Time and time again, the Boston Celtics tried to put together small scoring stretches against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night, but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter when the C’s not only took the lead, but piled it on.
It was far and away the most important aspect to Boston’s 111-94 victory over the Thunder as the Celtics used a 19-0 scoring run to create separation. Boston trailed 80-76 heading into the fourth quarter before out-scoring OKC 35-14 over the final 12 minutes.
Jayson Tatum was the major factor behind the resurgence scoring 13 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth. Jaylen Brown took over the third period en route to 25 points in the contest.
Boston received 40 points from its bench, too. Carsen Edwards and Payton Pritchard each scored 12 points while new Celtic Luke Kornet scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers to help Boston establish its run.
The Celtics get back to .500 at 23-23 while the Thunder fall to 19-26 on the season.
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Grant Williams
C: Robert Williams
ICE COLD START
The Celtics received just eight first-quarter points from their starters and their slow offensive start helped the Thunder take a 25-21 lead after one.
OKC actually took a 12-point lead, 14-2, 4:42 into the game.
Boston shot 35% from the field (9-for-27) including a horrible 1-for-12 from long range. They were led by Payton Pritchard (six points) and Carsen Edwards (five points) in the scoring department. Yes, you read that correctly.
Brown (1-for-8 from the floor), Smart (1-for-3), Grant Williams (1-for-2) and Robert Williams (0-for-1) all scored two points. Tatum (0-for-3) didn’t score a point in the first quarter.
Head coach Brad Stevens played nine players in the first quarter, including Tacko Fall and rookie Aaron Nesmith.
OKC shot 41% (9-for-23) from the field and were led by Luguentz Dort, who scored 10 points in the first 12 minutes.
A FORGETTABLE HALF
If you expected OKC’s 21-year-old Moses Brown to out-shine Boston’s Jaylen Brown through the first 24 minutes, and the rest of the Celtics for that matter, you would be correct.
Moses Brown, who entered the game averaging 7.5 points and 6.9 rebounds, scored 17 first-half points and hauled in 19 first-half rebounds to help the Thunder take a 52-47 lead over the Celtics at the half.
It was a truly a forgettable first-half performance from Boston as the C’s got decent looks, but converted on 36% of attempts (18-for-50) including just three of 20 3-pointers.
Pritchard led the Celtics with 12 points while Jaylen Brown scored 10 points on 13 shots (1-for-7 from long range). Boston’s starters out-scored its own bench 26-21 in the first 24 minutes.
OKC shot 40% (18-for-45) and 26% from long range (5-for-19), proving it was far from just a hot first half which helped the Thunder hold the lead at the intermission.
Jaylen Brown scored 13 of his team-high 23 points in the third quarter, but the Thunder were able to answer every mini Boston run with one of their own, in turn taking a 80-76 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Boston was plagued by a few sloppy passes and bad turnovers during the quarter with 11 through the first three periods.
THERE’S THE RUN
Luke Kornet, acquired from the Chicago Bulls ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline, helped the Celtics open the fourth quarter with a 19-0 run as the stretch-five hit a pair of 3-pointers on consecutive possessions.
Kornet’s first 3-pointer gave the Celtics their first lead of the game 1:44 into the fourth quarter, while his second provided Boston a 88-82 run 2:16 into the period.
Tatum recorded a steal and transition layup to get the run started. Shortly after, Marcus Smart finished on a tough basket in the paint, Tatum added another 3-pointer and Tatum finished on a transition lay up to extend Boston’s lead to 95-82 with seven minutes left.
OKC scored their first basket of the quarter six minutes in, only to be answered by a Tatum 3-pointer to push that back to 14 points. Boston coasted to victory from that point on.
The Celtics travel back to Boston where they’ll play their next seven games, starting with Monday’s contest against the New Orleans Pelicans.