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Kelly Olynyk shines without batting an eye

4/2/2015

BOSTON -- Having already matched his career high of 12 assists while producing his third triple-double in little more than a month, Boston Celtics swingman Evan Turner went looking for one more helper after Wednesday's 100-87 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Standing at one end of the locker room, Turner produced a pair of dark-tinted sunglasses and, unable to muffle a laugh, asked Kelly Olynyk if he wanted to borrow them for his postgame interview.

Olynyk politely declined and wandered into the scrum, his left eye still a gnarly black and blue and almost completely swollen shut. A little bit of blood trickled out from near the top of his eyelid. The blot -- the result of an elbow absorbed from teammate Shavlik Randolph during a 1-on-1 battle just a couple of hours before Wednesday's tipoff -- left him doubtful to participate in a crucial game in Boston's playoff push.

Olynyk received four stitches to close the gash, engaged in some pregame shooting that gave him confidence he could play through, then scored a team-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting over 22 minutes to pace the Celtics in a much-needed victory.

With the win, Boston (34-41) sticks within a half-game of a playoff spot. Miami and Brooklyn currently occupy the final two seeds in the Eastern Conference with matching 34-40 records. Milwaukee remains three games up on the Celtics, but the teams meet in the first of two remaining head-to-head battles on Friday night at TD Garden.

The Celtics haven't determined yet who will bonk Olynyk during pregame warm-ups.

"It's kind of like if you're wearing sunglasses. I could see out of the bottom third [of the injured eye] maybe," Olynyk said. "There's a lot of things that, if you put your mind to, you can do."

Olynyk said he went to the Celtics' practice facility for extra shots on Tuesday night and was feeling good before getting waylaid by Randolph's elbow on Wednesday. After team doctors patched him up and he was checked out by an ophthalmologist, Olynyk hit the floor with a pair of goggles for some pregame shooting but quickly ditched them and was encouraged by how comfortable he felt shooting the ball.

Olynyk's eye immediately became a spectacle. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was chatting with veteran Gerald Wallace when they asked Olynyk to come over to show his wound. Sitting on the bench nearby, Turner and assistant coach Jay Larranaga wanted a peak, as well. Turner scrunched his face and suggested Olynyk needed to get the swollen eye drained immediately.

"It's crazy, and it was wild and random, too," Turner said after the game. "Credit to [Olynyk] for coming back."

But that didn't spare Olynyk from more jabs.

"I don’t know if you saw his outfit: He had on a royal-blue hat, a light-blue eye, baby-blue shoes, midnight-blue pants, a navy-blue vest," said Turner. "So obviously he kind of had it planned a little bit."

Olynyk was so surprisingly effective on the court that no one blinked during his postgame chat with reporters when he (A) sported a Toronto Blue Jays cap, and (B) revealed a previously undisclosed injury for Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton while describing his decision to play in Wednesday's game.

"I remember two days ago, I was texting Dougie Hamilton and he told me he broke his ribs and he’s trying to come back before the playoffs," Olynyk said. "I was like, 'Man, I can’t sit out, he’s gonna rip me.' All those hockey guys would have killed me, so I had to do it."

Olynyk's teammates couldn't help but give him credit for gutting it out.

"He looked like he just got out of a boxing fight," said Tyler Zeller, who matched Olynyk's team-high 19 points. "I was impressed with his ability to go out and play and produce like he did."

Olynyk's big night came as a relief to Randolph, the rarely used backup big man who said he felt awful after the incident. He went so far as to text Olynyk while Olynyk was getting stitched up to make sure he was OK.

"We have some pretty heated 1-on-1 battles before the game," Randolph said. "He hit me with a good move, and I bit on it and he jumped right into my arm.

"He asked me how [the gash] looked, and I told him he looked like Rocky right before Rocky told Mickey to cut him. I’m being dead serious. That’s literally how he looked. It was pretty bad. He took it like a man."

Randolph said it took about a half hour for him to regain feeling in his arm after the collision so, "I knew [Olynyk's] head got hit hard." Randolph laughed when asked if Olynyk might have failed to pay up on a bet when Randolph's Duke beat Olynyk's Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament this past weekend.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens was asked if the team would have Randolph throwing elbows before games the rest of the season.

"Well, the question isn't, 'Should he play 1-on-1?' because he plays 1-on-1 before every game," Stevens said. "I think we have to find a way where he can play well without having to get elbowed in the eye before every game."