NBA

Jaylen Brown's return to Celtics in rout of Rockets a 'great sign' for Boston

By Sports Desk November 22, 2021

It took Jaylen Brown a while to get heated up Monday in his first game in two and a half weeks, but the Boston Celtics liked what they saw once he got going. 

Brown returned to the Boston lineup after missing eight games with a right hamstring strain and did his part as the Celtics pulled away from the woeful Houston Rockets in the second half for a 108-90 victory. 

Head coach Ime Udoka said before the game that Brown likely would be limited to 24 minutes, and he ended up playing 23, scoring 19 points on six-of-13 shooting from the field. 

The 25-year-old guard missed his first three shot attempts before sinking a jumper midway through the first quarter, but he did not show signs of his usual self until the second half. 

Midway through the third quarter, Brown embarked on a personal 10-0 run capped by a pair of three-pointers just 24 seconds apart to boost the Boston lead to 72-50. 

"He got warm, then got on that flurry in the third quarter," said Udoka. "To have him back in that third quarter to see what he did was a great sign."

Udoka said Brown "still doesn't feel normal, normal" so the team likely will take care to avoid rushing him back to his typical load of about 36 minutes per game. 

Any contribution figures to be a positive for the Celtics, who have now won three in a row for the first time this season as Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 30 points Monday.

All of the Celtics' big-picture plans include Brown as a key piece, though, so seeing him back on the court was a relief. 

"Once he was able to get a couple baskets, you could just see that he felt more comfortable with everything and he opened up," said team-mate Al Horford. "He's such a good player that he'll find his way."

Robert Williams III also returned to the Boston lineup after missing three games with a knee injury. The big man attempted just one shot from the field, and made it, but made his presence felt by racking up 15 rebounds. 

Related items

  • Vogel hails 'spectacular' Westbrook despite late miss Vogel hails 'spectacular' Westbrook despite late miss

    Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel had no issues with Russell Westbrook going for gold late on in Friday's defeat to the Charlotte Hornets.

    Without the injured LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers went down 117-114 to Charlotte, as they slipped to 24-26 for the season.

    It was a second successive defeat for the Lakers, who have won just three games out of their last 10, a slump that has put Vogel under pressure.

    In the absence of his fellow star players, Westbrook did his utmost to push Los Angeles over the line, scoring 35 points and adding four rebounds and five assists.

    Yet it was Westbrook who missed a crucial three-pointer with 0.7 seconds remaining, the point guard having gone for glory with the Lakers trailing by two points, instead of trying to take the game to overtime.

    Westbrook's effort hit the rim, leaving P.J. Watson to go up the other end and add a further point for the Hornets with a free throw.

    Vogel defended his decision to take Westbrook off in the final stages of a defeat to the Indiana Pacers earlier this month, but after Friday's game, the Lakers coach was keen to stress his appreciation of the 33-year-old's performance.

    "The hottest guy in the gym has the ball in his hands ready to make a play," Vogel told reporters when asked for his thoughts on Westbrook's decision to go for the three points.

    "He was three for six from the three in the second half and went for the win. He knocks that down, we're talking about one hell of a win. 

    "It just didn’t go down for us. Russell was spectacular in that second half. He just really willed our team into an opportunity to steal one on the road.

    "I really appreciated Russell's performance tonight. I really want to credit [him]. He was very determined tonight."

    "I had just made two [three-pointers] just before that, so I will live and die with that one," said Westbrook, who has 945 points to his name this season at an average of 18.9 per game.

    Miles Bridges was tasked with marking Westbrook in the fourth, a tussle the Hornets' small forward – who had 26 points – enjoyed.

    "I know he didn’t want to go to overtime," Bridges explained. "I tried to get a good contest on him."

    Westbrook added: "I think [Miles] was trying to say I was too small or something, but that ain't the case and he knows better than that.

    "It was definitely on my mind and I was like, ok, that's going to be a good trigger for me. I was able to turn it up a little notch, especially during that time of the game."

    The Lakers are back in action on Sunday, against the Atlanta Hawks.

    The teams met earlier in January, before the Lakers' dismal run, with Los Angeles claiming a 134-118 home win.

    Los Angeles' points tally in that win was the most they had scored in a game against Atlanta since 1993 (135).

  • Depleted Lakers lose again, Paul and Booker star for red-hot Suns Depleted Lakers lose again, Paul and Booker star for red-hot Suns

    The absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis were felt as the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a second successive defeat.

    Davis registered 31 points, 12 rebounds in Thursday's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, but like James missed out through injury on Friday against the Charlotte Hornets.

    That meant the onus was on Russell Westbrook to step up, and though he had 35 points, he ultimately missed a crucial, game-clinching three-pointer, having decided to go for the win rather than try for overtime.

    P.J. Washington secured the rebound after Westbrook's attempt hit the rim, and added further insult with a free throw with 0.2 seconds left on the clock to seal a 117-114 win for Charlotte.

    Since a four-game winning streak was snapped by the Memphis Grizzlies on January 9, Los Angeles has won just three of their nine games.

    The Hornets, meanwhile, gained revenge for their overtime loss to the Lakers back in November in the only previous meeting this season, ending a six-game losing streak against Los Angeles in the process.

    Suns in red-hot form

    It is now nine wins in a row for the Phoenix Suns, who lead the NBA with 39 victories in 2021-22 after overcoming the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-124.

    Devin Booker led the game with 29 points, while Chris Paul had a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists and Cam Johnson's tally of 23 points included crucial back-to-back three-pointers in the fourth quarter.

    The Suns' record of 39-9 is the best in franchise history at this stage of a season, and have now won the 30 games in which they have led after three quarters.

    While the Suns top the Western Conference, the Miami Heat continued their run at the top of the East by holding off a late push from the Los Angeles Clippers in a 121-114 success.

    Miami has now won 10 of their last 12 games and snapped a six-game losing streak against the Clippers, who fought back to within four points but fell short of another comeback after their record-setting efforts against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

    All-Star Morant sets franchise record

    Ja Morant proved why he has been named an All-Star starter as he delivered a triple-double of 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 119-109 win for the Grizzlies over the Utah Jazz.

    It was the highest-scoring triple-double in franchise history and the fourth overall for Morant, who has scored at least 30 points for five straight games as Memphis moved to 34-17.

    DeMar DeRozan's return to San Antonio ended in defeat for the Chicago Bulls, who went down 131-122 to the Spurs.

    Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic recorded a triple-double in the Denver Nuggets' victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, while Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 38 points in an emphatic win for the Milwaukee Bucks over the New York Knicks.

  • 'I thought I was dreaming!' – Warriors star Wiggins reacts to All-Star selection 'I thought I was dreaming!' – Warriors star Wiggins reacts to All-Star selection

    Andrew Wiggins thought he was dreaming when he learned he had been selected to his first NBA All-Star Game as a starter for the Western Conference team.

    Wiggins and Ja Morant earned their first call-ups when the starters were confirmed on Thursday, with LeBron James and Kevin Durant named as captains.

    While Memphis Grizzlies guard Morant was widely expected to be picked, fellow first-time starter Wiggins was seen as a surprise selection by some.

    It was clear how much the achievement meant to the Warriors forward as he spoke to reporters after the 124-115 win over his former team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, on Thursday.

    Wiggins will join Warriors teammate Stephen Curry in representing the West when the annual midseason exhibition is held on February 20 in Cleveland.

    "It was mind-blowing," Wiggins said about learning the news. 

    "I was taking my pregame nap. My girl woke me up and said, 'You're a starter! You’re a starter!' – I thought I was dreaming for a second!

    "It means a lot. I've been working hard in different situations and I found a home here, something that works. Hopefully I can keep it going and this is not the last one.

    "There has been nothing but love [from my teammates]. As soon as I got here, in the game, this whole time, I'm sure when I go down the locker room, they will give me more love. So, it's a special feeling."

    Wiggins had 19 points that included five three-pointers as the Warriors improved to 36-13 for the season and 23-4 at home by beating the Timberwolves.

    They sit second in the Western Conference and Wiggins is their second-highest scorer this season with 18.1 points per game, only behind Curry (25.8).

    Steve Kerr was delighted for his player, who has had to wait eight seasons for his first selection.

    "One of the proudest moments just to see what Wiggs has done since he got here a couple of years go," said the Warriors coach.

    "The journey he has travelled has been rocky at times, and to see how hard he's worked and to see all the work rewarded, just could not be happier for him.''

    Curry had a team-high 29 points for the Warriors against Minnesota.

    They have a huge game next at home to the Brooklyn Nets (26-19) on Saturday.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.