How about that 4th quarter last night?!?
It's comeback season! The Celtics erased a 13-point fourth quarter deficit last night to overcome the Minnesota Timberwolves 99-93. The most remarkable thing about last night's comeback wasn't even so much about the score, although that was impressive in itself:
Celtics: 1st win when trailing by 13+ points entering 4th quarter since 2004 at Cavaliers (had lost 99 straight)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 22, 2016
The most interesting part of the rally was that right out of the gate in the 4th, both teams looked completely different from the previous quarter. Minnesota headed to the sideline at the end of the 3rd playing their best basketball of the game. They out-muscled the C's all night with 58 points in the paint, and a 41-24 rebounding edge entering the final frame.
Marcus Smart looked to have some harsh words for teammates between quarters, but he said after the game that it wasn't just him that was frustrated. Via Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:
“Everybody was [ticked] off how we were playing the whole game,” Smart said. “We were getting as we liked it call it, ‘punked.’ We saw that and everybody had something to say about it and we had to change it. Everybody agreed that we weren’t playing to the caliber that we usually play.”
Well whatever was actually said was just what they needed to hear, because the C's came out guns blazing in the 4th - to the tune of a 17-0 run that took them from down 13 to a 4 point lead. It was the 2nd unit who really sparked the rally, and Terry Rozier in particular who scored 8 of his 12 points last night during the turnaround. He capped it off going coast-to-coast with a steal and thunderous dunk to take the lead that might have destroyed the TD Garden had this been a home game:
Terry Rozier with the steal and the slam and the lead! And Isaiah is LOVING IT!💪👍 pic.twitter.com/c3MmvbfTMy— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 22, 2016
Rozier said after the game that this is exactly what the C's bench needs to be doing, picking up the energy then the starters are struggling:
“That’s something that we’ve been talking about since preseason, when you get in, we’ve got to either pick up where the first team dropped off or we’ve got to even play harder than them,” Rozier said. “We had a team meeting not too long ago and that’s one of the things that we said. We made a lot of things happen.”
Last night they did exactly that. The run that took back the game was orchestrated by a lineup of Al Horford and the Celtics bench. Rozier and Jaylen Brown played the bulk of the 4th, and Smart and Jonas Jerebko both played every second of the final frame. By the time Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley checked back into the game, the Celtics had already taken over:
Over first 9 minutes of 4th quarter tonight, Timberwolves shot 1-17 from the floor, Celtics outscored them 22-3. @CelticsLife— Mark Van Deusen (@LucidSportsFan) November 22, 2016
The Timberwolves were completely gassed at the end of the game. Coach Tom Thibodeau had already burned through all of his timeouts with 5:30 left in the game between trying to thwart the run and give his guys a breather.
Karl-Anthony Towns had a monster game(27pts and 18rbs, 57.9% from the field), but is growing increasingly frustrated at his teams inability to close out games:
“I’m sick and tired of coming in front of you and having to say the same thing,” Towns said. “Coach is giving us great plans. We’re doing a great job three quarters and we always seem not to play four out of four quarters. We’ve got to fix it. That’s up to us.”
Brad Stevens knew going into the matchup that this would be a tough battle for the C's. They have had enough trouble rebounding this season, and going up against a team like Minnesota with some real talented big guys was certainly going to be a challenge:
“This is a hard team for us to play against. These guys are big and strong and long and talented. Again, I thought we got a little fortunate with some missed shots.”
That 4th quarter last night is the type of effort we've been accustomed to seeing from the Celtics the last few seasons. They overwhelmed Minnesota late to recover from what looked like it was going to be a brutal loss. In the 4th quarter they played with a sense of urgency as a team I had yet to see this season. Hopefully they come out firing on all cylinders like that Wednesday night against Brooklyn.
Photo Credit - Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAL401