The fouls mounted quickly, two in the first quarter alone. That hampered Brandon Bass’s effectiveness, took him off the boards, sent him into the realm of inconsistency that has been so consistent for him this season.
By the end of the first half of Wednesday night’s game, Bass had missed all three of his shots, though he had managed four defensive rebounds, as he added a third foul. It took him out of the game, limiting him and the Celtics.
But not for long. In 11 minutes in the third quarter, Bass went 5 for 5 from the field, scoring 10 of the Celtics’ 32 points, as the team built a lead the Timberwolves would never take back. The Celtics had started the quarter down by 4 points, and finished it ahead by 7 on their way to a 104-94 win at TD Garden.
“I thought he showed huge resiliency,” said guard Jason Terry. “And we’ve talked about that. When something is not going right for you, can you look outside yourself and think about the team?
“We had early foul trouble. Obviously he didn’t play the minutes that he wanted in the first half, but in the second half, he came back, he was focused, he was into the game. That’s what we have to have – resolve.”
Bass finished the game with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting, with 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocked shots. He was a force on a night in which the Celtics nabbed a team win against the Timberwolves.
“The only thing I kept telling him was, ‘Just hang in there,’ ” coach Doc Rivers said.
After Paul Pierce started the third quarter with a 3-pointer to cut the Timberwolves’ lead to 3 points, Bass added a driving layup, a jumper, and another jumper, those 6 points bringing the team within 1 of Minnesota.
He added another jumper, this one from 19 feet on an assist from Pierce, to bring the game to a 61-61 tie.
“Right place, right time,” Bass said. “I was just happy we got the win.
“Just keep playing, keep grinding, keep working, and things will work itself out.”
And it wasn’t just offensively. Bass’s eight rebounds contributed to the 45 grabbed by the team, as they outrebounded the Timberwolves, 45-41, which is not an easy thing. Kevin Love had 13 by himself, though he was nearly matched by Kevin Garnett’s 10.
“Consistent effort,” Bass said, of how Boston accomplished that feat. “To make contact with whoever you’re guarding. Just having the mind-set of going to get rebounds, because we know that we’ve been struggling with that in the past. We want to improve on that.”
He added, “There’s a Kevin Love on every team that comes through. There’s a superstar, star, All-Star. Every night we take it upon ourselves to defend the best we can, and shut players down.”
So far this season, Bass’s game has alternated between impressiveness and ugliness. He has scored at least 11 points in nine of his 25 games. He also has scored 6 or fewer in eight games.
Rivers reflected on a quote he had heard from Kendrick Perkins, something that someone had repeated to him and that resonated.
It was just what he always tells his team: “He was talking about giving yourself to the team. It’s what I’ve been preaching.
“When you do that, it’s amazing how many good things happen. When you just go and play your game, and play hard, kind of get lost in our execution, good things happen. I thought that was Brandon in the second half.”