The short-handed Boston Celtics needed someone to step up and man the point on Monday night with point guards Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart out with injuries.
Enter Point Gordon.
Essentially starting at point guard for the first time in his career, Gordon Hayward dished out six assists to go along with seven rebounds and 24 points as Boston came from behind to top All-Star point guard Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks, 123-115.
After the game, G-Time downplayed his efforts from the point, noting that all his teammates are capable of handling the ball.
“It didn’t feel that much different to be honest. Just because over the course of the game we had so many different guys that could handle it. That is one of our strengths. I had to remind myself early on to come back and get the ball, but I thought it was good. We turned it over way too much tonight, but I think some of that was credit to the way they played. They played hard, they competed, they pressured us. But, we just have to be better in that regard.”
The game was tight early, with Gordon doing his best to fill the gaps. He got his first assist on a Daniel Theis dunk, and added his first point moments later at the free throw line. Atlanta pushed ahead by five shortly thereafter, but No. 20 more than halved the lead with a long three to make it 15-13.
Gordon Hayward is your Celtic point guard as they open against the Hawks here in Atlanta tonight…
C’s score game’s first five points. Now trail 15-10 at 6:55 timeout.
— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) February 4, 2020
Gordon Hayward’s range is impeccable recently pic.twitter.com/s5yJzAsMtZ
— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) February 4, 2020
Some people forgot how good of a basketball player Gordon Hayward actually is
— Brenden (@_brenden_moore) February 4, 2020
Gordon added another assist on a trey by Jaylen Brown and tallied four more points of his own in the first with a jumper and an offensive rebound tip-in, but thanks to 17 first-quarter points from the dynamic Young, Atlanta held a six-point lead after one.
The second quarter saw Boston’s deep bench step up in a big way, and by the time G returned to the floor, more than halfway through the frame, the Cs trailed by just one point, 50-49. Boston took the lead when Gordon buried a trey with 1:14 left in the half, and led by one after a pair of free throws by No. 20 with three seconds to go, but Atlanta’s John Collins ended the half with a triple to give the Hawks a two-point lead at the break.
This game is incredible. After John Collins banks in a three, ATL up 62-60 at halftime.
Trae Young with 23 and 5 assists
Gordon Hayward: 13 points, 4 reb, 4 ast
— Andrew Freedman (@afreedman21) February 4, 2020
However, the third quarter belonged to Boston, who outscored Atlanta 35-22 in the penultimate frame. As part of that tide-turning-third, Gordon scored five points and dished out a pair of assists. But No. 20 and his Boston brethren did their best third quarter work on defense, where they stifled the Hawks and held down Young, who shot 1-for-4 and scored four points in the frame, after scoring 23 in the first half.
“He was hitting from really far out, and for some reason it surprised us like we hadn’t seen him do it before,” Gordon said. “But, I think we made a better effort to force him over the top and just try to be up a little more.”
End of 3Q: Celtics 95, Hawks 84
☘️ Tatum: 23 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST
☘️ Hayward: 18 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST
☘️ Brown: 17 PTS (7-11)
☘️ Wanamaker: 12 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL
🐧 Young: 27 PTS, 7 AST, 5 TOV
— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) February 4, 2020
By the end of the third, the Celtics were up 11 points and with the game hanging in the balance in the fourth, G-Time helped Boston seal up the win. First, G-Time threw down a monster dunk a few minutes into the fourth to make it a 10-point game.
#Celtics G Gordon Hayward with a big jam. He has 20 points tonight
— chicksintosports (@chicksintosport) February 4, 2020
Atlanta scored the next eight points to pull within a bucket, but a during a sequence of less than a minute, Gordon knocked down a pair of big buckets to stave off Atlanta. First a pull-up jumper stopped the Hawks run and doubled the Celtics lead. Then after a Jeff Teague miss, Jayson Tatum got the Cs out in transition and on the other end, G-Time used a pump fake to pick his spot, getting inside and then knocked down a fadeaway jumper to make it a six-point game.
Big time buckets from 2️⃣0️⃣ pic.twitter.com/M0CFC7ji9y
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 4, 2020
Back-to-back big hoops for Gordon Hayward. He’s up to 24 points, to go along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) February 4, 2020
Gordon Hayward 😍😍😍
— rip kobe and gigi (@marinoanduaga) February 4, 2020
Gordon Hayward is a bad man #Celtics
— Nia Sapp (@NiaOnAir) February 4, 2020
Mhmmmm Gordon Hayward got 24 right now 🙃🙃
— BEAN (@onlygettnbetter) February 4, 2020
gordon hayward making me feel things
— shea (@norlingshea) February 4, 2020
The Celtics held steady from there, staving off every Atlanta run to come away with the win.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 4, 2020
If you don’t think Gordon Hayward was the best player on the floor tonight, in a game he handled the reins of the offense well as the de facto point guard role with Kemba and Smart out, you’ll never truly appreciate what he brings
— Jay Asser (@Jay_Asser) February 4, 2020
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 4, 2020
— Kelly McGill (@kellymcgill_) February 4, 2020
Gordon Hayward quietly having one of the best years of his career. Averaging 17, 6 & 4. Posting career-highs in FG%, FT% and rpg. #Celtics
— Matt Langone (@MattLangone) February 4, 2020
Hayward has also scored 20+ in 6 of his last 9 games, shooting 49% from the field, 45% from three, and 89% from the free throw line.
Celtics should NOT trade this man. pic.twitter.com/lzDXY1BIiW
— Nick Galle (@thenickgalle) February 4, 2020
The Celtics will be back in action back at home on Wednesday when they host the Orlando Magic. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30pm ET and the game can be seen on ESPN.