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Al Horford drops 20 points in win over Timberwolves

03.15.17 at 10:55 pm ET
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Mar 15, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Al Horford (42) controls the ball during the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at TD Garden.  The Boston Celtics won 117-104.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Al Horford took initiative on offense and finished 9-of-12 from the floor (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today)

For the first time since Jan. 25, Al Horford scored 20 points. 

Horford, who entered Wednesday night’s game averaging just under 14 points (13.9) a night, was not only his team’s second leading scorer but took some initiative on offense and turned in his best game as a member of the Celtics in a 117-104 win over the Timberwolves. 

Horford’s scoring has easily been the biggest knock about his game this year. It’s been five years since the Celtics’ four-year, $113 million man has averaged fewer than 15 points a night. But if Wednesday was an indication of what’s to come later on, the franchise’s biggest free-agent signing could pay off in the post season.

He finished 9-of-12 from the floor and was an immediate impact on offense from start to finish alongside Thomas as the C’s shot 54.4 percent and finished with 34 assists.

Isaiah Thomas (27) and Horford combined for 47 points. Horford, who flirted with a triple-double, led the Celtics in rebounding (9) and assists (8), Avery Bradley added 18 points and Marcus Smart (5 assists) and Kelly Olynyk each chipped in 10 points off the bench.

Ricky Rubio’s 23 points and 7 assists led the Timberwolves, Andrew Wiggins scored 18 points, Shabazz Muhammad led the bench with 21 and Karl-Anthony Towns notched a double-double (17 points, 14 rebounds).

For a complete recap of Wednesday’s win, click here.

In a seesaw, neck-and-neck entertaining first half, the Timberwolves grabbed control of the tempo by grabbing the first double-digit lead of the night halfway through the second quarter (46-36). That’s when the Celtics’ leading scorer took control of the offense.

Behind Isaiah Thomas’ 14 second quarter points, the Celtics narrowed a 10-point deficit down to two (60-58) just before halftime. When Minnesota took a 60-58 halftime lead, it felt like the Timberwolves were going to push the Celtics to a nail-biting finish but the Celtics had other plans. 

Boston kicked off the second half with a 14-4 run to grab an eight-point lead (72-64) before the Timberwolves tipped the seesaw into their favor and pulled to within three (78-75) with less than three minutes left in the third quarter.

However, the Celtics took a 15-5 run into the final frame and eventually grabbed a 19-point advantage — their biggest lead of the night — with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Boston outscored their opponent, 59-44, in the second half and for the second straight game cruised to another victory.

The Celtics rallied behind an offensive run, buckled down on defense and eventually diminished any hopes of seeing Minnesota pull off an upset.

Seeing Horford and Thomas as a 1-2 punch on Wednesday was the sight most of us envisioned back in July when the Celtics inked him to a max deal. We’ll have to wait and see if Horford can make this a pattern not only throughout the final 14 games of the regular season but also in next month’s playoffs.

Also, the Wizards (41-26) dropped a 112-107 loss against the Mavericks on Wednesday, giving the Celtics (42-25) a 1.5 game lead for second place in the Eastern Conference.

The C’s host the Wizards at TD Garden next Monday after a brief two-game road trip that starts in Brooklyn to take on the Nets on Friday and ends in Philly on Sunday.

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