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Bass has been up to the task

Forward effective in Celtics’ rotation

Celtics forward Brandon Bass rises to the occasion to block Raptors’ forward Linas Kleiza’s shot in the second quarter. Celtics forward Brandon Bass rises to the occasion to block Raptors’ forward Linas Kleiza’s shot in the second quarter. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)
By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / January 19, 2012
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Brandon Bass led the Celtics in minutes (30:45), blocked shots (2), field goal attempts (11), and rebounds (9) in a 96-73 win over Toronto last night at TD Garden. But Bass was more concerned with a team statistic.

“Did we win on the boards?’’ Bass asked after the game. “Against a team like that, their identity is a rebounding team. The two ‘bigs,’ when the shot went up, I don’t know what they did - they crossed - their whole mind-set is rebounding. Beat them on the glass - that’s something positive we can build off.’’

The Celtics did win the rebounding battle, 45-38. The Celtics also outrebounded Oklahoma City, 48-40, in a loss on Monday. Before those games, the Celtics had been outrebounded by an average of 3.5 per game.

“Rotations - that’s all going to come,’’ Bass said. “We showed that it will work, that I could do it. And we will get better as a group defensively and on the boards.

“Everything is better when you’re winning. We’ve got to keep winning and you guys will have less and less questions to ask.’’

Bass has brought a good-natured, gregarious attitude to the locker room. On the court, Bass has added aggressiveness, inside power, and effective jump shooting to the second unit. And Bass is showing he can fit in with the starters, becoming comfortable offensively and starting to get into the defensive rhythm.

Dunks are not considered an official statistic, but the fact the Celtics’ reserves have produced 20 of the team’s 34 dunks (12 by Bass) is an indication of their youthful athleticism. Some of those slams are chalked up in garbage time, with the game wide open and defenses disorganized. But Bass seems to get most of his dunks in the half-court offense.

Against the Raptors, Bass finished a Kevin Garnett assist with a slam for a 25-11 lead with 1:16 remaining in the opening quarter.

“The second unit, I thought we made some progress,’’ Bass said. “We’ve got to keep going, though. We’re still trying to find our niche as a group. If we continue to have positive nights like this, we’ll get it sooner than later.

“It’s a lot easier for guys like the first group. They’ve been together the last four or five years. For the second group, it’s going to take a little time. But if we continue to have positive nights to build on, I think we’ll be all right.’’

This was the first Celtics victory since Jan. 4, a five-game losing streak raising questions about the team’s potential this season. But the defeats did not seem to discourage Bass.

“No,’’ he said, “because we’ve got veterans who talk to us and let us know you can’t win the championship in the first month. As long as we get better every day we’ll be all right. It’s early. Game 65 or 66, talk to me about it then. Right now, it’s early. But we definitely want to build off [last night].

“I said a bunch of times I’m grateful to be a part of this group, on this team. When I’m finished playing the game I’ll be able to tell my son, I’ll have a lot of stories about the teams I played with in the past. And, hopefully, with this group, we can win big here.

“When you’re on a team, most of the guys have played more than 13-14 years, you want to prove yourself every day. Guys like Kevin Garnett, coming with their best effort every day, practice and games - you want to prove yourself every day.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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