The littlest guy on the court made the biggest play of the game Friday night.
The Boston Celtics can go ahead and thank Phil Pressey for helping to end the team’s nine-game losing streak. Strangely enough, he did it with a rebound.
Boston was on the verge of an ugly collapse after allowing its seven-point lead with 2:14 remaining to dwindle all the way down to one. Al Jefferson made it a one-point game by nailing a jump hook shot with 29.1 seconds remaining in the contest. Jared Sullinger attempted to answer back with a 28-foot 3-pointer at the other end of the court but his shot clanked off of the back of the rim and out toward the opposite wing.
Pressey wasn’t standing in place for the board, but he made sure he got close enough to the loose ball to make a play. He dashed out to the wing and rose up above everyone around him to tip the ball out toward midcourt and into the hands of Brandon Bass. Bass was immediately fouled, and then the Bobcats sent Sullinger to the line for two free throws following Boston’s inbound play.
We can’t take any credit away from Sullinger. He stepped up to the line and nailed two critical free throws to put the Celtics on top 106-103. Those free throws, however, wouldn’t have happened without that tipped loose ball by Pressey.
Had Pressey not tipped the ball out to Bass, Charlotte would have had possession of the ball with a few seconds remaining while trailing by only one point. It had a timeout to advance the ball, too, so any made shot would have dealt Boston a 10th consecutive defeat.
But that’s all hypothetical. Pressey, all 5-foot-11 of him, made sure it didn’t happen. His tip-out off of Sullinger’s miss was undoubtedly the biggest play of the game.
Key Box Score Line
How does one handle replacing an injured All-Star in the starting lineup just an hour before tip-off? Phil Pressey answered a similar question for Celtics.com earlier this season.
“Coming into this season I knew I was going to have to stay ready,” he said before one of his eight career starts. “So when I’m playing 25 or 30 minutes, when I’m playing five minutes, or if I’m not playing at all, I just have to stay mentally prepared.”
That mindset helped Pressey to remain unfazed Friday night when he spot-started for Rajon Rondo. Rondo notified his coaching staff at about 6:20 p.m. that he would not be able to play against Charlotte due to a bruised left shin. Brad Stevens then turned in Pressey’s direction, and the rookie responded with a fantastic performance.
Pressey gave his best Rondo impression by racking up a double-double of 10 points and a game-high 13 assists while also contributing five rebounds. Additionally, Pressey, who Brad Stevens called a “very good defender” after Friday’s game, tied for the game high in steals with three rips.
After getting the starting nod just an hour before tip-off, Pressey brought the goods. It’s safe to say he’s pretty good at that "staying mentally prepared" thing.
Box Score Nuggets
- Four Celtics scored at least 18 points, led by Avery Bradley's 22.
- Both teams shot better than 50 percent from the field.
- Charlotte out-assisted the Celtics 33-22 but still lost.
- Phil Pressey dished out a game-high 13 assists.
- Al Jefferson scored a game-high 32 points despite not attempting a single free throw.
- Pressey, Jannero Pargo and Luke Ridnour all tied for the game high in steals with three apiece.
- Boston committed 20 turnovers to Charlotte's 12.
- The Celtics scored at least 27 points in each of the first three quarters.
- Charlotte scored 50 points in the paint.
- Jeff Green committed a game-high six turnovers.
- Boston shot a perfect 13-of-13 from the free-throw line.
- Jefferson was the only player in the game to grab double-digit rebounds. He finished with 10.
- Jefferson attempted a game-high 26 shots, 10 more than the next-highest individual player total.
- Each team scored 10 second-chance points.
Quote of the Night
He's got a little bit of a riverboat gambler (in him). That's his greatest strength, greatest weakness at times. Brad Stevens on Phil PresseyMore quotes >>