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Celtics bounce back; Mavericks prevail

MADDIE MEYER/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE JAYSON Tatum (right) and the Boston Celtics put clamps on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, 119-116, during their NBA regular season encounter.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The Boston Celtics got back to winning ways with a 119-116 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in their top-of-the-table National Basketball Association Eastern Conference clash on Wednesday as the Dallas Mavericks thwarted an incredible LeBron James-inspired comeback to beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 104-101.

The Celtics kissed goodbye to a six-game winning streak on Monday after crashing to an upset defeat against the lowly ranked Charlotte Hornets.

But Boston ensured there was no chance of a repeat against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the visiting Bucks in Wednesday’s showdown at the TD Garden, taking control of the contest in the first quarter to clinch a wire-to-wire win.

The Celtics were in charge after jumping out to an early 10-0 lead, and although the Bucks rallied in the fourth quarter to get within single digits, Boston regrouped and closed out victory.

Boston’s Jaylen Brown scored 26 points with support from Jayson Tatum, who finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

Kristaps Porzingis added 21 points on a night when no fewer than seven Boston players posted double-digit points totals as the Celtics preserved their unbeaten home record to improve to 12-3.

“Just a team effort. We bounced back and regrouped from the last game,” Tatum told ESPN after the win.

“Sometimes you need to lose a game to regroup and regain focus. I love the way we started the game. They made a run late, they’re a good team — but I liked the way we responded in the fourth quarter.”

In other games on Wednesday, the Lakers fell just short of completing a remarkable comeback from a 20-point deficit against Dallas in Los Angeles.

The Lakers appeared to be dead and buried trailing 91-71 at the start of the fourth quarter.

But James spearheaded a superb rally with 16 fourth-quarter points which helped the Lakers sneak into a 101-99 lead with just over a minute remaining.

Yet James’ former Cleveland teammate Kyrie Irving rescued the Mavs with a clutch three-pointer to put Dallas back ahead 102-101, and then added two late free throws to seal victory.

Irving finished with 28 points while Luka Doncic added 30 for Dallas. James, who missed a last-gasp three-point effort that would have forced overtime, finished with 26 points.

In Phoenix, Golden State’s Chris Paul was ejected against his former club as the Suns won a roller-coaster battle with the Warriors, 123-115.

After trailing by five in the first quarter, the Suns cut loose in the second, outscoring Golden State 37-16 to lay the foundations for victory. Paul was tossed in the closing moments of the first half after a tirade at game official Scott Foster.

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