Thursday, January 11, 2024

Celtics 127, Timberwolves 120 [OT]: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown combine for 80 points in historic win

The Celtics bounced back from a controversial ending against Indiana to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-120 in overtime Wednesday night at TD Garden and remain undefeated at 18-0.

Jayson Tatum returned from a one-game absence (ankle management) and scored 26 points in the fourth quarter and OT to finish with 45 points (tied his season-high) on 13-of-26 shooting, including 6-of-11 from deep. Jaylen Brown recorded a double-double of 35 points on 9-of-16 from the field and 11 rebounds to lead Boston to the best start at home in franchise history.
"You live for those moments. You want to do whatever you can to help your team win," Tatum said in his postgame comments. "I didn't want to lose at home yet. We're still undefeated. The crowd got behind us. The energy got going. That was a fun ballgame toward the end."
Kristaps Porzingis sat out with a knee contusion on a first night of a back-to-back for the C's, who improved to a league-best 29-8.
Anthony Edwards had a team-high 29 points on 11-of-25 shot attempts, while Karl Anthony Towns notched 25 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out in the extra session. Nazir Reid added 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Timberwolves, as they fall to 26-11, which is still the best record in the Western Conference.

Boston had a 54-53 advantage at the break after the T-Wolves scored the last five points in the final minute of the second quarter, including a Towns' dunk at the buzzer off an Edwards' steal.

Minnesota grabbed their first lead on the first possession of the second half on their way to outscore the home team 32-25 in a back and forth third period to go ahead 85-79 heading into the final frame.

The Celtics trailed 106-97 with 3:35 left in regulation, before going on a 14-3 run capped by a Jrue Holiday (12 points, five rebounds) corner 3-pointer off a Derrick White (nine points, six rebounds and six assists) offensive rebound to grab a 111-109 lead.

Edwards hit two free-throws to even the score with 26 seconds remain in the fourth and Tatum missed the potential game-winner to send it into overtime.

In the extra five minutes, Boston went on a 13-6 run, which nine points were scored by Tatum alone -- including a dagger 3-pointer with 51 seconds left to play and hold the Timberwolves winless at TD Garden since 2005.

The victory for the Celtics avenges a 114-109 loss in a previous matchup back in November when these two teams last met and was the only other overtime game for Boston this season.
"We've got a great memory," Tatum said. "We remember playing those guys in Minnesota. We remember how it felt to lose that game."
This current C's roster has now surpassed the 1957-58 team that won 17 straight at home to start their season. The record overall for the best record at home in franchise history was the 1985-86 Celtics that went 41-1 and hoisted the Larry O'Brien trophy for the team's 16th championship.
"There's nothing better than getting the Garden and the crowd to appreciate Celtics basketball," Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. "Even when we did suck, which we did at times, they kept us in it. It's important to have that relationship with the crowd and the city."
The Celtics, who have won 25 regular-home games in a row dating back to last season, will head back on the road to face the Milwaukee Bucks (25-12). TNT has the tip-off at 7:30 pm ET. 

Game Notes:

Boston hit 43.3% of their attempts, including 19-of-47 (40.4%) from 3-point range, while the Timberwolves were 46.3% from the floor and 14-of-34 (41.2%) from long distance. The Celtics were out-rebounded 47-46 and outscored in the paint 50-34. Minnesota had 22 assists (nine rebounds) on 44 baskets and the C's dished out 21 dimes (eight turnovers) on 39 shots made.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Boston Globe

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