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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.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Dr. Brian McKeon, Jared Sullinger
Jared Sullinger out for the season after back surgery 02.01.13 at 4:10 pm ET
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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.

Read More: back surgery, Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, NBA
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.

‘€œYeah, 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.

‘€œWell 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.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, NBA, Paul Pierce
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.

Read More: Jared Sullinger, Kevin Garnett, KG, NBA
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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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.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Jason Terry
Jared Sullinger done for the night with back spasms 01.30.13 at 8:32 pm ET
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On the night he was snubbed by the NBA for a spot on the “Rising Stars” Challenge, Jared Sullinger suffered a more painful blow during the game with the Kings as he was sidelined with back spasms.

Sullinger started and played just four minutes before being subbed out as his back tightened up on him. The Celtics initially reported that the big man went to the locker room and received ice treatment and was “likely” to return.

But midway through the second quarter, Sullinger was ruled out for the rest of the game. The injury immediately set off alarms as it was a bad back at Ohio State that allowed Sullinger to drop to 21st in the NBA draft last June, a fact not lost on head coach Doc Rivers after the game.

“I think it was bothering him in the draft,” Rivers said, referring to the issues he had at Ohio State that caused him to miss significant time in his senior season. “So, I just think, honestly, I know (trainer) Eddie (Ed Lacerte) said something a week or two ago that it’€™s been bothering him, and I think this will be what will happen. He’€™ll have these episodes and we’€™ve got to get him through it. Hopefully, he doesn’€™t miss games with them, but if he does, he does. And then get it right and come back. But I’€™m not sure if it was before the game or not.”

Asked before the game where he thinks Sullinger would be drafted right now, knowing what he’s accomplished in the NBA, Rivers didn’t hesitate, “top five.”

Sullinger made his second straight start since being promoted from the bench. He grabbed just one rebound before being sidelined. Brandon Bass took his place.

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

Read More: back spasms, Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger
Doc Rivers: ‘Have to give [Rajon Rondo] room to do what he wants’ during injury 01.30.13 at 7:42 pm ET
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Doc Rivers believes his team is equipped to handle life without Rajon Rondo.

The first test for the Celtics is handling a Kings team that beat them like a drum in the fourth quarter of a 118-96 loss in Sacramento.

“Not really, I’d rather have him,” Rivers said when asked if coaching without his top point guard represents a unique opportunity. “But the coach in me and the players understand they don’t have him. It’s another challenge and hopefully, we’re up for it.”

Will Rondo be around the team before and after his upcoming ACL surgery?

“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “I don’t ever ask. I don’t really care. I want him to do what he needs to do. It’s very hard to come to every game. I had that same injury. There are days you want to be around the guys and there are days you don’t. I think you have to give him room to do what he wants.”

Apparently, what Rondo wants right now is the very best advice before going ahead with right knee reconstruction. According to injury expert Will Carroll, Rondo is consulting the “Big 3″ of knee doctors, including Neal ElAttrache, James Andrews and Walt Lowe. ElAttrache, you’ll recall, did the ACL reconstruct for Tom Brady in 2008.

Rivers also said one of the advantages of having Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley in the backcourt together is that they’re a more physical combo than Rondo and Bradley.

As for the Kings, Wednesday represented a chance at redemption against DeMarcus Cousins, the 22-year-old who went off for a triple-double on Dec. 30.

“He’s not athletic but he’s very [smart] and instinctive,” Rivers said in a moment of pre-game frankness.

As for the Kings, who entered Wednesday 17-29, Rivers had this assessment.

“They’re a talented, young team and there are nights when they get all activated and all together as a group and they’re really good.”

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

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Courtney Lee, DeMarcus Cousins
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