The legend of Isaiah Thomas keeps growing. The NBA‘s top fourth-quarter scorer erupted in crunch time yet again Wednesday, scoring 19 of his 44 points against the Toronto Raptors in the final frame. Thomas’ Celtics fell behind by double-digits in the second quarter and trailed by 18 points in the third, but in crunch time, he did what he normally does. When Boston took its first lead of the game, 95-94, Thomas was on a personal 9-0 run. This was exactly what Toronto coach Dwane Casey feared when, before the game, he compared the 5-foot-9 All-Star’s work in the clutch to that of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki.
In fourth quarters this season, Thomas is bolder than normal. When others get tired, he has boundless energy. He never stops moving, finding seams in the defense, needing only a sliver of space to finish over bigger players on the inside. God forbid you lose sight of him on a broken play, as the Raptors did with less than a minute left, leading to a wide-open 3-pointer that gave him 40 points and the Celtics a 103-101 lead. Few players, even those on maximum contracts, possess Thomas’ confidence. Fewer still manage to consistently put on a show in crucial moments when an entire coaching staff and roster are focused on putting a stop to it. His 10.5 points per fourth quarter is the highest average in the past 20 years.
This was the 10th time this season Thomas has scored 15 or more points in the fourth quarter, twice as many as anybody else in the league. As was the case in many of those other games, Boston needed every last one of those points. Toronto entered the fourth with an eight-point lead, and star guard Kyle Lowry had 12 of his 32 points in the final frame. Considering that the Raptors had won the two previous meetings this season and would have overtaken the Celtics for second place in the Eastern Conference with a victory, this might have been Thomas’ most heroic performance yet.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas goes ballistic in fourth again, scores 44 in win over Raptors