With seven and a half minutes left, Isaiah Thomas drained a 3-pointer, held up his left wrist and stared at it.
It was time.
Thomas scored 17 fourth-quarter points in the Celtics’ win over the Hornets yesterday.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Thomas said. “It just surprises everybody else.”
It shouldn’t any longer.
Boston has won seven of eight, and in that span, Thomas has scored most of the Celtics’ fourth-quarter points. He has pushed his fourth-quarter scoring average to 10.1 for the season – putting him on track to break the modern-era record.
Kobe Bryant scored 9.5 fourth-quarter points per game in 2006, the most in the previous 20 years (as far back as NBA.com has data). The leaderboard:
Russell Westbrook is also on track to surpass Kobe and join this rarified air. LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade are the only other players to average even eight fourth-quarter points per game in a season over the previous 20 years. Not even Michael Jordan (7.1 in 1997, 7.3 in 1998) did it.
Boston’s offense has blasted into the stratosphere with Thomas on the court in the fourth quarter, scoring 122.1 points per 100 possessions. However, the Celtics allow even more with him on the floor in the final period (122.8 points per 100 possessions). The 5-foot-9 point guard has limits.
But where those limits exist when it comes to his clutch scoring – we haven’t found them yet.