BOSTON – With Super Bowl Sunday taking up the nation’s headlines, the NBA’s biggest headline continued to further his remarkable comeback story. Hassan Whiteside started off a bit slow, but then exploded in the second half, scoring 20 points in nearly every way as his Heat beat the Celtics 83-75.
The biggest revelation in the NBA since Linsanity, Hassanity has taken its own shocking and unstoppable form. On Sunday, Whiteside showed he could do it all from the pivot: Nailing step-back jumpers, running hooks and tough dunks.
Tyler Zeller did a solid job holding Hassanity at bay as he replaced a tardy Jared Sullinger in the starting lineup, but there was no answer in the second half from the Celtics.
Although Whiteside was the standout of the game, the unsung hero will surely go down as Tyler Johnson. The 6’4" shooting guard out of Fresno State put on an acrobatic show in the second game of his career, scoring 12 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and dishing out four assists. But the box score cannot quantify the remarkable quality of those rebounds, nor can it illustrate the incredible hang-time and energy he displayed.
Zeller’s reintroduction to the starting lineup came due to Jared Sullinger’s late arrival to Sunday morning’s walkthrough. But considering Sully’s poor play and Zeller’s consistent aggressiveness, it may not be a one-time occurrence. Zeller finished with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Evan Turner started over Marcus Smart at the point, but that didn’t last too long. Turner went 0-for-5 in the first half before the rookie replaced him in the rotation for the second half. Smart and Bradley’s smothering defense keyed a third quarter in which the Celtics got out in transition and record their highest scoring quarter in two games with 24 points. Bradley went 5-for-7 from the field in the third, as he found a stroke that has been absent for most of the winter.
Although it was a rough day for the Celtics, Marcus Smart recorded a career-high nine assists. With his solid distribution Sunday and Evan Turner's erraticism, a switch in the starting lineup looks imminent.