With 7.6 seconds left and a 109-106 lead against the Kings Wednesday night, Gordon Hayward committed a cardinal sin of NBA defense: he fouled a three-point shooter. The contact was soft, but Buddy Hield got himself to the line for three shots and tied the game up, leaving the Celtics without any timeouts to move the ball up the court. Hayward didn’t need a break to redeem himself, though.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens couldn’t draw up a play, so Hayward took the rock, drove in on Hield, and avenged his foul with a stepback game-winner.
Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes missed a potential buzzer-beater, and the Celtics escaped their Northern California road trip with two nice little wins. Hayward popped off for 30 in the victory against Golden State, then cut into the Kings’ playoff chances the following night. (The Kings have dropped a bunch of agonizingly close games in the past couple of weeks, and they have 18 games to make up a four-game gap.) Not a bad little run of form for a dude who’s still relearning how to play at NBA speed.