Boston’s bench came up big Wednesday to help the Celtics notch an eighth straight NBA victory, 126-101 over the Hawks in Atlanta.
Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 22 points and his fellow All-Star Jayson Tatum added 19, but Brown said it was the 44 points from the Boston reserves that ultimately made the difference.
“They won the game,” Brown said after Sam Hauser and Luke Kornet scored 15 points apiece off the bench and Payton Pritchard added 14.
“Me and JT played decent, but our bench carried us and carried our team.”
Brown said the reserves’ contribution made up for the injury absences of Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon.
The Celtics went into the contest leading the NBA in three-pointers made per game and knocked down 21 as a team.
Trae Young led the Hawks with 27 points, but the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics held Atlanta to just 41.6% shooting in a dominant performance.
“We just play the game the right way,” Brown said. “We play solid ball, we try to get everyone involved. We’ve got a really good team from top to bottom.”
Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander grabbed the game-winning three-pointer in the Thunder’s 121-120 come-from-behind victory over the Wizards in Washington.
The Thunder trailed by 17 in the first quarter and were down by 13 at the half, but clawed their way back in a game that featured 15 lead changes.
Bradley Beal put the Wizards up 120-118 with a fadeaway jumper with 6.7 seconds remaining.
But Gilgeous-Alexander had the answer with a step-back trey with 1.9 seconds on the clock.
The Wizards had one more possession, but an inbounds pass lofted across the court toward Beal was sent out of bounds by Lu Dort as time expired.
“We gave them a little bit of a lead tonight and we had to fight to get back,” Gilgeous-Alexander, who matched his career-high with 42 points — 30 of them in the second half — said in a post-game television interview.
He added six rebounds and seven assists for his third straight game of at least 35 points and five assists.
“Feels good,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Last week or so, same situation, we didn’t close the game out the way we wanted to. We’ve learned from it, and we got better. That’s our goal every day.”
Beal, returning from a five-game absence because of Covid protocols, scored 25 points. Kristaps Porzingis led Washington with 27, but the Wizards’ four-game win streak ended.
Hornets’ Ball limps out
In Toronto, O.G. Anunoby scored a season-high 32 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Raptors in a 112-104 victory over Miami that snapped the Heat’s three-game winning streak.
The Indiana Pacers stung the Hornets 125-113 in Charlotte, a defeat made even more painful for the hosts when guard LaMelo Ball, who missed the first 13 games of the season, reinjured his left ankle with a couple of minutes remaining when he stepped on a fan’s foot trying to chase down a loose ball.
Ball led the Hornets with 26 points, 16 in the second half, and made five three-pointers before departing.
Tyrese Haliburton scored 22 points and handed out 11 assists and Myles Turner added 20 points for the Pacers, who won for the sixth time in eight games.
The Minnesota Timberwolves romped to a 126-108 victory over the injury depleted Magic in Orlando.
Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards led all scorers with 35 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 30 for the Timberwolves, who led 42-24 after the first quarter and rolled from there.
The Magic were without number one draft pick Paolo Banchero for a fourth straight game,
They still managed to reduce a 27-point deficit to nine in the fourth quarter before the T-Wolves relentlessly pulled away again.