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Celtics hold off Fox, Kings

KRISTAPS Porzingis posts a double-double as the NBA-leading Boston Celtics escape the Sacramento Kings, 101-100, for their fourth straight win. | BRIAN BABINEAU/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The top-seeded Boston Celtics held off a 40-point display from De’Aaron Fox and a furious fourth-quarter rally to beat the Sacramento Kings, 101-100, in the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Friday.

Boston, already assured of entering the playoffs as the NBA’s No.1-ranked team, looked to be strolling to a comfortable victory after taking a 19-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.

But what looked like a formality for Boston came within a whisker of an implosion as Sacramento roared back to take a 100-99 lead after a Fox three-pointer with 27 seconds remaining.

However, Xavier Tillman’s floating jump shot restored Boston’s lead with seven seconds left and the Celtics held on to secure their 61st win of the season.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla praised the grit of his team’s second unit in closing out the win, saying it augured well for the playoffs.

“I thought, ‘This is fun, this is awesome,’” Mazzulla said.

“Couldn’t have simulated a better environment of stress, pressure, chaos. It’s the perfect environment to execute.”

Payton Pritchard led Boston’s scoring with 21 off the bench while Kristaps Porzingis added 20 points with 11 rebounds and two assists.

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