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Celtics look to break out of slump vs. Wolves

Mar 13, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) moves to the net against Houston Rockets forward Tari Eason (17) in the third quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The slumping Boston Celtics will attempt to avoid back-to-back losses when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis on Wednesday night for the third stop of a six-game road trip.

Boston has lost five of its last eight games. That includes an ugly 111-109 setback against Houston on Monday. The Rockets are in last place in the Western Conference and have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Jaylen Brown scored 43 points for the Celtics in the loss. Boston was 12 of 42 from 3-point range (28.6 percent).

“The threes, people like to talk about those, (but) free throws, offensive rebounds, second-chance points and turnovers — that’s the game,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. “That’s every game. Those margins are extremely important. So, I don’t care if you shoot half-court shots. If you don’t win those margins, you’re not going to win many basketball games.

“And when we’re at our best, we do that, and when we’re inconsistent, we don’t do that. And we have to be committed to those.”

Jayson Tatum scored 22 points in Monday’s loss but was 3-for-12 from the floor in the first half, when he failed to connect on six of his seven 3-point attempts. He led the Celtics in rebounds (eight) and assists (six).

Tatum (30.3 points per game) and Brown (26.6) are Boston’s leading scorers.

“(The effort) wasn’t too great,” Tatum said. “We picked it up kind of too late. And I’ll take the blame for that. I didn’t necessarily start the best, and I feel like that kind of spread throughout the team. So I have to be better starting the game, just from an energy level. Being active out there.”

The Timberwolves received 32 points from Anthony Edwards during Monday’s 136-115 victory over Atlanta. The win ended Minnesota’s two-game losing streak.

Edwards made two 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter to help Minnesota pull away. He has scored at least 30 points in each of his last three games and leads the Timberwolves in scoring (24.9 ppg) and steals (1.7 per game).

“They kept making runs,” Edwards said. “In the third quarter they made a run at the end, and (at) the beginning of the fourth they made a run, so I knew I was going to have to check back in.”

Minnesota’s Kyle Anderson scored 12 of his 14 points in the third quarter. He also had 12 assists and 10 rebounds. It was the third triple-double of his career.

“Every time that they made a run, he’d do something,” Edwards said of Anderson. “He just knows the game. He makes it look so easy. Basketball, he knows the ins and outs.”

Wednesday’s matchup will be the second game between the Celtics and Timberwolves this season. Brown scored 23 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter when Boston beat Minnesota 121-109 at home on Dec. 23. Edwards was Minnesota’s leading scorer in that game with 30 points.

Boston will be without center Robert Williams III (hamstring) for the sixth straight game. Guard Payton Pritchard (heel) will miss his fourth in a row.

Center Rudy Gobert (ankle), big man Naz Reid (calf) and guard Austin Rivers (back) are questionable for Minnesota.

–Field Level Media