The Boston Celtics overcame a second-quarter deficit to earn a convincing 117-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Boston’s win, combined with the Washington Wizards’ loss to the Dallas Mavericks, gives the Celtics a 1.5-game lead over the Wiz for second place in the Eastern Conference.
The C’s improve to 43-25 with the victory, while the T-Wolves drop to 28-39.
Here’s how it all went down.
The Celtics selected Guerschon Yabusele with the No. 16 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. He’s been called the “French Draymond Green” because he’s an undersized big man with good shooting range. Yabusele, who played for the Shanghai Sharks of Chinese Basketball Association this season, spoke to the media before Wednesday’s game.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Al Horford
The Celtics jumped out to an 11 point first-quarter lead, but the Wolves fought back to trim Boston’s edge to one with 3:05 remaining in the quarter. Minnesota kept attacking and had a 12-point lead after 12 minutes. T-Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio paced his team with 10 points and three assists in the frame. Andrew Wiggins added nine points.
Horford produced one of his better quarters of the season. He tallied six points, four rebounds, three assists and one block in seven minutes.
The Timberwolves shot 51.1 percent from the field, including a 5-for-12 mark from 3-point range, to score 60 first-half points and take a two-point lead into halftime. Minnesota also kept the ball moving and consistently found the open man with 15 assists in the half.
T-Wolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns led his team with 15 points and five rebounds in the first half. Rubio finished with 12 points.
The Celtics shot well, too, hitting on 55.9 percent of their field goal attempts. They shot just 5-for-14 from beyond the arc, though. Boston’s aggressiveness in taking the ball to the basket paid off, too, as it went 15-for-17 from the free-throw line in the first half.
Thomas led the C’s with 19 points. He was 7-for-7 from the charity stripe.
The Celtics dominated the third quarter, outscoring the T-Wolves 27-17 to take an eight-point lead into the final quarter. Boston’s defense went to another level in the third frame, highlighted by Marcus Smart’s exceptional 1-on-1 defense on Wiggins. The former No. 1 overall draft pick missed nearly every shot he attempted in the quarter. He was 5-for-17 through three quarters.
WORTH THE MONEY
Horford played like a max contract player Wednesday night. He poured in 20 points, along with nine rebounds, eight assists and two blocks. It’s his first 20-point game as a Celtic. He also played strong interior defense on Towns and Gorgui Dieng.
Horford might not wow you with flashy plays, but he’s very efficient and does nearly all the fundamental things well. He shot 9-for-12 from the field and tallied his near-triple-double in just 30 minutes.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Thomas does the “Rondo.”
The Celtics travel to Brooklyn for a Friday night matchup with the last-place Nets. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Mar 15, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) drives against Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports Mar 15, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) drives against Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports