BOSTON (AP) — Kelly Olynyk scored 21 points and the Boston Celtics showed crisp ball movement as they began the post-Rajon Rondo era with a 114-98 win over the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
One day after trading their star point guard to the Dallas Mavericks, the Celtics had six players score in double figures in their third straight victory, all against teams that have combined for just 17 wins this season.
Leading 95-92 midway through the fourth quarter, the Celtics scored the next eight points and 12 of 14 to take a 107-94 lead with 3:25 remaining. They stayed ahead by at least 12 the rest of the way.
Minnesota was led by Shabazz Muhammad with 26 points and Chase Budinger with 19.
Jeff Green added 18 points for Boston and Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller and Avery Bradley had 14 each. Sullinger led all rebounders with 10.
Without Rondo, the NBA assists leader, seven Celtics had at least three and Bradley led them with seven.
Boston also outshot Minnesota 56.5 percent to 45.2 percent.
Neither team led by more than four points in the first quarter and the game was tied at 43 with 3 minutes left in the first half.
Boston scored the next six points on a short jumper by Zeller, a 13-footer by Evan Turner, who started in place of Rondo, and two free throws by Bradley. Minnesota chipped away but still trailed 53-48 at halftime.
The Celtics led 83-77 after the third quarter as Zeller scored 10 points in the period, many on layups after quick passes.
The decisive spurt came after a layup by Thaddeus Young with 6:12 to go cut Boston’s lead to 95-92.
Rookie guard Marcus Smart then hit a 3-pointer, and Green dunked on a fast break after one steal and then hit a 3-pointer following another.
Budinger stopped the eight-point run with a short turnaround shot, but consecutive layups by Smart and Sullinger made it 107-94.
Timberwolves: Muhammad was the top scorer for the second time in three games. He had 21 points, second-most on the team, in a 109-95 loss at Washington on Wednesday night. … Andrew Wiggins scored just five points and missed eight of his 10 shots.
Celtics: Boston began the game allowing the second-most points in the NBA in the fourth quarter, an average of 27.2, but outscored Minnesota 31-21. … The three players obtained in the Rondo trade, Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright and Jae Crowder, were at TD Garden but didn’t suit up.
Timberwolves: Host Indiana on Sunday night.
Celtics: At Miami on Sunday night.