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High-wire act: Jeff Green, Celtics slam door on Magic 02.01.13 at 9:42 pm ET
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Jeff Green had several highlight plays Friday, including this dunk in the second quarter, to lead the Celtics (AP)

Jeff Green electrified the crowd with three sensational dunks as part of a 17-point night and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett added double-doubles to lead the Celtics to a 97-84 win over the Magic Friday night at TD Garden. The Celtics played the game just hours after Jared Sullinger had season-ending back surgery, winning their third straight game to get back to .500 on the season at 23-23. The lowly Magic fell to 14-32.

Pierce fell just three assists shy of his second triple-double in three games, finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists while Garnett matched Pierce’s 14 points while chipping in with 10 boards. Green was dominant in the second half and finished 8-of-13 from the field. Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa each added 12 points off the rejuvenated Celtics bench.

Playing without Sullinger, it was Pierce who picked up the rebounding load in the first quarter, grabbing six boards. The Magic grabbed an early 13-7 lead before Pierce and the Celtics went on a 18-5 run to end the quarter to help the Celtics to a 25-18 lead after 12 minutes.

The Celtics continued to play good defense in the second quarter, holding the Magic to 35 percent shooting. Garnett led the way with 10 points in the quarter as the Celtics took a 46-35 lead to the locker room. The Magic were awful from long range, hitting just 1-of-13 from three-point range and making just 15-of-46 shots (32.6 percent). While the Celtics were dealing with the loss of Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, the Magic were also battling a bad injury bug.

Glen Davis fractured his left foot Wednesday in New York and is likely done for the season. Starting point guard Jameer Nelson bruised his left forearm in the second quarter and did not return.

Despite their injuries, the Magic managed to cut the Boston lead to three, 57-54, on an E’Twaun Moore three-point play with 5:04 left in the third quarter. But the Celtics, thanks to a spectacular one-handed dunk from Green a minute later, closed the quarter on a 15-5 run to take a 72-59 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Celtics continued their barrage to open the fourth, as Green and Courtney Lee added one-handed slams that sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy. Boston opened the period on a 14-5 run to take an 86-64 lead and were not threatened the rest of the way.

Garnett’s 728th career double-double moved him ahead of Shaquille O’Neal (727) on the NBA’s all-time list. Since 1990, only Tim Duncan (751) has more.

The Celtics have Saturday off before taking on Blake Griffin and the Clippers Sunday at 1 p.m. at TD Garden. For more, including video from Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Doc Rivers on loss of Jared Sullinger: ‘We’ll have to play differently again’ 02.01.13 at 7:18 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers says his team will have to play more small ball now that big man Jared Sullinger is lost for the season to lumbar disc surgery in his back, surgery that took place Friday at New England Baptist Hospital.

While the news was somewhat surprising to outsiders on Friday, the Celtics knew all along that this was the risk of drafting Sullinger, who missed nearly half of his final (sophomore) year last winter with Ohio State, a team he led to the Final Four. Sullinger’s bad back dropped him on draft day last June and the Celtics took the gamble, taking him 21st overall.

“We knew this could happen,” Rivers said. “We knew it a month before the draft that this could happen and at some point it probably would happen. We were hoping it would be a summer thing, rather than the middle of the season, but it happened now. He was playing great and the good news is we know he can play. We know he’ll be a very good player and, in the long run, this will make him healthier.”

As for Rivers’ reaction to the news, “My emotions are to the team, I have to give them that. I told them after shootaround. Our goals haven’t changed, nothing’s changed. We will have to play differently, again.”

Rivers said he would use more of a “small-ball” approach, like the Magic and Knicks already do in the East. Rivers also inserted Brandon Bass back in the starting lineup and hinted that he would use Jeff Green more at the power forward spot, with the following caveat.

“It’s probably not fair but I’m going to lean more on Jeff to do more rebounding,” Rivers said. “When he’s rebounded for us, he’s played well.”

“I think we’re still working on what we may have to do. But I think we definitely have to be a small-ball team. We’ll start big, as usual with Brandon and Kevin [Kevin Garnett] — I don’t know if that’s big, but that’s how we’ll start. After that we just have to put our five best players on the floor, so we’re going to have to be creative.”

As for leaning on rookie center Fab Melo, don’t expect Rivers to be using the Syracuse product, meshing with what Danny Ainge told reporters before Friday’s game.

“I know how people here love the young guys — love to see the young guys,” Rivers said tongue-in-cheek. “I’m sure at some point, Fab will find his way on the floor. Obviously, I think you try to give him as much as he can handle. You do try to put him in situations like when he’s on the floor, Kevin’s on the floor with him to help him.”

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Danny Ainge: ‘We’re not ready to cave in yet… It’s going to take more than that’ 02.01.13 at 6:29 pm ET
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Celtics chief basketball executive Danny Ainge says it was the right thing to do for the career of Jared Sullinger to end the rookie’s season and have back surgery now, leaving the Celtics without yet another weapon in their lineup.

The team announced late Friday afternoon that Sullinger underwent successful lumbar disc surgery Friday at the New England Baptist Hospital. Surgery was performed under the direction of Celtics Team Physician, Dr. Brian McKeon. The team announced through its release that Sullinger is expected to be ready in time for training camp for the 2013-14 season.

Ainge said Sullinger spent the last two days in the hospital before the decision was made Friday on advice from specialists to go ahead with the surgery.

The Celtics lost Rajon Rondo for the season to a torn ACL in his right knee on Sunday. Five days later, they have lost their most physical rebounder. The Celtics are 22-23 and have won two straight after a six-game skid, and are hanging on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Still, Ainge isn’t giving up on the season.

“We’re not ready to cave in yet, are you kidding? It’s going to take more than that,” Ainge said just before Friday’s game with the Magic at TD Garden. “We’ll just have to win in a different way. Jared’s our best rebounder. We don’t have to play that way. Last two games, we played without Jared last game and I think our team looked great. The second half and most of the Miami game, we played smaller ball and were able to win. Against New York, they’re a small-ball team, we played small against them, had a win against them in New York.

“I think we’re going to have to win in a different way without Jared and without Rajon. We’ll see what we have.”

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Jared Sullinger out for the season after back surgery 02.01.13 at 4:10 pm ET
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Jared Sullinger.

First it was Rajon Rondo and now Jared Sullinger. The Celtics rookie will miss the rest of the season after surgery Friday to repair his chronic back injury.

The team announced that Sullinger underwent successful lumbar disc surgery at the New England Baptist Hospital. Surgery was performed by the medical staff under the direction of Celtics Team Physician, Dr. Brian McKeon. The Celtics also announced Sullinger is expected to be ready in time for training camp for the 2013-14 season.

Sullinger aggravated his back in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s win over Sacramento. The news came just four hours before the Celtics host the Orlando Magic at TD Garden.

When Sullinger went down four minutes into Wednesday’s game, fears were raised that this was a recurrence of back problems that forced him to miss nearly half of his final (sophomore) year at Ohio State and fall to 21st overall in the NBA draft last June. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed those fears Friday. Head coach Doc Rivers said before Wednesday’s game that Sullinger was playing at a “top 5″ draft pick level.

The numbers support that. He averaged 7.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in 15 games in January, and finishes the season with averages of 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He had four double-doubles, including three in January. Sullinger spent most of the season as one of the best weapons off the Boston bench but Rivers rewarded Sullinger for his development and play by moving him into the starting lineup last Sunday for the game against the Heat.

Sullinger started Wednesday and grabbed one rebound but did not score before coming out with what was first diagnosed with back spasms. He received ice treatment in the locker room and the team was hopeful he could return. Just before halftime, the team revised the prognosis and announced he would not be returning.

The story was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports Friday afternoon.

The loss comes just five days after the Celtics lost Rondo to a torn ACL in his right knee.

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Doc Rivers reminds Paul Pierce that he is ‘still our scorer’ 01.31.13 at 1:59 am ET
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Doc Rivers knew everyone would have to pick up their game without Rajon Rondo. He also knew that Paul Pierce had experience doing it. But as the game began, the Celtics coach felt he was too concerned with distributing and not doing what he does best – scoring.

The Celtics’ leading scorer at 18.7 points per game was scoreless before a layup and a free throw with 2:53 left in the second quarter. Time for intervention.

“Listen, that’s how we have to play overall,” Rivers said. “Just simple, good basketball; pass the ball, move the ball. I got on Paul at the beginning of the game because I thought he was trying to be the facilitator – he must’ve read some of your all dumb-ass articles – and then once he started moving the ball, he was great. Because he’s still our scorer. I said, ‘Paul, you’re still our scorer, by the way.’ But overall I thought everybody just played their role, and played great.”

Pierce got the message, finishing with a team-best 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Celtics also made concerted effort of rushing the ball up the court against the athletic Kings.

“Again, not having Rondo, we don’t want teams to get set, where you’ve got to grind out a play and late clock, and moving,” Rivers said. “It’s just easier for us if we can get into our stuff quicker. We just advanced it at the pass, we got early posts for Kevin (Garnett), had some quick lay-ups, easy baskets, that’s what we have to do.”

Pierce wasn’t the only one facilitating the Celtics’ offense. Kevin Garnett (13 points, nine rebounds) established himself early with nine points in the first quarter.

“Yeah, he was terrific,” Rivers said. “He really did. And that’s what he – you know, all of them, everybody has to do their job. Some have to do better. And Kevin I thought tonight was terrific. Really, I thought everyone did what they needed to do. I thought our bench came in and had an unbelievable run. And I thought offensively what we did is if a play worked, we didn’t try to get smart and run another play. We kept running the same play. And when that stopped, we went to another play. It’s simple, and it sounds simple, but that’s what we did.”

The first game the Celtics played knowing Rondo was no longer an option couldn’t have gone much better for the Celtics in a 99-81 win that Boston led by as many as 28 in the third quarter.

“Well it’s important because we believe we can and we want to and we need to,” Rivers said. “So, yeah, I mean it’s vital for us. We have to win every game; that’s how we think. We have to go in every single game and look at them as single games now, and try to win them. But it’s always nice to get off to a start like this.”

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Kevin Garnett: NBA has ‘an agenda’ in snubbing Jared Sullinger 01.30.13 at 11:58 pm ET
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The way Kevin Garnett looks at it, Wednesday’s obvious snub of Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger from the NBA All-Star “Rising Stars” competition in Houston on Feb. 17 should help light even more of a fire under the seat of the rookie out of Ohio State.

Garnett was informed after Wednesday’s game that Sullinger, who is averaging over six points and six rebounds a game for Boston, was overlooked in the annual competition of the best first and second-year players in the league.

“Really? I’m actually shocked,” Garnett said.

Then he expanded upon those thoughts.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “This league has, I guess, an agenda in what they want. And Jared’s not in that agenda. I hope it creates a monster within him. I hope it does everything [to] encourage him.”

Ironically, the snub and Garnett’s statements come on the same day that Sullinger had a recurrence of his back spasms that bothered him in his senior year at Ohio State, allowing him to drop to 21st in the NBA draft last June, and allowing the Celtics to snap him up.

For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green lead C’s in revenge win over DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings 01.30.13 at 9:50 pm ET
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Avery Bradley (0) and the Celtics used a big second quarter to blow by Isaiah Thomas and the Kings Wednesday. (AP)

Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and Jason Terry each scored 12 points off the bench as the Celtics beat the Kings, 99-81, Wednesday night at TD Garden. The Celtics, who won their second straight after six straight losses, gained revenge for a humbling 118-96 loss in Sacramento on Dec. 30, a game in which 22-year-old DeMarcus Cousins registered a triple-double. Boston was able to contain Cousins Wednesday, holding him to 13 points and six rebounds.

Paul Pierce came on in the second half to lead the Celtics with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Kevin Garnett added 13 points and nine rebounds. Boston’s bench outscored Sacramento’s reserves, 50-26.

The Celtics raced out to an 8-0 lead to start the game as Garnett was red-hot early. The Celtics lost their starting power forward Jared Sullinger to back spasms just four minutes into the game. He received ice treatment in the locker room but could not return and was ruled out late in the second quarter.

The Kings recovered quickly and outscored the Celtics 24-14 to end the period as the visitors led, 24-22, after 12 minutes.

The Celtics couldn’t miss in the second quarter. They made a season-best 16-of-20 shots from the field, scorching the Kings with 80 percent shooting and outscoring the Kings, 37-14, in the period to take a commanding 59-38 halftime lead. The Celtics hit their first 14 shots of the quarter.

Green and Garnett were a combined 10-for-10 from the field in the first half, combining for 21 of Boston’s 59 points. The Celtics were able to do most of their damage without Paul Pierce, who was held scoreless until his layup and subsequent three-point play with 2:55 left in the first half.

Looking to avoid a meltdown like the one that cost them a 27-point lead last Friday in Atlanta, the Celtics actually expanded their lead to 28, 74-46, midway through the third.

But the Kings did make a run at the Celtics early in the fourth, cutting Boston’s lead down to 15, 82-67, on a flagrant-1 foul by Leandro Barbosa on Tyreke Evans. But the Celtics managed to stop the bleeding there and Pierce came down and responded with a basket to restore the lead to 17.

The Kings cut the lead back down to 14, 90-76, and had a rebound with a chance to narrow it more but committed a turnover in transition. But the Celtics looked awful in the next possession as Pierce held onto the ball near mid-court for a 24-second violation. The Kings would not get closer than 14 down the stretch.

The Celtics are off Thursday before returning to action on Friday against the Magic at TD Garden. The Celtics conclude their four-game homestand with a game against the Clippers on Sunday at 1 p.m. For complete coverage from the Garden from the team of Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

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