BOSTON (AP) – Gordon Hayward came off the bench to score a season-high 35 points, and the Boston Celtics beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 115-102 on Wednesday night.
Terry Rozier scored 11 of his 16 points in the first quarter while making his third start of the season because Kyrie Irving scratched both of his eyes in Monday’s game against San Antonio. Hayward took over from there, with 13 in the second quarter and 15 in the third to finish with his highest scoring game with the Celtics.
Andrew Wiggins scored 31 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 of his 28 points – and grabbed five of his 12 rebounds – in the third quarter, when Minnesota trimmed a 22-point deficit to six points. But with about four minutes left the Celtics scored eight straight points to clinch their fifth straight win over the Wolves.
Minnesota scored nine of the last 11 points in the first quarter to trim Boston’s 11-point lead to 25-21, and then opened the second with a step-back jumper from Wiggins. It was a four-point game when Boston ran off 16 points in a row to take a 47-27 lead.
Boston led by as many as 22 in the third quarter before Towns scored 15 points during a 23-11 Minnesota run that cut the deficit to 10. He added five more in the final 90 seconds of the third to make it a six-point game.
Timberwolves: The last time Minnesota won in Boston was March 6, 2005. Kevin Garnett was a starter in his first stint with the Wolves. Ricky Davis led the Celtics with 22 points. … Robert Covington (right knee injury), Derrick Rose (right ankle sprain) and Jeff Teague (left ankle inflammation) were sidelined by injuries. … Coach Tom Thibodeau called a timeout just 64 seconds into the game to settle his team down after giving up two quick baskets.
Celtics: Improved to 2-1 with Rozier starting. … Boston shot 60 percent in the first half and outrebounded Minnesota 20-13. … In addition to Irving, the Celtics were missing big man Aron Baynes, who missed his seventh straight game with a broken left hand. … Hayward scored 30 against Minnesota a month ago when the teams last played, also coming off the bench.
Boston guard Marcus Smart left in obvious pain after absorbing a pick from Towns early in the second half. He walked over by the Celtics bench with his right arm dangling at his side. After coach Brad Stevens called a timeout, Smart was ushered by the training staff into the tunnel to the locker room.
But Smart was back with about four minutes left in the quarter, getting a big cheer when he rejoined his teammates on the bench. He re-entered the game late in the third and finished with two points and eight assists.
The Celtics said it was a right shoulder strain.
Marcus Morris Sr. left the game in the third quarter with a sore neck and did not return.
The Celtics returned home after a 1-2 road trip to Texas and Memphis. They play four straight and 15 of 19 games at home in January and don’t leave the Eastern time zone until Feb. 21.
Timberwolves: Home against the Magic on Friday night.
Celtics: Host the Mavericks on Friday night.
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