Celtics forget woes to beat slumping Warriors

OAKLAND (California) • Isaiah Thomas has made peace and the Boston Celtics were able to turn things around with another emphatic win in Oakland on Wednesday.

The star scored 25 points as the Celtics recorded a 99-86 victory over the Golden State Warriors in a battle between two National Basketball Association (NBA) title contenders.

"We are fighters. We compete," said Thomas. "We are just a bunch of competitors. We wanted to win to end the losing streak."

The Celtics, who are fighting to hold on to the No. 2 seed in the East, had lost two straight games heading into their showdown with Golden State, the Western Conference's top team. To add to their difficulties, leading scorer Thomas went public with criticism of coach Brad Stevens' coaching style after last Monday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the Celtics had reason to believe that they could win in Oakland. On their previous visit 11 months ago, they had snapped Golden State's 54-game home winning streak.

Winning takes care of everything and Thomas was full of praise for Stevens on Wednesday.

"The coach is going to make his decisions. I believe in the coach. I trust every decision he makes and tonight we won," said the guard.

Boston took charge after a dunk by Kelly Olynyk gave the Celtics an 80-79 lead in a game that featured eight lead changes and eight ties in the first 41 minutes.

Jae Crowder hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions during a 15-0 fourth-quarter surge that helped propel the Celtics to victory.

"We didn't want to turn the ball over. We believed in our guys and they did the job," Thomas said.

Boston improved to 41-24 for the season and won for the second time in four games on their Western trip.

That allowed the Celtics to remain a game ahead of the Washington Wizards (39-24) in the battle for the No. 2 play-off position in the East. The road-weary Warriors fell to 52-12, as they lost for the third time in five games and saw their lead over red-hot San Antonio Spurs atop the West cut to 11/2 games.

Golden State played without Kevin Durant, who tallied 23 points to lead the Warriors to a lopsided win earlier in the season in Boston.

Durant, who is expected to be evaluated again in three weeks, said before the game: "I hurt my knee. A lot of guys go through this. It is nothing to be concerned about. I got a boo boo playing basketball."

Klay Thompson scored 25 points and Stephen Curry scored 23 for the Warriors. "We're in a tough spot in the schedule, obviously, and with KD's injury," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Celtics forget woes to beat slumping Warriors'. Print Edition | Subscribe