Bounceback: Kelly Olynyk enjoys breakthrough game
|01.18.14 at 1:15 am ET|
After the Celtics win against the Raptors on Wednesday night that featured a zero-point output from Kelly Olynyk, Boston owner Stephen Pagliuca approached the 7-footer at his locker.
Pagliuca wanted to instill confidence in the Gonzaga product whom the Celtics took in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft to offset the loss of Kevin Garnett. Olynyk’s lack of aggression was not limited to the Toronto game. His zero-point effort just capped off a rough stretch of play. From Jan. 2 to Jan. 15 (nine games), Olynyk averaged 14.5 minutes per game and 4.3 points per game on 39 percent shooting. His boss encouraged him to abandon his on-court reticence.
“[He said] be confident, be aggressive, take shots when they’re there,” Olynyk said after Boston’s 107-104 loss to the Lakers on Friday.
Olynyk received that message and translated it to the court in a big way against the Lakers. He totaled a game-high and career-high 25 points, and tacked on seven assists and five rebounds.
“I thought he was good,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “[He] took advantage of some match ups in the interior and then also got his jump shot rolling.”
The timid, unaggressive Olynyk who has been prominent at times this year vanished against Los Angeles. He was efficient around the rim and creative with his passing from the top of the key. Olynyk made his only 3-pointer in the first half, but played more of a facilitating role, tallying five assists in the first 24 minutes of the game. But in the second half, the Lakers had no answer for the center, as he scorched their frontline for 16 points.
“When you make a couple shots early, you get a couple stops, or make a couple passes it’s easier to build that confidence and that flow in the game,” Olynyk said.
The precise passing continued as well. This was highlighted by a great high-low feed from Olynyk to Gerald Wallace for an easy layup in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 104-96. Unfortunately for Boston, this would be its final score as the Lakers embarked on an 11-0 run to close out the game for the win.
“We got some good shots, we just missed them,” Olynyk said, adding: “Sometimes it’s the way the cookie crumbles.”
Overall, Olynyk’s season points per game and rebounds per game averages check in at 6.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He’s shot 40.2 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from 3-point land.
The last time Olynyk scored 20 or more points in a game, he followed it up with a nine-game stretch of zero double-digit games. If Boston hopes to re-enter the postseason conversation in the second half of the season, the Olynyk the Celtics received on Friday night for the foreseeable future would be a good place to start.