June 21, 2018
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Oklahoma hands Celtics their fourth straight loss

Mark D. Smith | USA Today Sports
Mark D. Smith | USA Today Sports
Oklahoma City Thunder center Hasheem Thabeet (34) attempts a shot against Boston Celtics center Vitor Faverani (38) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena Sunday night in Oklahoma City.
By Michael Kinney, The Sports Xchange

OKLAHOMA CITY — Guard Reggie Jackson scored a career-high 27 points in leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 119-96 victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The win snapped a two-game home losing streak for the Thunder (27-7). It also ended a recent trend of surrendering big fourth-quarter leads at home.

Boston (13-21) lost its fourth game in a row and seventh in its last eight outings. Coach Brad Stevens watched his team play competitive ball for a half, then saw the game get away with a sub-par second half.

Coming off a 48-point effort the night before, Thunder forward Kevin Durant posted 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in only 27 minutes on Sunday. Forward Serge Ibaka added 17 points and 11 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season.

The Celtics were led by forward Jeff Green, who collected 19 points, two assists and one rebound. Guard Avery Bradley also scored 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting, and guard Jordan Crawford chipped in with 17 points.

Jackson had his shooting stroke going early on. He reeled off 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting in the game’s opening five minutes.

As hot as Durant was Saturday, he was just as cold to start the game against the Celtics. He missed his first three shots from the field. However, he still got to the free throw line and helped the Thunder grab an eight-point lead after one quarter of action.

The Celtics used the 3-pointer to stay in the game. Led by the sharp-shooting of Bradley and Crawford, the team combined to knock in eight from long range in the first half and got the deficit down to seven with 1:06 on the clock.

But a late scoring surge by Jackson and Durant gave Oklahoma City a 66-56 halftime advantage.

Oklahoma City’s defense took over the contest in the second half. The Thunder held the Celtics to six points until midway through the third quarter. They turned that defense into fast-break opportunities and finished them off with alley-oop dunks and wide open 3-pointers.

Trailing 89-68, Celtic forward Jeff Green buried back-to-back 3-pointers to close gap to 15. However, that would be as close as Boston would get the rest of the night as the majority of Thunder starters did not play in the final period.

NOTES: Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook spoke to the media for the first time since it was announced he would be out of the lineup with a knee injury. He’s scheduled to return after the All-Star break. “I don’t pay no attention to those projections, man,” Westbrook said. “I just wake up and try to get better each and every day.” … Boston coach Brad Stevens and Thunder general manager Sam Presti have developed a friendship built on being young in the NBA. “Our first conversation was just about being young guys and trying to do the best that we could knowing we had some youth to us,” Stevens said. “But it was a great conversation. He is a really interesting guy.” … Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks is amazed by rookie center Steven Adams’ ability to absorb punishment. “The elbows and all that, I don’t know if that’s an iron man. I don’t know if that’s very smart,” Brooks said with a laugh. “He is as tough as I’ve been around any player. Every day he just plays. The elbows, the pushes, Nothing fazes him. All he cares about is eating a lot of food and playing basketball.” … According to reports, the Boston Celtics have reached an agreement with the Memphis Grizzlies to trade for guard Jerryd Bayless, with guard Courtney Lee going to Memphis.

Heat 102, Raptors 97

MIAMI — Rallying from a nine-point, third-quarter deficit, the Miami Heat earned a 102-97 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in a battle of division leaders at the AmericanAirlines Arena.

Forward LeBron James led the Heat with 30 points. Forward Michael Beasley added 17 points off the Miami bench.

Beasley’s output helped make up for lower-than-usual production from Heat guard Dwyane Wade (14 points) and forward Chris Bosh (eight points, 11 rebounds).

Toronto got a team-high 26 points from guard DeMar DeRozan. He was one of five Raptors who scored in double figures.

DeRozan’s dunk pulled Toronto to within 96-95 with 1:04 left in the fourth quarter. Wade made two free throws with 23 seconds left to put Miami back up by three points.

Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas hit a layup with 17 seconds left to make the score 98-97. James hit two free throws, and Heat forward Udonis Haslem made a big block on Toronto guard Kyle Lowry, knocking the ball out of bounds.

Lowry got another chance but missed a 3-pointer off the front rim. James got the rebound and closed the win with two free throws.

The Southeast Division-leading Heat (26-8) improved their home record to 15-3, winning for the 10th time in their past 12 games.

Toronto, which leads the Atlantic Division at 16-16, had its five-game win streak snapped. Still, the Raptors are 9-4 since they traded forward Rudy Gay.

The teams played to a 29-29 draw in the first quarter. The Raptors shot 62.5 percent, which was only slightly better than the Heat’s 60 percent.

Miami led 52-51 after a first half that featured 10 lead changes and seven tie scores. The shooting wasn’t as good as the first period, but DeRozan had 18 points at the half, and James had 16.

For the half, the Raptors shot 55.6 percent, and the Heat shot 50 percent.


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