The season’s 12th announced sellout crowd hushed late in Thursday’s third quarter at Target Center, where Boston forward Jaylen Brown tumbled head over heels when he was fouled on a dunk and landed frighteningly upside down in the Celtics’ 117-109 victory over the Timberwolves.
Players from both teams gathered nearby while Brown was down for some time. He was guided to his team’s locker room and was taken to get a CT scan, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
“He felt pretty good leaving the arena,” Stevens said. “He is in good hands.”
Fans stood and cheered as he left the court, and Brown, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Cal, held his left arm up in appreciation while he disappeared into a tunnel at one of the court near the Boston bench.
“You never want to see a player go down like that,” Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns said. “It’s a brotherhood. We look out for each other regardless what team affiliation you are.
“You feel for him. Prayers go out to him. You don’t know the extent, but you want to wish him a speedy recovery. Us playing is just a little part of us. We’re still humans, still brothers.”
Appreciate everybody I'm ok .. Got a headache tho �� good team win !!— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) March 9, 2018
Wolves veteran guard Jamal Crawford suffered a similar fall more than 14 years ago when he played for Chicago — against the Wolves, when he was upended by Fred Hoiberg.
“I fell on my neck and left on a stretcher,” Crawford said. “When you’re falling, it feels like you’re falling in slow motion, like, God, please, break the fall. It’s scary.”
Stevens: Wolves’ way A-OK
In the modern NBA, the Wolves do things a different way. Coach Tom Thibodeau always says a team should play to its strength and cover up its weaknesses. So while other teams fire away three-pointers at will, the Wolves have fashioned one of the league’s most efficient offenses predicated on two-point shots and getting to the free-throw line often.
“They have some studs,” Stevens said before Thursday’s game. “That’s the deal if you’re not going to shoot threes. You have to have a physical advantage, and they have some physical advantage on almost every night.”
The Celtics, second in the Eastern Conference, attempt nine more threes per game and make nearly four more per game than the Wolves.
Stevens called Wolves point guard Jeff Teague’s quick plays — in both transition and on the pick-and-roll — “elite.” He termed Andrew Wiggins’ ability to post small wings and get to the rim “very tough” to defeat and said the same about Karl-Anthony Towns.
He praised Taj Gibson’s versatility as well. “If you put a big on him, he uses his quickness,” Stevens said, “and if you put a smaller forward on him, he really takes advantage of a lot of 4s in the post with the way the league is playing.
“So they have a physicality about them.”
But, hey, what about Jimmy Butler? Out of sight while his surgically repaired knee heals, out of mind?
“And I didn’t even mention Butler,” Stevens said of the All-Star guard. “When Butler is at the 2, he has a physical advantage almost every night. To me, that’s why they maintain that efficiency.”
Towns and Boston’s Al Horford — Dominican Republic national teammates when Towns was only 16 years old — spent time together last month at the All-Star Game, where they both played for Stephen Curry’s team in Los Angeles.
Asked if he could have envisioned an All-Star appearance so soon in Towns’ career, Horford said: “Wow, he was so young, I couldn’t even imagine it. At that time, we were thinking college. But as he kept developing, it was obvious he was going to be a special player.”
Towns had his left hand wrapped after the game. “I’ll be fine,” he said. “Don’t worry about me.”