WATERTOWN, Mass. — Three straight wins in the last week of November is by no means a cure-all for the Boston Celtics, who struggled badly at times over the first 20 games.

But the triumphs certainly help to brighten the mood around players who have had to answer a constant stream of questions about why they haven’t resembled the contender they were purported to be coming out of the summer.

“Winning makes everything better,” said guard Terry Rozier. “It makes y’all jobs (in the media) easier. It makes our jobs easier.”

While the Celtics made everything look easy against the overwhelmed Cleveland Cavaliers in a 33-point victory Friday night, they had to work for the other two victories as they took care of a pair of solid Western Conference opponents on the road.

Coach Brad Stevens shook up the starting lineup last Monday with the additions of Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart to the first five adding up to a 17-point victory in New Orleans. Saturday night in Minnesota, it was the grand reintroduction of Gordon Hayward: He struck for 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes off the bench in a 118-109 victory after showing plenty of no-so-subtle hints of a breakout game the night before against Cleveland.

Boston entered a rare, four-day break in the December schedule with a weight seemingly shifted off its shoulders.

The reward was two mostly days off ahead of two days of practice before returning to the court Thursday night at TD Garden looking to avenge an embarrassing home loss to the New York Knicks on Thanksgiving Eve.

“We’re winning,” said forward Jayson Tatum. “That takes care of everything. Hopefully we keep winning.”

After the Celtics put seven players in double-digit scoring Friday – including all five starters – Tatum was one of the five players to do it Saturday with 19 points to go with nine rebounds.

It was also the third straight solid night for Rozier after a rocky few weeks that included him shooting down reports he wanted a trade. After a 14-point game in New Orleans, he scored 10 points with four rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes against Cleveland, and filled the stat sheet with seven points, five rebounds and five assists in Minnesota.

“It was real good,” Rozier said of the back-to-back performances. “We’re doing good. Christmas is coming up. We’re all in a giving mood. We all just want to give more wins.”


PACERS 96, BULLS 90: Myles Turner matched his season high with 18 points, and added 11 rebounds and five blocked shots as Indiana won at Indianapolis and spoiled the debut of new Bulls coach Jim Boylen, the former UMaine player.

MAGIC 109, HEAT 90: Aaron Gordon scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Nikola Vucevic finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Orlando won at Miami.


GRIZZLIES: Memphis signed 33-year-old forward Joakim Noah, attempting a comeback.

CLIPPERS: Guard Patrick Beverley was fined $25,000 by the NBA for throwing a basketball at a fan in a game at Dallas.

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