All aboard! Sullinger eyes next stop
January, 10, 2013
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Jared Sullinger registered his second double-double of the season by chipping in 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds (a Celtics high this season) as Boston topped the Phoenix Suns 87-79 on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
What's more, Sullinger was a team-best +24 in plus/minus, bringing his season total to a glossy +66. Sullinger is one of only four players in the positive this year for Boston and has opened a comfortable cushion over closest competitor Kevin Garnett (+44).
But after Wednesday's game, Sullinger wasn't in the mood to reflect on individual efforts nor did he want to trek down memory lane and revisit his draft-night slide to the Celtics at No. 21.
"I could care less," Sullinger said of his draft position. "We’re winning; we’ve won four in a row. That’s my main focus: Winning. Last June is behind me."
But what about those 16 rebounds? That's an eyebrow-raising total, particularly for a rookie.
"It’s a blessing, a lot of hard work. But the train doesn’t stop here," Sullinger said. "We've got to keep going, we've got to make it to the next stop. After that, it's the next stop, after that it's the next stop. We’re the underground railroad."
What exactly is his next stop?
"Don’t know yet," Sullinger said with a smile. No doubt it's a lofty perch. Kind of like the praise that Garnett bestowed upon him.
"I knew he had like 10 [rebounds] or something, but I didn't know he had 16. That's what's up," said Garnett, who then expanded on what makes Sullinger so good on the glass.
“First off is effort," Garnett said. "Any time you’re playing defense, any time you are stealing the ball, rebounding -- all that’s effort. Obviously, his timing, body positioning -- he has the perfect body for rebounding. He can take the pounding and bump a little bit, and he has great anticipation when it comes to the ball. And he has great hands. Put all that in the pot, you got Jared Sullinger, that’s what makes him a great rebounder."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers humorously pointed out Sullinger's unique combination of instincts and technique.
"I’ve seen him play, like I’ve told you guys before, since he was a sophomore in high school and he played against [Rivers' son] Austin’s team," Rivers said. "Ohio Red, I know the name of his AAU team that played [Austin's] Each 1 Teach 1 in at least six different national title games in AAU. And I was sitting there watching all of them; I think Jared even won all six, too.
"In one of those games he had like 27 rebounds and it was crazy watching him. I was upset at all my son’s bigs because I actually said, ‘How can that fat, slow guy get all those rebounds. There’s no way!’ And now I realize he’s not slow and he’s actually not fat. He’s just round. But he has great feet, he really does. And you don’t appreciate that for a while when you watch him. He’s quick and he has great feet."
[Hop HERE to read our full story on Sullinger and the bench]