NEW YORK—Jared Sullinger vividly recalled the last time he played at the Barclays Center.
“I didn’t do well,” the Boston Celtics rookie forward said. “(Coach) Doc (Rivers) was mad at me and pulled me out of the game early and I didn’t play again.”
On Nov. 15, Sullinger played only seven scoreless minutes in the Brooklyn Nets’ 102-97 victory.
On Christmas Day, Sullinger was more than ready to make up for his rookie mistake a month ago.
Sullinger, the Celtics’ first-round draft pick out of Ohio State, had his best game as a professional, scoring 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds off the bench in the Celtics’ relatively easy 93-76 victory over the Nets.
“Jared was sensational,” Rivers said after the rookie made 6 of 7 shots from the floor and grabbed all seven rebounds off the defensive backboard. “I saw him tonight and I didn’t see a rookie at all. He doesn’t get frustrated easily anymore. I think other people around the country saw that Jared could play a little.”
Sullinger tried to downplay his breakthrough performance. His 16 points tied his career best.
“Just because I had more points than I have in the past doesn’t mean it’s my best game,” Sullinger said. “I’m still learning how to play with this group, still learning how to fit in. But I have to say it was a lot of fun out there.
“Merry Christmas to all. It was my first Christmas game and we won, so that makes it pretty special. I was just fortunate to play hard and find my open spaces. Then things just happened for me.”
Rajon Rondo keyed the Celtics ‘ balanced attack with 19 points.
The victory was just the second in the last six games for the Celtics (14-13), who climbed above .500 again with the win. The loss was the ninth in the last 12 for the Nets (13-13), who lost for the sixth time in their last eight home contests. After posting an 11-4 record in November, Brooklyn is 3-9 in December.