BOSTON — Boston Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown, a mere 21 years outdated of age, was requested Sunday a couple of spry-looking Al Horford after Boston had stretched its profitable streak to 12 straight video games with a gritty win over the Toronto Raptors.
“It definitely looks like a young Al Horford — All-Star Al Horford, to be honest,” mentioned Brown, who could not even drive a automobile when Horford earned consecutive All-Star nods again in 2010 and 2011. “He’s playing really well at a high level. If he keeps it up, we’re gonna be really tough.”
Horford, again in Boston’s beginning lineup Sunday after lacking the earlier two video games as a consequence of a concussion, scored a team-high 21 factors on an environment friendly Eight-of-9 capturing. And it was each Horford and Brown who paired as much as power DeMar DeRozan into two powerful pictures within the closing seconds as Boston escaped with a 95-94 triumph at TD Garden.
Told of Brown’s feedback, Horford laughed on the suggestion.
“I don’t know if young Al Horford played like this, to be honest,” mentioned Horford. “It’s been years of working on my game and trying to play this new way. This is the style the NBA is shifting towards, and it’s taken me a couple years to get comfortable and play like this, so the young Al Horford can shoot 3s.”
Horford, thoughts you, is 31 years outdated and but he is nonetheless the elder statesman in Boston’s locker room. And a lot of his (a lot) youthful teammates loved the notion of how Grandpa Al is popping again the clock.
“Al’s getting to the basket. He’s dunking on guys. He’s not grabbing his knees,” joked Marcus Smart. “Definitely, Al’s playing young again. That’s a cool way to put it.”
It’s been 26 days because the Celtics final misplaced a recreation, and, regardless of a rash of accidents and a fledgling roster, their profitable streak continued Sunday.
To put the size of Boston’s profitable streak in perspective, the final time the Celtics misplaced, it was 30 levels hotter in Boston. Since dropping their dwelling opener to the Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 18, one night time after Boston misplaced Gordon Hayward to a season-ending ankle damage in Cleveland, the Celtics have utilized six completely different beginning lineups and 6 completely different rookies and located other ways to win every night time.
On Sunday, the Celtics have been with out Kyrie Irving (facial fracture) however obtained again Horford to regular a younger crew in a key recreation in opposition to a chief Eastern Conference rival. Horford, excellent at each ends of the court docket this season, picked up proper the place he left off.
Now all that stands between Boston and a 13-game profitable streak heading into Thursday’s go to from the Golden State Warriors is a Tuesday night time journey to Brooklyn.
The Raptors had two probabilities to win Sunday’s recreation, however DeMar DeRozan missed a pair of pull-up jumpers — the primary defended by Horford, the opposite by Brown. An offensive foul on rookie Jayson Tatum gave the Raptors a second gasp, however Boston’s league-leading protection rose to the problem once more. Horford is a giant motive why the Celtics prime the NBA in defensive ranking this season.
The Celtics labored by means of an abysmal first half, capturing 33 p.c from the ground. A four-point play by Terry Rozier within the closing seconds of the second quarter was 20 p.c of their output within the body. An offensive explosion adopted within the third quarter, and when Horford and Brown hit back-to-back 3s, Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck from his baseline seat implored followers to get loud.
But nothing has come significantly straightforward for Boston on this profitable streak, and this recreation could be no completely different. DeRozan and Kyle Lowry paired up for 43 factors on 13-of-32 capturing.
The Celtics countered with a balanced output with 5 completely different gamers in double figures, together with 16 factors from Rozier off the bench. Brown added 18, and Smart had 14 factors whereas being a defensive pest.
Irving, two days after getting inadvertently elbowed within the face by teammate Aron Baynes, was not at TD Garden for Sunday’s recreation. He was badembly with a specialist to look at the fracture beneath his proper eye and get fitted for the protecting masks he’ll put on when he returns to recreation motion.
Stevens did not know whether or not that return will happen Tuesday night time when the Celtics journey to Brooklyn however mentioned that, with Irving pained solely by the facial fracture and thus freed from concussion signs, the crew is hopeful he’ll be on the court docket “sooner rather than later.”