Basketball was hardly an issue for a 10-minute stretch Friday night at TD Garden when New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson had to be carried off the court on a stretcher with what the team called a cervical stinger.
Anderson collided with the Celtics’ Gerald Wallace, who was trying to steal an inbounds pass with 11:05 left in the game. Wallace inadvertently made contact with Anderson, who crumpled to the floor, where he stayed for several minutes.
Visibly concerned, Wallace waited close to Anderson as the stretcher arrived and talked briefly with the forward.
“I didn’t see him; I don’t know what happened or what . . . I’ve been there,’’ Wallace said. “I’ve been on the floor two or three times in my career. I know the feeling. I know what he’s going through, the thought process. I mean, I know the whole process of him laying on the floor waiting on a stretcher to come get you.
“So my whole thing was just the activity to see him fall, see him moving, and it’s the biggest precautionary reason, but like I said, I’ve been in that situation more than one time, so I just want to make sure that he was fine.”
Said New Orleans coach Monty Williams: “I can’t really disclose that stuff. We are just praying for his health. He looked like he was OK. I was more worried about his mother, I know she’s at home a nervous wreck so hopefully she hears this message and is cool with the fact that he’s OK and in good hands.”
A Rivers return
His return to Boston was nothing like it was last season, when Austin Rivers was facing his father. Doc Rivers has departed to coach the Clippers, making Friday’s matchup between the Celtics and Pelicans a little more routine for the second-year guard.
Rivers played one of his better games as a rookie in besting his father last January at TD Garden, and he did not play in the rematch in March because of a broken right hand. His sophomore season has been a struggle because of the Pelicans’ backcourt depth.
Rivers entered Friday averaging just 12.3 minutes per game, compared with 23.2 as a rookie, and his scoring average has dipped to 4.2 points per game. He did not play in New Orleans’s 95-92 victory.
“Competition is always good,” Rivers said. “You just have to view it as a positive thing. It’s going to make me better. [There’s] always going to be obstacles but you have to keep working, keep believing in yourself because everybody gets opportunities whether it’s right away or it’s two years or three years down the road, everybody gets their shot.”
Rivers said he watched his father’s return to Boston last month and was pleased with the crowd’s reception. He was hardly surprised that Doc was in tears.
“My dad loved it here,” Rivers said. “People think everything’s strictly business, which it is, but at the same time you fall in love with the place and friendships and the people. That’s what he did here.”
Inclement weather forced the Celtics to remain in Chicago Thursday night; they did not arrive in Boston until approximately 1 p.m. Friday. Coach Brad Stevens refused to use travel as an excuse for potential sluggishness against the Pelicans.
“We didn’t pick the best two cities to fly in and out of the last 48 hours,” Stevens said. “Chicago had a ton of snow and then obviously here. I’m glad we got here safely, first of all. No excuses from our standpoint. Whether we get in at 3 in the morning or 1 in the afternoon, we gotta play.”
The Pelicans experienced travel issues after playing Wednesday night in Minneapolis. The team decided to stay over in Minneapolis instead of flying immediately to Boston. There was a two-hour window for arriving flights at Logan Airport Thursday afternoon and the Pelicans arrived during that time.
Sullinger plays on
Jared Sullinger has spent six weeks nursing a bone bruise on the top of his left hand, an injury that gets irritated every time an opposing player hammers his hand while trying to make a steal. In the second half of the Celtics’ 94-82 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, Sullinger added more wrapping to the protective pad on his hand and it appeared to affect his ability to catch the ball.
But Sullinger said he has no intention of sitting out to give the bruise a chance to heal.
“I missed a couple of shots and I just have to get used to it,” he said. “It’s going to be there, so I just have to get used to it. The glove protected it, but as far as help? Nah. It didn’t help.”
Sullinger played 30 minutes Friday and finished 3 for 17 from the field, though he did grab 11 rebounds. He scored 7 of his 13 points from the foul line.
Stevens said he has been reassured that Sullinger can’t damage his hand further by playing. It’s about his pain threshold.
“We’ve obviously done our due diligence on that,” Stevens said. “He looked a little bit more uncomfortable [Thursday] night than maybe before, so I’ll keep a pulse on that.”
In his debut for Maine in the NBA Development League, MarShon Brooks had 27 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in a 105-96 win over Tulsa on Thursday. Brooks was sent to the Red Claws to get more game action. Stevens said he had not spoken with Brooks since his debut . . . Wallace was 2 of 3 from the field in 18 minutes Friday after not attempting a field goal in 19 minutes Thursday night. He has just 108 field goal attempts this season and his 3.3 shot-per-game average is 10th on the team.Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.