Notebook: Bradley's return glimpse

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley reported no problems with his ankle after being eased back into game action during Friday's 87-80 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Bradley, who had missed 19 of the team's last 22 games, including the previous 13 straight, chipped in nine points on 4-of-12 shooting over 16 minutes, 38 seconds of floor time while coming off the bench. He admitted there's still rust to knock off after being away from basketball activities for more than a month.

"I didn’t really care [about how much playing time] as long as I got a chance to go out there. Play hard for my team, that’s all that matters with me," said Bradley.

Asked if he desired to play more minutes, he said, "Of course. As a competitor, you want to go out there and help your team. At the same time, I have to be smart and [coach Brad Stevens], he knows better than me, and he knows I have to get back in the rhythm. I was as little rusty. He has to limit my minutes. He told me that before the game, but I didn’t know how many minutes I was going to play and I really didn’t care."

Bradley missed all seven shots he took away from the basket and all four of his makes came near the rim. He said he tried to pick up his defensive intensity because of the obvious rust on his jumper.

Maybe more importantly, the team got another chance to watch the Rajon Rondo/Bradley backcourt pairing that it hasn't seen much of in recent seasons due to injuries. The duo had logged a mere 97 minutes of court time together in six previous games this season.

Rondo and Bradley ran together for 10 minutes on Friday night and were plus-4 in the small sample.

"Hopefully we’ll get to see that quite a bit in the last month here," said Stevens. "Knock on wood, because they haven’t been able to play much together over the first four years they’ve been together. I think it’s really a duo that you would think would complement each other very well based on the strengths on both ends of the court. Hopefully we’ll see that again with a healthy month left in the season."

Echoed Rondo: "Our time will come. I’ve missed [games], he’s missed [games]. Hopefully we can get it together and we’ll both be out there playing and healthy."

How did Bradley look to Rondo on Friday night?

"He looked well," said Rondo. "He didn’t play or practice at all in a month. So for him to get out there -- I know he missed a couple shots, but for the most part, my main concern was his lateral movements, as far as the ankle, and his defense looked great tonight."


Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday that he didn't think Rondo would play in the second game of the team's four remaining back-to-backs this season. Stevens echoed those comments Friday, but left the door open for the possibility of Rondo playing both ends before season's end.

"As I've looked at the schedule, [Rondo sitting out the second nights] has been my best guess," said Stevens. "I don’t know that it’s 100 percent that that will be the case. But the way that he has felt day after games has, again, just been general soreness and he is getting back into a nice rhythm right now and I think the biggest thing is building on that as we move forward. Certainly if there’s soreness -- or if he wakes up and he feels great one day, there's nothing precluding him from saying, ‘Hey, I'm going to give it a run tonight.’ But it would be him, the trainers, and everybody else getting together and saying it."

Rondo has sat out the second game of five back-to-backs since returning in mid-January. All four of Boston's remaining back-to-backs come as part of three-games-in-four-nights sets that Rondo has previously said he desires to avoid. Only one (April 4-5 vs. Philadelphia and Detroit) features more than a single day off after the back-to-back.


Emptying out the notebook ...

GREEN'S RETURN: Gerald Green, drafted by the Celtics in the first round of the 2005 draft, returned to Boston Friday night with the Suns playing some of the best basketball of his NBA career. Before the game, he was autographing for a mob of fans and got caught writing, "Go Suns" on some Celtics gear. "I have to do that, I’m sorry," he said with a smile. Green is averaging a career-best 15.6 over 29.3 minutes per game this season. Asked if he could have envisioned this when he was playing in Russia from 2009-2011, Green said: "I never thought I’d be back in the NBA. Once you’re overseas for so long, I kind of wondered would I get another opportunity to play because you hear so many stories about guys getting out of the league and never getting back in it."

COULDN'T HIT THE BROADSIDE OF A BARN: The Celtics missed a whopping 65 shots while going 29 of 94 shooting overall (30.9 percent). Boston's top point output was 11 points (shared by Chris Johnson and Kris Humphries). Said a clearly disappointed Stevens: "I thought we shot probably worst -- worse shots than we’ve shot for a while. We missed 65 shots. That’s pretty incredible that we had a chance to win, but that’s not good and we need to make sure that we don’t do that again."