Rajon Rondo was scratched shortly before the Celtics’ 106-103 win against the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night at TD Garden with a bruised left shin, and the point guard is questionable to play Saturday in Cleveland.
The Celtics’ captain suffered the injury after being kneed in the leg in Wednesday’s loss at Atlanta.
Rondo went through warm-ups before facing Charlotte but felt he wasn’t healthy enough.
Saturday’s game is the second of a back-to-back sets, and Rondo hasn’t played in any such games this season, sitting out to rest his surgically repaired right knee.
But his status is unclear for the game against the Cavaliers.
“Obviously, if he feels good he can [play], because it’s not a back-to-back for him, but I don’t know,” Stevens said.
Beyond Rondo, the Celtics had other injury problems.
Forward Jared Sullinger suffered a sprained left ankle in the third quarter. He went to the locker room and had it taped before returning.
Sullinger then scored 9 points in the pivotal fourth quarter, after which he limped off the court with a heavily swollen ankle.
“All you’ve got to do is just play through [injuries] and fight it out,” said Sullinger, who had 20 points and seven rebounds and said he expects to play against Cleveland. “My mom and dad didn’t raise no quitter.”
Sullinger said he slipped on a wet spot on the court and Celtics team physician Brian McKeon told him to call it a night after he limped off.
“I was like, ‘No, I’ve got to play in the game,’ ” Sullinger said.
What helped him sustain it?
“Some of it’s adrenaline, some of it is being a Sullinger,” he said. “We don’t really quit.”
And in other injury news, Celtics forward Kris Humphries returned to action against the Bobcats after missing two games because of tendinitis in his left knee.
“I’m definitely not 100 percent, just the swelling and stuff. But I wanted to get out there . . . so it’s cool,” said Humphries, who finished with 4 points and seven rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench.
An MRI on Humphries’s knee Wednesday showed no structural damage.
“That’s always great,” Humphries said. “I’ve kind of had the same thing going on in my knee for a little bit, and what Doc is saying is it’s just something that I need to rest for about a month.”
The Celtics haven’t missed the playoffs since 2006-07, when Al Jefferson played for the team.
“Thanks for reminding me of that,” the Bobcats’ center said before the game. “It does seem like a long time ago, yes. The years don’t wait for nobody.”
But Jefferson, who had a game-high 32 points and 10 rebounds, is headed to the playoffs with the Bobcats, who clinched a postseason berth in his first season with the team.
“He’s done so much obviously for our franchise,” said Charlotte coach Steve Clifford. “The bigger part of it is just what he’s brought to our locker room — professional, prideful, a very good competitor. He’s really taken responsibility of helping turn our franchise around very seriously.”
For the Celtics, there is talk about trying to win to build momentum heading into next season, if such a thing is possible.
“Even though there are a few more games left, we can still leave a statement and show teams that we’re still fighting, no matter what, even though we’re not going to playoffs, [that] we still have pride to go out there and play for ourselves and our fans,” said Avery Bradley, who scored a team-high 22 points.
Said Stevens: “We’ve got a lot of guys that are contracted that are back on this team [next season], and we’ve got other guys that aren’t that we are very fond of that we may have back. Every day that we get together, and everything that we do, those guys can get better through that.”
Stevens added: “I’m of the belief that everything matters, and I’m also of the belief that those guys have invested a lot and they came out and really competed pretty well through the course of the year. They deserve to celebrate in the locker room and be excited in the locker room, especially after the string of losses we had.”
The Celtics have three regular-season games left, but Stevens doesn’t plan to use those games to test out different player combinations or anything of that ilk.
“No, I’d like to feel good about ourselves heading into the offseason, I’ve said that numerous times,” Stevens said. “To me, you always play based on who deserves to play. And who can best give you a chance to be successful. There won’t be any outside experimentation. I think we’ve got a pretty good idea . . . who can do what.”
Stevens said the Celtics are slated to practice once more this season — on Tuesday after they return from playing the 76ers in Philadelphia the night before.
However, Stevens could easily call that practice off if he believes his team would be better served by resting before their regular-season finale Wednesday against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden.
Stevens was used to practicing much more in college, where teams might play two games a week. In the NBA, he said, “I’m probably still a little bit surprised at how much you really do have to take off, especially when you consider the back-to-backs.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.