BOSTON -- Boston Celtics second-year guard Phil Pressey had the biggest crowd of the season around his locker before Friday night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers, reporters eager to chat about his 34-point outing during a NBA Development League cameo the day before with the Maine Red Claws. As Pressey started talking about the benefits of getting up 25 shots, Gerald Wallace's booming voice bellowed from a couple stalls over.
"Ball hog," quipped Wallace.
Pressey laughed, but didn't disagree. While the rest of the Celtics enjoyed an offday following a back-to-back earlier in the week, Pressey embraced the chance to head north for some much-needed game reps.
Pressey put up his 34 points -- besting even his collegiate high of 27 points at Missouri -- on 11-of-25 shooting over 42 minutes. With strong drives at the basket, he got to the line for 12 more attempts.
"It was a great opportunity," said Pressey, who never ventured north as a rookie while appearing in 75 games for Boston. A handful of recent DNPs left him open to the idea of the D-League. "I’m allowed to play free like that, play that many minutes, it feels good for me. It’s a lot different from an NBA game, but it’s a good chance to get your rhythm, get a good feel for the game again."
Pressey was complimentary of the D-League talent, but said the lack of pure bigs made it easier to attack the basket than at the NBA level. For a player whose minutes often come in bite-sized chunks, Pressey simply appreciated the extended run.
"[Having a big scoring night] gives you some type of confidence, but just going down there and playing 40 minutes, I felt like I was in college by playing all those minutes," said Pressey.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens pledged to utilize the D-League more often this season and Boston has Maine first-year head coach Scott Morrison running a similar playbook to let players seamlessly integrate moving both ways.
"[Maine has] been good, it’s been really good," said Stevens. "Phil gets an opportunity, he hasn’t played as much, so he gets an opportunity to go up there and compete and play and see the ball go through the net a lot. [Rookie James Young] did that multiple times already. Maine’s had a great year; it’s a good environment, good coaches, and they’ve won a lot, so it’s been a good thing."
Over in the visitor's locker room, there was more Maine chatter with the presence of Tim Frazier, the rookie point guard who camped with Boston, went to the Red Claws as an affiliated player, and recently signed a 10-day contract with Philadelphia.
Frazier played a whopping 34:48 in his debut Friday, registering 5 points on 2-of-9 shooting with a game-high 11 assists and five rebounds.
"We all knew that Tim would get called up," said Stevens. "He’s had a great year and he was great for us in the preseason. Had it not been for the fact that Marcus Smart was 20, and [Rajon] Rondo was [injured], we just wanted to play Marcus as much as possible in the exhibition games, otherwise Tim -- we felt comfortable putting Tim in there even more than he played."
Sixers head coach Brett Brown gushed on Frazier's debut.
"Think about that, really think about that!" said Brown. "It’s a great story. Like that you lose you starting point guard, and your backup point guard ... so the rug is pulled from underneath us. You shake a kid's hand [Thursday] and you give him the ball and -- it was clear from the start that JaKarr [Sampson] was no point guard -- and you really don’t have anything to go to. You can’t run plays, you’ve got no winks or blinks within our structure and it ends up let's just guard and run. For Tim to come from Maine, change his uniform, and go get 34 minutes in an NBA game that’s a hell of a story."
Sully the PG
Celtics big man Jared Sullinger has put up 17 assists over his last three games, including a career-high seven helpers during Friday's win.
So what's got into him? "It’s what got into my teammates, they were knocking down shots," said Sullinger. "They made a lot of tough shots; made me look good."
Sullinger added on his recent uptick in distribution: "My dad [Satch] forced me to play point guard at times in high school, so it’s kinda almost natural."
Prince still a pauper with hip injury
Veteran swingman Tayshaun Prince missed his fourth straight game due to a hip flexor. Stevens said he expects Prince to travel to Milwaukee for Saturday's tail end of a back-to-back against the Bucks, but is uncertain if he'll play.
"Tayshaun went to the doctor [Friday], he was feeling a little bit better today," said Stevens, who had labeled Prince doubtful for Friday's game. "He seems to be better. He is going to travel, regardless, and if he doesn’t play [Friday], there’s a chance he’ll play [Saturday]. Game-to-game, day-to-day for him and how he feels. It’s his call. I want to make sure that he feels good."
Stevens said he had no update on Kelly Olynyk, who has missed nine games since suffering an ankle injury against Portland on Jan. 22.