BOSTON (CBS) — The shorthanded Celtics extended their win streak to 10 games Wednesday night against the Lakers, but needed a gigantic effort from center Aron Baynes.
Dare we call it an Australia-sized effort from the big man?
Kyrie Irving did his thing, albeit on an off shooting night, but with Al Horford sidelined with a concussion and Jayson Tatum leaving with sore ankle, Boston turned to an unlikely source to lead the way on offense. Baynes, who had scored double-digit points in just two of his 11 games with Boston heading into Wednesday night, erupted for a career-high 21 points in the Celtics’ 110-96 victory.
It was just the fourth time in his six-year career that Baynes has led his team in scoring. He did it in an extremely efficient way, doing his damage on 8-for-12 shooting and in just 22 minutes on the floor. He was a force down under, cleaning the glass with eight rebounds while hammering home some easy putbacks and delivering some monster dunks off of feeds from Irving.
In an age where the NBA is all about quickness, it’s refreshing to see that a giant can still have the biggest night. The Australian big man was quick to praise Boston’s playmakers after the win.
“I just found myself in the right position, I was just trying to make the right play and trying to finish as best I could,” said Baynes. “It’s a compliment to the other guys on the team getting me the ball and great position; Marcus [Smart], Kyrie all those guys looking for me and I appreciate it.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was proud of the way Baynes adapted to a smaller Lakers lineup on the floor. Baynes said Stevens’ system makes it easy for players to take advantage of their opportunities on the floor.
“That’s the best thing about having a good system and a good coach, he puts us in the place we need to be to succeed,” he said. “When we don’t go out there and try and take it upon ourselves, that’s not how we look good. When we got back to moving it that’s when good things happened and that’s when we started to have fun. I keep saying and I keep preaching, but the more you live within the system the better we all look and the more fun we all have as well. That’s a credit to Brad.”
While Baynes led the way, Boston got a balanced performance up and down their roster. Everyone stepped up for the shorthanded C’s, with starter Marcus Morris scoring 18 points, Jaylen Brown hauling in 11 rebounds to go with his nine points, and Terry Rozier leading the way off of the bench with 14 points. Marcus Smart was his usual self, chipping in with some solid defense while also dishing out a team-high six assists, and rookie big man Daniel Theis provided some energetic defense in his 22 minutes.
But it was Baynes who stole the show, putting up a rare big-time performance by a Boston big man.