BOSTON (AP) — Gordon Hayward was off target on all six of his shots in Boston’s previous game and then started with a pair of long misses on Wednesday night against Minnesota.
Then it quickly turned around.
A three-pointer from the right side. Another from the left. A basket from the lane and then a dunk, followed by three straight free throws. In all, he was four for four in the second quarter and seven of eight in the third.
“He was disappointed in how he shot the ball, obviously, in San Antonio and got back in the gym this morning. And you could tell he was going to play pretty well,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after Hayward came off the bench to score a season-high 35 points and lead Boston to a 115-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
“I mean, 14 for 18 is an unbelievable night, and you’re not always going to shoot it like that,” Stevens said. “But you could tell he was pretty locked in.”
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 in his highest scoring game with the Celtics.
“Gordon’s a good player, and we gave him basically whatever he wanted,” said Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau, who saw Hayward score 30 a month ago when the teams met in Minneapolis. “When you do that in this league, they’re going to make you pay.”
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. It was an 11-point game with 4:53 left before the Celtics went on an 8-0 run to clinch their fifth straight win over the Wolves.
Hayward missed all but five minutes of last season with a broken leg and has been coming off the bench the last six weeks as Stevens tries to figure out a rotation. On Monday night against the Spurs, Hayward had his only scoreless game of the season.
After missing his first two shots on Wednesday, Hayward didn’t stop shooting.
“Didn’t start that great … but Marcus Smart got me open for a three that got me going a little bit,” he said. “Anytime you have a game like I did, you want to try to come out ultra-aggressive.”