BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett dished a behind-the-back pass to guard who cut to the hoop for a layup underneath the basket. In most games, Rajon Rondo would be the one on the receiving end of an assist like that. But with the Boston Celtics point guard sidelined by a right ankle sprain he suffered in the third quarter, newcomer Leandro Barbosa gave the C's a spark that helped lead them to a 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Barbosa was instantly aggressive when he entered the game late in the first quarter. He scored seven points in less than six minutes in the first half, shooting 2-for-3 from the field, 2-for-4 from the line, and 1-for-1 from the arc. More significantly, he quickly attacked the paint, an area in which the Celtics scored just eight points in the first quarter.
"Most of the time when I'm on the bench, I watch (Rajon) Rondo play," said Barbosa. "That's what he wants to do -- run -- and it worked out really well. I like to do that too, so it was a great game."
On Wednesday it was Rondo watching Barbosa from the bench as Doc Rivers held him out for the entire fourth quarter. In spite of being the last member of the Celtics to join the team this season, Barbosa applied the extra time he has spent learning the system and ran the floor in a game that came down to the final minutes.
Barbosa was terrific," said Rivers. "He bailed us out, not only just replacing Rondo. I thought our starters started the game out pretty flat and I thought our second unit with Courtney Lee and Barbosa, Jared (Sullinger), that group gave us a spurt, Jeff Green. Then obviously Rondo goes out in the second half and just putting LB in and we didnt run much because he doesnt know much. But everything was basically pick-and-rolls. We told him to just keep attacking to the basket and well figure it out from there."
Barbosa finished the night with 16 points (6-8 FG, 3-6 FT, 1-1 3PG) along with three assists and two rebounds in 23 minutes. For someone who didn't have a team until October 18, he is quickly earning a spot in Boston.
Hes earned it," said Rivers. "I tell everybody, Listen, we sign you and you come, theres no guarantees that youre going to play. But if you earn it, you get to play.' And hes earned it. He deserves to play.
Barbosa could see extended minutes on Thursday night against the Nets in Brooklyn. Rondo is listed as day-to-day.
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