BOSTON – When training camp began for the Boston Celtics, James Young and R.J. Hunter were the two likely candidates to battle for the 15th and final roster spot.
With the preseason nearing an end, the two have not made things any easier for the Boston Celtics when it comes to making a decision about their basketball fates.
Both had strong showings in the third quarter which helped propel Boston to a 120-99 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Young had eight of his 10 points in the third quarter.
And Hunter who had a preseason high 17 points in just 15 minutes on Saturday against New York, scored five of his six points off the bench in the third.
Both got a chance to play meaningful minutes because Boston's starters did their job which was to go in, establish control of the game and hand it over to the youngsters to close things out.
The Celtics led 29-16 after the first quarter, and pushed their lead to as many as 16 points in the first half which ended with Boston ahead 62-50. Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 19 points.
Brooklyn opened the third with a 12-5 run which made it a 67-62 game.
After a Celtics time-out, Jaylen Brown went to work in the post to push Boston’s lead back to five points. This was not one of his better performances, but he still managed to finish with 12 points.
The Nets’ surge continued as they cut Boston’s lead to just 69-67, only for Brown and Brooklyn’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to exchange dunks which left the Celtics clinging to a slim 71-69 lead.
But the Celtics finished the third quarter with a flurry, led by arguably the two players with the most to gain with strong play – Hunter and Young.
Both players know that the final roster spot will likely come down to the Celtics choosing one of them over the other.
And to their credit, neither is making this an easy decision for Ainge and his staff.
Hunter, who is coming off his best game in the preseason on Saturday when he had 17 points in 15 minutes, drilled a 3-pointer seconds after entering the game on Monday.
Young was even more impressive.
Throughout most of training camp, Young has made a living off of doing the little things such as hustling for loose ball, making the extra pass which leads to a made basket.
But in the third quarter on Monday, Young reminded those at the TD Garden that he could in fact score the ball as he ran off eight points in the quarter while making all three of his shot attempts.
Boston (5-1) played with a lead for the remainder of the night as they went on to win their fifth straight preseason game.