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BOSTON – The Isaiah Thomas trade looks better with every game. After averaging 20 points per game in his first three with the team, he scored a season-high 28 points as he led a Celtics comeback.
Boston beat the Charlotte Hornets 106-98 Friday evening as Mo Williams went bucket for bucket with Thomas and scored a game-high 31 points. Fellow Washington native Avery Bradley credited Thomas with being the spark for this team.
"That’s pretty nice, but it’s not me. It’s this team," Thomas said. "We’re playing hard. Coach is putting us in position to be successful and that’s the key. We are believing in each other."
Thomas was as good as ever, but the shock of the night was Jonas Jerebko, who went toe to toe with Al Jefferson and beat him on both ends in crunch time. He finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds in just 24 minutes. It was Jerebko’s rebound with under two minutes left in the fourth that found Jae Crowder for three and opened up a two possession lead.
"We’re just trying to find openings and trying to spread the floor and make the floor as wide as possible for [Thomas] and make plays."
Jerebko has gone from being a versatile stretch four to being the center down the stretch in the past two games. But does he enjoy it?
"It’s the second day I got asked that question. I like the system we play and we’re spreading the floor out there and the centers are a little bit slower than me so why not."
The Celtics never looked back after the Crowder three, going on a 10-3 run in the final two minutes. They win their third straight game, with the Golden State Warriors up next Sunday. After a Brooklyn loss to the Rockets, the Celtics sit just a shade out of the playoffs, as Thomas has the offense clicking.
"I think that was a playoff game: two teams fighting to get into the playoffs and we were down 16 and we didn’t give up we just kept fighting and fighting and kept believing in each other and we got the win," Thomas said.
The fight is finally here for the Celtics, as it has come and gone all year long. But with Thomas knifing through the lane and hitting big shots in crunch time, the Celtics are indeed starting to look like a playoff team.