Brad Stevens left rookie Romeo Langford in for crunch-time Friday night against Atlanta. It’s a good thing he did, because the 20-year-old wing came up with a few big-time clutch plays to help the Boston Celtics hold off a late Hawks rally inside TD Garden.
Atlanta was soaring down the final stretch, as it cut what was once a 17-point Celtics lead down to five with less than three minutes remaining. That's when Langford made his first game-changing play.
After John Collins tossed in a layup that brought the score to 101-96, Langford ran up-court to the left corner. That's where Marcus Smart found him wide open on a drive-and-dish, which Langford caught and converted for a 3-pointer to put the C's back up by eight.
One minute later, Langford found himself wide open in that same corner. This time, however, he cut to the basket as Smart delivered him a perfect alley-oop dime, which Langford laid in with ease.
Langford's final and most impactful set of clutch plays came on the other end of the court during the last possession of the game. Atlanta had pulled back within three points and was looking to tie the game at 110 to send it into overtime. Kevin Huerter, who was being guarded by Langford, received a pass at the top of the arc and dribbled twice to his left before pulling up from deep. Langford, though, stuck to Huerter like glue and was able to force him into a miss.
However, the Hawks batted the offensive rebound out to a wide-open Brandon Goodwin for one last chance. Goodwin got off a great look, but the ball caromed high off the back-rim and into the hands of – you guessed it – Langford.
The rookie first-round pick was fouled with two seconds remaining and went to the free-throw line, where he sunk both of his attempts to secure a 112-107 victory.
Jayson Tatum has been setting all sorts of career-high marks this season. On Friday night, he established another.
The All-Star wing sunk seven 3-pointers on 12 attempts, which surpassed his previous career-best of six which he set less than one month ago against New Orleans.
Tatum also made three field goals from inside the arc and five shots from the free-throw line, giving him a game-high 32 points on the night.
The 21-year-old rising star rounded out his night with a game-high-tying six assists, four rebounds, including three on the offensive end, and two blocked shots during 38 minutes of action.
Box Score Nuggets
- Jayson Tatum led the game with 32 points, while sinking a career-high seven 3-pointers.
- John Collins led Atlanta's offensive attack with 30 points.
- Both Tatum and Collins shot 10-of-19 from the field.
- Enes Kanter corralled a game-high 15 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.
- The Celtics finished with a 47-46 edge on the boards.
- Boston shot 16-of-37 (43.2 percent) from long range.
- Three different Celtics – Marcus Smart, Tatum and Kemba Walker – dished out six assists.
- Both teams blocked eight shots.
- The Celtics made nine of their first 10 field goal attempts.
- Romeo Langford scored a career-high 16 points off the bench, while also blocking three shots.
Quote of the Night
When guys go down, other guys step up.
Kemba Walker on his teammates stepping up with three regular starters out.