BOSTON – Celtics forward Gordon Hayward should just keep playing the Timberwolves. For whatever reason, Hayward plays out of his mind against the Wolves and seemingly only the Wolves this season. He did so for the second time in Boston’s 115-102 win over Minnesota at TD Garden.
Hayward scored 35 points on 14 of 18 shooting, including a 4 of 7 performance from 3-point range. That follows a 30-point night in a previous Celtics win over the Wolves on Dec. 1 at Target Center. It has been a struggle for Hayward this season as he plays his first year back from a fractured ankle. He is averaging just 10.3 points per game entering Wednesday – five points off his career high. But the Wolves seem to be the antidote to ail his ills.
“I don’t know,” Hayward said. “Shots seem to go in against those guys.”
Coach Tom Thibodeau had a theory why Hayward was so successful.
“We gave him, basically, whatever he wanted,” Thibodeau said. “When you do that in this league, they're going to make you pay."
Unfortunately for Hayward and fortunately for the Wolves, this was the last time the Wolves and Celtics will meet this season.
Giving the bench some run
With Robert Covington added to the injury report with Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose, Thibodeau had to go to some little-used players on his bench. Josh Okogie got the start for Covington, but Anthony Tolliver ended up playing two more minutes than him. Tolliver had nine points, all on 3-pointers. It was his most points since Oct. 29 against the Lakers.
“I felt fine. Just keep myself ready to go just in case something like that happens,” Tolliver said. “If [Thibodeau] throws me out there at the point, I’ll play the point. Guard whoever, do whatever. If I’m on the court, that’s all I care about."
Perhaps Tolliver’s workload could be an indication that Thibodeau might play him more in future games.
James Nunnally also got some action in the first half while rookie Jared Terrell played three minutes toward the end of the game.
With his 31 points, Andrew Wiggins became the seventh youngest player in NBA history to reach the 7,000 point mark. … Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points in the third quarter, the third time in his career he has scored 20 points in a quarter. … Tyus Jones had 14 points at point guard, the third straight game he has scored in double figures. That’s the longest stretch of his career.