The Celtics beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-99 on Monday night to snap their three-game losing streak. In a game that featured Kevin Garnett sitting out on the second night of a back-to-back, Boston came out on fire and shook off some of the rust that had weighed down the offense over the past three games. The C's finished the game shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 48 percent from beyond the arc.
With Amir Johnson (plantar fasciitis) and Jared Sullinger (back spasms) sitting out, Kelly Olynyk and David Lee stepped into the starting lineup. What they lacked on the defensive end, the made up for on the offensive end. Lee was a force on the offensive boards and Olynyk led the team with 19 points. Jae Crowder added 18 points and 10 rebounds and, although he did not score that much tonight, Isaiah Thomas chipped in 12 assists, seven rebounds and four steals.
Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 26 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 25 points and 16 rebounds of his own.
Here is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the game:
Avery Bradley got off to a hot start, something that he had not done in the previous three losses. Being guarded by Wiggins, who is a very capable wing defender, Bradley knocked down his first two mid-range shots, one of which was an and-1:
Could not have drawn up a better start to the game for Avery Bradley who converts old fashioned 3-point play. #Celticstalk— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) December 22, 2015
The C's defended well and were able to get out and run the floor, something that they have been lacking in recent games. Towns showed why he was the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft after finishing the first quarter with 14 points:
Karl-Anthony Towns is a major problem for the #Celtics, has 14 points in 9 minutes.— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) December 22, 2015
The Celtics ended the first quarter on top 34-26 after an amazing half court buzzer beater from R.J. Hunter:
RJ Hunter with the half court buzzer beater https://t.co/OfMxqPayW9— Brian Robb (@CelticsHub) December 22, 2015
The C's continued their hot shooting into the second quarter, using a 10-4 run to extend their lead. The bench came into the game and picked up right where the starters left off:
Whoa, Celtics bench starting this game 8 for 8 from the floor including a half-court shot and 4 for 4 on threes.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) December 22, 2015
While the TD Garden crowd was excited to see their team play some quality basketball after a week of losing, they were also hoping to get a glimpse of Garnett in action:
TD Garden crowd chanting "We want KG!" https://t.co/YcnQTX38Yv— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) December 22, 2015
Olynyk stepped into his role in the starting lineup without hesitation. He drove to the basket with confidence and was knocking down three-point shots in the second quarter like it was nobody's business. The Celtics finished the half shooting 52.4 percent from the field and took a 60-53 lead into the locker room.
After a sloppy start to the third quarter, Olynyk knocked down another three to get the C's back on track on the offensive end. You know things are going well for Olynyk when he is shaking defenders on the perimeter and draining outside shots:
Olynyk puts the rookie on skates. https://t.co/sgFBO9W0Iv— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) December 22, 2015
Although things were going well on offense, the Celtics could not extend their lead early in the third quarter because Towns continued to dominate on the inside:
#Celtics are playing a solid offensive game but they can't get any stops. BOS 76, MIN 68. Towns with 20 pts in 22 min.— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) December 22, 2015
With four minutes to go in the quarter, the C's found some of that "swag" that Crowder and Thomas were calling for after the team's last loss:
OK, that was a sweet sequence. Bradley swats Levine, Thomas spins around one defender, drops a dime through his legs to Crowder.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 22, 2015
After trading baskets early on, the C's were able to put some stops together and head into the fourth quarter with a 92-72 lead. The team shot even better in the third quarter and bumped their shooting percentage up to 56.1 percent.
Tyler Zeller continued to make the most of his minutes in the fourth quarter. After picking up three early fouls, Zeller repeatedly beat the opposing bigs down the floor and got some easy looks at the rim. He finished the game with 14 points and seven rebounds in just 17 minutes before fouling out.
Tyler Zeller fouls out with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Strong night. Celtics lead the T-Wolves, 100-81.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) December 22, 2015
Even with primarily reserves in for much of the fourth quarter, the C's continued to shoot the lights out, especially from three-point land, thanks in large part to Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko:
Jonas Jerebko and Kelly Olynyk a combined 6 for 6 on three-pointers tonight.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) December 22, 2015
Minnesota made a late run to cut the lead down to 12, but the C's made some timely shots down the stretch and put the game away.
With just over a minute left in the game, the Garden broke out into a "Thank you, KG" chant. With "Gino Time" in the background, Garnett stepped out and acknowledged the crowd:
Gino comes on the Jumbotron and Garnett goes wild, then raises his hand to acknowledge the crowd. He's dancing now to the music.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 22, 2015
Photo Credit: David Sherman/NBAE
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