Instead of dwelling on his mistake that let Sacramento tie the game in the closing seconds on Wednesday night, Gordon Hayward made it moot.
Hayward made up for a costly foul by hitting a tiebreaking shot with two seconds to play that helped the Boston Celtics overcome the absence of injured star Kyrie Irving in a 111-109 victory over the Kings.
Hayward fouled Buddy Hield on a three-point attempt with 7.6 seconds left, allowing Sacramento to pull even.
Photo: Ed Szczepanski-USA Today
Boston had no timeouts and inbounded the ball to Hayward, who went the length of the court before hitting a fall-away for the win.
“It felt good more than anything, because I almost lost us the game with the foul,” Hayward said. “I was trying to get that one back for us.”
“More than anything, just happy for our team, and we found a way to win these last two games, especially with what we were going through,” he said. “It’s been a roller coaster and we want to be on an up when we get to the playoffs.”
Harrison Barnes then missed a three-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Celtics their second win in two nights to start a four-game California swing.
Boston had lost five of six before starting this trip with a 33-point win at two-time defending champions Golden State and then the dramatic victory over the Kings the following night.
Hayward scored 30 points against the Warriors and is rounding back into the form he showed before sustaining a gruesome ankle injury in the opener last season after signing a US$128 million, four-year deal to join the Celtics.
“It shows you the confidence he still has,” teammate Marcus Morris said. “It’s building and building. A lot of people are trying to write him off and say he’s not going to be who he was. As a player, that’s tough.”
Jayson Tatum led Boston with 24 points, Al Horford had 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, while Hayward finished with 12 points.
Barnes scored 24 points and Hield added 23 for the Kings, who have lost four of five and trail San Antonio by four games in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
“It’s always a tough one to lose a close game like that,” point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “Sometimes it comes down to a few key possessions. They made a lot of tough shots.”
The Kings erased a six-point deficit in the final three minutes thanks in part to two drives by Fox and a hustle block by Hield that prevented a fast-break layup for Marcus Smart.
Hield’s free throws then tied the game before Hayward delivered the game-winner for Boston.
In other games on Wednesday, the Miami Heat defeated the Charlotte Hornets 91-84, the Washington Wizards outlasted the Dallas Mavericks 132-123, the Detroit Pistons crushed the Minnesota Timberwolves 131-114 and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-107.
The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Atlanta Hawks 111-104, the Chicago Bulls edged the Philadelphia 76ers 108-107, the Utah Jazz overpowered the New Orleans Pelicans 114-104, the Phoenix Suns defeated the New York Knicks 107-96 and the Denver Nuggets crushed the Los Angeles Lakers 115-99.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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