Gordon Hayward hits for C’s-best 35 in beating Timberwolves

It was another ugly third quarter, but their All-Star off the bench saved the win.

Gordon Hayward drives by Minnesota's James Nunnally on his way to the basket in the second quarter on Wednesday night. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Gordon Hayward came off the bench to score a season-high 35 points, and the Celtics beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 115-102 on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Terry Rozier scored 11 of his 16 points in the first quarter while making his third start of the season because Kyrie Irving was out, unable to play after San Antonio’s Marco Belinelli scratched both of his eyes in Monday’s Boston loss. Hayward took over from there, with 13 in the second quarter and 15 in the third to finish with his highest scoring game with the Celtics.

Andrew Wiggins scored 31 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 of his 28 points — and grabbed five of his 12 rebounds — in the third quarter, when Minnesota trimmed a 22-point deficit to six points. But with about four minutes left the Celtics scored eight straight points to clinch their fifth straight win over the Wolves.


Hayward scored 30 against Minnesota a month ago when the teams last played, also coming off the bench.

Minnesota scored nine of the last 11 points in the first quarter to trim Boston’s 11-point lead to 25-21, and then opened the second with a step-back jumper from Wiggins. It was a four-point game when the Celtics ran off 16 points in a row to take a 47-27 lead.

The hosts led by as many as 22 in the third quarter before Towns scored 15 points during a 23-11 Minnesota run that cut the deficit to 10. He added five more in the final 90 seconds of the third to make it a six-point game.

It was Minnesota’s 13th straight loss at the Garden, dating to a victory on March 6, 2005, in which Kevin Garnett started for the Wolves and Ricky Davis led the Celtics with 22 points.

The Celtics did have another injury scare early in the second half, when Marcus Smart left the floor in obvious pain after absorbing a pick from Towns. He walked over by the bench with his right arm dangling at his side. After coach Brad Stevens called a timeout, Smart was ushered by the training staff into the tunnel to the locker room.


He was back with about four minutes left in the quarter, though, getting a big cheer when he rejoined his teammates on the bench. He re-entered the game late in the third and finished with two points and eight assists.

The Celtics said it was a right shoulder strain.

Marcus Morris Sr. left the game in the third quarter with a sore neck and did not return.

The game started a run of four straight and 15 of 19 at home in January. The Celtics don’t leave the Eastern time zone again until Feb. 21.