BOSTON — Every member of the Boston Celtics had his own way of describing a harrowing 91-84 win on Friday, when the team committed 28 turnovers yet somehow still escaped with a 91-84 win. Not surprisingly, the descriptions were dripping with gallows humor.
“We shared the ball pretty well,” coach Brad Stevens said, “with our team as well as theirs.”
Stevens could deadpan because the Celtics (21-41) earned just their second victory in their last nine games by playing a little less ugly than the Brooklyn Nets (30-30). Likewise, Jared Sullinger laughed to himself when he was asked how his team managed to win despite its utter failure to take care of the basketball.
“Sheesh, I don’t know,” Sullinger said, shaking his head. “Honestly, I don’t know.”
What helped was the Nets’ compete ineffectiveness on the glass and shooting beyond the arc. The Celtics dominated the rebounding battle 51-28 and held Brooklyn to 4-for-30 on 3-pointers, including 0-for-17 in the first half. The Nets went through a drought late in the third quarter and into the fourth, when they were unable to score a basket for 7 minutes, 18 seconds of game action. The Celtics, for their part, did not score in a five-minute stretch in the fourth quarter.
It was far from a pretty performance, but in a season short on victories of any kind, the Celtics will gladly take whatever they can get. But, seriously, 28 turnovers? In the immortal words of Sullinger: Sheesh.
Eight days into his NBA career, Chris Babb has fit right in with the Celtics. Fresh off scoring his first five points on Wednesday, Babb dropped a pair of threes and played solid defense in 14 minutes Friday. He even contributed a highlight when he poked away a loose ball from Joe Johnson to spark a fastbreak in the second quarter.
Time could be running short for Babb to make more plays like that, though. His 10-day contract is up after Sunday’s game, at which point the Celtics will have the option of resigning him or letting him go.
Stevens votes for the former.
“The best compliment I can give him, just like when I sat up here and said about Chris Johnson, I hope like heck he’s with us on Monday,” Stevens said. “He’s a perfect fit for what we need.”
Babb is the third player Boston has brought in on a 10-day this season. Johnson was eventually signed through the end of the season and Vander Blue was released at the end of January.
Someone must have lied to Rajon Rondo and told him the game was nationally televised, because he had one of his typical national TV-type performances. Rondo exploded for 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to bounce back nicely from Wednesday’s game, which was easily his worst game of the season. Seven turnovers were the only real blemish on his register.
How Rondo felt about his night remains a mystery, however, as the point guard declined through a team spokesman to speak with the media after the game. Rondo was present in the locker room when reporters entered, but he gathered his things and left after a few minutes. He never returned.