LOS ANGELES – The Boston Celtics will not allow anything to get in their way on their impressive winning run in the National Basketball Association (NBA), not even having two key players injured.
Their bench came up big on Wednesday to help the Celtics notch an eighth straight victory, 126-101 over the Hawks in Atlanta.
Jaylen Brown led Boston with 22 points and his fellow All-Star Jayson Tatum added 19, but Brown said it was the 44 points from the Boston reserves that ultimately made the difference.
“We got some big plays, some great energy from guys coming off the bench,” Brown said. “We’ve got a really good team from top to bottom.”
The Celtics played without guards Malcolm Brogdon and Marcus Smart. Brogdon has missed the last four games with hamstring soreness, and Smart was ruled out with ankle inflammation.
Boston’s thin backcourt resulted in more minutes for point guard Derrick White, who finished the game with 16 points and 10 assists. In addition to Brown, Tatum and White, four other Celtics scored in double figures – starter Grant Williams (18), and bench players Sam Hauser (15), Luke Kornet (15) and Payton Pritchard (14).
“We’ve got a lot of guys who can do a lot of things to help us win games,” White said. “We trust every person on this roster. When they come in, they do good things for us. It’s a long season, there’s gonna be injuries, people out. We’re gonna need everybody.”
Trae Young had 27 points, nine assists and five rebounds for the Hawks (9-6), while Dejounte Murray added 19 points for Atlanta.
“We thinking about it too much,” Young said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and playing, playing free, getting back to playing with confidence.”
The Celtics took their league-leading record to 12-3 while the team who beat them to the title in last season’s Finals, the Golden State Warriors, fell to 6-9 with a 130-119 loss to the Suns in Phoenix.
Golden State star Stephen Curry poured in 50 points, but with little offensive aid for Curry and lackluster defence the Warriors fell to 0-8 on the road – their worst road start since they went 0-9 in 1989.
“There’s no collective grit, we lack grit right now,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And when you don’t have grit the game is really easy for the other team.
“I think for right now, we are just scattered. It’s a pickup game. It’s a pickup game out there.”
Cameron Payne, standing in again for injured All-Star point guard Chris Paul, led the Suns with a career-high 29 points, Devin Booker added 27 and Mikal Bridges chipped in 23.
Elsewhere, Milwaukee’s reserves made a key contribution, too, as the Bucks handed the Cleveland Cavaliers a fifth straight defeat, 113-98.
Bucks star Brook Lopez connected on seven of nine three-pointers on the way to 29 points.
Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 16 points with 12 rebounds and eight assists while Jordan Nwora scored a season-high 21 off the bench as the Bucks reserves out-scored Cleveland’s bench 45-20.
Milwaukee improved to 11-3 and are just behind the Celtics in the Eastern Conference. The Cavs dropped to 8-6. AFP, REUTERS