Boston Celtics

Celtics-Blazers takeaways: Sam Hauser stars in C's win

Hauser dropped a season-high 22 points off the bench in Portland.

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Three Key Storylines

  • Sam Hauser, Luke Kornet step up for second unit
  • Payton Pritchard shines in homecoming
  • Beautiful ball movement

The Boston Celtics cruised to their 50th win of the season Monday night in Portland.

Coming off a bounce-back victory over the Phoenix Suns, the C's were without big man Kristaps Porzingis (right hamstring tightness) and guard Jrue Holiday (left knee tendinopathy) on the first night of their back-to-back. Their absences weren't an issue as Boston was up double digits most of the matchup, leading by as many as 24 points in their 121-99 triumph. The Celtics improved to 23-1 this season against teams under .500.

Jaylen Brown stayed hot with a game-high 27 points while Jayson Tatum added 26 of his own. Sam Hauser chipped in 22 points off the bench, a season-high for the sharpshooter.

Deandre Ayton led the Trail Blazers with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Anfernee Simons added 17 points for Portland.

The Celtics (50-14) will wrap up their road trip on Tuesday when they face the Utah Jazz (28-36) at 9 p.m. ET. First, here are three takeaways from Monday's game.

Sam Hauser, Luke Kornet step up for second unit

Although it was the Jays who paced Boston in scoring, Hauser and Luke Kornet stood out as difference-makers in Portland.

Hauser provided the scoring punch off the bench with Payton Pritchard getting the start in place of Jrue Holiday. The 3-point marksman had his most productive game of the campaign thus far, dropping a season-high 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc (8-12 FG). It was his highest-scoring game since April 9 of last year.

According to Celtics stats guru Dick Lipe, this was the ninth time in Hauser's career that he made at least five 3s off the bench, tying him with Pritchard for the most in Celtics history. Hauser finished as a team-high +20 while adding two rebounds and two steals in his 32 minutes on the court.

While Hauser dominated from deep, Kornet took care of business in the paint. The Celtics big man carried the momentum from Saturday's strong performance in Phoenix into Portland.

Kornet notched six points, five rebounds (three offensive), two assists, and two blocks in 21 minutes. He consistently made his presence felt on both ends of the floor, especially after this emphatic slam when he let out a scream toward his fellow benchmates.

Kornet continues to produce when Porzingis is out and has been a significant contributor to Boston's last two wins. Porzingis is expected to return Tuesday night in Utah, but there's little doubt Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla can rest easier knowing Kornet is capable of stepping up when called upon.

Abby Chin catches up with Sam Hauser in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview following the Celtics' 121-99 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Payton Pritchard shines in homecoming

With Jrue Holiday out, Payton Pritchard got the starting nod in his return to his native state. It marked the 10th start of Pritchard's career and his first this season.

Pritchard was a spark plug for the Celtics offense in the first half, tallying seven points and four assists. The 2020 draft pick out of Oregon proved he can do far more than just shoot the 3-ball and showed excellent decision-making with the ball in his hands.

Pritchard just missed posting a triple-double in front of his "home" crowd. The 26-year-old guard ended up with 11 points (5-11 FG) while leading the team in both assists (8) and rebounds (8) in 29 minutes.

Playing in Portland brings the best out of "FastPP."

Beautiful ball movement

Pritchard wasn't the only Celtic to rack up the assists on Monday night. All five of the Celtics' starters had between four and eight assists -- Pritchard and Tatum with eight, Jaylen Brown and Derrick White with five, and Al Horford with four.

Boston's beautiful ball movement was on display throughout the game, most notably in the first half when it totaled 20 assists, one shy of the team's season-high. The Celtics' 12 first-quarter assists tied their season high for any quarter.

The C's finished with 34 assists on 49 buckets. They also took great care of the basketball with only three turnovers. According to Boston Sports Info, it's the first time in franchise history the Celtics have had 34 or more assists with three or fewer TOs.

That right there is a formula for success.

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