Associated Press

Celtics lock up division title with 114-105 win over Nets

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BOSTON (AP) — Isaiah Thomas scored 27 points to help the Boston Celtics beat back a fourth-quarter charge and defeat the Brooklyn Nets 114-105 on Monday night to keep alive their hopes of securing the Eastern Conference’s top seed.

The Celtics clinched the Atlantic Division title and can finish with no worse than the No. 2 seed.

With Cleveland’s overtime loss at Miami on Monday night, a Boston win in its regular-season finale against Milwaukee on Wednesday would give the Celtics the No. 1 seed. But if Boston loses to the Bucks and Cleveland wins its finale against Toronto, the Cavs would own the tiebreaker by virtue of their 3-1 head-to-head record with Boston.

Al Horford added 19 points and eight rebounds.

Brooklyn trailed by 27 in the third quarter before an 18-5 run got it back into the game.

The Nets got as close as six in the fourth, but Thomas and Horford combined for 15 points in the period to help secure the victory.

Jeremy Lin led the Nets with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Brook Lopez finished with 25 points, and passed Buck Williams to become the franchise’s career leading scorer with a jumper late in the fourth quarter.

Playing on a day’s rest following its win at Charlotte on Saturday, Boston led by as many as 21 in the first half.

Brooklyn also had a day off coming off Saturday’s one-point victory over Chicago, but couldn’t find the basket early on. The Nets missed 17 of their first 20 shots and shot just 27 percent in the opening 24 minutes.

TIP-INS

Nets: Sean Kilpatrick (left hamstring) and Quincy Acy (sore left ankle) both sat out and each will also miss Wednesday’s regular-season finale. … Shot just 14 percent (3 for 21) from the field and 12 percent (1 for 8) from the 3-point line in the first quarter.

Celtics: Thomas extended his franchise record to 56 straight games with a 3-pointer. … Improved to 21-5 at home since Jan. 1.

 

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)