Biofreeze Keys to the Game: Celtics 115, Timberwolves 102

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Key Moment

The Boston Harbor New Year’s Eve fireworks display carried over into TD Garden Wednesday night, as the Celtics opened up 2019 with a bang.

And another bang.

And another bang.

Boston dropped shot after shot against the Minnesota Timberwolves, setting a new season-high by shooting 59.2 percent from the field, en route to a blowout win.

The Celtics’ most impressive offensive stretch came right in the middle of the second quarter, as they turned a four-point lead into a 20-point lead in less than six minutes of game action.

Boston led 31-27 at the 9:23 mark, before ripping off a 16-0 run to bury the Wolves.

Gordon Hayward, who scored 13 points during the second frame, got the stretch started with a 3-pointer to put the C’s up by seven. Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Semi Ojeleye and Marcus Smart would all contribute in the scoring column as well.

Boston shot 7-of-11 during that stretch alone, while Minnesota missed all seven of its field goal attempts, as well as both of its free-throws.

By the time the second-quarter game clock reached 3:31, the Celtics were up 47-27.

The Timberwolves did an admirable job clawing back, as Karl Anthony-Towns rebounded from a four-point first half to deliver a 20-point third quarter. Minnesota, as a team, poured in 39 points during that frame and was able to bring the score to within six points early in the fourth quarter.

But by then the Wolves had exhausted all of their energy, as Boston closed out strong to ring in the New Year with a 115-102 win.

Key Player

Gordon Hayward probably wouldn't mind if the Celtics played the Timberwolves more than twice per season.

It was against Minnesota on Dec. 1 that Hayward logged his first 30-point game as a Celtic.

And it was against Minnesota Wednesday night that Hayward logged his second such performance.

Hayward was brilliant off the bench, as he poured in 35 points on 14-of-18 shooting from the field, 4-of-7 from 3-point range and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line. It marked his highest-scoring effort since dropping 39 points on April 7, 2017, as a member of the Utah Jazz against – you guessed it – the Timberwolves.

With Kyrie Irving absent because of an inflamed left eye, the Celtics needed a scoring boost, and Hayward provided just that. But he did more than just drop the ball through the hoop; he also helped his teammates do the same by dishing out five assists.

Unfortunately, there are no more regular-season games scheduled against Minnesota this season, but Hayward's efficient performance suggests that it doesn't matter who the Celtics are facing next. He looked as locked in as he has ever been as a Celtic Wednesday night, and that could very well carry over into the team's upcoming stretch of games.

Box Score Nuggets

  • The Celtics shot a season-best 59.2 percent from the field.
  • Gordon Hayward paced all scorers with a season-high 35 points on 14-of-18 shooting.
  • Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 31 points.
  • The Celtics' bench outscored Minnesota's reserves, 62-18.
  • Both teams corralled 33 rebounds.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns pulled-down a game-best 12 boards.
  • No one on the Celtics finished with more than five rebounds.
  • Boston had a slight edge in points in the paint, outscoring the Wolves 52-50.
  • Terry Rozier snagged a game-high five steals.
  • Towns scored 24 of his 28 points during the second half.
  • Jayson Tatum had a game-best plus/minus rating of plus-22.

Quote of the Night

Marcus Smart on Gordon Hayward's season-best effort