Since Jan. 18, Shelden Williams had logged a whopping seven minutes of action in three appearances, enduring a "Did Not Play -- Coach's Decision" 16 times in that span. But with the Celtics missing center Kendrick Perkins (flu) Tuesday night, Williams logged 14 minutes and turned in a serviceable effort with six points (on 3-of-4 shooting) and four rebounds.
“It just seems like every time he plays, he does something good,” said coach Doc Rivers. “He rebounded well and we needed that off the bench.”
Rivers commended all his players for being ready when injuries have struck this season, which has been often.
“One thing I love about this team is that guys like [Brian Scalabrine], guys like Shelden, guys like Tony Allen, can go five or six games without playing, then you throw them in and they play hard. They’re ready, and Shelden was ready tonight.”
Pierce shakes off some rust
Celtics captain Paul Pierce looked like a player who had missed a full week of activity, including three straight games, connecting on just 2-of-6 shots for nine points over 29 minutes.
“Paul was rusty,” said Rivers. “He really struggled out there. That’s going to happen. We’ve got to use these games to get Paul going.”
Pierce sprained his right thumb in the first half of a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 18. He played two more games before taking a full week off to recover from the injury and a bout with the flu.
Calling in the closers?
Boston’s bench was playing so well in the fourth quarter, it seemed like Rivers might not go back to his starters. It did buy the first-teamers an additional breather, a luxury on the first night of a back-to-back.
“This was big for us,” said Ray Allen, who scored a team-high 18 points. “Nate [Robinson] came in and played big for us, Glen [Davis] gave us energy, Shelden gave us energy. It gave Doc the option to keep us on the bench a little bit. At the four- or five-minute mark, it seemed like they still could have finished the game out.”
Boston’s lead ballooned to nine in the fourth quarter before Detroit rallied against the starters to make it a one-possession game late.
Davis hoisted 14 shots in 18 minutes, chipping in 12 points while bringing his usual energy to the floor.
Asked what Tuesday’s win meant to the team, Davis suggested Boston is building its confidence again with eyes toward the playoffs.
“To get back in the win column, it’s just taking one step at a time,” said Davis. “We’re making sure we get all our kinks out, making sure we’re all in sync, making sure Nate gets the offense. We’re just trying to make sure we come together, so when it’s time to play in the postseason, we’re ready.”
* Boston allowed 100+ points for the fifth straight game, their longest streak since the new Big Three was formed.
* Rajon Rondo finished with 15 points and 11 assists and has reached double figures in assists in seven straight games, the longest streak by a Celtic since Tiny Archibald did it in seven straight games in 1981-82.