Sam Cassell was in the far corner of the Celtics' locker room, opposite where Eddie House was dressing when he heard someone call out, "Samuel! Are we good? We good for tomorrow?"
Momentarily puzzled, Cassell shouted back, "Who's that? Who's that calling my name?"
When House revealed himself by getting up from his seat and peering out over the media scrum, it prompted Cassell to begin chanting, "Ed-die! Ed-die! Ed-die!" The room broke up in laughter, but Cassell was merely picking up where the sellout Garden crowd of 18,624 had left off after House departed with a season-high 28 points and 4:02 remaining in last night's 119-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Evidently, the crowd's chant had followed House off the court and into the locker room.
Was it still ringing in his ears?
"No, not really," said House, who led a 61-point scoring spree by Boston's bench, which outscored Sacramento's by 37. "It's a good experience and it's nice that they get to do that for you, because it shows their appreciation. It feels good, but it's better to get the win."
Certainly, everyone on Boston's second unit had to feel they did their part in helping the Celtics extend their winning streak to nine games. The 61 points were the most scored in a game this season by the Celtics' subs and came on the heels of a 49-point effort in Sunday's 124-100 romp over the Dallas Mavericks.
"All season, we've been trying to find our niche, our identity, and I think we finally found it," said House, who has hit 22 of 32 from the 3-point arc in his last four games. "It's getting stops first and then sharing the basketball. But any given night, it can be anybody chipping in for the team."
Tony Allen, who returned after missing 11 games with a strained right ankle, gave the Celtics a lift when he was summoned from the bench after Paul Pierce picked up his third foul on a technical with 2:56 remaining in the first quarter.
Showing little if any rust, Allen fought through some lingering soreness to help rally the Celtics from a 24-19 first-quarter deficit to a whopping 68-49 halftime lead. Allen chipped in 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals,and 1 blocked shot in Boston's 40-point second quarter.
"Like always, I try to take advantage of what the defense gives me," said Allen, who wound up with 10 points and eight rebounds and played the most of Boston's substitues (23:22). "I was fortunate enough to convert. My biggest key now is staying in there with [trainer] Ed Lacerte and getting treatment on my ankle."
Glen Davis, meanwhile, had 4 points and two rebounds in that second-quarter outburst and wound up with 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting in 21:54.
"The buckets are going in and I'm getting time out on the floor and I'm just doing my job," Davis said. "I try to always strive to get that perfect game, so I'm never satisfied."
Last night, though, was undoubtedly House's night of nights. He buried 10 of 13 from the field and a career-high 8 of 9 from beyond the stripe. He didn't miss from 3-point range until 10:47 remained when he pulled up and hit the back of the rim. Had he made it, House would have wound up tying his career high with 31 points.
"I just walked into one on the break and shot it and missed it," he said. "Hey, I wish that one would have went down, too. But you've got to live with it."
The bench's increased minutes were in direct relation to its increased productivity.
"I think the fact that our minutes got cut shorter, we just weren't playing well as a unit," House said. "Doc [Rivers] spoke on it and basically said that guys were going to sit next to him if they weren't making the right plays. So guys wanted to stay on the floor and started making the right plays. Now you see the game gets easier and everybody is happy."