BOSTON — The Celtics looked down and out for most of Thursday’s game and were headed toward their second straight loss.
Until the third quarter, that is.
Boston played from behind for most of the first half, but was nearly unstoppable for the second half, ultimately beating the Sacramento Kings 126-120 at TD Garden. The C’s went on an impressive 16-2 run over the final 3:22 of the third, capped by a Gordon Hayward buzzer-beater to give his team a two-point lead heading into the final 12 minutes.
It certainly wasn’t easy, but Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the team was dialed in toward the end of the third.
“It was like 9-2 to start the third quarter then 0-16,” the C’s head coach said of Kings’ start to the third. “Then we went on our run after that. Their run, I thought, was really impressive, and we had to answer. And I thought after the six-minute mark of that quarter we were really dialed in. They forced us to play big some. I thought our double bigs played well together and I thought the lift that Jaylen (Brown) gave us scoring the ball off the bench and we got a lot of good performances in those last 16 minutes.”
Brown hit crucial back-to-back 3-point shots that gave Boston a slim 91-89 edge over Sacramento. His head coach had high praise for him, particularly for how he’s embraced his role off the bench.
“He’s done a good job of embracing that. He’s done a good job of not letting that affect his aggressiveness of the game,” Stevens said. “And the other thing is when we bring him in and play him and take (Marcus) Smart out, he can guard the guy Smart’s been guarding. … Jaylen’s aggressiveness off the bench has been good ever since he’s gotten used to it.”
Here are some other notes from Thursday’s Kings-Celtics game:
— Kyrie Irving notched his second-career triple-double with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. It also was his sixth 30-point, 10-assist game this season, something he’s never done in a single campaign over the course of his career.
He also becomes the first players since Rajon Rondo to amass at least 30 points and a triple-double in the same game.
— The Celtics had six players in double-digit points.
— Boston now has beat Sacramento in its last 11 meetings at TD Garden.
— Marcus Morris began the game looking sluggish, and Stevens noted he looked “tired” before draining 21 points.
“I thought he dug deep,” Stevens said. “He looked like he was a little bit tired in those first six minutes of the game coming off the (West Coast) trip. So that’s really encouraging when you’ve got a guy who’s just going to dig deep and figure it out for you.”
— The C’s hit just nine shots from distance, despite putting up 126 points in the win.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images