BOSTON -- After Boston's bench offered little in the way of assistance during Tuesday's head-shaking loss in Charlotte, Jason Terry huddled the team's reserves for a brief state of the second union.
"The bench has a huge responsibility for this team," said Terry. "As we go, sometimes, that's the way the team goes. We have to come in and do our job every night; when we don't, we're going to look like how it did [in Charlotte]."
On a night when the career accomplishments of Boston's veterans took center stage -- Paul Pierce (20th) and Kevin Garnett (15th) shimmied up the NBA's all-time scoring list -- it was hard not to notice that both were on the bench as the Celtics tore open the game en route to a 112-88 triumph over the visiting Raptors.
Jeff Green keyed the bench effort by scoring a team-high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go along with six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. Terry added 12 points and seven assists, while Jordan Crawford chipped in 12 points and three assists.
It was a two-possession game with under five minutes to play in the third quarter when a lineup featuring Terry, Green, Crawford, Avery Bradley and Chris Wilcox helped Boston close out the frame on a 17-4 run. Four of the five buckets during the stretch came at the rim, while the other was a kick-out 3-pointer from the corner. A small Boston lineup attacked relentlessly, getting to the line for nine attempts on the run. At the other end of the floor, Toronto missed eight of nine attempts to end the quarter and was staring at a 19-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter.
That allowed Pierce to sit out the entire fourth quarter, while Garnett played a mere two minutes. Both kicked back and grooved to Gino dancing on the JumboTron as Boston's lead ballooned to as high as 26.
"We were definitely frustrated and upset with ourselves after the [Charlotte] game," said Courtney Lee. "But we knew we had another game the next day that we could get and we just switched our focus on that."
Poor Toronto endured the brunt of that frustration. Boston's bench was a combined 10-of-22 shooting (45.5 percent) for 27 points in Charlotte. On Wednesday night, the Celtics' reserves were a combined 21-of-38 shooting (55.3 percent) for 58 points.
Green, who had a poor shooting night while finishing minus-17 during a spot start for Pierce against the Bobcats, rebounded Wednesday while finishing a team-best plus-23. Celtics coach Doc Rivers was focusing on Green's effort, but might as well have been talking about the reserve group as a whole when he made a Garnett-like food analogy.
"[Green] wants to be McDonald's," said Rivers. "You know what you're getting every time. Same quality, every single time. Fries are always good."
Rivers got a Happy Meal on Wednesday as everyone pitched in on the second unit. Wilcox played 12 efficient minutes, grabbing five rebounds and making all three shots he attempted, including a thunderous one-handed jam. Crawford, his usual blizzard of whirling arms and legs, attacked the basket for nearly all of his offensive output.
Terry made four of his six shots, but was content to play second-unit distributor, his seven helpers on the night second only to an 11-assist outing in Milwaukee back in December.
"It's always fun to see everybody else touch the ball, see the ball movement and to be able to get out in transition," said Terry. "Get some highlight-type plays, that's fun basketball."
Bradley might be a starter, but he deserves a spotlight here for playing alongside the reserves for much of the pivotal stretch. The third-year guard had an off-shooting night (2-of-7 overall; the only starter not in double-figure scoring with five points) but he was utterly relentless on defense. So much so that a riled up Sebastian Telfair picked up two technical fouls for barking at the refs and was ejected before the start of the fourth quarter.
Telfair, a former Boston guard, probably wasn't upset about not having to endure another full-court pickup from a hounding Bradley.
"Avery, I thought in the third quarter, he changed the complexion of the game with his ball pressure," said Rivers.
Lee enjoyed watching someone else deal with Bradley's typically smothering defense.
"Hey, listen, he does that in practice every day," said Lee. "At one point, it was me and him guarding each other every day, so we were frustrating each other. So I feel what the other point guards go through, and that's him going at a high level for 48 minutes."
The Celtics maintained a high level for 48 minutes on Wednesday in large part because of their bench. That allowed Pierce and Garnett to enjoy their milestone moments while playing miniature minutes.
After sitting out Tuesday's debacle in Charlotte, Pierce very much liked the angry response from the bench and the Celtics team as a whole.
"I was expecting the kind of effort that you saw tonight, a team that was pissed at the way we played, motivated," said Pierce. "Whether I played or not, there was no way we'd come out and put the type of effort that we showed [in Charlotte]. That just wasn't our team. I was looking at that team, and I was looking around, wondering where I was at. Was I in somebody else's locker room? Because that wasn't the team I recognized.
"This is the team I like to see, the team that gives effort every play defensively, the team that moves the ball offensively, shares, cheers for one another. We were pretty much lifeless last night and I didn't like that. The guys, they didn't like that. You could feel the mood on the plane last night. They were going to come out and show something tonight and you knew it was going to come."