Thomas stays hot all month with fourth-quarter heroics

Isaiah Thomas (No. 4) driving to the basket against the Detroit Pistons. The Boston Celtics came out 113-109 winners and this was the on-fire point guard's 32nd straight game with at least 20 points scored.
Isaiah Thomas (No. 4) driving to the basket against the Detroit Pistons. The Boston Celtics came out 113-109 winners and this was the on-fire point guard's 32nd straight game with at least 20 points scored.PHOTO: REUTERS

BOSTON • Isaiah Thomas keeps putting up insane numbers and also continues to have his name mentioned with other Celtics greats.

On Wednesday, he had another fourth-quarter explosion, scoring 24 of his 41 points and leading Boston to a 113-109 National Basketball Association (NBA) victory over the Detroit Pistons.

His latest eruption left him just one point shy of joining Larry Bird (February, 1988, 33.1) and Paul Pierce (Feb, 2006, 33.5) as the only Celtics to average 33 points for an entire month.

"People were saying that to me throughout the day, so I saw that," Thomas said.

"I was close but I wasn't trying. I was just trying to do what my team needed me to do."

When asked about being in such esteemed company as Bird and Pierce, he said: "That doesn't even seem real... So many great players did it before me. To have my name up there with those legends is unbelievable. Just keep going, keep trying to catch those guys and keep winning."

The Celtics (30-18) blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead but Thomas caught fire and took over, finishing the month at 32.9 points per game.

After a slow shooting start, he ended up 11-for-23 from the floor, nailed three of his last four three-pointers and went 15-for-15 from the foul line.

Thomas, who entered the game averaging a league-best and record-pace 10.0 points per game in the fourth quarter, scored on a three-pointer to put the Celtics ahead with 4min 13sec left in the game. Earlier in the quarter, he scored 11 straight points.

It was his 32nd straight game with at least 20 points as he closes in on John Havlicek's club record of 40. He has scored at least 20 points in the fourth quarter four times this season - no one else in the league has done it more than once. Thomas has also had a league-high nine 15-point fourth quarters.

After Reggie Jackson missed on his second straight late drive attempt, Thomas put the game on ice with four free throws in the closing seconds.

His latest heroics overcame an outstanding effort by Detroit big man Andre Drummond, who had a season high-tying 28 points and 22 rebounds.

"No disrespect to the rest of their team, but I should have sent three guys at (Thomas)," said Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2017, with the headline 'Thomas stays hot all month with fourth-quarter heroics'. Print Edition | Subscribe