportunity to play does present itself, they will be ready.