Plenty of upside in Downs

AP Photo/Jessica Hill

Micah Downs battles for a rebound against the Knicks.The box score following the Celtics' 98-95 overtime loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday showed three players tied for a team-high seven rebounds: Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, and Micah Downs.

That's business as usual for Rondo and Sullinger, but Downs' inclusion on that list was a bit more surprising. He's billed as a pure shooter, with his jumper serving as the most lethal part of his game. But the 26-year-old Downs knows his preseason minutes, like his looks on offense, could be limited, so he branched out on Saturday, going after the ball whenever the Knicks missed a shot. Playing a preseason high 14 minutes, the 6-foot-8 Downs, who's more athletic than people probably realize, hauled in rebound after rebound, helping to secure possessions for the C's.

"That's just something I can try to bring to the table," Downs said of his rebounding. "If I'm out there on the court and I'm not getting my shot, I'm not getting offensive looks, I'm going to try to go get the ball, help our team one way or the other. Whatever I can do. My size, my athleticism, I think I can help out at that position when Paul [Pierce]'s not in the game or when Jeff [Green]'s not in the game, or if we're playing smaller and I'm playing at the four, whatever. Just trying to do everything I can to stick."

Downs wasn't shy on offense on Saturday, rifling off six shots, with two painstaking misses that found the rim and bobbled out, including a putback opportunity that would have given the Celtics a one-point lead with just over 10 seconds remaining in overtime.

"It's frustrating, but I've got to stay positive, just because I was in the right place," Downs said of the close miss. "I was making the right play. The next one will fall. It's just the way it is sometimes."

Downs, a camp invite for Boston, finished with five points on 2-of-6 shooting, to go along with his seven rebounds. Much like the unit he was playing with, Downs exhibited a youthful energy that certainly factored into his activity on the glass. It would have been difficult to not get caught up in the fourth quarter battle between the benches. With the crowd and the veterans of each team locked in, Boston overcame a six-point deficit to force overtime, but couldn't make it over the hump in the extra frame.

"The atmosphere was great. You could see on the bench, all the older guys, the vets, they were jumping up and down and rooting for us, the crowd was getting into it," Downs said. "New York went on a nice little run there, and their crowd got into it, and we came back and responded, and that's just the type of thing that I think the vets and these older guys are looking for, is us to respond, when stuff gets hard, adversity, things like that. That's just what the coaches are looking for and what the older guys are looking for, us to respond."