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Recap: Celtics Lifted by spirited 4th quarter rally

Going into the fourth quarter, it looked like another disappointing showing for the Celtics. Down 81-68, the Timberwolves big men dominated, with Karl-Anthony Towns scoring 21 and Gorgui Dieng adding 18 through the first three periods. 50 of Minnesota’s first 75 points came in the paint and they held complete control of the offensive boards.

The Celtics rediscovered their edge in the fourth quarter. Led by the all-bench lineup of Smart-Rozier-Brown-Jerebko-Zeller, the team went on a 17-0 run over the first six-and-a-half minutes. In a season where the bench has largely underperformed, they sparked the turnaround tonight. Rozier was huge, hitting two threes and stealing the ball at half court for an open layup with six minutes remaining, which gave the celtics an 83-81 lead. From that point, they never looked back. The defense allowed only 12 fourth quarter points on 5 of 25 shooting.

Though the Celtics are not an old team, the young Timberwolves made it feel that way through the first three quarters. The athletic front line of Dieng and Towns, combined with the high-flying wing duo of Zach Levine and Andrew Wiggins, proved to be problematic for the Celtics interior defense.

But Minnesota’s guards could not crack the Celtics perimeter defense. Boston held Minnesota to 4 of 24 from three point range, and benefitted from the Wiggins/Levine combo going 0 for 12 from deep. The Celtics also benefited from Minnesota’s 17/25 (68 percent) free throw shooting.

Isaiah Thomas unsurprisingly led the Celtics in scoring, pouring in a quiet 29 points. Despite his 2 of 9 three point shooting, he made 9 of 10 free throws and put the game out of reach with his fourth quarter transition buckets. Al Horford added 20 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three blocks. With just over seven minutes to play, he missed a three, got his own rebound, and slammed it home to bring the celtics within three points.

Going into the game, the Timberwolves were last in the league with a -33.1 net rating in the third quarter. Ironically, the Timberwolves played strongest in the third and were seemingly scoring at will. The defensive trio of Brown, Smart, and Rozier stifled Minnesota throughout the beginning of the fourth quarter.

While it was by no means a dominating win, the Celtics proved they could beat teams on the road despite not playing their best basketball. This is only the second game of the season where their full rotation is healthy, and when the team needed to turn up in the final quarter, every player contributed. The Celtics look to go undefeated on their three game road trip as they take on the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.

The Green

  • Celtics had only 12 turnovers in the game and three in the first half
  • Through he had only five points in 19 minutes, Jonas Jerebko was a team leading +20. He hit a big 4th quarter three and had the game sealing steal with 50 seconds to play.
  • Jae Crowder had a quiet game, only scoring four, but his stout defense on Andrew Wiggins held the third-year “star-in-waiting” to 5 of 18 from the field

The Gross

  • While the Celtics only had 12 turnovers, Marcus Smart had six of them
  • Rebounds for Karl-Anthony Towns: 18
  • Rebounds for all Celtics big men: 17

The Greenlights

Amir finds Bradley on the cut

Nice ball movement turns into a Jerebko 3

Rozier steal and slam

The Grid

  • FG: Celtics 38-84 (45%), Timberwolves 36-86 (42%)
  • 3PT FG: Celtics 12-38 (32%), Timberwolves 4-24 (17%)
  • Rebounds: Celtics 39, Timberwolves 51
  • Offensive Rebounds: Celtics 6, Timberwolves 16
  • Points in the Paint: Celtics 34, Timberwolves 58
  • Fast Break Points: Celtics 12, Timberwolves 8