The Boston Celtics wrapped up their six-game road trip against the NBA’s worst team, but they were unable to leave the Land of 10,000 Lakes with a victory.
Brad Stevens’ squad looked sluggish from the get-go Wednesday night and never managed to find a rhythm, falling to the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-98 to finish a respectable 3-3 in their jaunt through the Western Conference.
Zach LaVine will be competing in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest next month. Here’s why:
Oh, and this one, too:
LaVine, who also earned selection into the Rising Stars Challenge over, among others, Celtics guard Marcus Smart, struggled to evade Avery Bradley’s tenacious defense in the first half but turned it on after halftime. The 19-year-old rookie scored six straight points to open the second half and ended up scoring 13 of his 17 points in the third quarter.
LaVine also dished out six assists, his highest total in more than a month, but turned the ball over a game-high four times and did not play at all in the fourth quarter, with Flip Saunders instead handing the point-guard reins to recent D-League call-up Lorenzo Brown.
Outside of LaVine’s strong frame, veteran guard Kevin Martin was Minnesota’s most explosive scorer. Martin missed the last 34 games with a fractured wrist but dropped a game-high 21 points in his return to action. He was one of six T-Wolves to finish the game in double figures.
MARCUS SMART FOR THREE
Smart (12 points) continues to be a revelation from beyond the arc for the Celtics. The guard drilled his first four 3-point attempts and finished 4 of 5 from deep. Smart, who couldn’t hit a three to save his life earlier in the season, hit 10 of the 19 he attempted on Boston’s six-game road trip.
Jared Sullinger led all Boston scorers with 16 points to go along with eight rebounds, while Avery Bradley added 13 points and three steals, and Marcus Thornton came on strong in the second half to finish with 15 points.
Tayshaun Prince also turned in another solid shooting night, going 6-for-9 from the floor to finish with 12 points.
STILL A SOLID TRIP
It didn’t end the way they would have liked, but the Celtics still should be pleased with the way their season-long road trip turned out. They beat two of their fellow non-playoff opponents in the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz, upset the Portland Trail Blazers and took the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors down to the wire.
One sloppy loss doesn’t erase that success.
Up next: The Celtics finally return to TD Garden, where they’ll host the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports Images