Celtics Live Blog: Jared Sullinger, C’s Fall Short in Overtime Against Knicks 98-95


Celtics Live Blog: Jared Sullinger, C's Fall Short in Overtime Against Knicks 98-95Game over, Knicks win 98-95:
 Jared Sullinger just keeps doing more and more to draw some attention this preseason.

The rookie forward had 14 points and seven rebounds, although he fouled out with 3:42 left in overtime, as a collection of Celtics rookies stuck around with the Knicks. Other Boston reserves who stood out were Jeff Green and Courtney Lee, who combined for 23 points. Carmelo Anthony had 23 points of his own, proving he can fill up the bucket even when the statistics do not matter.

Overtime, :11.3, Knicks 98-95: Sullinger's uneven start came back to hurt him in overtime, when he picked up his sixth foul and was sent to the bench. Without their meal ticket on offense, the Celtics hung tight but were unable to maintain their scoring against the Kidd-led Knicks.

Kidd must have been tired of playing all these garbage minutes, because he drained a long jumper and then slapped away the ball on Christmas' drive to put the Knicks in position for the win. 

End of regulation, game tied 86-86: We have bonus preseason basketball in Hartford!

As patently exciting as that is, it might actually be intriguing to see if Woodson continues to relegate Kidd and Novak to this type of treament. Obviously the Knicks are shorthanded with J.R. Smith, Stoudemire, Camby and Wallace all out, but how about giving Mychel Thompson some run here, Mike?

Fourth quarter, :16.6, game tied 86-86: Sullinger got the ball, as he should, and he drew a foul on Knicks rookie Chris Copeland. Only one of two went down for Sullinger, though, and the second shot needed about five spins around the toilet bowl to get flushed home.

Fourth quarter, :20.8, Knicks 86-85: This collection of Celtics newbies managed to keep it close against a New York lineup that included the league's best 3-point shooter and a future Hall of Fame point guard. Rivers called a timeout to give his young guns a chance to win it.

The starters on the bench were active in the huddles and on the sideline. They want to see if their youngsters can pull this out, too.

Fourth quarter, 3:30, Knicks 84-78: Rivers opted to see how his young players could handle a close game. Woodson decided to let vets like Kidd and Novak take on a bunch of guys who have never played in an actual NBA game. What is there for the Knicks to gain from this, again?

While there is some use to seeing what Smith, Christmas, Joseph and Downs can give the Celtics, there is virtually nothing to learn about Kidd, who has played 18 seasons and will go into the Hall of Fame five years after whenever he decides to retire. Not surprisingly, the Knicks ran their offense much more effectively and Novak dropped a couple of jumpers.

Fourth quarter, 6:38, Celtics 78-72: Whatever you want to say about the Celtics' collection of rookies, they clearly enjoy playing together. Christmas got fired up when Kris Joseph muscled in an and-on layup, and everybody in a white jersey scrambled for a loose ball that result in a three-on-two opportunity for the Celtics — even if it ended with a dubious charging call against Christmas.

Fourth quarter, 8:41, Celtics 73-72: There is a first unit and a second unit, but nobody ever really talks about the third unit.

Well, whatever the third unit is, it is on the court in Hartford. Dionte Christmas, Micah Downs, Sullinger, Lee and Jamar Smith took on a collection of Knicks backups in a tight game. Sullinger played like the best player on the court, hitting a jumper and making a strong spin move in the post.

End of third quarter, 66-63: Bass and Sullinger are both viable options at power forward, which is both good and bad for the Celtics. It is bad because it means they may not have a clear-cut first-unit four.

Sullinger continued to impress but he is still very much a rookie in many respects. His defensive positioning is not nearly as good as his offensive positioning, and as a result he picked up four personal fouls in just 12 minutes. The Celtics' second unit was not as strong at the end of the third quarter as it was in the first half, and as a result the Knicks were able to pull within one possession heading into the final 12 minutes.

Third quarter, 3:39, Celtics 63-56: Pierce and Anthony have been wrestling with each other all game, and Anthony has gotten the best of the matchup so far. Anthony led all scorers with 21 points while Pierce had only 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting.

Rondo made a concerted effort to get Bass involved in the offense in the third quarter, and Sullinger, who had played less than nine minutes, had been fairly quiet in this game. Sullinger checked in with about four minutes to go, so we well see if the rookie continues his impressive preseason.

Third quarter, 6:28, Celtics 60-49: This game does not count. The stats don't count. The win or loss does not count. Apart from a few players trying to win roster spots, this game is meaningless except for getting in rhythm for the regular season.

These are the Celtics and Knicks, though, and emotions were raised in the third quarter. Bass, whose demise has been greatly exagerrated, sprinted out on the break to catch a long-distance pass from Rondo behind the defense for a two-handed dunk as the pace ramped up. Bass picked up a technical for touching the ball after the dunk. Shortly after, Anthony felt he was fouled en route to the hoop, and while Terry found Garnett with an excellent pass for a dunk, the Knicks forward picked up a technical for arguing with the referee.

Halftime, Celtics 50-42: The Celtics' depth could lead to some unnecessary tinkering, but it can also lead to some really cool lineups. Pierce, Green, Bass, Lee and Rondo teamed up for the end of the first half and presented all kinds of possibilities, not just in the fast break. The Knicks did not seem to know exactly how to defend that lineup and it led to a defensive three-second violation on one possession.

Anthony was the star of the first half for the Knicks with 15 points, but Green put in 12 points while playing a more complete game. Green was also efficient playing off the ball and defended Anthony whenever both were on the court, and Pierce and Green are capable of some nifty things together on the court.

Second quarter, 5:17, Celtics 41-32: The Knicks offense seems predicated on throwing the ball around purposelessly until someone can take a wild fadeaway jump shot as the 24-second clock expires — even when Anthony is not on the court.

Garnett and Pierce returned to the court, bringing Lee with them, and their ball movement was a stark contrast to the Knicks' haphazard offense. Lee swooped in nicely for an acrobatic finish, demonstrating that Green might not be the only reliable backup on Boston's bench.

Second quarter, 8:10, Celtics 37-32: Jeff Green's four-year contract was the consensus pick by the experts as the worst contract of the offseason, yet two weeks into the preseason it is difficult to see where they got such an idea. Green continued to flourish against many of the Knicks regular reserves he would be facing once the real games begin.

Green floated through the lane and went up nonchalantly before stuffing home a one-handed dunk that took even himself off his feet. On the next play, he drained a corner three as the shot clock expired. Green's flurry of five points in 41 seconds gave the Celtics their largest lead of the game at 37-30.

End of first quarter, Celtics 28-27: Darko Milicic, Courtney Lee, Terry, Green and Sullinger banded together for a good chunk toward the end of the first quarter in an interesting lineup. The combination of Milicic and Sullinger's heft down low, Lee and Terry's shooting and Green's all-around skills presented some matchup issues for the Knicks, such as when 6-foot-3 guard Pablo Prigioni had to cover 6-foot-9 Green.

Anthony was the standout in the first quarter, dropping a game-high 10 points in 10 minutes. Not surprisingly, Anthony's seven shots taken were also a game high.

First quarter, 1:55, Knicks 23-22: Knicks coach Mike Woodson assigned Steve Novak to guard Jared Sullinger. That went about as well as one would expect.

Sullinger moved Novak easily in the post and got the ball repeatedly. The rookie drew contact for a shooting foul the first time, and on a subsequent touch he displayed his great court awareness by passing out of a double-team to Terry.

Green, who has arguably been Boston's best player this preseason, scored a baby hook to give the Celtics their first lead at 19-18. He also drew the toughest defensive assignment with Anthony. It looks as though Green will do a little bit of everything.

First quarter, 5:57, Knicks 14-11: Raymond Felton did not do much of consequence with the Trail Blazers last season, but he appears to be rejuvenated back with the Knicks. The new/old Knicks point guard pushed the pace early, connecting with Tyson Chandler on the secondary break for an alley-oop dunk. As maddening as Felton can be running a frenetic offense, he and Chandler could be a devastating pick-and-roll combination.

The Celtics fell behind deeply early, with New York scoring the first six points and stretching its lead to 14-7 when Garnett took a seat at the 7:29 mark. Kurt Thomas, 40, and Jason Kidd, 39, also shared some floor time, giving the Knicks the most "seasoned" pair of teammates in the NBA.

7:20 p.m.: Seeing "The Jet" in the starting lineup is not as odd as it may seem. Terry was a starter for quite a long time, including on the 2006 Mavericks team that reached the NBA Finals, and as he noted on Friday, he is ready for whatever role or situation he is put into.

"It's all about having confidence in yourself and knowing your skill set," Terry said. "I'm able to come off the bench and do what I do because I'm always ready. I'm always ready to score the ball and make an impact in the ballgame. I was a starter for four years in Atlanta and three in Dallas, so either way it goes for me it doesn't matter. When the lights are on, when the crowd is cheering or when they're going against us is when I'm at my best. It doesn't matter as long as it's game time."

It is just about game time in Hartford. The starting lineups appear below.

Knicks
Tyson Chandler
Kurt Thomas
Carmelo Anthony
James White
Raymond Felton 

Celtics
Kevin Garnett
Brandon Bass
Paul Pierce
Jason Terry
Rajon Rondo 

6:45 p.m.: Celtics coach Doc Rivers transitioned to another new starting combination for the game against the Knicks. Brandon Bass is back in the starting lineup, as is sixth man extraordinaire Jason Terry. One guess as to who the other three starters are for Boston.

As for the Knicks, Kevin Garnett will not get to talk all that trash he is itching to say to Rasheed Wallace. The former Celtic did not travel to Harford, likely joining Amare Stoudemire, who also did not travel, at a hip Manhattan bar to watch the game. (I kid. Stoudemire is nursing a sore knee and Wallace is still trying to work into shape.)

Paul Pierce and Rivers celebrated birthdays on Saturday, as did former Boston center Jermaine O'Neal. So, happy birthday to all of them.

4 p.m. ET: The European vacation was a blast, but now is the time for the Celtics to take on some real NBA players.

The Celtics, 1-1 in their exhibition schedule, will "host" the Knicks on Saturday at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The Knicks are not expected to be at full strength, as Amare Stoudemire, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby and several other key Knicks may miss the game to nurse injuries. Still, an NBA team at half strength should tell the Celtics more about where they stand with just over two weeks remaining before the regular season begins.


Avery Bradley and Chris Wilcox, who have not practiced, are unlikely to be available for the Celtics.

Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET

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