BOSTON (CBS) — As a player who does a little bit of everything on the floor, Al Horford has flirted with triple-doubles for much of his entire career. But the 12-year veteran only had one to his name heading into Monday night’s action.
Triple-doubles are important to some NBA players, but not Horford. The quiet leader of the Celtics is fine going about his business, stuffing the stat sheet in whatever way the C’s need him to in order to come out on top on a given night. It doesn’t matter if he’s only a few points away or an assist away from the accomplishment; Horford isn’t going to force a play just to get himself in the headline.
Even if his wife urges him to do so from behind the Boston bench.
That was the case Monday night, as the Celtics were hanging on for a 110-105 victory over the Miami Heat. In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Horford needed just one rebound to secure his first-ever triple double with the Celtics. He pulled it down with 1:29 left to play, helping start Kyrie Irving’s fast break three-point play on the other end that helped seal the victory for Boston.
Horford’s final line in Monday’s victory: 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. It was his usual all-around game with some solid defense in key moments of the fourth quarter. There was no forcing plays to get his triple double; it came to Horford, much to his wife’s delight.
“There’s been a lot of games [where I’ve been close]. I looked over at my wife, she was like, ‘Better get it,'” Horford told reporters after the win. “I was like one rebound, one assist. She kept looking around, I was like, ‘I got you, I got you.’ I just tried to continue to play the right way and I’m glad it worked out in my favor. And, obviously, we got the win.
“My focus is always on playing the right way and playing to win,” he echoed. “That’s just the way that I approach it.”
In his three years with the Celtics, Horford has missed out on a triple-double by a single rebound, assist or point on five different occasions (including once in the postseason). It’s shocking that he has 783 games under his belt but just two triple doubles. But Horford is a man who does anything and everything on the floor, often sacrificing his own stats for those of his teammates. There are times when the Celtics big man is too unselfish, looking to set up others rather than get some easy points for himself.
But that is part of what makes Horford so valuable to the Celtics, and why he is the glue guy of the team. Irving is the star, Brad Stevens is the mastermind, but Al Horford is the much-needed everyman that they need, whether it’s to make baskets, play stout defense down low, or set the wheels in motion for everyone else.