BOSTON — Well, the Minnesota Timberwolves sure must be glad they don’t have to face Gordon Hayward again this season.
Hayward’s monster second quarter and clutch shooting in the fourth helped the Boston Celtics earn a 115-102 win over the T-Wolves on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
The 28-year-old finished with a season-high 35 points, topping his previous season-high (30) against the Wolves on Dec. 1 in Minnesota.
Terry Rozier had 16 points for the Celtics, while Al Horford (15), Marcus Morris (12) and Jaylen Brown (10) all finished in double digits. Andrew Wiggins had 31 points for Minnesota, while Karl-Anthony Towns had 28.
The Celtics climb to 22-15 with the win, while the Timberwolves fall to 17-21 with the loss.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Terry Rozier
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Al Horford
ROZIER READY TO GO
Due to Kyrie Irving’s eye injury, Rozier made his third start of the season, and he wasted little time making an impact as the Celtics held a 25-21 lead after one quarter.
The guard went 5-for-5 from the floor and had a game-high 11 first-quarter points.
The C’s led by as many as 10 in the frame, taking a 21-11 lead following a three-pointer from Morris and a Rozier layup off the drive with 3:40 to play in the quarter.
The Wolves finished the quarter on a 10-4 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Anthony Tolliver.
CELTICS IN COMMAND
The Celtics continued to shoot the lights out, outscoring the T-Wolves 35-21 in the second to take a 60-42 lead into halftime. Boston went into the room shooting 60 percent from the floor and 8-for-17 from three.
After Wiggins made it a one-possession game to start the second, the Celtics flipped the switch, going on a 22-4 run.
Semi Ojeleye pushed the lead to 14 with a three with 7:22 left, then followed it with a two-handed slam off a full-court pass from Smart to give Boston a 43-27 lead with 6:19 left.
Hayward had 10 points in the final 3:23 of the half. The Celtics led by as many as 22, when Morris hit a stepback three to make it 60-38 with 47.6 seconds remaining.
WOLVES WAKE UP
A monster quarter from Towns helped the Timberwolves climb back, besting the C’s 39-27 and narrowing the Celtics lead to 87-81 heading into the final quarter. Towns had 20 points in the stanza.
The Celtics were able to keep the lead thanks to Hayward, who continued his success against Minnesota, leading all Celtics with 28 points through three quarters. The forward made it 75-57 with a corner three with 6:59 left in the third.
After a Dario Saric three narrowed the C’s lead nine, Hayward pushed it back to double digits with a left-handed lay in to make it 83-72 with 2:56 left.
The Wolves continued close the game, capping the quarter on a 7-2 run, with Towns’ fader in the closing seconds making it a 6-point game.
HAYWARD SHUTS IT DOWN
The C’s were able to hold off the second-half push from the Wolves, closing out the win thanks to a dominant finish from Hayward.
The 28-year old pushed the C’s lead back up to double digits with a pull-up jumper to make it 101-90 with 5:54 to play. He hit a three to make it 106-92 with 4:37 left, then dished to Horford on an alley-oop slam to push the lead to 16.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Smart cleared for takeoff.
The Celtics will continue their homestand Friday, hosting the Dallas Mavericks. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images