LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Jayson Tatum and the NBA-leading Boston Celtics thwarted a furious late rally by the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday to win 122-118 in overtime and snap a two-game skid.
The Celtics bounced back from defeats to the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco and the Clippers in Los Angeles, but they needed every ounce of energy and will to avoid their first three-game losing streak this season.
“Oh, man, last game of the road trip, we’ve been going for, like, 13 days, second night of a back-to-back,” Tatum said. “But we found a way.”
“We needed that,” added Tatum, whose 44 points included a game-tying turnaround jumper over LeBron James that sent the contest to overtime. “We found a way to get back on track.”
Jaylen Brown added 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and Marcus Smart scored 18 points for the Celtics, who appeared headed to victory when they took a 20-point lead on Tatum’s floater with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
The Milwaukee Bucks stayed on the Celtics’ heels atop the East, improving to 20-7 with a 128-111 victory over reigning champions Golden State.
The Warriors, coming off A convincing victory over the Celtics, again found themselves inexplicably struggling on the road.
They fell to 2-12 away from home, 14-14 overall, in a testy encounter between the last two NBA champions that saw the frustrated Warriors assessed five technical fouls.
Three of those came in the first quarter, when Stephen Curry was furious at the lack of a foul call when he was shooting a three-pointer and head coach Steve Kerr continued the argument to earn a “T”.
“I was already mad at several non-calls in the paint,” Kerr said. “I felt like we were on the bad end of things to start the game. And then Steph Curry gets hit on the head on a three-point shot.
“That needs to be called,” Kerr said.
Trailing by 14 early in the second quarter, the Warriors pulled within six before the Bucks closed the first half on a 6-0 scoring run on the way to a 12-point halftime lead.
The third quarter brought no relief, the Bucks jumping to a 26-point lead midway through the period.
Milwaukee, led by 30 points and 12 rebounds from Antetokounmpo, out-scored the Warriors 48-30 in the paint and out-rebounded them 55-37.
– Embiid powers 76ers –
Elsewhere, Joel Embiid scored 31 points and James Harden and Tobias Harris added 21 apiece as the 76ers thumped the Sacramento Kings 123-103 in Philadelphia.
The 76ers took control with 80 points in the first half and were never threatened after the interval.
Two nights after his 53-point outburst in a win against Charlotte, Embiid connected on 10 of 16 shots from the floor to lead the Sixers to their third straight victory.
The Utah Jazz ended the New Orleans Pelicans’ seven-game win streak, downing the Western Conference leaders 121-100.
Malik Beasley scored 21 points off the bench to lead the Jazz, draining five of their 15 three-pointers.
It was an emotional night in Houston, where head coach Stephen Silas returned to the sideline two days after the death of his father, three-time NBA champion and longtime NBA coach Paul Silas.
The Rockets handed the reeling Phoenix Suns a fifth straight defeat, 111-97.
The injury-plagued Suns got more bad news in that department as starting center Deandre Ayton and guard Cameron Payne both left the game with injuries.