Gordon Hayward ‘a bit sore’ but pushes through to help Celtics win

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When Gordon Hayward went up to attempt to block a layup try by Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton midway through the second quarter of the Celtics’ 117-113 victory at TD Garden, it looked like simply one moment among many in what easily was Hayward’s best game of the young season.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

But after Hayward was called for goaltending on the play, he landed fully on his left leg — the same one he suffered a gruesome injury to last season just six minutes into his Celtics debut, costing him the remainder of 2017-18. Unlike that play, however, Hayward on Thursday night felt only a momentary flash of pain — and then got up and kept playing.

By the end of the game, he’d not only put up an impressive stat line — a season-high 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting overall, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range, plus 4 rebounds, 5 assists and a block in 27 minutes — but he’d also checked off an important box in his attempt to return to his pre-injury level of play.8

“I can feel it right now,” Hayward said afterward. “It’s definitely a little bit sore … something new that I haven’t done in a while. Those are things I just have to work through, maybe some scar tissue that I can grind out a little bit. It did feel a little bit sore, but I think it held up just fine.

“I have to get knocked down. I have to land on that one foot a little awkwardly, just so mentally I know I can do it, but also physically I can hold and be strong.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

This was a night that not only saw the Celtics finally break out of a sluggish start to the season offensively in a big way — they went 24-for-55 from 3-point range as a team, setting a franchise record and coming within one triple of tying the NBA record — but also saw Hayward give Boston glimpses of what he can do when he’s right.

Hayward opened the scoring for Boston with a 3-pointer, then followed that up with a block on a drive by Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon and a driving layup against him at the other end. It was a sign of things to come for Hayward in a game that saw him show the kind of ballhandling prowess that gives the Celtics another option on the perimeter to create shots. That, in turn, allows Kyrie Irving to hunt for shots off the ball. Irving had a second straight strong shooting game with 28 points on 10-for-20 shooting, including 6-for-12 from 3, to go with 7 assists.

“It started off with a good start,” Hayward said. “Just was out there competing, playing. … I’ve said it before, but game by game there’s different things [I’m improving on]. I’m getting more and more comfortable. Had some open looks from three that were good and was able to knock them down, and tonight was good for me.”