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After seeing first action, Neemias Queta feeling more comfortable on Celtics bench

After a strong preseason and recovery from a foot injury, Neemias Queta made his season debut in a Celtics uniform in Sunday's win at Memphis, registering 2 rebounds in just over 5 minutes of action.Elsa/Getty

CHARLOTTE — Celtics two-way contract center Neemias Queta made his season debut during the 102-100 win over the Grizzlies on Sunday night, registering a pair of rebounds during his five-minute third-quarter stint.

“I felt like it was a good opportunity for me to get my feet wet,” Queta said before not seeing the floor in Monday’s 121-118 overtime loss to the Hornets. “It just happens sometimes, you just get in there and have to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Queta signed a two-way contract with the Celtics after he was released by the Kings in September. He had a strong preseason, averaging 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in just 11.5 minutes per game. But he was limited by a foot injury for the first few weeks of the regular season.


“I feel pretty healthy now,” he said. “They’ve just been getting me into practices slowly and getting back into shape and getting my rhythm. So we’re trying to go slowly with it, but we’re going the right way.”

On Sunday, Queta received a chance at backup center in place of Luke Kornet, checking in with 5:17 left in the third quarter and Boston holding a 70-64 lead.

“I was looking for a four-minute stretch of something different,” coach Joe Mazzulla said. “Being on a road trip, first night of a back-to-back, trying to think a little bit with the end in mind. At the same time, an opportunity for the length of your bench to look for something different there.”

“I was looking for a four-minute stretch of something different,” Joe Mazzulla said regarding his decision to insert Neemias Queta into the rotation on Sunday.Sarah Stier/Getty

Queta said he’s becoming increasingly comfortable with Boston’s scheme, and he hopes to take advantage of more opportunities soon. He said for now, he is trying to soak up all he can by working with veteran big men Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford.

“They’re really good players,” Queta said. “They’ve been in the league for such a long time and they’ve been at the highest of levels. So it’s obviously a great opportunity for me to be around them and be able to learn from them and just try and mimic my game around them and try to make it better the way they do for me.”


Missing Mr. White

Celtics guard Derrick White missed Monday’s game due to personal reasons. Mazzulla seemed uncertain whether White will return for Wednesday’s showdown against the Bucks at TD Garden.

“I think we’ll reassess it kind of day-to-day and see where he’s at,” Mazzulla said.

Horford sat out to rest. He has not played in games on back-to-back nights over the last two seasons. Mazzulla said the team has discussions with Horford when determining which game he will miss.

“Al’s always open-minded on what he thinks is best for the team, so there really isn’t anything other than, ‘What does the team need right now?’” Mazzulla said. “So it’s great to have a guy like him that thinks that way.”

With Horford and White out, the Celtics recalled rookie forward Jordan Walsh and second-year two-way contract player JD Davison from the G League’s Maine Celtics, but neither got into Monday’s game. Sam Hauser started for White, but only got 3 points on 1-for-9 shooting (all from 3-point range) in 37 minutes.

Charlotte’s lost their sting

The Hornets, who moved to 4-9 with Monday’s win, were without guards Terry Rozier (groin), James Bouknight (knee), and Frank Ntilikina (leg); forward Cody Martin (knee), and center Nick Richards (concussion).


Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him @adamhimmelsbach.