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Hayward, 'long plane ride' help Celtics out of funk

Oracle Arena
the Boston Celtics
NBA Finals
the Cleveland Cavaliers
Golden State

Gordon Hayward
Steve Kerr
Kevin Pelton
Marcus Smart
Stephen Curry
Al Horford
Brad Stevens
Kyrie Irving
Danny Ainge

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West Coast

the Golden State Warriors


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The New York Times
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-- As the Boston Celtics have meandered their way through this season, vacillating between looking like an NBA Finals contender and a team destined for a first-round playoff exit, the biggest barometer for success on a nightly basis has been the play of forward Gordon Hayward.Tuesday's rout of the Golden State Warriors was the latest example of why.On a night when just about everything went right for the Celtics, it was Hayward who led the way with 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists off the bench to power Boston to an emphatic 128-95 victory over the two-time defending champions.A 128-95 defeat to the Celtics on Tuesday marked the Warriors' fifth loss in eight games and their worst at home in the Steve Kerr era, prompting the coach to call on his team to play with more anger and intensity.Will the Lakers make the playoffs? After sitting out the Celtics' first game back with a sprained ankle, Hayward scored 26 points on 8-of-26 shooting in the next five games -- four of which Boston lost.Then came Tuesday, when he produced more points and made baskets (going 12-for-16 on the night) than those prior five games combined."I understand it's one game," Hayward said. I'll try to build off the things I did correctly tonight, and the next time you have a bad game, try to learn from that one."While Hayward was outstanding Tuesday night, playing arguably his best game of the season, the Celtics have been wildly successful whenever Hayward has even given them a solid performance.To that end: After Tuesday night, Boston is 18-2 in the 20 games this season in which Hayward has shot at least 50 percent from the floor and 17-22 in the games he doesn't."It makes our team even better when he's the confident Gordon and playing like the Gordon we know," Boston guard Marcus Smart said.

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