Gators in the NBA: Horford’s leadership lifting young Celtics

Raptors Celtics Basketball
Boston Celtics' Al Horford hangs from the rim after dunking as Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet (23) and Serge Ibaka (9) look on during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Celtics center Al Horford kept playing after suffering a concussion last week against the Atlanta Hawks and finished one assist shy of a triple-double in Boston’s 110-107 win over Horford’s former team.

The 31-year-old returned after missing two games and scored a team-high 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting in a 95-94 win over the Raptors.

Al’s game has changed a lot since he played for the Gators.

Horford drives and dunks on defenders. He backs them down and scores using low-post moves and is shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc this season.

“I don’t know if young Al Horford played like this, to be honest,” the former four-time All-Star said. “You know, it’s been years of just working on my game and try to play this new way.”

Around the NBA, Wizards guard Bradley Beal came back down to Earth this week after averaging 38 points in three games last week. Beal’s totals trended more toward his career average this week but he did match a season-high in steals on Saturday against Atlanta.

Beal’s best game came in a 111-95 win over the Lakers where Beal had 22 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Magic forward Marreese Speights led Orlando with a season-high 19 points in a 125-107 road loss versus the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

“To have a good team you need a bench who will come in and do all the gritty work,” Speights said. “We wanted to come back and get the win. The group out there was playing hard. We just came up short.”

Memphis forward Chandler Parsons played efficiently in his time on the floor in two games this week with season-highs in blocks and rebounds. Parsons also sat out a game as he is still medically not cleared to play in back-to-backs (knee).

New York Knicks center Joakim Noah is eligible to play now after serving a 20-game suspension (anti-drug policy) but Noah will start his season on the inactive list and remain there until an injury occurs or he earns playing time over Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn and Willy Hernangomez.

Boston Celtics
Al Horford (C)
Dallas Mavericks
Dorian Finney-Smith (F)
Los Angeles Lakers
Corey Brewer (F)
Memphis Grizzlies
Chandler Parsons (F)
Miami Heat
Udonis Haslem (F)
New York Knicks
Joakim Noah (C)
Orlando Magic 
Marreese Speights (F)
Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal (G)
Devin Robinson (F)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.