MINNEAPOLIS (Minnesota) • Swingman Jaylen Brown had a great fall, and all of Boston's men could not put him together again.
Fortunately for them, he managed to pick himself up as the Celtics punched their ticket for the National Basketball Association (NBA) play-offs with a 117-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.
Kyrie Irving, back from a one-game absence with a sore knee, scored 23 points and Al Horford added 20 as Boston (46-20) won for the sixth time in seven games.
They remain two games behind Eastern Conference leaders Toronto, who booked their play-off berth on Wednesday.
The Celtics led by 18 points early in the third quarter. But, with 1min 31sec left in the period, Brown drove for a dunk and after letting go of the rim took the impact on his shoulders, neck and head.
He lay on the court for several minutes as medical staff attended to him and the Timberwolves' Target Centre went quiet. When he finally rose from the floor - passing on the stretcher that had been rolled out - fans stood and cheered.
"I was right there," Horford said of Brown's fall. "It was tough to see. I was just happy he was able to get up and walk off because that was one of the worst falls I've seen."
SUCH A TENSE EPISODE
I was right there. It was tough to see. I was just happy he was able to get up and walk off because that was one of the worst falls I've seen.
AL HORFORD, Celtics forward, on his team-mate Jaylen Brown's fall.
Team-mate Marcus Smart said he was "terrified" when he saw Brown fall. But Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the game that Brown "felt pretty good" as he left the arena for a CT scan. Brown was able to travel with the team back to Boston.
He later tweeted: "Appreciate everybody I'm ok... Got a headache tho (emoji of head bandaged) good team win!!"
The incident caught the attention of the basketball world. Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James tweeted: "Prayers sent to you right now and up Jalen Brown!!!! Glad to see you walk off on your own."
Brown finished with 14 points and five rebounds in 28 minutes.
Nemanja Bjelica led the Timberwolves (38-29) with a career-high 30 points. The power forward added 12 rebounds, but it was not enough for a Minnesota team missing injured All-Star Jimmy Butler.
For Boston, it marks the earliest in a season they have clinched a play-off berth since 2011.
"We've just got to take advantage of the moments, continue to get better every game and utilise these games to really play our best," Irving said.
While Brown shrugged off the effects of his fall, Golden State coach Steve Kerr will rue the early exit of his star guard Stephen Curry.
Kevin Durant scored 37 points and Draymond Green notched a triple-double of 11 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as the Warriors (51-14) shook off Curry's ankle injury to beat the San Antonio Spurs 110-107. LaMarcus Aldridge had a team-high 30 points for the Spurs (37-28).
Curry turned his right ankle after a drive to the basket early in the first quarter and did not return.
The Warriors only said that Curry "tweaked" the ankle, the same one he sprained on Dec 4, leading to a total of 13 missed games.
Kerr has confirmed that Curry will not play today (Singapore time) at Portland.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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