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Bass bounces back

He turns in big game vs. 76ers

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / April 9, 2012
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As Celtics coach Doc Rivers recalled, the taunt came simultaneously from the entire team. During Sunday’s shootaround before the game against the 76ers, the Celtics were going over a play with the coaches telling Brandon Bass that he would be open for the shot.

“I think the whole team said, ‘If he can make the shot,’ ’’ Rivers said.

Bass had, after all, gone 0 for 6 from the field against the Pacers on Saturday. So he was prepared to hear it from his teammates. And he was prepared to respond.

“Our locker room is great. I don’t know how many people kidded him about it,’’ Rivers said. “You’ve got to have thick skin, but it’s good. Everybody laughs it off. Brandon was ready. You could see him preparing before the game for his shot. These shooters know when they don’t make shots.’’

They know when they do, too. Bass came back with an 8-for-10 shooting night in the 103-79 win over the 76ers, scoring 18 points and grabbing six rebounds.

Bass had scored just 2 points against the Pacers, in a game that was marked by missed shots throughout the lineup. That wasn’t the case against Philadelphia as the Celtics shot 58.8 percent, led by Bass.

“He plays within the flow of the offense, a lot of things that we do involve him, picking and popping, getting to a spot, driving to the hole,’’ Paul Pierce said. “He knows he can knock those shots down. He had a tough night [Saturday], but when you get the win, you really don’t think about it. He was able to bounce back and have an outstanding game.’’

It was an outstanding game for most of the Celtics, but the return to form for Bass was notable. He said he did a little less in preparation before the game, acknowledging that he sometimes overdoes it with his workout. He still took shots before the game, just not as many.

“I cut back a little bit today and it paid off for me,’’ Bass said.

Overall, Bass is shooting 47.6 percent, and had scored at least 11 points in eight of nine games before the his 2-point performance against the Pacers. He had scored 9 points two games earlier, in a loss to the Spurs.

But Sunday’s game marked a chance for him to get back to a better place with his shooting, necessary for the team as it heads toward the postseason. The Celtics have 10 games to go, mostly against playoff-bound opponents.

Not that Bass is paying attention to the standings, or to the fact that the Celtics opened a three-game lead on the 76ers in the Atlantic Division. He said he’s just focusing on each game, getting himself prepared and letting everything else take care of itself.

Bass wasn’t about to let his teammates’ good-natured ribbing affect him. He knows the type of guys he plays with. He knows he’s going to hear it after putting an 0-fer on the board. And, with last night’s performance, he managed to wipe those taunts away.

The only words coming from his teammates - and from the 76ers, whose coach, Doug Collins, said Bass and Kevin Garnett “just shot lights out tonight’’ - after the game were words of praise.

“He’s a vet,’’ Pierce said. “He’s been around for a while. Maybe a younger player would lose a little confidence after having a night like that. But he’s been around the block, he’s been in some big games, so you’d expect him to bounce back.’’

You can reach Amalie Benjamin at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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