Robert Williams dominates in 121-116 wins

Celtics-Spurs takeaways: Williams dominates at both ends in 121-116 win originally appeared on NBC SportsBoston

The Boston Celtics closed out their four-game road trip with a hard-fought 121-116 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night.

The Celtics had an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter and looked poised to run away with the victory. But the Spurs deserve a lot of credit for battling back and tying the score 116-116 with 37.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter. In the end, the Celtics’ top-tier talent, most notably Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, made the difference. There’s center Robert Williams also dominated at both ends with a double-double and elite defense.

The win keeps the Celtics atop the NBA standings with a 28-12 record (13-7 on the road).

The Celtics will return home and host the Chicago Bulls on Monday night at TD Garden. Before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from C’s-Spurs.

Malcolm Brogdon provides huge boost off the bench

Brogdon gave the Celtics a much-needed spark off the bench with 23 points on an efficient 8-of-12 shooting, including a 5-of-6 mark from 3-point range.

The veteran point guard also did a tremendous job running the offense in a playmaking role. He dished out seven assists with zero turnovers, including this pretty pass to Jaylen Brown in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics bench struggled at the end of December and Brogdon has revitalized that unit over the last couple games. Here are his last three stat lines:

  • Jan. 3 at Thunder: 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists

  • Jan. 5 at Mavericks: 15 points, three rebounds, four assists

  • Jan. 7 at Spurs: 23 points, two rebounds, seven assists

Marcus Smart left in the third quarter and didn’t return because of a left knee contusion. If he misses any games coming up, Brogdon could start at point guard and play a lot more minutes.

Robert Williams does it all

Williams stuffed the stat sheet versus the Spurs with 10 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals, four blocks and zero turnovers.

Unsurprisingly, he made his biggest impact defensively. Williams’ first block was a spectacular highlight. Not only did he leap high to swat a 3-point shot, he chased down the ball, ran the length of the floor and laid it in to give the Celtics a 13-point lead.

His block near the end of the third quarter led to an and-1 by Jayson Tatum at the other end of the floor.

Williams also put the Celtics up 116-113 with 48.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter on an alley-oop from Derrick White.

The 24-year-old center has now played nine games since returning from a knee injury and has come off the bench each time. It’s very encouraging for the Celtics that Williams has moved well and made a strong impact at both ends of the court despite playing just 19.1 minutes per game. His elite defense di lui on the perimeter and in the paint makes Boston a much tougher team to beat.

Tatum and Brown lead the offense yet again

The Celtics’ star duo once again led the way offensively with another monster performance.

Tatum led all players with 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting (5-of-10 from 3-point range). It was his 20th game scoring 30-plus points this season. Tatum’s step-back jumper from the baseline put the Celtics up 118-116 with 33.1 seconds remaining. It was the pivotal shot in the game.

Brown poured in 29 points on 12-of-26 shooting with four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals.

The Celtics didn’t play their best game, especially in the second half. The Spurs were without their top four scorers and still had a chance to win at the end. The C’s prevailed because their superstar duo stepped up with 63 points combined and made clutch plays in the fourth quarter.

It was another example of why both Tatum and Brown both deserve to be selected to the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.

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