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Minneapolis - The Celtics could not have asked for a better opponent to face for a chance to go 4-2 on the toughest road trip of the season. While the Timberwolves had only won seven games in 44 tries, a returning Kevin Martin proved to be a key missing link for fans at the Target Center to get behind their struggling team and grab a 110-98 victory over Boston.
Martin, who had missed 34 games due to a fractured wrist, made his way back to the T-Wolves' lineup and led all scorers with 21 points. Zach LaVine added 17 points, while Gorgui Dieng finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota, who are now 3-7 in their last 10 outings.
Jared Sullinger led seven Celtics players in double-figures with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Marcus Thornton finished with 15 points (7-13 shooting) in 14 minutes off the bench. Avery Bradley added 13 points in the loss.
Playing six-games in 10-nights on the road is never easy, but these young Celtics looked like they were up for the challenge.
"I think at this point, everybody's tired," Evan Turner said. "So the biggest thing is to be strong mentally, go through it."
The T-Wolves were up by nine before the Celtics made a run to be up 49-48 at halftime. In the third quarter Minnesota made 70 percent of their shots to go up by 13 on mostly easy buckets or free-throws. Boston attempted another rally in the fourth, but fell short on their final night of long road trip to go 3-3.
Once again the C's played a poor third quarter, and this time around it cost them a win and chance to end their western swing on a high note. Minny was able to get to the hoop without much resistance or get to the free-throw line (28-of-32) with ease because of missed defensive assignments or late coverage probably due to tired legs. Team defense being a step or two behind was to blame in this particular disappointing loss to a club with only single-digit wins.
The Celtics return home after being on the road since January 19, to face the Houston Rockets on Friday night. Tip-off at the TD Garden will be at 7:30.
Boston only made it to the charity stripe 9 times connecting on 7 free-throws. Both teams had seven players each in double-figures making a total of 14 for the game. Stevens went back to a 12-man rotation, electing to give minutes to Phil Pressey and rookie James Young. Kelly Olynyk was selected to play for the World Team for the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend. It is unknown if the second year forward will participate due to his recent ankle sprain.
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