June 22, 2018
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Oklahoma City hands Celtics fifth straight loss

The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook scored 31 points, Kevin Durant added 28 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Boston Celtics 119-104 on Wednesday night for their 11th straight win at home.

Kevin Garnett’s return after a two-game absence wasn’t enough to lift the Celtics, who were still without point guard Rajon Rondo as he served the second game of a two-game suspension.

Paul Pierce and Garnett scored 23 points apiece to lead Boston, and Garnett also had 13 rebounds after missing the previous two games for personal reasons. The Celtics head into the All-Star break on their second five-game losing streak of the season, both punctuated by losses to Oklahoma City.

Boston trailed by as many as 27 in the third quarter before rallying to get within 108-102 after Pierce’s free throw with 3:31 left. Durant banked in a pair of jumpers and hit two free throws during an 11-2 run to close the game for Oklahoma City.

The Thunder took control with a mammoth 30-3 run that carried over into the second quarter, including a span of 21 consecutive points, and eventually pushed their lead to 83-56 after Daequan Cook’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 7:07 left in the third quarter.

The Celtics cut their deficit in half with a 16-4 run to finish the third, with much of the damage coming after Durant picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench with just under 3 minutes remaining.

Ray Allen’s jumper to start the fourth quarter got Boston within 94-82 but there was still too much room to make up.

Boston got as close as six following an 11-2 run that came during a stretch when two Oklahoma City players were called for technical fouls. Kendrick Perkins got one after fouling out, and Serge Ibaka got one soon after replacing Perkins.

The Thunder got it back together to finish it out, ending up with a 43-32 advantage on the boards — including only three offensive rebounds for Boston — and 27 fast-break points, one off their season best. The 119 points were also one shy of their most in regulation this season.

Cook and James Harden chipped in 17 points apiece for Oklahoma City. Backup power forward Nick Collison missed his second straight game with left quad contusion.

Allen scored 21, Mickael Pietrus 16 and Avery Bradley 12 as all five Boston starters reached double figures. The bench provided only nine points.

Oklahoma City missed nine of its first 10 shots and quickly fell behind 15-5, then could hardly miss for the rest of the first half. The Thunder made 18 of 23 shots during their most impressive stretch, making that early deficit nothing but an afterthought.

By the time Harden hit a 3-pointer to end the first quarter, it was a 10-point margin in the opposite direction at 35-25 and that was only the beginning.

The Thunder put together a 30-3 surge spanning the break between the first two quarters, including the final 21 points in a row. That was one point better than the 20-0 run Oklahoma City put together against Denver three nights earlier in a game that ended up going to overtime.

Harden’s driving layup completed the one-sided spurt and made it 42-25 in the first 2 minutes of the second quarter. The lead grew to 72-49 by halftime after Boston’s worst defensive half of the season.

Notes: Rondo was selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, replacing Joe Johnson, on Wednesday night. Durant will replace Johnson in the 3-point contest, competing for the first time. Durant previously won the H-O-R-S-E competition twice before it was discontinued. … The Celtics’ previous season-worst for points allowed was 69, in the first half of a 115-107 loss at Miami in the second game of the season. … It was Perkins’ 11th technical of the season. Two more would earn him a one-game suspension. Durant also picked up his first technical foul of the season in the second quarter after getting blocked by Garnett.

Knicks 99, Hawks 82

NEW YORK — Jeremy Lin had an easy night ahead of his toughest opponent yet, and the New York Knicks tuned up for their trip to Miami by beating the Atlanta Hawks 99-82 Wednesday night.

Lin had 17 points and nine assists, sitting out most of the fourth quarter in a rare game during his remarkable run that the Knicks needed little from him.

Carmelo Anthony scored 15 points in his second game back from injury for the Knicks, who led the depleted Hawks by 25 points at halftime. New York bounced back from a loss to New Jersey on Monday and won for the ninth time in 11 games since Lin joined the rotation.

Jeff Teague scored 16 points for the Hawks. They played without All-Star guard Joe Johnson, who left their loss at Chicago on Monday with a sore left knee and had to pull out of Sunday’s game in Orlando, and have lost three straight and five of six.

The Knicks shot 52 percent in the first half, scored 30 points in both periods, and led 60-35 at the break.

Pacers 102, Bobcats 88

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tyler Hansbrough had a season-high 22 points and nine rebounds as Indiana continued its dominance of Charlotte.

The Pacers have beaten the Bobcats nine time straight times, including twice this week. This game was much closer than the 35-point rout Sunday in Indianapolis — for three quarters.

The Pacers led by 10 after three but began to pull away in the fourth. Danny Granger had 12 points and Lou Amundson had a season-high 11 rebounds as Indiana won its fourth game in a row to remain in second place in the Central Division.

Corey Maggette scored 20 points as Charlotte lost its 18th in 19 games.

Magic 108, Nets 91

NEWARK, N.J. — Dwight Howard had 20 points and 17 rebounds to help Orlando roll to victory against New Jersey.

Glen Davis, who hit his first seven shots, added 16 points for Orlando, which won for the eighth time in 11 games.

Deron Williams had 23 points, six rebounds and eight assists to lead New Jersey, which headed into the All-Star breaking having lost 8 of 11. Rookie MarShon Brooks added a game-high 24, while Brook Lopez had 15 in his second game since his return from a broken right foot.

Orlando shot 62.5 percent in the opening 12 minutes and jumped to a 34-17 lead.

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