WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger eased back into game action on Friday night by playing just 10 minutes, 23 seconds during a 105-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Being whistled for four fouls in that span didn't aid Sullinger's cause, but Friday's game was his first honest-to-goodness regular-season action since undergoing back surgery that ended his rookie campaign in February last season.
Sullinger, who also sat out the team's final preseason game due to a cold, hadn't seen game action in 12 days (though it's was nothing like the 276 days since the back flared in a game against the Sacramento Kings). Sullinger scored 10 points on 2-of-6 shooting, grabbing three offensive rebound which helped him land at the free throw line for seven attempts (he made six). How did it feel to get back on the court?
"It was great. It was great getting back out there and playing and competing," said Sullinger. "But honestly it would have been a lot more better if we won."
Zaza Pachulia greeted Sullinger's return by banking a tough running hook over him in the paint and Sullinger battled whistles from there. Sullinger played only 4:40 in the second half, but said the team learned a tough lesson about not taking their foot off the accelerator.
"I just thought [Milwaukee's 22-point comeback] was on us," said Sullinger. "We didn’t compete as well in the second half as we did in the first half. In the first half, we were looking to dominate the basketball. In the second half, we kind of got passive. We weren't as aggressive as we were in the first half."
A couple other quick hits from Saturday's practice:
* STEVENS EXPLAINS ROTATION: Stevens tightened up his rotation on Friday, going with just nine guys. That meant DNPs for Phil Pressey and Kris Humphries after both players saw action in Wednesday's opener in Toronto. "By the time we took Avery [Bradley] out, there were five minutes left in the game, and Phil had sat there for 43 minutes," said Stevens. "In a game that’s tense and tight already, it’s hard to come in -- I think; hindsight is 20/20. Maybe I would put him in if I had that opportunity." The Celtics' stagnant offense could have used a steadying presence, but Stevens instead leaned on Courtney Lee at the guard spot. Humphries seemingly got glued to the bench with Sullinger's return? "I told Kris this morning, his not playing was not a result of his play on Wednesday. He played really well on Wednesday. I had made up mind that I was going to go with Jared and Kelly [Olynyk] early, and I thought that rotation of four bigs were pretty good overall."
* DETROIT IN FOCUS: Asked for the advanced scouting report on Detroit, Stevens said, "Really athletic, right? Frontline is ridiculously long with Josh Smith at the 3, [Greg] Monroe at the 4, [Andre] Drummond at the 5. They do a great job of getting to the glass and do a great job on lobs, they do a great job of posting Smith and Monroe and taking advantage of matchups. Smith is a hard guy to guard at the 3, that’s for sure. Then they’ve got guys like [Will] Bynum, [Rodney] Stuckey, and [Chauncey] Billups that are standing out there -- and [Kyle] Singler -- who are all accomplished guys who can make plays. They had [Friday's] game won [in Memphis]. They were up six with a minute to go, I watched it this morning. One things is for sure, after watching a lot of games, you can never feel comfortable" with a lead in the NBA.