BOSTON — In an incredibly disappointing 129-120 overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday at TD Garden, Boston Celtics fans are likely grasping for any source of positivity.
Allow Celtics point guard Kemba Walker to be one of them.
No, Walker had far from his best night against the Nets, but regardless, he’s one step closer to being where the Celtics need him to be.
Walker knocked off some rust after a five-game absence, playing his first game since the NBA All-Star break. There were both positives and negatives to his return.
The good? Walker scored 21 points in 23 minutes, obeying the 20-25 minute restriction coach Brad Stevens referenced before the game. The 21 points were right on par with his 21.8 points-per-game average. Walker added three rebounds and three assists.
The bad? Walker had more turnovers (four) than assists. He shot a far-from-ideal 6-for-16 from the field including 4-for-12 from behind the arc.
“I feel pretty good,” Walker said postgame. “Obviously, I missed five straight. So, I still got to get my rhythm back, my timing back, but I felt good today.”
The Celtics blew the 17-point lead they held going into the fourth quarter as Brooklyn scored 51 fourth-quarter points. Stevens suggested he would not be messing with the minutes restriction as Walker went to the bench at the start of the overtime and did not return.
“I knew I wasn’t going in. Yeah, I knew I wasn’t going in,” Walker said. “We already spoke about me being on a restriction so I knew I wasn’t going back in.”
Stevens said it wasn’t up for much debate.
“No, it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do,” Stevens said.
Walker will not travel to Cleveland with the Celtics on Wednesday and will miss the second game of the back-to-back against the Cavaliers.