Celtics

Starters enjoy well-deserved rest

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Starters enjoy well-deserved rest

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON As the final seconds ticked away at the TD Garden, the Green and White-clad sea of fans weren't the only ones cheering.

Ray Allen. Paul Pierce. Rajon Rondo.

All of the Boston Celtics' starters were off the floor for the entire fourth quarter, rooting for their backups, as the C's delivered an emphatic 110-86 victory over the Utah Jazz.

The C's got off to a fast start, kept it going throughout the first half and continued to pull away in the third quarter.

Utah has been arguably the best come-from-behind team in the NBA this season.

But starting the fourth quarter down by 22 points, on the road, at Boston?

For a moment, the Jazz did make things somewhat interesting.

After a jumper by Utah's Franciso Elson cut Boston's lead to 17 points, the Celtics closed out the quarter with a 6-1 spurt that included four free throws from rookie Semih Erden.

That gave the C's a commanding 22-point lead going into the fourth.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers had every intention of having his reserves finish out the game.

In the fourth, a free throw by Elson cut Boston's lead to 19 points with 4:57 to play.

"I was concerned," Rivers admitted. "They cut it to nineteen and my number (to bring back the starters) was fifteen."

Nate Robinson hit a 3-pointer that pushed Boston's lead back to 22 points.

"I had just told the starters to get stretched," Rivers said. "Because I was thinking they may have to go back in. So it's nice to be able to get any rest."

Especially when it comes in the first game of a back-to-back set.

"It's always good to give them (starters) a chance to rest, especially on back-to-backs," Celtics swingman Marquis Daniels told CSNNE.com. "Regardless, anytime it's good. We're going to need those guys later on in the season. The more playing time we get, that'll help us out because you never know when we'll be called on."

Glen Davis knows this better than most of Boston's backups.

Davis has started nine games this season in place of Kevin Garnett, who was out with a muscle strain in his lower right leg.

As a starter, Davis averaged 13.7 points per game.

Coming off the bench, he still chips in with a respectable 12.5 points per game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field as a reserve.

Davis understands the importance of the bench being able to maintain a comfortable lead, with or without a game the following night.

"We need as much rest as possible," Davis told CSNNE.com following a 15-point, 7-rebound effort against the Jazz. "Going out there, doing what we do."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions on the Celtics getting their first win of the season and a comparison between Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving in the 4th quarter.

7:17 - Phil Perry joins BST to break down the tale of the tape between the Falcons and the Patriots as he breaks down the quarterbacks, offense, defense, coaching, and intangibles between the two teams.

11:57 - Our crew on BST discuss number 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and number 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum going up against each other and debate who seems like the better pick so far. 

16:35 - In this segment of Irrelevant Questions, Tom Curran interviews Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett as he asks him a bunch of random questions. 

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Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

PHILADELPHIA – Near the end of a preseason game against Charlotte, Boston Celtics guard Shane Larkin was killin’ the Hornets with pick-and-roll action.

It was a preseason game that at the time, didn’t seem to have much value other than to get some of the end-of-the-bench guys a little run up and down the court.

But as it turned out, Larkin's play in that game was one of those things head coach Brad Stevens tucked away, knowing at some point he would count on Larkin to provide similar play in a regular season game.

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Well, that game was Friday night at Philadelphia, a game in which several players for Boston stepped their games up in helping the Celtics get their first win of the season, 102-92.

But you would be hard-pressed to find a bigger game-changer for the Celtics in this game, than Larkin.

He finished with 10 points off the bench, eight of which came in the decisive fourth quarter when the Celtics rallied from five-down to get a hard-fought, much-needed victory.

“You have to always be ready for your name to be called, especially when you have injuries,” Larkin said. “You never know whose night it’s gonna be.”

Boston was playing without Marcus Smart who suffered a left ankle sprain in their 108-100 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. Smart was in the starting lineup having replaced Gordon Hayward who underwent left ankle surgery and is expected to be out for the remainder of this season.

“When coach (Stevens) called my name, I had to go out there and be aggressive, play my game,” Larkin said. “And it worked in our favor.”

And while Stevens had watched Larkin play prior to the Celtics signing him this summer, it was a preseason game against Charlotte that really convinced him that the 5-foot-11 guard could help when called upon.

“You’re always watching,” Stevens said. “And if you remember that exhibition game, he finished out that Charlotte game, just running simple spread pick-and-rolls. He’s such a handful with his speed and quickness, and he allows other guys to play off of him. He’s a small guy, but he makes up for it with his speed and skill.”

Al Horford benefited more than any other Celtic with Larkin’s pick-and-roll play which factored into Horford scoring nine of his 17 points in the fourth.

“Shane is a player who understands the game and for us, it was me trying to set a good screen for him and having him make a play,” Horford said. “He just made the right reads, when to shoot it, when to pass it. He just looked very comfortable in that position.”

And to think that Larkin’s big game came about in part because of how well he performed in a preseason matchup against the Hornets.

“I did not know it was that specific game,” Larkin said. “But whenever I step on the court I try to do my best. That’s offensively, defensively, and do what the team needs me to do.

Larkin added, “Whenever my number is called, if he (Stevens) calls it again, I hope he does. I’ll be ready to go out there and do it again.”

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