Shorthanded Celtics win 10th straight contest
Injured Porzingis sits out Knick's loss to Magic Pistons stay hot by downing Pacers Heat beat Suns
The Boston Celtics have had to deal with adversity in the opening three weeks of the season with five players already suffering injuries.
Yet they have not let being shorthanded sidetrack them.
“Just pick up the pieces and keep on trucking,” said guard Kyrie Irving.
“That’s the best way I know how and the best way we know how as an organization.”
Gordon Hayward went out with a season-ending injury less than six minutes into the opener, and the Celtics responded.
Marcus Morris got a late start to the season due to a sore knee, and the Celtics filled his spot.
Marcus Smart missed a pair of games, and his role was filled.
And on Wednesday night, the hits kept on coming.
First, Al Horford had to miss a game against the Los Angeles Lakers after suffering a concussion on Monday night in Atlanta.
Then, midway through the second quarter against the Lakers, rookie Jayson Tatum exited with a sore right ankle.
But the Celtics kept on trucking, holding off the Lakers for their 10th straight victory, a 107-96 result before a capacity home crowd at the TD Garden.
It is the Celtics’ first double-digit winning streak since they put together 14 straight victories early in the 2010-11 season.
“Just being resilient and understanding what our expectations are for each other in this locker room,” said Irving, who overcame a tough shooting night (7-for-21) to score 19 points and make key plays down the stretch.
“Taking care of business in terms of our preparation. Never taking a moment for granted.”
It has all added up to a surprising start for the Celtics, given they were stunned by the Hayward injury right off the bat.
But the Celtics are rolling with 10 wins in a row. Only three teams had a streak that long in the NBA last season.
Against the Lakers, the Celtics turned to Aron Baynes (who tied a career high with 21 points and added eight rebounds) and Marcus Morris (18 points with three three-pointers) to fill the void left by Horford.
Morris, who said his knee is still sore, went 25 minutes and gave the Celtics scoring and defense.
“We’re still trying to manage his minutes appropriately,” said coach Brad Stevens. “It was hard to take him out. He really impacted the game.”
The Celtics had cruised to a 21-point lead in the first half, only to have the Lakers rally back and make things very interesting.
Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson had 18 points apiece and Julius Randle added 16 points and 12 rebounds for Los Angeles in defeat.
“I thought that we made timing plays,” said Stevens. “I didn’t think we necessarily played good basketball the whole last 30 minutes. We had a bunch of guys step up and do different things. We weren’t good enough to say we played well, we can’t play like that.”
The three-game home-stand continues when the Charlotte Hornets visit Friday night, and the Celtics will probably be filling holes once again.
“We have to focus forward and until we have only four players left, I guess we’re just going to keep playing,” said Stevens. “I don’t know what you do at four.”
Magic 112, Knicks 99
Nikola Vucevic scored 24 points and Evan Fournier had 23 to help Orlando halt a two-game losing streak with a win over New York.
The Knicks were without star forward Kristaps Porzingis, who is averaging 30 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting 51 percent from the field. Porzingis has a slight left ankle sprain and a bruised right elbow.
Tim Hardaway Jr. led New York with a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Pistons 114, Pacers 97
Tobias Harris had 23 points and eight rebounds, and Detroit won for the sixth time in seven games, downing Indiana.
Reggie Jackson supplied 18 points, Avery Bradley had 14, and Andre Drummond contributed 14 points and 21 rebounds for the Pistons.
Victor Oladipo pumped in 21 points and Al Jefferson scored a season-high 19 points for the Pacers, who have lost four straight.
Heat 126, Suns 115
Goran Dragic had 29 points and nine rebounds, and Dion Waiters scored five of his 16 points in the final 2:02 to give Miami a win over Phoenix.
Hassan Whitehead added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who have won 17 of the last 19 meetings with the Suns, including nine of the last 10 at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Phoenix’s Devin Booker had nine of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter and cut a 16-point deficit to 112-106 on a 17-foot jumper with 2:53 left. However, Waiters followed a jumper with a three-pointer to make it 117-106, and the Heat locked down the game.
ORLANDO MAGIC forward Jonathon Simmons (right) scores on a tough shot over New York Knicks defender Kyle O’Quinn for two of his 16 points off the bench in the Magic’s 112-99 home conquest of the Knicks on Wednesday night.