Celtics Wrap: C’s Hang On After Hot Start, Earn 128-119 Win Over Kings

BOSTON — The Celtics performed at times Sunday like they’d rather be watching a certain football game later that afternoon, but against the Sacramento Kings, it was enough for yet another win.

Boston torched the Kings with 46 first-quarter points and coasted on the coattails of that effort to earn a 128-119 win over Sacramento at TD Garden despite committing a season-high 24 turnovers.

Avery Bradley stayed hot with a team-high 25 points. Isaiah Thomas added 22 points, Jared Sullinger tallied 21 points and Tyler Zeller chipped in a season-high 17 points off the bench.

DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with a game-high 31 points, while former Celtic Rajon Rondo lasted the whole game this time to earn a double-double with 14 points and 15 assists.

The Celtics have won nine of their last 10 games and now are nine games above .500 at 31-22.

STARTING FIVE
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger

PICKING UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF
Bradley had the exact opposite of a hangover after playing the role of hero Friday night.

Bradley came out firing from the opening tip, banking in his first 3-pointer of the day and hitting two more threes in the first quarter to give him 12 of Boston’s first 24 points.

DEFENSE OPTIONAL
The C’s were on absolute fire early in the game, coming four points shy of a franchise record with a season-high 46 points in the first quarter.

Boston victimized the subpar Kings with seven 3-pointers in the period and shot 58 percent from the floor, but club didn’t exactly lock down Sacramento, which racked up 37 first-quarter points of its own on 64 percent shooting.

SECOND WIND
Boston couldn’t match its absurd first quarter pace but still dropped 28 points in the second quarter to put up 74 before halftime, just three points shy of the team’s season-low in an entire game.

The Celtics succeeded thanks in part to a strong effort down low, as Sullinger tallied 17 first-half points and Amir Johnson pulled down eight first-half rebounds. The C’s secured nine offensive rebounds to the Kings’ two and converted those into 16 second-chance points before the break.

THIRD RATE
The third quarter has posed a problem for the Celtics all season, and that trend continued Sunday.

Boston made 10 buckets but didn’t attempt a free throw during a 21-point quarter, allowing the Kings to rip off a 15-2 run that pulled them within seven.

Zeller stemmed the tide somewhat by knocking down a pair of jumpers in the quarter’s final minutes, but the Celtics’ seven turnovers in the frame gave Sacramento life heading into the fourth.

THAT’S MORE LIKE IT
The home team barely held on for the win in the fourth quarter.

Cousins drilled a pair of 3-pointers to cut Boston’s lead to five with under two minutes to play. But Thomas responded with a huge three of his own and a layup on the subsequent possession to help the C’s escape with the victory.

RUNNIN’ RONDO
Rondo was up to his old tricks in his second appearance at TD Garden in an opposing uniform.

After getting a few cheers from the Boston faithful upon his introduction, the Kings point guard churned out another double-double while making several dazzling plays. He even victimized his old club with a familiar move.

PLAY OF THE DAY
Here’s the 5-foot-9 Thomas rejecting the 6-foot-11 Cousins, for your viewing pleasure:

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@isaiahthomas with the rejection! ❎

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UP NEXT
The Celtics have two games left before the NBA All-Star break, and the first will take place Tuesday in Milwuakee against the Bucks, who enter the matchup in the middle of a five-game losing streak. Tipoff at BMO Harris Bradley Center is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger (left) and Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) battle for a loose ball during the first half at TD Garden.

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