- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Asked if this was his finest NBA performance, Celtics big man Shavlik Randolph pondered the question for a fleeting moment, then shook his head.
"No, because we lost," he said before departing the Celtics' locker room after Friday's 97-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite playing only 13 foul-limited minutes, Randolph scored a career-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and added seven rebounds. He was a team-best plus-10 in plus/minus -- his preferred barometer for in-game success -- and clearly impacted the contest despite the whistles that left him disqualified with seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
A week after his breakout performance here against the Hawks, Randolph lamented how the final result diminished his individual success. And even all the good he chalked up to his teammates' efforts.
"I was just rolling hard to the basket and guys were finding me, simple as that," said Randolph. "I was getting good passes, putting me in positions where I can finish around the rim. I wasn’t really making any tough shots, just my teammates were finding me."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers chuckled while relaying how Randolph's slight hesitation around the basket actually probably helped him draw a couple whistles against over-eager defenders. But he really likes what he's seen from the 29-year-old big man, who is making a strong case to be a rotation-caliber big even when reinforcements arrive.
"He's playing great. Just leave it at that; he's just playing great basketball and we're going to keep playing him," said Rivers.
Even if that means playing through the whistles.
"Just try to keep my composure," Randolph said of getting past foul trouble. "In a game, you’re not always going to agree with the calls, that’s just the nature of the game. You just try to keep playing. If you foul out, then you try to cheer your teammates on. That’s what I tried to do tonight."
The Celtics sorely missed Randolph's size and rebounding abilities when he was off the floor. And he knows that it's his defense and rebounding that will keep him on the court if he can carve out a playoff role with this team.
"Like I said, my job is not to score," said Randolph. "If I’m able to play off [teammates], give some opportunistic baskets, that’s a bonus. But my job is to rebound and play defense. ... All I know is I’ll be ready, regardless [of any playoff role]."
Read on for more postgame notes:
* CRAWFORD AND THE 'WASHINGTON' PLAY: Celtics guard Jordan Crawford labored through 3-of-14 shooting, finishing with seven points, five assists and four rebounds over 28:51. His shot selection was questionable at best, including one late-quarter sequence in which he drove nearly all the way to the rim, before reversing course and settling for a long (and errant) 3-point attempt. But it was a frustration play that Rivers really didn't love. "He had a Washington play, I call it, where he honestly got so upset that [the Cavaliers] were making a run, you could visually see it, he went and grabbed the ball and said, 'I’m going to make something happen,'" explained Rivers. "That could be with a shot or a pass. That’s being very competitive. That’s the one thing we’ve found (out) about him; he’s competitive off the charts. And that’s usually what gets him in trouble." Crawford and the Celtics host his former squad, the Washington Wizards, on Sunday evening.
* DOC ON CUBAN/GRINER: Mavericks owner Mark Cuban drew headlines this week for suggesting he'd be open to drafting Baylor women's basketball standout Brittney Griner. Asked for his thoughts on those comments, Rivers said, "Listen, I said long ago, if I find a green man walking down the street and I think he can rebound, I’m going to draft him. So I don’t think anyone cares. Obviously, it would make a huge story and it would be really cool. I just don’t know the answer, I don’t watch it enough to know. But it would be great."
* LONGABARDI DREW BENCH TECH: The Boston Celtics were hit with a bench technical during Wednesday's win over the Detroit Pistons and the league assigned it to assistant coach Mike Longabardi. Rivers offered to pay the fine and noted, "All he said was, ‘Three seconds.’ That was it. He said, ‘Three seconds!’ because [Detroit big man Greg] Monroe was in the paint 17 seconds, in my opinion, which would probably be five seconds. Hey, I’ll pay it. The assistant pays, but we’ll figure out a way."
11dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford