Jared Sullinger, 20, who became one of the youngest starters ever for the Celtics last week at Washington, made his second successive start in Wednesday’s rematch against the Wizards.
But the Celtics went with veterans in crunch time as they took a 100-94 overtime victory over the Wizards.
Brandon Bass, who started the first two games of the season before being replaced by Sullinger, broke a 92-92 tie with 5 points over a 1:44 span as the Celtics closed out the game.
The Celtics went with a lineup of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, and Bass in overtime.
“I thought [Terry] was terrific,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “And, you know, it’s funny, we left Jason in because he was playing great defense. That may be a first in his career that that’s ever been said about Jason Terry. But he was terrific. I thought the ball pressure, and he did a lot of good things, defensively. And when he does that, with his shot, we keep him on the floor, because he gives you a shooter’s chance all night.”
Sullinger had 4 points and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes.
“I do like Jared, he gives us a rebounder and another passer,” Rivers said before the game. “Right now, at this point in his career, he’s not looking to score but he will score. Scoring happens for him and it’s a good fit.
“It’s been proven if you’re a great rebounder in college, you’re usually a great rebounder in pros, or anywhere. It’s almost an instinct. If you’re a rebounder you’re a rebounder. He’s good at it, the ball hits his hands, it sticks.”
The Celtics selected Sullinger with the 21st pick in the draft.
“Character is really important,” Rivers said of evaluating draft-eligible players. “If that’s the reason I would say most of the time we would pass. But it wasn’t a character issue with Jared. It was health.”
Saved by Wilcox
Chris Wilcox added 6 points in 3 minutes, 41 seconds late in the third quarter, his most productive stint since returning from heart surgery.
“Chris played great for us – great minutes,” Garnett said. “It’s inspirational to see someone get a chance to do something they love and do it passionately. It’s moving and I’m just glad he had a great night.”
Said Rivers: “I thought Chris Wilcox saved the game for us, single-handedly, with his effort.
“But we’ve got to get more guys that play harder, better. I don’t care about ‘well,’ you know. I don’t care if we play ‘well’ or not, because that’s just human. If you can make shots or not, it happens.
“But we just have to play with a better focus and we’ve got to run our schemes better.”
Rivers on last year’s Celtics rookies, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore, who were traded before the season: “I know [Johnson] has the talent and told him that this summer. He’s going to either have to pull it out of himself or he’ll be [in the D League]. I do believe he has NBA talent. E’Twaun, on the other hand, is playing unbelievable. He was ahead of JaJuan last year and it had nothing to do with individual talent, it had to do with mental makeup. E’Twaun is a smart kid, gets it, and JaJuan has to figure it out.”
Rivers on the Celtics’ “small” lineups: “If I can get [a big] that runs and jumps and has a sky hook, I’ll take him. It’s one of those periods where there are not many great bigs. There are bigs, just not a lot of great ones, you know. This generation of coaches, we’ve all decided just play your best five. If you can’t have a traditional lineup, play the best five and play chicken some nights. And I think that’s what we’re all trying to do.” . . . Rivers spent Tuesday night following election results and watching the film “Argo.” “That was a good night if you’re a supporter of the president, which I am,” Rivers said. “Nerve-racking. I went to a movie in the middle of it because I couldn’t take it anymore. I was getting texts from people and I didn’t believe that, either. I was tuning into Karl Rove, it was unbelievable. Then I got a text in the middle of it that [President Obama] won, so I left, and didn’t see the end [of the movie]. So, that really [makes me mad]. I’ll have to see it twice. Like ‘Titanic’ — you know the ending, but it’s still a good movie.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com