Keys to the Game: Celtics 97, Kings 92

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Key Moment

Al Horford literally did it all for a stretch of 29 seconds during the fourth quarter of Friday night’s matchup between the Celtics and the Kings.

He blocked a shot. He grabbed a rebound. He scored a basket. And then he blocked another shot that led to another Celtics bucket.

Yeah, he did all of that in only 29 seconds of action.

The spurt helped Boston turn a two-point deficit into a two-point lead. But more importantly, it ignited a flame within his teammates.

Sacramento called for a timeout following the second basket of that stretch, scored by Jonas Jerebko, but Boston kept rolling after the break.

Terry Rozier broke up a pass six seconds after Sacramento’s ensuing inbound pass and took it the other way for what turned into a putback layup by Kelly Olynyk. Isaiah Thomas soon dropped in a driving, and-one layup and added a free throw off of a technical foul moments later to give the Celtics their largest lead since the first quarter, at 84-76, with 5:17 left in the game.

The Kings briefly made it a one-possession game with 1:31 left in the game, but quickly Horford answered with a 3-pointer from the left wing with 75 seconds remaining on the game clock. Boston would eventually hold on for the 97-92 win.

The C's can thank Horford for that, because his incredible 29-second stretch of play during the early moments of the fourth quarter changed the path of this game.

Key Player

Well, you’re going to hear a lot about Al Horford tonight. Heck, you already did. So let’s keep this short.

Horford was the best and most impactful player on the court Friday night at the Garden. He led Boston with 26 points, setting a new career high in a C’s uniform, thanks to an efficient 10-for-18 shooting performance from the field. He shot 4-for-7 from long distance, tying his career high for 3-point attempts and falling one short of his career high for 3-point makes.

Horford also pitched in seven rebounds and three assists, but his most critical stat of the night may have been his blocked shots. He swatted away six of Sacramento’s 87 shots on the night, including those two highlighted in our Key Moment. He played like an elite rim protector, and that’s exactly what Boston needed.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Al Horford became only the second player since 1984 to tally six blocks, four made 3-pointers and two steals in a single game (Doug Christie is the other).
  • Horford led Boston with 26 points.
  • DeMarcus Cousins tallied a game-high 28 points to go along with nine boards.
  • The contest featured a whopping 23 lead changes.
  • Both teams committed 15 turnovers resulting in 21 points for the opponent.
  • Matt Barnes came off of Sacramento's bench to notch a big double-double with 12 points and 16 rebounds.
  • Boston's bench totaled a season-low 12 points.
  • Jae Crowder scored 16 points while making half of his 12 shots.
  • Isaiah Thomas dished out a game-high seven assists to go with his 20 points.
  • All five of Boston's starters grabbed at least one steal, but Terry Rozier led the team with three.
  • Avery Bradley led Boston with nine boards.
  • Rudy Gay committed as many turnovers, six, as he made field goals.
  • No member of Boston's bench attempted a free throw.

Quote of the Night

Brad Stevens comments on what he knew about Al Horford's defense following last season's Playoff series.