By Brian Robb, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) – Jae Crowder walked into a unique situation when the Celtics acquired him as part of a multi-player deal for Rajon Rondo last month.

Having spent the first three years of his career on a perennial playoff team in Dallas, Crowder relied on plenty of grit and hustle on both ends of the floor to carve out minutes for himself in Rick Carlisle’s rotation.

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The small forward has brought some of that same tenacity to the Celtics in the past few weeks, earning kudos from Brad Stevens for his work on both ends. The problem is he’s been one of the few players on his new team to regularly exhibit that kind of effort lately, as Boston has floundered to a 2-6 record since dealing away their captain.

The uneven performances came to a head last night as the Celtics were dominated by an undermanned Charlotte Hornets squad during a 104-95 loss at the TD Garden.

Rather than letting longer-tenured Celtics speak about the disappointing performance, Crowder opted to become a vocal leader in the locker room after the game.

“We can give more fight to that,” Crowder said Monday night. “We’ve fought each other in practice harder than what we did in the first half. So we were aware of it and we just tried to come out and give a better effort in the second half.”

While Brad Stevens spent the postgame putting the blame on himself, Crowder didn’t mince words voicing the kind of changes he hopes to see from his new boss.

“I don’t know what he can do to prepare, but when something like [Monday’s loss] happens, I guess hold guys accountable early,” Crowder said of what Stevens could change. “Just don’t let it keep happening. We just kept digging ourselves in a hole. I just feel like he’s got to hold guys a little more accountable.”

Crowder added later, “It’s not even coach, I think, for the most part. Guys as NBA players should always come here ready to play hard. It’s not on the coaches. It’s not on anybody. It’s on us as players. And I think that’s first and foremost for us. We just have to hold ourselves accountable. You always have to come ready to play without a coach yelling at you, without any of that stuff happening. You should always come ready to play a basketball game. That’s what we’re here for. That’s our job.”

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Jeff Green was one player willing to step up and take his share of the responsibility at Tuesday’s practice.

“When you are playing so many games, you are not going to be up for every game. It’s tough. The effort has to pick up. It starts with me. I will blame myself for the way we came out and played [Monday night]. As a leader, you have to lead by example and I don’t think I’ve been doing a great job of that.”

That kind of accountability is welcomed from Green, as his future in Boston remains in limbo with the trade deadline approaching next month.

Until Danny Ainge starts making some additional deals to clear out the roster crunch, Green and other veterans on the roster will still be looking for minutes each night. Stevens’ rotation will only be getting more crowded in the coming days as seasoned players like Jameer Nelson (ankle) and Marcus Thornton (calf) return from injury.

With 15 players on the roster fully capable of playing NBA minutes, effort may become the deciding factor in how Stevens doles out playing time moving forward, instead of talent.

Crowder’s gritty play ensures he will be one of the guys seeing regular minutes, but the rest of the team will need to follow his lead if they want to spend more time on the hardwood.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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