Payton Pritchard, Luke Kornet Serve As Vital Spark For Celtics In Win

Pritchard and Kornet were difference-makers in the win

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November 25, 2022

The Celtics were lifeless for much of the third quarter Friday night against the Sacramento Kings, which resulted in Boston facing a six-point deficit near the end of the frame.

Needing a spark, Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla turned to Payton Pritchard and Luke Kornet, who hadn’t yet played in the game, to provide a necessary boost and they sure didn’t disappoint.

As soon as Pritchard and Kornet stepped onto the floor with 3:12 to go in the stanza, their energy was infectious and ignited the Celtics on a game-altering 16-0 run to end the quarter, which propelled Boston to a 122-104 win at TD Garden.

“Foul trouble, obviously, played a part in that, but at the same capitalizing on our depth,” Mazzulla told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston postgame coverage. “We talked about from day one, we have a lot of different ways we can go. And credit to both Payton and Luke for what they do on a daily basis to stay ready, and credit to the rest of our team for accepting that. I think it says a lot about where we can go with our team.

“I just thought they brought a different rhythm to the game. … I just thought they brought great energy and great executing on both ends.”

Pritchard and Kornet factored into the monumental tear as Pritchard netted five of nine points during the run, including sinking a 3-pointer. Kornet, who finished with four points, five rebounds and two blocks in 13 minutes, solidified Boston’s interior defense late in the third and threw down an alley-oop from Jayson Tatum.

Thanks in large part to Pritchard and Kornet, the Celtics turned the deficit into a 10-point advantage by the end of the quarter and that lead never dipped into single digits in the final frame.

Kornet said it wasn’t difficult to come in cold off the bench and make an immediate impact, but jokingly admitted he has a benefit that helps him in those types of situations compared to Pritchard.

“Just kind of got to do it and the energy of the game and stuff definitely helps,” Kornet told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston postgame coverage. “You’ve been paying attention and playing basketball your whole life, so pretty ready to play at any moment. I probably have a little bit more of an advantage because no matter what I’m still 7-2. Whereas other guys are sprinting around like crazy. I feel like it’s really incredible for them a little bit more.”

The effort from Pritchard and Kornet wasn’t lost on their teammates as they noticed how momentum shifted with them on the floor at a critical juncture.

“I give a lot of credit to Luke and Payton when they checked in,” Tatum told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston coverage. “Those guys didn’t play the first half. Never will truly know when they are going to play, but true professionals always stay ready and gave us the boost of energy that we needed.”

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Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum
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