The Boston Celtics nearly pulled off a thrilling comeback against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena, but the story from Tuesday night’s season opener is Gordon Hayward’s injury.
Hayward went down with a gruesome ankle injury early in the first quarter and had to be stretchered off the court. The diagnosis at this time is a fractured left ankle.
The Celtics trailed by as many as 18 points but battled back to take small leads late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter. In the end, LeBron James was too much for the C’s as the Cavs held on for a 102-99 victory.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Al Horford
CAVS TAKE CONTROL
Cleveland went on a 23-9 run after Hayward’s injury, which was understandable. It’s not easy to remain composed and go back to playing basketball after seeing a teammate and friend go through such a horrific injury.
The Cavs took a 54-38 lead into halftime. James led all scorers with 14 points, highlighted by a 10-point second quarter.
The Celtics really struggled from behind the arc. They hit just two of 16 3-point attempts in the first half. Marcus Smart (0-for-3) and Brown (1-for-4) really struggled from the outside. Brown, however, led the C’s with 12 first-half points.
The Celtics responded with a great third quarter. They outscored the Cavs 33-18 to trim the lead to one at 72-71. Boston would have led by two entering the fourth quarter if not for a Derrick Rose 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The C’s went on a 17-6 run at one point in the third, led by Tatum’s 10 points early in the quarter. Smart also scored 10 points in the frame and took advantage of his matchup with poor perimeter defender Kyle Korver.
Cleveland, meanwhile, did not have an efficient 12 minutes.
Irving came out hot in the fourth, hitting a couple 3-point shots to give the Celtics a lead.
Brown and Tatum continued to score, too, helping push Boston’s edge to 94-91 with 3:10 remaining.
James led the Cavs back into the lead, though, and a Kevin Love 3-pointer capped a 7-0 run to put Cleveland up 102-99 with 46.3 seconds remaining. The Celtics missed a pair of 3-point shots late, one each by Irving and Brown, in the final minute as Cleveland closed out a 102-99 win.
Brown finished with a career-high 25 points.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Brown with another highlight-reel dunk.
The Celtics return to TD Garden for their home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images