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Thursday, January 16, 2014
Notebook: Sully joins 20/20 club

By Chris Forsberg



BOSTON -- Jared Sullinger became only the sixth Boston Celtics player in the past 30 years to join the 20/20 club after putting up team highs with 25 points and 20 rebounds in an 88-83 triumph over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Sullinger joins Celtics luminaries such as Kevin Garnett, Larry Bird and Robert Parish (as well as Ed Pinckney and, improbably, Mark Blount) in the recent 20/20 club. He's the first Boston player to reach those thresholds since Garnett (22 points, 20 rebounds) on Nov. 2, 2007. According to NBA.com/Stats, Sullinger is the first Celtic to go for 25-plus points, 20-plus rebounds, and 4-plus assists since Bird (42-20-5) on Nov. 11, 1987.

Sullinger
Jared Sullinger hauls down one of his 20 rebounds against the Raptors.
And, of course, it was rehabbing Rajon Rondo, back on the Boston bench in a dress rehearsal for Friday's potential return to game action, who noticed Sullinger at 19 boards during a timeout with under two minutes to play and encouraged him to seek No. 20.

It turned out to be a pretty important board, Sullinger muscling off Patrick Patterson in a three-point game with 30 seconds to go, then atoning for a couple previous misses with two clutch free throws to help end Boston's nine-game losing streak.

And more than a glitzy stat line, the win was what resonated most with Sullinger.

"After a while, when you lose so much when you’re not used to losing, the competitive nature takes over and that’s what happened with me," said Sullinger, who seemed so hellbent on getting Boston back in the win column that he tried to do it single-handedly at times.

Sullinger thought it was neat that Rondo sought him out to encourage the little milestone.

"I didn’t even think about it until Rondo told me, looked up at the scoreboard, get one more," Sullinger said. "I happened to look up and I saw 19 rebounds. I was like, 'I didn’t even know I had that many.' When you’ve got teammates like that that, celebrate big games like that or celebrate big wins, it’s huge for the personality in this locker room. I thought that was wonderful to see.

"I didn’t want to force it, but at the same time, it was a big accomplishment."

Sullinger, who had been shuffled to a reserve role during Boston's road trip, has found his shooting touch and worked his way back to the starting group. When the Celtics played their best ball earlier this season, it was Sullinger leading the way and he did it again on Wednesday.

The next time the Celtics hit the floor, Rondo could be out there chasing rebounds with Sullinger.

"I think [Wednesday's win was] big because (1) we broke the losing streak and (2) we get to focus on another game and how to get another win. I thought as a team, we played wonderful. If [Rondo] comes back [on Friday], he comes back. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. We can’t just let him come back and then all of the sudden, we just say, all the weight’s on you. We’ve still got to play basketball, if he comes back or not."

A few more notes from Wednesday's game: