GORDON HAYWARD offered another glimpse Wednesday night.
A glimpse of what he used to be.
Don’t get too used to it.
This is not, by any means, to slam Hayward. But the fact is he is returning from a horrific leg injury and it takes time — perhaps as long as a season or more — for a player to come all the way back from something like this.
On Monday night in San Antonio, Hayward was 0-for-6 from the floor, 0-for-5 from 3-point range, and was scoreless in 22 minutes. This came after a 6-for-11 game at Memphis, and that followed a game where he scored nine points and was a minus-19 at Houston.
Back on Dec. 1, Hayward scored 30 points at Minnesota, and then scored 13 over the next two games.
He’s been preaching patience and while patience is called for in a rehab situation like this, you know it’s driving him crazy.
“He’s going to — he’s going to make a lot of shots, because he’s got a lot due,” coach Brad Stevens said after Wednesday’s game in which Hayward scored 35 points in the Celtics’ win over Minnesota. “You know, he was disappointed in how he shot the ball, obviously, in San Antonio, and got back in the gym this morning. And you could tell he was going to play pretty well; I mean, 14-for-18’s an unbelievable night and you’re not always going to shoot it like that. But you could tell he was pretty locked in and was going to play well.”
The Celtics play the second game of a four-game homestand tonight, with the Dallas Mavericks bringing the old and new to town.
Barring a miracle that sets up a Celtics-Mavs final, Dirk Nowitzki likely (nothing official) will make his final TD Garden appearance — and the hope is he will receive some sort of tribute and the fans react accordingly. This is a true Hall of Famer and his 25.2 per game scoring average against the Celtics is his highest against any team. He also has 8.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game against Boston.
He is the past in Dallas. The future is rookie Luca Doncic, averaging 19.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. He had 18 points as the Mavs (18-19) won by 36 at Charlotte Wednesday night.
Nowitzki, 40 and reduced to a marginal role in the nine games since opening his season, is having fun with the kid. Wednesday, asked about going 1-on-1 with the kid, said, “He’s got a lot of moves in the one-on-one games. He’s got a lot of shots in his repertoire. I’d probably go with him (winning) now. But back in the days? No chance, no chance.”
Back to the Celtics. Both Marcuses finished Wednesday night’s game hurting, upper body in hockey terms.
“Marcus Smart took a shot in the back of his shoulder,” said Stevens. “They told me it must’ve hit right where a nerve is, and so he’s going to be OK, it looks like. And then, Marcus Morris — really stiff neck from that fall. So we’ll find out more (today). He was getting worked on the rest of the game and then he was just in the locker room, and he looks like he’s hurting.”
Did you notice what Terry Rozier did as a starter with Kyrie Irving out Wednesday? Early explosion, finished with 16 points, five assists, five steals, three rebounds and two turnovers in 32 minutes.
Tweeted Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: “Death, taxes, and Terry Rozier playing better as a starter.”
And Jay King of The Athletic: “Entering tonight, Terry Rozier had only reached doubles figures three times in his last nine games. He has 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting over the first 9:05.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked Wednesday for a reaction to all the coaches getting fired around the league. Did you really expect an answer? “I’m really right now just focused on trying to get our team ready for the next game and try to prepare us for a week from Sunday,” he said. “So, whatever else is happening is happening. There’s not really much I can do about it. It doesn’t really affect me. So, you should talk to those teams and see why they’re doing what they’re doing. I don’t really know.”
New Year, same answer.
But Belichick DID talk when asked for a comment on Urban Meyer, whose controversial Ohio State tenure ended with a Rose Bowl win.
“I go back a long way with Urban,” Belichick said. “I talk to him multiple times every season. I have great respect and appreciation for what he’s done, the national championships, the programs that he’s built going all the way back. I mean, he was an Ohio guy when I was in Ohio and back to Bowling Green, and obviously Notre Dame, and then Utah, Florida, Ohio State. So, yeah, great man, has had tremendous success, he’s been a good friend and I have great admiration for what he’s done.”
Congrats to the lunch-pail Nate Ebner, the Patriots’ entry for the Ed Block Courage Award. From the team’s press release: “The honor is bestowed annually upon a player who best exemplifies the principles of courage and sportsmanship while also serving as a source of inspiration. Ebner and award winners from the 31 other NFL teams will be honored at the 41st Annual Ed Block Courage Awards Banquet in Baltimore on March 23, 2019.”
Waiting on Kimbrel
Closer Craig Kimbrel still hasn’t landed anywhere, as the door for him returning to Boston remains at least ajar — especially after the Phillies signed David Robertson for two years Thursday.
Jeff Passan, in his first column for ESPN, wrote, “The Phillies aren’t going to be hamstrung by the draft pick attached to Kimbrel. They are in clear win-now mode. So long as the Red Sox are sitting back on Kimbrel and waiting it out, as they’ve done thus far and show no signs of abandoning, there is room for Philadelphia …”
The turning of the calendar means we’re six weeks or so from spring training, @redsox tweeting: “we don’t have anything to say. we just miss baseball. k bye.”
John Tomase of WEEI wrote a column saying the Red Sox should pass on a contract extension for Chris Sale. Valid points.
“Based on what we’ve seen over the last two years, the decision should be eas: Let him walk,” Tomase wrote. “Even pitchers with track records of durability have proven to be dicey propositions once they hit 30, and we needn’t look far for an example, because David Price says hello.
“Sale’s brittleness is well-established. Were the Red Sox out of the playoff hunt, we probably wouldn’t have seen him at all in August or September. His 2018 disappearing act came on the heels of a 2017 that saw him fade like a shanked field goal before the Astros tagged him for four home runs in the ALDS.
“His two worst ERAs by month are August (3.16) and September (3.78), and he owns a losing record lifetime after Sept. 1 (12-18, including postseason).”
Finally, Tom Brady Thursday when asked about what stands out about this year’s team, said, “Every team has its own unique identity and this team cares a lot about each other. We play for each other and we’re playing to win. I think that’s what we’re here for. We’ve shown we can compete.
“We’ve shown we could overcome some adversity. We’ve been counted out a few times and showed back up with a lot of resolve.
“We have great character on this team. Like I said, our story’s still being written and fortunately, we have an opportunity to write it. We’ve got to go out there and play our best. Every team we play next week and beyond hopefully, is a great team. They’ve earned it. The team we play will have played a playoff game and we’re going to have to play our best game of the year.”