Sometimes all you need is one good half.
The Boston Celtics were dreadful during the first half at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday, scoring 37 points and going 0-for-12 from 3-point range to trail the Oklahoma City Thunder 50-34 at the break.
But the C’s stormed back in the second half. Boston hit nine triples and poured in 40 points in the third quarter to take a slim lead. After the Thunder regained the lead with a minute left in the fourth, Kyrie Irving drove into the lane and finished to tie the game at 95, and Marcus Morris drilled a 3-pointer with 27.9 seconds remaining to give the C’s a 3-point lead.
Boston would hold on to win 101-95.
Jayson Tatum (24 points), Morris (21 points), Al Horford (19 points) and Irving (15 points) each scored in double figures for the Green, while Paul George (22 points) and Russell Westbrook (13 points) led the Thunder.
With the win, the Celtics improve to 3-2, while the Thunder fall to 0-4.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
F: Jayson Tatum
F: Gordon Hayward
C: Al Horford
Boston struggled out of the gate, as the Thunder jumped out to an 11-2 lead after 2 1/2 minutes, which caused Brad Stevens to call a timeout.
The timeout didn’t do the C’s much good, as OKC grew their lead to 19-6 thanks to a mini-spurt from Westbrook.
Horford answered Westbrook’s buckets with two of his own, cutting the lead to 19-10 with three minutes to play in the stanza. The two sides traded buckets to end the quarter, as Tatum threw down a monster dunk to cut the lead to four, but Dennis Schroder answered with a jumper at the horn to give OKC a 22-16 lead.
MORE OF THE SAME
The Thunder continued to assert their will in the second. George knocked down a 14-footer and Westbrook found Steven Adams for an alley-oop to grow the lead to 14 and cause Boston to take a timeout with 5:11 left in the half.
Boston was unable to claw its way back before halftime, as a Schroder 3-pointer and Terrance Ferguson layup in the final minute gave OKC a 50-34 lead at the break.
Tatum had a big second for the Celtics, scoring nine points to give him 13 in the half to lead Boston. George continued to be the high man for the Thunder with 13.
BREAK THE SEAL
The Celtics finally started seeing the ball go through the rim in the third quarter. Hayward knocked down a 3-pointer to open the frame and Irving hit two triples of his own as the C’s scored 13 points in the opening four minutes to cut OKC’s lead to 58-47.
After a Tatum triple and free throws by Brown and Irving trimmed the lead to eight, George answered with a trey and Westbrook splashed a two to put the lead back to 13. Boston came right back, though, as Horford hit three straight from beyond the arc to make it 70-64.
After Morris hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to two, Terry Rozier swiped the ball from Hamidou Diallo and finished at the other end to tie it at 72. A Morris layup gave the Celtics a 74-73 lead after three quarters.
Boston hit nine triples in the period and outscored OKC 40-23.
George was the leading scorer after three quarters with 20 points, while the Celtics were led by Tatum’s 18.
With OKC’s lead at three with a little over five minutes to play, Alex Abrines knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers and George added two free throws to give the Thunder a 94-85 lead with 4:14 to play.
With the lead at five, Irving splashed a jumper and Tatum followed with two free throws to cut the lead to 94-93 with 2:34 to play. After an Adams free throw made it a two-point game, Irving took Abrines off the bounce to tie the game at 95.
Following a Stevens timeout, Horford found Morris for a 3-pointer on the wing to give Boston a 98-95 lead with 27.9 seconds left.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Banner night for J-Smooth.
The Celtics will take the court Saturday against the Detroit Pistons. Tip-off from Little Caesar’s Arena is set for 7 p.m. ET.