With Toronto’s loss to Orlando earlier Friday night, Brad Stevens was assured his spot as coach of the Eastern Conference and will join Thomas next Sunday in New Orleans.
Meanwhile, Thomas padded his All-Star credentials by scoring 17 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter as the surging Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers 113-107.
“(Stevens) should put me in that starting lineup,” Thomas joked. “That’s going to be good.”
It’s the first career All-Star appearance for Stevens, in his fourth season with the Celtics.
“What’s nice about it is there’s no politics and there’s no subjectivity,” Stevens said. “(It’s) what your team has accomplished and that’s a credit to the players in the locker room.”
Al Horford added 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as Boston (32-18) won its sixth consecutive game. Thomas logged his 34th straight game with 20 or more points and is six shy of John Havlicek‘s franchise-record streak.
“We stopped moving the ball. We stopped trusting each other,” coach Luke Walton said. “Because of it, we don’t make shots, and then our defense gets lazy.”
Thomas scored seven points in the third as the Celtics broke the game open and led by as many as 16. The Lakers cut it to 82-74 after three but couldn’t get the deficit below six.
“They were all making big shots tonight,” Nance said. “Hats off to them.”
Thomas had a chance to become the first player in Celtics history with three straight 40-point games, but said he wasn’t aware of that until afterward.
“I didn’t know about it or I would have taken the last shot,” Thomas said.
Boston opened the game on a 7-0 run before Russell’s 3-pointer put the Lakers up 15-14 with 7:34 left in the first quarter. Rozier’s buzzer-beating 3 drew the Celtics to 30-29 after one. Thomas had 12 points in the period.
Rozier’s floater a minute into the second put the Celtics ahead for good, and Boston stretched its lead to 62-51 at halftime.
The Lakers and Celtics meet again March 3 in Los Angeles.