Beverley’s ‘too small’ gesture ‘lit a little fire’ in Pritchard

Beverley’s ‘too small’ gesture ‘lit a little fire’ in Pritchard originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Jayson Tatum led the Boston Celtics in scoring with 31 points in their 122-119 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, but it was sixth-man Payton Pritchard who made all the difference.

Scoring 19 points off the bench on 7-11 from the field and 5-8 from deep, Pritchard made his presence known early on after Bucks guard Patrick Beverley taunted big man Luke Kornet with the “too small” gesture in the first quarter. Following the trash talk, Pritchard went on a run by scoring or assisting on 15 straight Boston points.

“It lit a little fire in me,” Pritchard said of Beverley’s gesture. “He was trying to clown one of our teammates, so [I] definitely took it a little personal.”

In addition to his scoring, the 2020 first-round pick logged six rebounds and three assists in his 31 minutes of play. Pritchard’s multiple hustle plays on both ends of the court allowed Boston to take a 69-56 lead at the half.

“To bring more energy, to bring more dog to it,” Pritchard added of how the added spark from Beverley’s trash talk helped the Celtics. “I think that’s what he prides himself on, so trying to bring more than him.”

Now averaging career highs in nearly every statistical category, the Oregon product has taken full advantage of his increased role in Boston this season, consistently making winning plays night in and night out. After averaging around 20 minutes through the first 62 games of the season, Pritchard has seen increased playing time over the last six outings at around 28 minutes per game.

Pritchard and the 55-14 Celtics will look to carry their momentum into Friday night when they hit the road to take on the 12-57 Detroit Pistons.