That was a crazy game - in fact, it was pretty much three different games in one. The Kings came in at 10-7, having just had a 7-game win streak snapped by the Hawks on Wednesday. As much of a laughingstock as the KIngs usually are, this game looked like a dangerous one for the C's, coming against an improved opponent who might be eager tog et a new win streak going.
The Celtics came out in the first quarter firing on all cylinders and basically ran the Kings off the court. After one the score was 36-22, behind balanced scoring: Tatum, Brown, and White each had 8 and Al had 6. The Celtics played with pace and their defense forced 10 Kings turnovers. The game began with a terrible shooting display by both teams but the Celtics finished the quarter at nearly 50% from the field while the KIngs shooting remained awful. The officiating in this game was not great, and the first example of that came in the first quarter and favored the Celtics. With D'Aaron Fox pushing the ball, Derrick White tried to catch him from behind and go for a steal. But he tripped Fox in the process and the refs missed it. While the Kings bitched about the non-call Marcus Smart picked up the loose ball and lobbed it down the court to White who had an easy layup. The officials compounded their error by calling technicals on Fox and the Kings coach.
Having gotten themselves ahead by 14, it was time for the "second game." The Celtics noticeably relaxed, their defensive intesity and focus wavered, and though they shot it well (nearly 50% again), it was the Kings who ran them off the court, outscoring the Celtics 40-28 and going into halftime down by just two. The refs were making marginal calls, and the Celtics let it distract them. After a marginal call on Grant (or a missed call) in the Celtics offensive end, Grant, he spent the whole trip back down the court bitching at one of the officials about the call. He was so focused on his bitching that at mid court he collied with a Kings player and both fell down, after which Grant got back up and resumed his bitching at the ref like nothing had happened. I was suprised he wasn't whistled for a foul. Despite his focus on the ref, Grant does get himself into defensive position, blocks a shot out of bounds, and then he stares/gestures at the ref who calls a tech. In Karalis' post-game podcast he said he saw Derrick White talking to the ref after this call, and he lip-read the ref saying "the whole trip back," which seemed like a reference to Grant's bitching.
Also worth noting, Mazzulla used an 8-man rotation in the first half, with only Grant, Hauser, and Brogdon coming off the bench. He did the same thing against Dallas, after not playing Kornet in the second half of the Chicago loss.
For most of the third quarter, the Celtics cleaned up their defensive act a bit but were still overly focused on the officiating and not really on their game. The Kings took the lead, and with 4 minutes left they were up by 6, 84-78, and looked reasonably in control of the game. At the same time, the Celtics were in foul trouble. Brown, who had 3 fouls in the first half, picked up his 4th early in the third and only played 2:29 in the quarter. Smart also picked up his 4th. And with 3:50 left, Celtics down 84-78, Jayson Tatum was called for an offensive foul, his 4th. This looked like it was going to be a kind of repeat of an early season loss to CHicago or Cleveland where the Celtics raced out to a big first quarter lead and then fell apart and lost.
But at 3:12, Tatum is fouled and hits both free throws to cut the lead to 4. More importantly, Mazzulla inserts Payton Prltchard and Luke Kornet into the game at this point, their first action of the night. The Celtics went with a unit of Tatum, Brogdon, Hauser, Pritchard, and Kornet. Whether Mazzulla went with this unit because Brown, Smart, and Tatum were all in foul trouble or because he wanted to see some energy on the floor, it was as if an immediate switch had been flipped. Pritchard got an ovation from the crowd just for checking in (I assume they weren't cheering for Kornet), and the Celtics went on an amazing tear, closing out the final 3:12 of the quarter with a 16-0 run that put them up by 10 headed into the fourth. Tatum had 7 points, Pritchard 5, and Brogdon and Kornet each had 2.
The fourth quarter was more of the same for the Celtics, as they ultimately pushed their lead up to 27 points before Sacramento waved the white flag and the benches were emptied by both coaches. Marcus Smart closed out a 39-6 run with a pair of free throws that put the Celtics up 117-90. Protchard finished with 9 points and a rebound in 15 minutes including garbage time, Kornet had 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks in about 13 minutes. Those aren't huge numbers but what a shift their entry into the game triggered. Not sure I have seen anything quite like it.
Tatum scored 30 points to lead the team, all in the first 3 quarters (he played only 2 minutes in the fourth). He added 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block against 3 turnovers. Brown scored 25 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals vs 1 turnover. White had 16 points and 3 steals, Al had 13 points, 5 assists, 2 blocks.
Marcus Smart had a forgettable game. He scored 4 points, all from the line. He did have 4 rebounds and 5 assists, but he also had 4 turnovers. He was in a zone for the few games before his injury, but was very much out of that zone tonight.Grant also had a rough game: 2 points, both from the line, 1 rebound, 2 assists, and the aforementioned block. He very much needs to lean how to shut his fucking piehole and focus on the game instead of the officials. He is much improved as a basketball player this year, but his theatrics are detrimental.
Brogdon and Hauser were OK. Brogdon had 8 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block, though his shot was not falling on drives (3 of 9, 1 of 6 from 2). He was one the floor for the big run. Hauser was too. He shot 3 of 6, all from three, and added 3 rebounds and an assist.
But the major bench contributions were from Kornet and Pritchard.
There were also Jackson, Vonleh, and JD sightings at the end.