Gordon Hayward may not have been playing in the friendly confines of TD Garden on Tuesday night during their 119-113 win over the Cavaliers, but he might as well have been. He was right at home.
The historic night for G-Time included a career-high 17 field goals on 20 attempts and a perfect 4-for-4 from free throw line. The end result was 39 points, which ties a career-high for points in a single regular season outing for the nine-year NBA veteran. This total is also his highest offensive output as a member of the Boston Celtics and his first performance of 2019 in excess of 30 points.
No. 20 also added seven rebounds and eight assists in 34 minutes of live action. Those eight helpers were also a season-high for Hayward as well as a team-high for the C’s Tuesday night. Perhaps most impressive was Gordon’s efficiency, making all but three of his field goal attempts on the night.
Although Gordon was solid through the entirety of his performance in Cleveland, it was his hustle during the final 30 seconds that mattered most.
With under 30 seconds to play and the Celtics clinging to a 116-113 lead in enemy territory, Kemba Walker rose up from beyond the arc only to have the rock bounce off the front of the rim.
Kevin Love, who entered the night as the NBA’s leader in defensive rebounding, was in prime position to secure yet another defensive board, only to be beaten by G, who came sprinting in from the left corner, ultimately snagging the ball out of the air.
Hayward finished the play off with a lay-up, extending the Boston lead to 5 with 23 seconds remaining, which essentially put the game out of reach for the Cavs.
“He was aggressive going to the basket … He just kept making the right play over and over,” Brad Stevens said of his Gordon’s spectacular night.
To put the performance in context, Hayward became the first player since the inception of the 3-point line to shoot 16-for-16 from inside the arc, and the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1967 to shoot 16-for-16 on 2-pointers, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
“Just kind of taking advantage of my size in the paint,” Hayward said. “I think it’s something I can get to if I stay under control and poised in there. But certainly, around the rim there, with different floaters and leaners, slow-steps, things like that, is something I’m pretty comfortable doing.”
To top off the career night, most importantly, Gordon and the Celtics left Cleveland with their fifth straight victory before heading to Charlotte to take on the Hornets. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on TNT.