– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
BOSTON — Though the Boston Celtics would prefer a healthy roster, the more they play — and win — without their floor general, the more it can benefit them during the stretch run of the season, much like last season’s near-appearance in the NBA Finals.
Playing without Kyrie Irving for a second straight game, backup point guard Terry Rozier turned back the clock to last season when he deputized at the position and showed off his value at the position, as he went for 17 points and 10 assists in Boston’s wire-to-wire 126-94 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.
Boston’s second-straight victory was also powered by the bench play, specifically Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown, who combined for 36 points, with Brown leading all scores with 24 in 29 minutes. But, from the outset, Rozier was once again in control, a luxury the Celtics once again may rely on as Irving continues to rest a sore left hip.
“Yeah, I mean, I just think it’s – you know exactly what you’re getting,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said of Rozier. “And I thought that he had played well off the bench in a few games prior to that, and then you know, even though he didn’t get as many opportunities as far as shooting the ball, I think his – his spark over the last three or four weeks has been really, really impactful.”
With Rozier setting the tone, Boston recorded 34 assists on 50 field goals made, shooting 56 percent from the field on its way to its seventh win in its last eight games.
With Rozier setting the tone, Boston recorded 34 assists on 50 field goals made, shooting 56 percent from the field on its way to its seventh win in its last eight games and winning 10 of its 11 home games in the month of January.
“When you looked at the schedule, you know, in the summer, what stood out was that October, November, and December were going to be really, really tough from a travel perspective,” Stevens said. “And, and then the opportunity to play a little bit more at home and be home, sleep in your own bed, which is obviously always a good thing, and so it’s good. And now we need to use whatever we gained from it to, again, go into February and play as well as we can over the next fourteen days prior to the All-Star break and hopefully finish the season strong.”