Sullinger stays hot with fourth straight double-double

Sullinger stays hot with fourth straight double-double
February 8, 2014, 12:00 am
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BOSTON — Jared Sullinger readily admits that he's not the same player he was prior to his father making the 11-hour drive from Columbus, Ohio to speak with him face-to-face.

It was the kind of talking-to that only a father who has a deep, teflon-tight kind of relationship with his son can deliver and know that it won't fall upon deaf ears.

And to Jared Sullinger's credit, he has responded with a slew of big-game performances with the latest being a 31-point, 16-rebound night in leading the Celtics past Sacramento, 99-89.

It didn't matter that he was facing DeMarcus Cousins, a rival big man dating back to their days on the AAU circuit.

It didn't matter that the Celtics were without Rajon Rondo (rest) and Avery Bradley (right ankle), which meant less freedom to roam for Sullinger.

All that mattered was that Jared Sullinger, one game at a time, was getting back to playing "the Sullinger way."

"It's being a cut above the environment you're in, in a positive way," Satch Sullinger told CSNNE.com. "Always being purposeful. Being part of the solution, not part of the problem."

The only problem his son has been causing lately, is for defenses trying to limit his effectiveness.

Boston (18-33) has won three in a row in this first week of February - that's one more than they won in the entire month of January.

In those three games, Sullinger has averaged a double-double of 25.3 points and 15 rebounds.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens believes there are several reasons behind Sullinger's improved play of late.

"Well I think we're doing a better job looking for him," Stevens said. "He feels a little bit better even though that dislocated finger's still wrapped up. He feels better everyday, and you know, it's like we talked about last week: fair or unfair, tha's who we need him to be."

And Sullinger appears to be up for the challenge, which was about as daunting as any he has faced this season on Friday when he had to go head-to-head with Cousins who is one of the best young big men in the NBA who on Friday finished with identical scoring (31) and rebounding (16) numbers as Sullinger.

After the game, Cousins was also singing the praises of Sullinger.

"He had an incredible game today," Cousins said. "There were a couple of possessions that I let him get some offensive rebounds on myself."

Boston's Jerryd Bayless, who had 19 points off the bench, is among those who believes Sullinger has the ability to dominate games like he did Friday with some consistency.

"He played great, especially rebounding-wise, he's always there," Bayless said. "Jared is a very talented basketball player and we need him to play like that every night."

While 31-point, 16-rebound nights may not be a realistic expectation, Sullinger is starting to show the ability to dominate games with the kind of consistency that the Celtics have been void of most of this season.

When asked about Sullinger's ceiling, Stevens said, "it's not where it will be someday."

Presented with a similar question, Sullinger responded, "only time will tell; only time will tell. We'll see."