Roziering to the Occasion: Terry Triggers C's Rally

MINNEAPOLIS – A confident Terry Rozier is a scary Terry Rozier – for opposing teams, that is.

The Minnesota Timberwolves learned that lesson the hard way Monday night, when an unsuspecting pest arose from Boston's bench and spearheaded a spectacular fourth-quarter comeback for the C’s.

Boston entered the final frame down 81-68. The team was lacking energy until that point, but Brad Stevens started the quarter with his spunky, second-year guard running the point.

And that decision turned out to be the difference between a win and a loss for the Celtics.

Rozier sparked Boston’s offense to a 17-0 run to open up the fourth quarter. His driving dunk midway through the frame, which arrived after he picked a steal, put Boston ahead for good, as it went on to win 99-93.

Rozier’s offense, however, was not what his teammates were raving about after the game.

“I was more proud of his ability to finish out plays on the defensive end,” said Al Horford. “He was getting long rebounds, being physical, just doing the little things that make winning happen.”

Basically, he was doing it all. And Brad Stevens says that’s what he expects from a guy who puts in as much work as Rozier does.

“From the day we drafted him, we talked about his athletic intangibles,” said Stevens, “but it’s more about his competitive spirit and desire to be good. That guy wants to be good. He works at it.

“And he’s still learning. He’s got a lot to learn. But he was one of, if not the, biggest reason why we came back.”

After a somewhat apprehensive rookie campaign, Rozier has shown a massive spike in confidence through the preseason and the early part of the regular season. Much of that has to do with earning the trust of Stevens, who kept Rozier on the floor for the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter while Isaiah Thomas watched his protege from the sideline.

Now that Rozier has earned the coaching staff’s trust, he can comfortably play at a full-throttle and not feel the need to hold back.

“Once you get comfortable playing hard, a lot of things just go your way,” said Rozier, who finished with 12 points, four boards and two assists during 16 minutes of play. “You just relax more and you feel like you can do a lot of things.

“So that was a big confidence booster for me – coach just believing in me and sticking with me throughout the fourth quarter.”

Rozier running the point through the majority of a fourth quarter is a rare sight. Normally, that’s Thomas’ job.

Instead, Thomas remained on the bench during the entirety of Boston’s 17-0 run, though he did not utter a complaint. Instead, he sat back - and leaped up - with a grin on his face as he watched his young backup go to work.

“That’s how he needs to play. That’s him,” Thomas said of Rozier. “He brought energy, he was defending, he got the rebounds, he was out on the fast-breaks, he got a dunk. That unit got us that win, and if it wasn’t for them we would have had another loss.”

While Rozier was the main sparkplug during Boston’s comeback, there were a couple of other second-stringers who also provided major energy boosts.

Jonas Jerebko played the entire final frame and accumulated an outstanding plus-19 rating during the quarter. He scored five points during the fourth, but he was arguably Boston’s most impactful defender during the final 12 minutes.

Then there was Marcus Smart, who Thomas says sparked the turnaround with a post-third quarter harangue in the Celtics’ huddle.

“Smart kind of went at us at the end of the fourth quarter and that woke us up,” said Thomas. “He was saying all the right stuff, like that we weren’t playing the way we needed to be playing. And that kind of turned the switch.”

Smart’s words must’ve particularly turned a switch for Rozier, who went full-on beast mode during the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter and helped lead Boston to an impressive comeback win.

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