Sullinger on 3s: 'If I'm open, I'll shoot it'

Sullinger on 3s: 'If I'm open, I'll shoot it'
March 27, 2014, 12:45 am
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BOSTON — To those who have criticized Jared Sullinger for taking so many 3s, he has heard your cries.

And frankly, he doesn't give a damn.

Boston's 99-90 loss to Toronto would have been significantly more lopsided if not for Sullinger's 19 points in the fourth quarter - the bulk of which came off him knocking down a quartet of 3s.

"I still think and maybe this is why I'm not as much an analytics guy as everyone portrays me to be, I still believe in his shooting," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, who has consistently encouraged Sullinger to keep shooting despite connecting on just 24.1 percent of his 3s prior to the game on Wednesday. "I've seen him shoot, I believe in his form ... 4-for-6 [on 3s] gave us a chance to win tonight."

And that more than anything else, is what Sullinger's focus has been in taking a lot of 3s this season.

It is a shot that Sullinger is gradually integrating into his offensive toolbox, well aware of its value on nights on Wednesday when facing multiple bigs with significantly more length which makes scoring around the basket a lot tougher.

Still, against the Raptors, Sullinger said the head injury to Rajon Rondo made him feel as though he had to pick up more of the team's scoring load.

Rondo was hit with an elbow in the third quarter that required nine stitches to close. He was able to return with 8:05 to play, finishing with nine points and a game-high 15 assists.

"When I saw he [Rondo] went down, I saw we needed someone to bring a different type of energy," Sullinger said. "It was time for somebody else to step up. I thought it should be me."

Sullinger's four 3s tied his career-high for 3s made in a game, which he set earlier this year against Cleveland on Nov. 29, 2013.

And while that part of his game was impressive, Rondo believes his contributions in other areas were just as valuable.

"I like playing on the court with Sully," Rondo said. "I told Brad I want to play with Sully as much as possible. Not a knock to our other bigs, but one thing Sully does that doesn't show up on the stat sheet is he's probably the best outlet passer we have."

Rondo points to Boston's strong second quarter showing in which the Celtics went on a 17-2 run to lead by four points, fueled in part by Sullinger's outlet passes.

"It wasn't because he made 3s," Rondo said. "It was because he got the ball up court and we were able to turn it into transition points."

Even with Wednesday's strong showing from 3-point range, Sullinger's critics aren't going anywhere.

They still see him as an undersized big man who takes too many 3s.

"I believe in myself," Sullinger said. "I don't care what the naysayers say. I could care less; just trying to expand my game."

And so what does that mean?

"If I'm open," Sullinger said. "I'll shoot it."