Gordon Hayward Erupts for 35 in Win Without Kyrie

Gordon Hayward

Getty Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward.

The now 21-15 Boston Celtics got a huge win over the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight, and they did so without Kyrie Irving.

Tonight was Irving’s first missed game after sustaining an eye injury in Monday night’s loss in San Antonio, where he had his eye hit by Spurs player Marco Belinelli as the two players went up for a rebound.

Head Coach Brad Stevens said in a radio interview today that Irving could miss a few more games with the injury.

“It was a unique deal because it got both eyes. The right eye was the initial concern with the corneal abrasion. The left eye had some inflammation [Wednesday], so he wasn’t feeling good. We watched film for an hour and a half in my office [on Tuesday], and he was wearing sunglasses. He’s not doing so hot once he takes those sunglasses off,” explained Steven to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand.

Gordon Hayward Stepped Up in Irving’s Absence

Utah transplant Gordon Hayward has been an object of scrutiny for much of this season–having missed his first season with this Boston team after that brutal leg injury in 2017, his debut with the team was something of a letdown as he has struggled to return to his former glory. Tonight, though, the old Gordon was back.

Hayward scored 35 points on 14-18 shooting, 4 of which were from behind the arc. He’s only averaging 10.3 per game at the moment and accepted a bench spot earlier in the season after a lackluster start.

It’s by far his season high–the only other game to come close was his 30-point performance against, once again, the Timberwolves back on December 1s–and is certainly encouraging for both him and the Celtics organization, each of whom was counting on some big numbers when he was initially signed.

No Certain Timeline for Irving’s Return

After the Celtics’ loss in San Antonio (in which Gordon Hayward went scoreless in 22 minutes), Kyrie Irving was hopeful but realistic about his injury timeline.

“I’m wearing sunglasses, so not too good. I’ll be all right, though,” he said Monday. “[Belinelli] smacked the [crud] out of me. He just caught me pretty good.”

Terry Rozier got the starting nod in tonight’s win, and will likely do so until Kyrie is able to get back on the floor. There’s probably not too much to worry about in the meantime–the Celtics have a manageable schedule for the next few games as they’ll face the Mavericks, Nets, and Pacers. It won’t be easy, but if Gordon Hayward and Co. can keep stepping up, the Celtics won’t have too much trouble in Kyrie’s absence.

READ NEXT: Kristaps Porzingis Injury: Outlook on Knicks Star’s Timeline Bleak?

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