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Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Notebook: Illness ends Sully's streak

By Chris Forsberg

BOSTON -- Feeling under the weather, Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger played only 18 minutes, 31 seconds during Wednesday's 104-92 loss to the San Antonio Spurs and saw his six-game double-double streak snapped.

The team's medical staff gave Sullinger intravenous therapy Wednesday morning and encouraged him to get additional bed rest before the game, but he labored on the court and finished with four points on 2-of-9 shooting to go along with seven rebounds.

"I was a little sick. Still feel it a little bit, but I’m all right," Sullinger said. "I missed a lot of shots, but I don’t really think [the illness] affected me. I think it was just that I was a little bit off in my routine, came in a little bit later because [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] wanted me to stay in bed. Just off my routine a little bit. As a result, I missed a lot of shots that I normally make."

Added Celtics coach Brad Stevens: "[Sullinger] had IVs this morning, didn’t go through walkthrough [because he was] sick. So he tried to give it a go [and] I thought he played with pretty decent effort, but I didn’t think he looked the same. I think we all probably agreed with that."

Sullinger helped Boston limit Tim Duncan to a mere two first-half points, but as Sullinger's energy faded in the second half, Duncan took over and scored 23 of his game-high 25 points after the intermission.

The Celtics now have a week break from game action, but Sullinger and rookie Kelly Olynyk are off to New Orleans to play in the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend. Asked about the honor, Sullinger noted, "It means everything, to me at least. I don’t know what Kelly said, but, to me, it means everything. All the hard work and, on top of that, being picked where I was picked [at No. 21 overall in the 2012 draft]. It was kind of a slap in the face toward me, even though I had the back injury."

Sullinger admitted he'll likely use his draft position as motivation for the rest of his career. He's been Boston's best player in recent games, even being honored as the Eastern Conference player of the week on Monday. Despite Wednesday's quiet outing, Sullinger still is averaging 16.5 points and 11.2 rebounds over 32.3 minutes per game in his last six outings.

Now he's hoping to put those skills on display Friday during the annual rookie/sophomore mixer. After that, he's headed back to Columbus, Ohio for a tiny bit of relaxation before the team reconvenes Monday in Phoenix.

"I've got to get out of [New Orleans]. I've got to go see my momma," Sullinger said. "I've got to go see my momma and my dad and my brothers. I need to go see my family."

STEVENS: AN IMPORTANT TRIP HOME

Celtics coach Brad Stevens utilized Boston’s off-day Tuesday to sneak back to his native Zionsville, Ind., to meet with former player Andrew Smith, who was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

For Stevens, the decision to make the trek home was a no-brainer and worked out well with Boston coming off a back-to-back in Milwaukee.

“Any time you have somebody that you really care about that’s struggling with something, I think it’s paramount to any of us that we would go and find a way to get out there and see that person,” Stevens said. “It worked out with his treatments, the timing of those, and with us being in Milwaukee and being off on Tuesday. It made a lot of sense to do it; I just tried to get over there as soon as I could.”

The 23-year-old Smith, who was an underclassman on Butler’s two national championship runner-ups, was also a senior (and vocal leader) during Stevens’ final season with the Bulldogs. Smith went undrafted in June, but played professionally in Lithuania before his recent diagnosis.

“You hate to see anybody go through that, let alone a 23-year-old,” Stevens said. “But he is a tough cookie, man. You talk about different strengths of people and all the things that we talk about with regard to talent, his toughness level is as high as it comes. I have no doubt that he’ll kick this thing to the curb.”

NO TROUBLES IN SIGHT

Brandon Bass suffered a corneal abrasion after being poked in the eye by Milwaukee’s Zaza Pachulia during the third quarter of Monday’s win over the Bucks. Bass sat out the final 15 minutes of play that night, but returned to the starting lineup during Wednesday’s visit from the Spurs.

Bass finished with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting with five rebounds over 21 minutes on Wednesday, showing no lingering effects from the eye poke.

Stevens, however, could feel Bass’ corneal pain.

Back in February 2011, Stevens had to skip the second half of a Butler game due to a corneal edema. This after trying to coach in sunglasses earlier in the game.

Stevens released a statement after Butler beat Loyola, “Right now, I can't see and my eye feels like it has a thousand scratches.”

Recalling that game on Wednesday and reflecting on Bass, Stevens said, “Anybody that has anything like that, I’ve got a lot of respect for, because that is not a fun feeling.”