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Jae Crowder returns to Celtics after eight-game absence

Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted a double-double during his return to the starting lineup Thursday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Crowder, sidelined since Feb. 10 with a high ankle sprain, had missed Boston's past eight games. He showed few signs of rust while putting up 13 points and 10 rebounds over 34 minutes, 35 seconds in the 116-109 loss.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens had told reporters in Portland he did not believe Crowder will be on a minutes restriction against the Blazers and joked he wasn't going to ask the training staff.

Earlier in the day, Stevens and Crowder hinted at shootaround that, by playing in Thursday's game, Crowder was unlikely to play in the tail end of a back-to-back Friday at Golden State.

Crowder told reporters after Thursday's game that it would be his decision whether to play Friday and said he hoped to give it a go.

The Celtics went 4-4 without Crowder, losing their first three games, then winning four in a row before that streak was snapped with Monday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Crowder's return came as the Celtics find themselves in a four-team log jam in the middle of the Eastern Conference, jousting with the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat for the Nos. 3-6 seeds. With Thursday's loss, the Celtics fell to No. 6 in the East.

Crowder entered Thursday's game averaging career bests of 14.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.8 steals over 31.9 minutes per game this season.