Watch Kyrie Irving grab a triple-double as Celtics beat Kings (VIDEO)

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BOSTON (AP) Kyrie Irving had 31 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds to help the Boston Celtics overcome a 17-point first-half deficit and beat the Sacramento Kings 126-120 on Thursday night.

It was Irving’s second career triple-double. His first was with Cleveland on Feb. 28, 2014, against Utah.

Jaylen Brown added 22 points, and Marcus Morris finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

It was Boston’s second victory over Sacramento in eight days, and the Celtics’ fourth win in five games overall.

Buddy Hield led Sacramento with 34 points. Harrison Barnes added 20, and De'Aaron Fox had 19 points, nine assists and seven rounds as the Kings lost for the 11th straight time in Boston.

The Kings have dropped 13 of 17 road games as their hopes of catching the Clippers for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot fade.

Sacramento had split the first two games of its four-game trip. The Kings were hoping for a boost with rookie Marvin Bagley III returning after spraining his left knee in a home loss to Milwaukee on Feb. 27 and missing five games.

He played only 10 minutes in the first half but had 10 points to help the Kings build a 17-point lead. He finished with 14 points and six rebounds.

The Celtics returned home on the mend following a 3-1 West Coast trip.

Jayson Tatum was back in the starting lineup after missing a game with right shoulder soreness. Smart was battling a cold but also started. Meanwhile, Terry Rozier and Daniel Theis both sat out with illnesses.

It had its effect. Despite playing on two days’ rest, the Celtics were slow on switches on defense and relied on jump shots early. They stayed close thanks in large part to Irving’s 19 first-half points.

Boston was much more energetic in the third quarter, opening on a 9-2 run to take its first lead since early in the first quarter.

Sacramento led 89-79 with less than three minutes to play in the period before a 3 by Irving and three straight 3-pointers by Brown put the Celtics back in front.

Boston led by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter.

TIP-INS

Kings: Outscored the Celtics 22-11 in fast break points.

Celtics: Irving is the first Celtics player to record 30-plus points and a triple-double in the same game since Rajon Rondo on Feb. 12, 2012, against the Bulls. … Boston shot 39 percent (10 for 26) in the field in the first quarter and 1 for 12 from the 3-point line in the first half.

ACCURATE KINGS

The Celtics were sluggish in the first quarter for the second straight game. Boston missed eight of its first 10 shots as the Kings sprinted out to a 17-6 lead.

And much like in its 25-point loss against the Clippers on Monday, Sacramento was able to rack up easy transition baskets.

The Kings ended the quarter with a 38-25 lead, shooting 70 percent from the field and connecting on four 3-pointers. Barnes led Sacramento with 11 points in the quarter. Hield added 10, going 4 for 4 from the field and 2 for 2 from deep.

UP NEXT

Kings: Visit Philadelphia on Friday.

Celtics: Host Hawks on Saturday.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower

LeBron James passes Magic Johnson for sixth all-time in assists

Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee Bucks
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
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Magic Johnson is one of the greatest, most creative passers the game has ever seen.

Friday night, LeBron James passed Magic for sixth all-time in assists in the NBA. For LeBron, doing that in a Lakers’ jersey like Magic wore was special.

It happened with 8:41 remaining left in the game, LeBron found Anthony Davis for a 3-pointer on the right wing.

LeBron finished the night with 11 assists and 28 points, which along with a monster 44-point night from Anthony Davis led the Lakers to an impressive win over the Bucks in Milwaukee.

 

 

 

Jimmy Butler returns, hits clutch shots to lift Heat past Celtics

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
Nick Grace/Getty Images
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BOSTON (AP) — Bam Adebayo scored 28 points, Tyler Herro had 26 and the Miami Heat completed a split of two games in Boston, beating the Celtics 120-116 on Friday night after Jaylen Brown banked in a long 3-pointer to force overtime.

Heat leading scorer Jimmy Butler returned to the lineup and had 25 points in 36 minutes after missing the previous seven games with a sore right knee. He added 15 rebounds.

“Obviously having JB back is big time for us,” Herro said. “He helps us in so many different ways.”

Kyle Lowry chipped in with 20 points before fouling out in OT for the Heat, who sent Boston to just its second loss in 16 games.

“My team welcomed me back and let me do what I do,” Butler said. “It was a big `W’ for the team.”

Brown sent the game to overtime by banking in his long 3 with 1.7 seconds to play in regulation. He finished with 37 points.

“It felt good coming off my hand,” Brown said. “I know we wanted to get a shot up off the rim as fast as possible, just in case we missed we could get a rebound, a tip out.”

The Celtics had won 10 straight at TD Garden.

Boston star Jayson Tatum scored just 14 points on a cold shooting night, going 5 of 18 from the floor, including 0 of 7 on 3-point attempts. He had 49 points in the Celtics’ 134-121 victory on Wednesday night.

“That’s the biggest thing about the league; you’re not going to stop anybody from just scoring,” Adebayo said. “I feel like (we’re) making him take tough shots every time we play him and living with the result.”

Butler hit a clutch jumper over Al Horford, making it 110-107 with 5.1 seconds left in regulation before Brown took a pass near midcourt, dribbled to his right and nailed his shot.

In OT, the teams were tied twice before Butler nailed a foul-line jumper over Horford with 1:45 left, but Brown hit two free throws to tie it.

Adebayo nailed two free throws and, after Tatum misfired on a 3, Butler hit a jumper to seal it.

“Jimmy made two tough, tough baskets,” Brown said. “That’s just a credit to his work and his skill and his development. He gets going in games like this; on the road in a hostile environment. … Tonight, two shots that in our defensive scheme we could live with, but Jimmy a big-time player made both of them.”

Unlike Wednesday, when shots were open more and both teams were making them effectively (each shot over 50%), defense was tighter and it resembled more of the postseason matchup last season between the pair that went seven games before Boston captured the Eastern Conference title.

Anthony Davis scores 44, outduels Antetokounmpo (40) leading Lakers past Bucks

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Anthony Davis and LeBron James tore apart the NBA’s top-rated defense and gave Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham a triumphant return to Milwaukee.

Davis scored a season-high 44 points and James passed Magic Johnson on the NBA’s career assists list Friday night in the Lakers’ thrilling 133-129 victory over the Bucks.

It marked Ham’s first game in Milwaukee since taking over as Lakers coach after working as an assistant on Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer’s staff from 2018-22.

Ham and Budenholzer shared a big hug before the game.

“It was a beautiful night,” said Ham, who also played for the Bucks from 1999-2002.

It also was quite a night for Davis, a Green Bay Packers fan who delivered his big performance with Aaron Rodgers in the stands. Davis spoke with the Packers’ four-time MVP quarterback before and after the game.

“I saw him before the game and he said, `I need 30 tonight,”‘ Davis said. “I just saw him and he said, `I only said 30, not 40.’ It’s always good for him to come out and watch the Lakers play.”

James made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:22 left and finished with 28 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. He upped his career assist total to 10,144 and moved into sixth place, ahead of Johnson’s 10,133.

“It means a lot, obviously,” James said. “The way Magic approached the game, it was very infectious. His teammates loved playing with him because of the joy he played with and the ability to pass the ball and get other guys involved. He was always excited about seeing his teammates be great. I always admired that in him. What’s even more humbling and super duper cool is the fact that I’m doing it in a Laker uniform and knowing how much Magic means to the Laker franchise.”

The Lakers had the highest point total and field-goal percentage (.536) the Bucks had allowed all season. Milwaukee entered Friday with the NBA’s top defensive rating.

“It was too easy, too easy, too easy,” Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “They were living in the paint. That’s not who we are.”

Los Angeles withstood a 40-point performance from Antetokounmpo, who also had seven rebounds and five assists.

The Lakers also spoiled the 2022-23 debut of Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, who had 17 points and seven assists in his return from offseason wrist surgery.

Milwaukee missed two potential tying 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds.

After Davis missed a fadeaway jumper, the Bucks called a timeout with 21.4 seconds left and then found an open Grayson Allen, whose 3-point attempt went off the side of the rim.

The Lakers’ Russell Westbrook missed two free throws with 13.3 seconds remaining, but Jrue Holiday couldn’t connect on a 3-pointer with just over five seconds left. Davis made a clinching free throw with 4.5 seconds left.

“Grayson got a good look,” Budenholzer said. “Good execution. Good screening. We’ll live with that shot all the time. And Jrue, similar. We got the kick ahead, playing against a defense that’s not set. Jrue, kind of a good rhythm shot for him. It was contested, but Jrue was 6 of 12 tonight (from 3-point range). He was feeling it.”

Holiday had 28 points for the Bucks, and Bobby Portis added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Westbrook had 15 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds for the Lakers.

Hawks’ Collins out weeks with sprained ankle, Hunter also at least a week

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks will be without both of their starting forwards for at least the next three games.

John Collins will miss at least the next two weeks with a sprained left ankle and De'Andre Hunter will be sidelined for at least one week with a right hip flexor strain, the Hawks said Thursday.

Both departed with injuries during Wednesday night’s win over Orlando. Hunter played only seven minutes and Collins was hurt after a dunk that didn’t count at the halftime buzzer.

Hunter is third on the Hawks in scoring at 14.9 points per game, and Collins is fourth at 12.3 points.

Hunter, a fourth-year player out of Virginia, has yet to play a full season because of various injuries.