Notebook: Sullinger's back episodes

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
11:25
PM ET


BOSTON -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said rookie Jared Sullinger had been dealing with back woes in recent weeks, but it hadn't forced the first-year forward off the floor until Wednesday's 99-81 triumph over the Sacramento Kings.

Sullinger played a mere 4 minutes, 8 seconds before pulling himself from the game due to back spasms. He tried to ice the affected area in hopes of returning to the game, but was ruled out late in the first half.

"I know he was trying to get back on the floor," said Rivers. "I don't know if that's bad. But when you have spasms, they last. And we'll just see. He's day-to-day."

Red flags about his back forced Sullinger to slide down the draft board in June before Boston scooped him up at No. 21. This is the first time back woes have forced him out of action, but Rivers admitted it's a lingering issue.

"Honestly, I know [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] said something a week or two ago, it's been bothering him," said Rivers. "And I think this is what he'll have. He'll have these episodes. We gotta get him through it. Hopefully he doesn't miss games with them. But if he does, he does. He's going to get right and come back."

It was a less-than-ideal day for Sullinger. Not only did he have the back issue, but the league passed him over for the Rising Stars rookie/sophomore game next month at All-Star weekend in Houston and upheld his first career technical from Sunday's double-overtime win over the Miami Heat.

Informed of the Rising Stars snub, All-Star-bound Kevin Garnett hoped his young teammate used it as motivation.

"It doesn't surprise me," said Garnett. "The league has, I guess, an agenda in what they want, and Jared's not in that agenda. I hope it creates a monster within him. I hope it does nothing but encourage him."

Rivers thinks better things await Sullinger in the future.

"Listen, he'll make [All-Star-like events] eventually -- and maybe not that team, but he'll be in the league a long time and I think he'll be happier with that in the long run," said Rivers.

Read on for more postgame notes, including why Rivers got mad at Jeff Green; Courtney Lee disputes he's "unhappy" in Boston; Brandon Bass bounces back; and C's spread the wealth.

* DOC GETS ON GREEN: Rivers was visibly upset with Jeff Green during a third-quarter timeout. After scoring 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the first half and helping to spark the team's second-quarter outburst, Green didn't take advantage of a potential mismatch as the Kings rallied a bit and Rivers wasn't afraid to let Green know about it. "[The Kings] were running a zone and they kept switching and he had [guard Jimmer Fredette on him, and he kept popping behind the 3[-point line]. I was wondering, 'When you have a smaller guard on you, why would you go behind the 3-point line?' That was the discussion, instead of to the [paint], where you could post up and take advantage. He didn’t realize the switch was on him, and you gotta realize that." Green finished with 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting with a rebound and three turnovers in 20:30.

* BASS BOUNCES BACK: Playing his second straight game in a reserve role since being shifted from the starting lineup, Brandon Bass stepped up -- particularly with the absence of Sullinger -- and chipped in 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting with four rebounds, three steals and two assists over a team-high 37:36. Said Rivers: "It was big for him, so, yes, I was very happy for him. Brandon is just like [Jason Terry] for that one stretch -- sometimes you just need to see the ball go in the net. And once he did that, then a couple times you could see him get more aggressive."

* LEE DISPUTES 'UNHAPPY' SUGGESTION: Celtics guard Courtney Lee adamantly denied a suggestion that he is unhappy in Boston because of his offensive role. Responding to a Grantland podcast in which a staff writer suggested he "heard through back channels that Courtney Lee is really unhappy in Boston because the offense is just Rondo pounding the ball," Lee dismissed the notion. "No, not true at all," said Lee. "And then, what else did he say? That I hated playing with Rondo because he dribbled too much, this and that? But in these last couple weeks, I was the one going and [subbing for] Rondo; I was backing him up." Lee took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon after being alerted to what had been said. "I got a call from my brother and he said, 'There's an article about you bashing Rondo and not wanting to be in Boston' and I was like, 'Man, that's the first I've ever heard of something like that,'" said Lee. "So when I read it, I thought it was the right thing to do was tweet it because that's how everybody gets information nowadays, off social media, and that gets out rapidly. So I've never heard of the [reporter], never introduced myself to him, he never introduced himself to me, never did an interview with him, and I don't know where he's getting his sources from, because as far as talking to anybody, I talk to my teammates and not really anybody else outside of this locker room pretty much, or with you guys. Nobody else has indicated anything of that nature, so I don't know where he got that from."

* SPREADING THE WEALTH: The final score for Boston: Bench 50, Starters 49. Of course, the loss of Sullinger helped the bench run up its total, but that's an encouraging output for the Rondo-less Celtics, who put six players in double figures. Take away Sullinger and Jason Collins (1 point) and nine players had six points or more. "I believe that’s gonna be a form of success for us," said Terry, referencing both point and assist totals. "Some nights, somebody might go for a big number, but for the majority of the time, we're gonna have to spread it out, do it by committee."

* PREGAME RECAP: For more notes on Sullinger's reaction to his Rising Stars snub and Fab Melo's treatment plan while called up for the Celtics, hop HERE to view our pregame notes.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
18.7 1.6 0.9 33.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 7.9
AssistsJ. Nelson 7.0
StealsJ. Nelson 2.5
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.8