BOSTON -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said rookie Jared Sullinger had been dealing with back woes in recent weeks, but it hadn't forced the first-year forward off the floor until Wednesday's 99-81 triumph over the Sacramento Kings.
Sullinger played a mere 4 minutes, 8 seconds before pulling himself from the game because of back spasms. He tried to ice the affected area in hopes of returning to the game, but was ruled out late in the first half.
"I know he was trying to get back on the floor," Rivers said. "I don't know if that's bad. But when you have spasms, they last. And we'll just see. He's day to day."
Red flags about his back forced Sullinger to slide down the draft board in June before Boston scooped him up at No. 21. This is the first time back woes have forced him out of action, but Rivers admitted it's a lingering issue.
"Honestly, I know [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] said something a week or two ago, it's been bothering him," said Rivers. "And I think this is what he'll have. He'll have these episodes. We gotta get him through it. Hopefully he doesn't miss games with them. But if he does, he does. He's going to get right and come back."
It was a less-than-ideal day for Sullinger. Not only did he have the back issue, but the league passed him over for the Rising Stars rookie/sophomore game next month at All-Star weekend in Houston and upheld his first career technical from Sunday's double-overtime win over the Miami Heat.
Informed of the Rising Stars snub, All-Star-bound Kevin Garnett hoped his young teammate used it as motivation.
"It doesn't surprise me," Garnett said. "The league has, I guess, an agenda in what they want, and Jared's not in that agenda. I hope it creates a monster within him. I hope it does nothing but encourage him."
Rivers thinks better things await Sullinger in the future.
"Listen, he'll make [All-Star-like events] eventually -- and maybe not that team, but he'll be in the league a long time and I think he'll be happier with that in the long run," said Rivers.