BOSTON -- His late-game block drew him a large postgame media crowd and Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass used the stage to set the record straight on that No-Pass Bass moniker he has carried during his NBA career.
Brandon Bass is showing he can do more than shoot this season."I never agreed with that nickname," said Bass. "[Rajon] Rondo just put me in position to catch-and-shoot [in the past]. If you listen to some of the game film, when he passes to me, he would say, ‘Shoot!’ even if somebody was on me. That’s why I was No-Pass Bass."
Bass, who had never averaged an assist per game before arriving in Boston, has seen that helper tally slowly climb. Last season he handed out 84 assists in 81 games, reaching the 1-assist-per-game plateau for the first time, and this season he's already at 44 assists through 30 games for nearly 1.5 assists per contest.
OK, so Rondo doesn't have to worry about Bass stealing his point guard duties while he rehabs, but Bass is taking great pleasure in showing off his passing skills this season.
For the fourth time during the 2013-14 campaign, Bass tied his career high of four assists during Saturday's 103-100 triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers. He added 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting with six rebounds, and two blocks (including the late-game swat on Dion Waiters that helped preserve the win).
Informed of his assist-happy night, Bass quipped, "That’s what I do, man." Turning more serious, he added, "I didn’t know that. I don’t really keep up with the stats. But it’s cool to be able to make plays for my teammates. I told Rondo, I’d rather get an assist, a nice assist, versus a dunk. I’ve been dunking my whole life. It feels good to make a play for somebody else."
Bass' work near the basket is generating more opportunities for his teammates. In the first quarter, he drew a double team in the paint before kicking the ball out to Jeff Green for a 3-pointer from above the arc. The two joined forces again soon after, this time with Bass passing to the corner off a double team on the right blocks, for another Green triple.
Bass found Crawford for a 3-pointer in the third quarter, then dished off the drive to feed Humphries for a baseline jumper later in that frame. That's 11 points generated off Bass feeds.
Pretty soon, you're going to have to find him a new nickname.
A month ago you might have been able to needle Bass about his 3-point shooting (he had missed the first 16 of his nine-year career). Now he's made his last two, both against the Cavaliers, and laughed while noting, "There’s just something about Cleveland. They like to see me shoot 3s, so I was able to hit one."
Bass is enjoying getting to show off other aspects of his game this season.
"This year, it’s just a different way," said Bass. "Everything is different. I’ve been able to show different things by everything being different -- different players, different system, and it’s cool that I can succeed in different scenarios. I just want to continue to help my teammates in any way I can, and hopefully lead us to wins."
A handful of postgame notes:
WALLACE SITS OUT SECOND HALF: Gerald Wallace took a blow to the face in the first half and did not play in the second half. Brad Stevens was a bit cryptic, noting, "He got dinged up in the first half and [trainer] Ed [Lacerte] told me to not play him. Hopefully he’s OK. He looked fine in the locker room after, but we’ll let them figure that out." Later Stevens added, "He got hit in the nose. I don’t know what the prognosis is and I don’t want to speculate." The fear would seemingly be a concussion, but Wallace showed no ill effects in the locker room. He did excuse himself from approaching reporters by noting that he had to go talk to Lacerte. Wallace had two points, two rebounds and two assists over 8:30 in Saturday's win.
SULLINGER RUNS WITH SECOND UNIT: Stevens tweaked his rotation a bit, subbing Jared Sullinger out early, about seven minutes in with Kris Humphries serving as the first big off the bench. That allowed Stevens to bring Sullinger back for the start of the second quarter to run with a reserve group featuring Phil Pressey, Courtney Lee, Wallace and Kelly Olynyk (reuniting a frontcourt trio that has thrived together at times this season). Said Stevens: "That was on purpose. That’s just an attempt to get more scoring in certain lineups, a little bit more balance, so that we can continue with that. And that may have thrown off [Sullinger's] rhythm a little bit, but he’ll get used to it." Sullinger had an up-and-down night, finishing with eight points and three rebounds over 30:41. Asked about his performance, he noted, “I was fine. You know everyone has one of those games where they are just a half a step off, but I got to bounce back." As for running with the second unit, Sullinger added, "It’s my teammates. Regardless of whatever unit it is, we’re just playing hard and we’re plugging away. We share the ball like a team and we just play hard. That’s what the second unit does, that’s what any unit does."
CRAWFORD'S TERRIBLE TURNOVER: Jordan Crawford had an amazingly bad turnover in the fourth quarter. Running in transition with an eroding 10-point lead and 3 ½ minutes to play, Crawford went behind his back for a little razzle-dazzle before trying to send a little scoop pass to Kris Humphries on the right side. Instead, the ball was about 10 feet off the mark and landed in the first row of seats along the baseline. Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn could be heard bellowing, "That is absolutely ... a NO-NO!" When the broadcast showed a half-confused, half-angry Stevens, Heinsohn added, "I'm with you." For his part, Crawford joked, "I like to have fun out there. I kept the team loose with that turnover, know what I’m saying?"
GREEN UNCENSORED: Asked if the Cavaliers were easier to attack without suspended Andrew Bynum, Jeff Green said, "He would’ve been a good guy to get a dunk on." Green was just as tough on his own teammate Avery Bradley after the point guard got stuffed by the rim trying to complete a long-distance alley-oop from Jordan Crawford in the second half. "[Bradley] said he didn’t know where he was at when he went up, but that’s him trying to make a play," said Green. "This time, the rim denied him."