Third-quarter offense has been an area of emphasis for the Boston Celtics, as they have been looking to improve their rhythm out of the break of late. Wednesday night, they discovered exactly the flow they've been looking for, opening up the second half of their matchup against the Detroit Pistons with authority at TD Garden.
Andre Drummond commenced the third quarter with a lay-up on Detroit's first possession, cutting Boston's lead to 57-54. However, from there on out, it was all Celtics basketball. Over the next six minutes, the C's went on a 15-4 run, while allowing Detroit to log just one field goal.
Boston scored on its first three offensive possessions of the half, starting with a Gordon Hayward 3-pointer, followed by a Jayson Tatum finger-roll layup, followed by a Marcus Smart triple.
Bruce Brown then logged Detroit's only bucket of the stretch – and his only bucket of the game – with a trey at the 9:18 mark, but Marcus Morris responded with consecutive floating jump shots, before Tatum capped off the run with a 3-pointer to give Boston a 72-58 advantage.
The C's would go on to outscore Detroit 34-20 during the third frame, which represented both their best offensive and defensive quarter of the game. It gave Boston enough breathing room to walk away with a satisfying, 118-110 win heading into the All-Star break.
Al Horford hasn't had it easy from a matchup perspective over the last two nights. Tuesday night he faced off against All-Star center Joel Embiid, and then Wednesday night he went toe-to-toe with NBA-leading rebounder Andre Drummond.
And for the second straight night, Horford won the matchup.
Less than 24 hours after tallying 23 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals against Embiid and the Sixers, Horford came out against Drummond and Pistons and stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 17 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists during 31 minutes of turnover-free basketball.
The 14 boards marked a season-high for Horford, which was made sweeter by the fact that he did it against the top rebounder in the league. Though, what was most impressive about Horford's performance was the fact that the Celtics outscored Detroit by 26 points when he was on the floor, proving his all-around dominance on the night.
Box Score Nuggets
- No Celtic reached the 20-point mark, but five managed to score between 16 and 19 points.
- Blake Griffin logged a game-high 32 points.
- Boston's bench had a 37-25 advantage, led by Jaylen Brown's 17 points.
- Gordon Hayward and Al Horford tied for the game-high in assists with eight apiece.
- Horford also grabbed a season-best 14 rebounds.
- Detroit went to the free-throw line 34 times, while the C's only took 15 such trips.
- Boston assisted on 32 of its 45 field goals.
- The C's led by as many as 28 points.
- Andre Drummond logged game-highs in rebounds (17) and steals (four).
- Semi Ojeleye tallied eight points and a plus-19 rating in 19 minutes off the bench.
- Marcus Smart scored 14 of his 16 points during the third quarter, when he connected on 4-of-5 3-pointers.
Quote of the Night
We’ve been hit with a lot of adversity, but we keep finding ways to overcome it and we keep finding a way to come out with victories. We keep fighting with what we have.
Marcus Smart on the C's battling with four key players out.