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Hayward scores 35 as Celtics drop Timberwolves 115-102

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Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier helped Boston start their homestand with a win on Wednesday night.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

BOSTON - The Boston Celtics began their four-game homestand on Wednesday night with a 115-102 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Both teams were plagued by injuries, specifically in their respective back courts. Boston was without point guard Kyrie Irving due to a scratched right eye, while Minnesota was missing both Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague with ankle injuries. Terry Rozier got the start in place of Irving and looked as comfortable as he has in a long time.

Rozier opened the game 5-for-5 from the floor with 11 points in his first 9 minutes. He was noticeably patient as the primary ball-handler, which was a positive change from his play over the last month or so.

Boston’s hot shooting continued in the second quarter; the team was shooting 64% at the 8-minute mark of the quarter. Much of this was thanks to the Celtics ball movement. They collected 15 assists on their first 19 made field goals. Boston also did a solid job on the glass during the first half, after struggling on the boards since Aron Baynes’ absence. They held a 20-13 rebounding advantage over the game’s first 24 minutes.

Karl-Anthony Towns was coming off back-to-back games of 25+ points, 15+ rebounds, 5+ assists and 5+ blocks, but the Celtics did a nice job with the star big man in the first half (key words: “first” and “half”), holding him to 2/9 shooting in 19 minutes. They would lead by 18 at the break.

Early in the third quarter, Marcus Smart ran into a KAT screen with his right shoulder, causing him to exit the game.

He would emerge from the locker room less than 10 minutes later, after the team announced he was probable to return with a right shoulder strain.

The third quarter continued to be a struggled for the Celtics, as Towns and the Timberwolves would wake up on the offensive end. The All-Star big would go 8-for-9 in the third with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Gordon Hayward picked up right where he left off on December 1st in Minnesota, where he had a (previous) season-high of 30 points on 8-for-16 shooting. Hayward was terrific on Wednesday, finishing with 36 points and 5 assists on 14-for-18 shooting. He now has two 30+ point performances against the Wolves this season, and no 20-point showings against anyone else.

Marcus Morris quietly exited to the locker room midway through the fourth quarter. He would not return due to a sore neck.

The Celtics handled their business during the fourth quarter, never allowing this game to get within 9 points. Terry Rozier would finish with 16 points, 5 assists, and 5 steals, while Al Horford would add 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting.

The Celtics return to TD Garden on Friday night to face the Dallas Mavericks.