Thursday, January 18, 2024

Celtics 117, Spurs 98: Jayson Tatum, Jrue Holiday lead C's past San Antonio and improve to 20-0 at home

The Celtics keep rolling at home, as they cruised past the San Antonio Spurs 117-98 Wednesday night to remain unbeaten (20-0) at TD Garden.

Despite playing without Kristaps Porzinigis (knee) or Derrick White (ankle), Jayson Tatum was the team's high scorer with 24 points on 9-of-21 from the field and Jrue Holiday added 22 points (6-of-7 from deep).

Jaylen Brown (hyperextended right knee) returned from his one-game absence in the team's 105-96 victory over the Toronto Raptors to finish with 21 points (8-of-16 shooting), seven rebounds and five assists, while Payton Pritchard chipped in 12 points off the bench for Boston -- who improved to 32-9 at the midway point of the season.
"Everybody can hoop on that team. Everyone's a threat on the court," said Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama in his postgame comments. "But at the same time, they all know their roles. And they're all willing to share the ball, from the most important franchise guys to the role players. Everybody is ready to compete and make the sacrifices."
The 7-foot-4 phenom led San Antonio with a game-high 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting and Devin Vassell had 21 points for the Spurs, as they fell to 7-33.

After scoring 10 quick first-quarter points in his debut at the Garden; Wembayama kept San Antonio close, as they only trailed 30-25 heading into the second.

The Celtics were up 32-29 to start the period before they used an 18-4 run to remain in front for good and also went on a 10-2 spurt to close out the first half -- holding the Spurs to just 20 second-quarter points and taking a 70-45 advantage into the break.
 "We're going to lose some more games. We're not going to win 47 games, San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich said in his postgame presser. "That's not important to me, and I'll make sure it's not important to them. We all like to win rather than lose. But if they're not competing at a certain level or executing at a certain level -- we'll be on them just as much as if we were winning. If there's someone who can't handle it, they'll be gone."
The C's had a blowout win in San Antonio back on New Year's Eve and led by as many as 30 in this one to grab its third straight victory, while connecting on 18-of-38 from 3-point range -- handing the Spurs their third consecutive loss for the worst record in the Western Conference.

Boston will host the reigning champion Denver Nuggets (28-14) Friday night, with their 20-game home win streak on the line. ESPN has the tip-off at 7:30 pm ET.

Game Notes:

The Celtics hit 46.7% from the field, including 47.4% from 3, while San Antonio was held to 41.9% from the floor and 7-of-34 (20.6%) from long range. Boston won the rebound battle 54-41, but were outscored in the paint 58-42. The Spurs dished out 26 dimes (10 turnovers) on 39 baskets to the C's 22 assists (14 turnovers) on 42 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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