Phil Pressey sat at his locker before the Celtics’ 107-96 win over the 76ers on Friday and spoke to reporters about his high-scoring game with the Maine Red Claws the night before. Veteran forward Gerald Wallace, sitting two stalls away, couldn’t resist.
“Ball hog,” Wallace said, causing Pressey to smile.
Pressey, who finished the D-League game with 34 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds, was not sent to Maine to put up big numbers, though.
The second-year guard had played in just three of the Celtics’ previous 10 games, and there has been little practice time recently.
“There’s nothing like playing,” Pressey said. “You can run on the treadmill, you can do as much conditioning as you want, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing like getting on that court and playing five-on-five.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said president of basketball operations Danny Ainge called him after the win over the Nuggets on Wednesday, and the two agreed a quick trip to Maine would benefit Pressey. The guard said he was slightly surprised by being sent down, but he and Stevens both said it was a good opportunity.
“It’s more about maintaining a rhythm and conditioning than it is about anything else for a player like Phil, who has proven what he can do at this level and has proven what he’s capable of,” Stevens said.
Pressey was recalled for Friday night’s game and scored a basket in one minute on the floor.
Ainge dialed in
Speaking on Salt Lake City’s 1280 The Zone on Thursday afternoon, Ainge discussed the Celtics’ rebuild and draft lottery reform.
Ainge said that as this season progressed, “the picture became a little bit clearer of which direction we needed to go.” He said he has enjoyed watching the development of this team and had high praise for Stevens, saying he “couldn’t be more excited” about the second-year coach’s development.
“He’ll continue to improve because of his intelligence, his integrity, and his work ethic,” Ainge said.
Ainge said that reforming the draft lottery is one of the biggest challenges the league is facing, but he acknowledged that there is a fine line between shifting the current setup yet maintaining a system that discourages teams from sabotaging their seasons to secure a higher pick.
“I don’t envy the commissioner and his office on this issue,” Ainge said. “They’re studying and they’re communicating. They’re watching and observing what’s going on, and I’m confident that they’ll come up with the best plan in time to rectify some of the challenges.”
Miss Massachusetts Lauren Kuhn, a Harvard dental student, had a couple of missteps singing the national anthem on Friday night and actually started over, apologizing to the TD Garden crowd. But the fans were there for her, emphatically joining her in song.
Celtics forward Jared Sullinger was impressed by the heartwarming gesture.
“I thought that was big-time on our fans,” he said. “When you’re singing and you’re in front of people and you have to sing a song, I can only imagine the nerves that were going through her. And for our crowd to pick her up the way they did without laughter, and just being by her side? That shows a lot of respect by the city of Boston. And that was big-time on our fans.”
The 76ers signed former Celtics training camp invitee Tim Frazier to a 10-day contract and he made his NBA debut Friday, tallying 5 points, 5 rebounds, and 11 assists in 35 minutes.
Frazier has been around the Celtics this season while playing for Maine, attending occasional home games as well as the team’s road contest in his native Houston.
Frazier, a 6-foot-1-inch guard, averaged 15.8 points, 8.9 assists, and 6.8 rebounds in 27 games with the Red Claws.
“It’s a great feeling, you get the call after all that hard work,” said Frazier, who played at Penn State. “But I know I’ve still got a lot of work to do. It’s a 10-day contract. I had a great time in Maine. A lot of guys dread it, but I didn’t. Still, to get that call was an awesome feeling.”
When he found out his NBA debut would be at TD Garden, Frazier was even more excited.
“That’s just icing on the cake,” he said. “I feel comfortable here. I played here in the preseason. I know all the guys.”
Stevens expressed pride in Frazier’s promotion.
“I’ve watched a lot of their games at Maine and we all knew that Tim would get called up,” Stevens said. “He’s had a great year and he was great for us in the preseason. Had it not been for the fact that Marcus Smart was 20 and Rondo was out, we just wanted to play Marcus as much as possible in the exhibition season. We felt comfortable putting Tim in there more than he even played.”
Jared Sullinger returned to the starting lineup on Friday after being penalized Wednesday for missing the team’s walkthrough. He had one of his best games of the season, with 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists . . . Forward Tayshaun Prince (hip flexor) didn’t play Friday night, but Stevens said he would make the trip to Milwaukee and could play Saturday against the Bucks.