Isaiah Thomas has huge impact in Celtics' win over Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY — Prior to Saturday night’s matchup against the Jazz, the Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas had already delivered several spectacular performances in the fourth quarter to help his team get the victory. It is a story that many teams know all too well. Just ask some of his most recent victims like the Blazers, Lakers, Raptors or Pistons, the last of which he torched for 24 points in the final frame.
While he ended Saturday with 29 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, arguably his biggest impact in the win against the Jazz came early in the game as he scored 11 first-quarter points that got Boston off to a hot start in its win.
Thomas hit an early 3-pointer to give his team a 5-0 lead and, eight points later, helped the Celtics build a seven-point lead that would later grow to 10 points by the end of the quarter.
The Celtics guard was then quiet for much of the game until the fourth quarter, when he dropped 12 points to secure the Celtics’ win.
“That’s just my job, to be aggressive, to make plays, to score,” Thomas said of his fourth-quarter mentality. “I look forward to those moments.”
While Thomas had one of his typical All-Star performances, the Celtics bench was outstanding, outscoring the Jazz bench 50-23. Kelly Olynyk led the bench scorers with 19 points, while Gerald Green and James Young added 16 and 10 points, respectively.
“I said it at the start of the game to the team that we’re going to need all 13 guys,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. “It was a really good win with a lot of guys stepping up and playing well.”
Even when he wasn’t scoring, Thomas still played a big role in getting others involved as the lefty garnered several double-teams that freed up teammates for easy baskets.
“It was great, everybody stepped up,” Thomas said. “The bench carried us, everybody played an overall really good game, especially the bench, and we need that from them.”
Thomas entered Saturday night’s matchup against the Jazz at second in the NBA in points per game, averaging 29.9. Additionally, as one of the most clutch performers down the stretch, Thomas leads the NBA at 10.7 fourth-quarter points per game.
According to Stevens, Thomas’ breakout season is due in large part to his dedication to improvement, especially as he has gained more and more attention.
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“He’s always had a chip on his shoulder to be better, but with the accolades and the success that he’s had, he’s just gotten hungrier to be better, and that’s hard to do,” Stevens said.
The Celtics guard has proven that, as he has only gotten hotter as the season has progressed, including leading the NBA in scoring in the month of January at 32.9 points per game.
“He wants to be really good, and he just continues to grow and work on his game and find little ways to get better,” Stevens said. “I think that that is what the really good ones do.”
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Published at Sun, 12 Feb 2017 06:56:00 +0000