Irving, Brown help Celtics outrun Kings
BOSTON — The Boston Celtics put an early end to coach Brad Stevens’ concerns about a possible letdown against the struggling Sacramento Kings.
After falling behind by two points early in the second quarter, Boston dominated Sacramento inside and out in the second and third quarters and rolled to 113-86 rout on Wednesday night.
“It’s easy to write a team off that’s struggling, but they’re going to come out and compete hard,” said Jaylen Brown, who scored 22 points and was one of four Boston starters to watch the entire fourth quarter from the bench.
Kyrie Irving also scored 22 points and added five assists and four steals as Boston stifled Sacramento defensively and wore down the Kings, who were playing for the second night in a row.
The Celtics’ only starter to play in the fourth quarter was rookie Jayson Tatum, who finished with 12 points.
Boston (6-2) held Sacramento to 15 points in the third quarter and capitalized on a barrage of 3-pointers led by Irving and Brown. The Celtics hit 11 shots from beyond the arc in the second half.
Coming off a 108-94 win over San Antonio on Monday, the Celtics did not overlook the Kings.
“Brad said from the jump, ‘I’d be really impressed if you came out and played with the same energy you did against San Antonio,’” Brown said. “I think we accepted the challenge.”
Brown missed only one shot, going 7 for 8 from the floor with five 3-pointers. Irving added four 3-pointers as Boston extended its winning streak to six games and Sacramento’s skid to six games.
The Celtics sank 17 3-pointers overall, 11 more than the Kings made from 3-point range. Boston dominated inside as well, outrebounding Sacramento 52-26 with rookie Daniel Theis pulling down a team-high 10 for the Celtics.
“That’s my job here — just provide energy and go for rebounds,” said Theis, who also scored 10 points. “I think it’s just I have long arms and tip a lot of balls.”
Stevens said Theis and fellow rookie Semi Ojeleye, who scored 11 points, helped lead Boston’s reserves even before both teams emptied the bench for the fourth quarter.
“I thought we were kind of going back and forth and then the bench got us kick-started today,” Stevens said.
Sacramento, meanwhile, stalled after a tight first quarter. Buddy Hield led Sacramento (1-7) with 17 points. Zach Randolph scored 16 for the Kings, who lost their 11th straight at Boston.
The Kings were still close midway through the first half but couldn’t keep up with the Celtics one night after a 101-83 loss at Indiana.
“I thought we were significantly better than we were last night and the night before,” Sacramento coach Dave Joerger said. “We just struggle to score. And when you play a team that can score, sometimes that inability lets them be even more free and more loose.”
Sacramento briefly took a 28-27 lead early in the second quarter after matching Boston by shooting 50 percent in the opening quarter.
That seemed to spark the Celtics, who responded with an 18-3 run and outscored the Kings 31-21 in the second, just missing on a 3-pointer by Irving at the buzzer that was overturned after a video review.
Although that shot didn’t count, Irving set a tone for the second half as the Celtics came out firing from 3-point range. Irving hit two 3-pointers early in the third, then Brown took over late with back-to-back 3-pointers to extend Boston’s largest lead of the night.
“Kyrie got hot. They started hitting shots,” Randolph said. “We’re a young team with a bunch of young talent. Just staying positive and keeping everyone together. That’s the main thing.”
Brown made a 3-pointer with 4:31 left in the third quarter to put Boston up 78-54, then added another 27 seconds later. The lead continued to grow for Boston.
Terry Rozier scored 12 for Boston.
George Hill was the only other Sacramento player to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points.
NOTES: Boston F Gordon Hayward (fractured left ankle) thanked Celtics fans and everyone who has wished him well since his injury in the season opener at Cleveland. “I honestly can’t say enough about everyone’s kindness,” Hayward wrote in a blog post. Out for the season after surgery, Hayward is doing what limited rehabilitation exercises he can do in a walking boot. He stopped by the Celtics’ practice facility this week. “He seems to be in really good spirits, which in the most important thing,” coach Brad Stevens said. ... Celtics G Marcus Morris (sore left knee) had good workouts Tuesday and Wednesday. Stevens said Morris could make his debut for the team “sooner than later.” ... The Celtics hit the road for their next three games, starting Friday night in Oklahoma City. The Kings wrap up a three-game road trip Saturday at Detroit.