Gordon Hayward Scores 35 Points In Celtics’ 115-102 Win Over Timberwolves [VIDEO]
Just minutes into the Boston Celtics‘ 2017 season, Gordon Hayward suffered a horrific leg and ankle injury that kept him sidelined for the rest of the season. Since his return, it has looked as if he’s lost a step or two, often unable to draw contact at the rim the way he used to during the first seven years of his career.
The player Boston hoped to build around looked nonexistent when Hayward missed all six of his shot attempts against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, going scoreless for the first time in six years during the 120-111 loss.
On Wednesday, it seemed as if the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (17-21) would play out similarly. Hayward missed his first two shots but once he drained one, he looked to be unstoppable. Hayward finished with a season-high 35 points on 14-of-18 shooting to go along with five assists to lead Boston (22-15) to a 115-102 victory at TD Garden.
“He’s going to make a lot of shots because he’s got a lot due,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “He was disappointed in how he shot the ball, obviously, in San Antonio and got back in the gym this morning. You could tell he was going to play pretty well.”
It didn’t look that way. The forward wouldn’t score his first points of 2019 until almost four minutes into the second quarter. His 35 points were the most by a Celtics bench player since Ricky Davis scored 36 in April 2005.
“In the past, definitely, even during this season, as a young NBA player, if I missed my first couple shots, it probably wasn’t going to be a good game,” said Hayward. “But I think the credit is to my teammates for getting me open looks. That kind of gets you going. You see the ball go through the hoop, and it gives you a little bit of confidence. Getting stuff in transition, some easy ones, kinda get yourself going, that stuff always feels good.”
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, another victim of a gruesome leg injury, didn’t look to be at his full potential until this season — nearly four years after he would break his shin during a USA Basketball scrimmage. For Hayward to play this way just a year after his injury means good things for Boston.