MINNEAPOLIS – One comes back, another goes out.
It has been that kind of season for the Boston Celtics, who welcomed the return of Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) in their 117-109 win over Minnesota, but may be without another starter who was hurt in Thursday's game.
Kyrie Irving led Boston with 23 points while Al Horford had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists with Marcus Morris chipping in with 17 points off the bench.
The Timberwolves were led by Nemanja Bjelica's 30 points while Karl-Anthony Towns had a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Boston had a double-digit lead going into the fourth as they once again found themselves trying to focus on the game after a teammate had to leave the game early due to an injury.
Jaylen Brown took a hard spill with a little more than a minute to play in the third following a dunk.
Seeing him on the floor laying motionless for a few seconds, created an arena full of bodies with no voice as we all awaited in silence for Brown to show a sign that the hard thud of his body hitting the floor wasn’t as bad as it looked. With the assistance of the Celtics medical staff, Brown rose to his feet and went back to the locker room for additional evaluations. After being looked at by medical officials on-site, the Celtics released a statement indicating that he was not going to return and that he was being evaluated for concussion-like symptoms.
As saddened as the Celtics were by Brown’s injury, they still had a quarter of play left in a game that for the most part, they were in control of. The Timberwolves did their part to claw back into the game, with Jamal Crawford leading the surge. But down the stretch, the Celtics had too many weapons offensively and were too strong on defense to ever have their control of the game in serious jeopardy.
Marcus Morris delivered yet another strong performance in a supporting role for Boston. Morris’ ability to get pretty much any and every shot he wanted in the first two quarters of play, was critical to Boston taking control in the first half.
Boston closed out the first quarter with an 11-6 run to lead 35-28 after one quarter of play.
Now Minnesota had some highlight worthy plays in the second quarter, like Anthony-Towns’ emphatic dunk over Aron Baynes.
But the second belonged to Boston, as the Celtics got contributions from several players as Boston closed out the quarter with a 23-13 run to go into the half ahead 60-46.
Irving led all Celtics starters at the half with 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting. But it was Morris getting it done against any and all wannabe Minnesota defenders.
At the half, Morris had a game-high 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting as Boston’s bench had a commanding 23-2 edge.
Minnesota came out of the half playing better and the reason was pretty obvious.
They decided to push back and play with more force after the Celtics punked them at both ends of the floor for long stretches in the first half.
Boston led by as many as 18 points, but an 11-2 run in the third by Minnesota cut Boston’s lead to 66-57. The Timberwolves cut the Celtics lead down to 70-63, only for Boston to go on an 8-3 run that set the stage for Boston to take an 86-74 lead into the fourth quarter.