Gordon Hayward's last-second game-winner sent message for Celtics

Josue Pavon
March 07, 2019 - 6:07 am

SACRAMENTO, CA -- It was another big night for Gordon Hayward in another win for the Celtics.

This time it wasn't a 30-point night for the veteran but rather a game-winner that put away the Kings in a 111-109 win at Sacramento. Boston had to fight for this one, as the Kings never let up as the scrappy underdog and were on the verge of forcing overtime.

After Buddy Hield was fouled from behind the arc by Hayward, he drained all three free-throws to tie things up at 109 with 7.6 seconds left to play. It was plenty of time for Hayward to make up for the shooting foul on Hield as he took the ball down the court and drained a sideline jumper seconds before the game clock expired. 

With only two ticks left, Harrison Barnes shot a deep 3-pointer that clanked off the back of the rim and sealed the Celtics' second consecutive win. 

"Had to get it up the length of the court, I was able to finish the play off," Hayward explained when asked about his game-winning shot. "But (it) was really just making a play.

"Everyone was kind of tight on their man there so it was sort of just like 1-on-1 and the lane kind of cleared out and I was able to make the move going left. I really just took what the defense gave me. If somebody would have came and helped, I would have kicked it to them."

The game plan beforehand was simple: give the ball to two particular Celtics players and give either of them an opportunity to win the game.  

"We were just going to give Terry (Rozier) or Gordon (Hayward) a run at it -- length of the floor, they're both good going the length of the floor," Brad Stevens said after the win. "Gordon made a nice play, obviously. He got to his left hand, hit the little fade-away he's been hitting that particular regularly on a night where he didn't shoot great. That was obviously a big, huge shot for us."

It certainly was for a team that needed to dig deep for a win against a Kings team that wouldn't give up. Jayson Tatum's 24 points went a long way, Al Horford's (19 points, 6 rebounds and three assists) stuffed the stat sheet and late-game execution sealed a Celtics win. 

Sure, it was Hayward's shot that handed the Celtics a win but it was Tatum who set the table beforehand. Tatum drained a huge field goal down the stretch, got to the free-throw line shortly afterwards and gave the Celtics enough cushion to remain above the fifth seed. 

The Celtics are going to need more clutch plays like that -- without Kyrie Irving -- if they want to make a push to the NBA Finals. With an Eastern Conference Finals underneath his belt, Tatum is much more comfortable in clutch situations than most would have anticipated. 

Behind an 8-of-17 performance from the floor, Tatum led with 24 points. The Celtics will look to sweep both Los Angeles teams up next on the road trip when they travel to L.A. 

"It builds a little bit of confidence, try to keep the good terms, games rolling. Be more consistent," Hayward explained. "I felt like tonight wasn't my best night shooting-wise but I try to do some other things. They were a tough team and I think the fact that they push the ball so fast up the court was even harder on us coming from back-to-back so I'm proud of us that we gutted it out."

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