BOSTON — Jared Sullinger had another one of those games on Friday night that makes people wonder just how good he can be.
“I just think the sky’s the limit,” rookie Boston coach Brad Stevens said of Sullinger, the second-year forward who scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the Celtics to their third straight victory — a 99-89 win over the Sacramento Kings.
“Only time will tell, so we’ll see,” Sullinger said when asked how much better he can get.
Leading his team to a win even though starting guards Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley were out with injuries, Sullinger posted his fourth straight double-double, his 11th since the calendar turned to 2014.
He has 95 points and 55 rebounds in the last four games.
“Obviously, 31 and 16 is great; can you do that every night? No one in the league is doing that every night,” Stevens said. “He’s capable and I’m not saying that you have to get a double-double every day, but he’s darn near capable of doing that.”
By the way, Sullinger’s explosion has helped the Celtics to a 3-0 February start — after the team went 2-15 in January, the worst month in the history of the storied franchise.
Sullinger, who is listed at 6 feet 9 (his coach says he’s 6-7 and Sullinger insists he 6-8 3/4), scored nine points and guard Jerryd Bayless hit two 3-pointers and ran the offense during a 19-2 fourth-quarter run that put an end to the Kings’ two-game winning streak. Sullinger scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“Jared Sullinger outworked us and that’s unfortunate,” Kings coach Michael Malone said.
Bayless, who came off the bench, had 19 points and four assists and forward Jeff Green scored 17 points despite a 6-of-20 shooting night.
The Kings, playing without forward Rudy Gay (illness) and guard Marcus Thornton (hip, knee) saw their two-game winning streak snapped despite 31 points and 16 rebounds by center DeMarcus Cousins and 24 points and six assists from guard Isaiah Thomas.
Cousins went to the bench in the final minute of the third quarter and his team down by three points. He returned 4:10 into the fourth quarter and the Kings were down 11. It was the second time in the game the Celtics took advantage of both Cousins and Thomas resting.
“He had an incredible game today,” Cousins said of Sullinger. “There were a couple of possessions that I let him get some offensive rebounds on myself. I take the blame for tonight.
“We were one of the better teams when it comes to rebounding the ball and we didn’t show it tonight. They killed us on the boards. Just not a good effort tonight.”
The Celtics finished with just a 52-47 rebounding edge and both teams had 15 offensive boards.
Swingman Gerald Wallace, starting at guard and providing all kinds of energy, just missed a triple-double — with eight points, 12 rebounds, nine assists (and two steals) for the Celtics. Rookie forward Kelly Olynyk came off the bench with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Talking about Wallace, Stevens said, “I thought his physicality and toughness all over the court was great.”
Thomas and Bayless drew technical fouls for a near scrap in the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Gs Rajon Rondo (general soreness, not knee related) and Avery Bradley (ankle) were both out for Boston. F Rudy Gay (illness) and F Marcus Thornton (hip, knee) were both out for the Kings. The Celtics were also missing backup C Vitor Faverani (knee). … Rondo, still being brought along after returning from knee surgery, is slated to play at home against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday but sit Monday night in Milwaukee on the back end of a back-to-back. … The Celtics signed G Chris Johnson for the rest of the season. He had five points in 21 minutes on Friday night. … Sacramento C DeMarcus Cousins was passed over when New Orleans C Anthony Davis was named to replace Kobe Bryant in the All-Star Game. Cousins, averaging 22.7 points and 11.6 rebounds before Friday night, is the only top 10 scorer in the league not picked for the game. “He should have been an All-Star in my book,” Celtics F Jared Sullinger said after playing against Cousins. … The Kings continue their four-game road trip at Washington on Sunday.
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