Exactly one month later, the teams met again in Boston. This time,
the first-place Celtics eked out a 101-97 victory Monday night to
improve to 12-14 with their eighth win in 12 games.
OK, the Timberwolves were missing guard Kevin Martin and his
20.6-points-per-game scoring average because of a knee injury. And
the Wolves were playing the back end of a back-to-back, while the
Celtics were off since beating the New York Knicks on Friday night.
Valid differences, but they can't overshadow the fact that the
Celtics, who were expected to be in the lottery after this season,
are now a tough team to beat.
"We have gotten better," rookie Celtics coach Brad Stevens said
after his team. "We've gotten a little bit more organized in what
we're trying to accomplish, and our guys are doing a great job of
trying to carry it out."
Boston center/forward Jared Sullinger, who had three points and four
rebounds in 14 minutes the first time these teams met, seems to get
better every night. He played only 45 games as a rookie last season
because of back surgery, making him still a rookie in terms of games
On Monday, he broke a 92-92 tie with a 3-pointer from the top of the
key with 2:22 left, then went 4-for-6 from the foul line to secure
the win. He scored nine of his 24 points (to go with 11 rebounds and
five assists) in the final 6:02.
"He did take it up a notch at the end," Stevens said. "He's a
scorer. He's always been a scorer as long as I've known him, so it
doesn't surprise me when scorers make plays."
Celtics rookie center/forward Kelly Olynyk said of Sullinger, "He
was phenomenal. Down the stretch especially, he hit a huge
(3-pointer), free throws to seal the game, and a couple of big
rebounds. Not much more you can ask of a guy."
The Timberwolves, who won three of their previous four games, fell
"It's just a disappointing loss," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said.
"We had every chance to win that game. Couldn't make a layup,
couldn't make a shot, for our starters, it was really a struggle. We
just missed too many opportunities that were right there for us."
Adelman got 45 points from his bench, including season highs of 12
points from forward Dante Cunningham and 10 from guard Alexey Schved
and a season-high 11 assists (to go with 10 points) from former
Northeastern University guard J.J. Barea.
[to top of second column]
Timberwolves forward Kevin Lowe scored 27 points and grabbed
14 rebounds, but he shot just 9-for-26 from the floor, 2-for-11
from 3-point range. In all, the Minnesota starters were
19-for-65 (29.2 percent) from the floor, 3-for-18 on 3-pointers.
Boston guard Avery Bradley, who scored the first six points of
the game, had 19 points and five rebounds. Guard Jordan Crawford
added 15 points for the Celtics, who are 2-1 on their five-game
Celtics forward Kris Humphries returned after missing two games
due to a knee injury and played well again, finishing with eight
points and seven rebounds. He also played tough defense on Love,
as Boston forward Brandon Bass was in foul trouble throughout.
Olynyk, 4-for-22 from 3-point range entering the game, drained
both of his long-range attempts in the first half (and of the
game) as Boston built an early nine-point lead. Minnesota came
The Timberwolves had 19 offensive rebounds in the game but shot
just 15-for-26 from the foul line. They lost despite turning the
ball over only seven times.
NOTES: The Celtics earned their seventh consecutive home win
over Minnesota. ... Minnesota G Kevin Martin, bothered by a sore
left knee that limited him to 19 minutes Sunday, didn't dress.
"It's something I've got to get right," he said before the game.
... Celtics G Rajon Rondo, making his way back from February ACL
surgery, is practicing and will decide when he's ready to play.
"I think, ultimately, a person has to be ready and he has to
feel good," coach Brad Stevens said before the game. "There are
certain physical things that he'll have to meet to be cleared to
even be considered for games, that he has not met yet. But
nobody should make that call except for the individual involved,
in my opinion." Stevens has indicated Rondo will make a January
return. ... The Celtics continue their homestand against the
Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, while the Timberwolves host the
Portland Trail Blazers the same night.
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